Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garden Party Table

Susan at Savoring Time in the Kitchen is hosting a Garden Party this weekend. Although, I don't have a garden---flowers or vegetable---I decided to participate. Click here to see Susan's Garden Party post and to find links to all the other parties.The flowers that I have in large planters are wilting in the extreme heat, so I will spare you the recent photos.

Click on the video and enjoy Ricky Nelson as he welcomes us to The Garden Party.

We love fresh vegetables and fortunately live in an area where they are plentiful throughout the summer months. I even have a perfect set of dishes with a vegetable theme, but I used those last week for Tablescape Thursday. So, I went digging through my stash of dishes looking for something for a Garden Party. I almost went with some china and an elegant theme. However, the weather has cooled somewhat and the late evening hours we are able to enjoy the outdoors for dining. So, I went for a more practical garden meal on the screened porch.

I decided that these plates with a birdhouse would work for the party this weekend. I tried to snag photos of the birds in the backyard, but since I was looking for them, they didn't show up. I have a male cardinal (red)and an occasional white female that visits my back yard area . I just love to watch them as they flitter from branch to branch. There is also a mockingbird that returns every year to make a nest in the spring. She is very territorial and has chased my husband up under the covered porch on several occasions when he was working under the tree that held her nest. We also have a couple of small rabbits that frequent the yard and many, many squirrels. All of them have been missing since I have manned the porch with a camera.

However, I decided that this rugged looking little birdhouse was an appropriate centerpiece for my Garden Party table for the evening.

I used round beaded placemats as chargers. I found these at a Salvation Army TS after Christmas for 99 cents each. They were new and still had the tags from Horchow! I couldn't believe the price.

I used a set of dark green handled flatware on top of red napkins and a red tablecloth.

Glassware used includes four amber wine goblets that I found recently for half price at a thrift store. They ended up being only 75 cents each that day. The other glasses were found last week at GW for $1 each and are green Coke looking glass. I love the shape and size of them for iced tea.

The menu for the evening was peel and eat shrimp that was cooked with Old Bay Seasoning served with cocktail sauce, Hoppin' John and a loaded baked potato.

Iced tea and an assortment of white wine was served. A Merlot was out for DH after meal time. He prefers the Merlots and enjoys them with most foods or as an after dinner drink.

This particular Cap Rock chardonnay is a Texas wine that I enjoy.

I always have to laugh at the piles of shrimp peelings that are left behind and tell their own story.

Dessert for the evening was homemade vanilla ice cream. I made this last weekend for one of the ice cream socials and froze several big bowls of it. Since it is not as hot this weekend and we are actually able to enjoy eating outside, the ice cream was a nice treat. However, I scooped it into the bowls and placed it inside the freezer for a few minutes before serving.

If you aren't from the South, you might not be familiar with Hoppin' John, so I looked up a little info for you.

Hoppin' John History

Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year.
Rice for riches and peas for peace.
- Southern saying on eating a dish of Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.

Hoppin' John is found in most states of the South, but it is mainly associated with the Carolinas. Gullah or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coats of south Carolina and northern Georgia). Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations. Hoppin' John is a rich bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausages, ham hocks, or fat pork, rice, and tomato sauce.

This African-American dish is traditionally a high point of New Year's Day, when a shiny dime is often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving. whoever get the coin in his or her portion is assured good luck throughout the year. For maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year's Day is Hoppin' John. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, many southern families toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin' John. If it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year.

There are many variations to traditional Hoppin' John. Some cook the peas and rice in one pot, while others insist on simmering them separately.

Most food historians generally agree that "Hopping John" is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin' John got its name:


It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and h op around the table before sitting down to eat.


A man named John came "a-hoppin" when his wife took the dish from the stove.


An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, "Hop in, John"


The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin' John.

Although not from the Carolina's, a variation of this dish is a favorite of mine. However, I use jalapeno peppers in it. These pepper are one thing that I do have growing in a small garden tub. We eat lots of these peppers.

I cooked fresh black eyed peas and used fresh tomatoes and our own peppers.

