1 When the weeping beech tree died last summer, I asked my groundscrew to cut it down and store it in our barn. As the holidays approached, they carefully took it out and carried it to the equipment shed.
2 After protecting the area carefully, they spray painted it with silver metallic Krylon paint, then wove tiny white lights through the branches.
3 The tree en route to its new location behind the kitchen of my Winter House.
4 I love the silvery shimmering branches and leaves.
5 Tilting the tree into place. We used a piece of hollow tree trunk for a stand (a recycling of a fallen tree") and filled in with heavy stones to brace the tree upright. We also tied the tree to the ground with two guy wires for additional security against heavy winds.
6 The weeping beech in its new spot. Now you can see its characteristic flowing branches. It's a dramatic, spectacular tree that can grow to be quite large and imposing. Some live up to 200 years.
7 I love decorating the house for holidays. This charming tree in my kitchen is laden with sparkly balls from a former "martha" collection at the Home Depot. The ruby red candles stand sentry all around.
8 I am so pleased that I found this elaborately swirled candy cane wreath during a recent trip to Istanbul. It's edible, of course, but I prefer serving it on a silver platter - as eye candy!
9 The skin of this albino pumpkin from my garden is naturally white. It looks very distinguished with a purple Christmas wreath necklace and a big red satin bow. This pumpkin will soon be a Christmas breakfast for the chickens - they love pumpkin and squash.
10 In the Brown Room I set the table with some of my favorite silver, china, and antique handblown glasses. Parading down the center of the table are tiny reindeer, sheep,glittered mushrooms,bottle brush trees, and tiny houses with sparkling roofs. Most of these decorations are past and current Martha Stewart Living crafts projects. I archive all these great projects in my holiday storage basement, where they are recycled year after year in new and different scenarios. It is great to have good storage.
11 Here you can see my gold-rimmed Martha Stewart Wedding Band chargers from Wedgwood. On top is the ornate flowered Limoges from Ovington Brothers. The bread plates are Haviland Limoges (notice the small points on the rims- they make for easier tipping of the plates!). I also love the monogrammed linen table linens. The chairs were another "recycling" my friend Bonnie Krupinski owns the 1770 House restaurant in East Hampton - when she was redecorating the dining rooms, I asked to take the old chairs. They are narrower than my upholstered dining room chairs, so I can seat 20 guests around the big "cloister" table. Thank you Bonnie!!!!
12 These two large American hurricanes frame a tinsel tree with adorable felt acorn ornaments.The Baccarat crystal French bulldog was a gift from long ago. We gave her a tinsel wreath necklace for the holidays.
13 Doesn't she look exactly like Francesca and Sharkey? I must make her a faux diamond necklace like Francesca's.
14 The giant pressed glass American punch bowl platter makes a perfect holiday base for the giant blown glass cheese dome. It features a large mercury orb.
15 Miniature houses are lined up on the mantle alongside the golden German bowls and vases.
16 This tree with opalescent white balls looks perfect on a beautiful ceramic "sewer pipe clay" faux bois plant stand.
17 Delicate, crispy cups are painstakingly fashioned while still hot from the oven. The batter is for" brandy snaps," and the recipe can be found on our website.
18 I also made delicate cups from our recipe for tuiles, a very delicate cookie made from butter, flour, confectioners sugar, and egg whites. The recipe is on page 30 of our Cookies book.
19 Ossu bucco, or braised veal shanks, is a classic Milanese dish. In Italian the name means "bone with a hole," because of the large marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut shank. We purchased these delicious cuts from our friend and master butcher Pat La Freida.
20 Before the braising process can begin, the meat should be nicely browned. Take your time! And be sure never to crowd the pot. We used our great big enamel cast iron pots from Macy's.
21 Here the meat is braising in a wonderful saffron-infused vegetable sauce broth. The shanks must be simmered until very tender, but not falling off the bone.
22 Another view of the osso bucco in its sauce. The osso bucco can be made a day in advance and refrigerated in the sauce, which is colorful with finely diced carrots, onion, and celery- all from my garden.
23 Mushrooms for the risotto of chanterelles. Pierre always carefully washes the mushrooms, removing all debris and growing medium. I learn so much from Pierre.
24 Here you can see the risotto being prepared in the pan. Always use the correct Italian arborio rice when cooking risotto. And constant stirring while cooking is essential unless you want to try our very clever pressure cooker method found in our new book One Pot.
25 Orange, yellow and white carrots from my garden, and beautiful baby brussel sprouts, all pre cooked or steamed prior to finishing the meal.
26 The tuiles and brandy snap cups await their filling prior to serving. In the foreground are gougères - baked puff pastries made with grated Gruyère and Comté cheese. These tiny warm puffs were one of only two hors d'oeuvres I served at dinner. I don't like my guests to fill up prior to a delicious dinner feast.
27 My well-equipped bar. I love serving cocktails at my dinner parties - that night I offered Russian Imperia vodka martinis and another martini made with vodka and fresh squeezed pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful California pomegranates. I look forward to a shipment every December.
28 Our capable servers for the evening, Matt and Matt. They always are impeccable, wonderfully attentive, and friendly.
29 Chef Pierre Schaedelin hard at work. We prepare the basic meal and do all the real "dirty work," like browning the meat and prepping the vegetables, in the flower room kitchen, and then bring everything inside for the guests to see a real chef at work in my wonderful chef kitchen.
30 The Green Room ablaze with a roaring fire and beautifully lit