Thanks for stopping by my Garden Party. I hope you enjoyed your visit as much as I enjoyed having you. Be sure to visit Susan and all the other participants on the link at the top. Be sure to leave use comments, as we love to here from each of you.


  1. I think your plates are a charming garden party place setting! I also know how animals disappear as soon as the camera appears - LOL! What a great deal you got on those beautiful chargers.

    We love peel and eat shrimp! There is a seller that comes up north from Galveston with fresh Gulf shrimp every 3-4 weeks in the summer. They are the best!

    I'm so glad you gave this northern gal an explanation of the Hoppin' John, Felicia :) and thank you for participating in the Garden Party!


  2. Those dishes are great, PD..perfect for a Garden Party! Great buy on the placemats!!!
    I'd love a plate of those shrimp!
    Sorry I didn't get to do CIJ today..I just got home and missed the deadline!

  3. Felicia I love your Garden Party contribution~ Such a pretty table you set :-) I LOVE shrimp so would have been happy eating with you. I love shopping the thrift stores too! I wish I had more room for stuff. My grandmother's name was Felicia. so I always smile when I see yours.

  4. Very pretty table! The dishes are perfect for a Garden Party! Didn't know a thing about Hoppin' John, and it looks great!

    Ricky Nelson :) LOL, I had the 45!

  5. Wonderful plates - and I love your menu! Looks like our kind of eating!

  6. Great Post!! The table is lovely and the food yummy!! Thanks for all the info!
    Hugs, Lisa

  7. What a beautiful tablesetting for a garden party. I love the dishes, how you tied in a birdhouse centerpiece and especially those beautiful chargers. That was a great bargain ;)

    The menu looks fantastic as I too appreciated the lesson on hoppin john. I've heard of it many times around New Years but didn't know it was eaten year 'round.

  8. Hi Felicia
    I collect dish settings as well. I love to visit you and see what pretty dishes you have to post ...I am running out of room in my house for my dishes, were do you store all of yours?
    This is a beautiful setting for a garden party ,the cutlery that matches, and those ice tea glasses, the place mats...its all so lovely!
    Have a great weekend

  9. I have the same question as graciegirl. Where do you keep all your dishes. I have that birdhouse design on wallpaper in my kitchen. I enjoyed the story of Hop'in John. In Belize they have Johnny cakes. I heard a 100 stories of where the name came from. The shrimp was delicious. thanks for the invite.

  10. I just LOVE your cute birdhouse dishes and the birdhouse centerpiece is just perfect. Your menu sounds soooooo good. I love shrimp and I'm sure my plate would have had that many peelings all by myself. lol Interesting to hear about Hop-n John. Also, thank you so much for grabing the Cloche button. I didn't have a complete list of everyone and have been trying to get around to spread the word. I so appreciate you helping. I can't wait to see your creations. See you there. Hugs, Marty

  11. Your birdhouse dishes are great for a garden party. yum! homemade ice cream sounds great!


  12. I was wondering if someone was going to find a video of Ricky Nelson!!
    Love your birdhouse dishes..I remember Gollum taling about them a few months back..all your pieces are lovely..quite a bargain hunter!
    The shrimp I could have every night - Old Bay seasoning is a fav also!
    Great post...

  13. Your table is wonderful! Everything looks so pleasing and comfortable. I've not heard of Hoppin' John before. Very interesting local flavor. (Wouldn't you know that the cardinals would prove scarce when you were especially looking for them?)

  14. Oh my, you have a screened-in porch! I have always, since I was a child, wanted one. And at 52, I have yet to have one! Your meal looks positively delicious!

  15. You have a lovely blog, interesting posts and pretty photos. The meals look fantastic, I am hungry now. Thanks for sharing
    Duchess xx

  16. The garden party with the birdhouses is just adorable! Love the birdhouse centerpiece!

    I grew up in the south and still love to eat hoppin John! Our version is a little different, since I don't like black-eyed peas, I use pinto peas, mashed with cornbread crumbled in them and more bean juice! Yum! I don't eat onions so I have chow-chow on the side!

    Loved the story/history of hoppin john!


  17. Man, am I droolin' over your Salvation Army score on those chargers!!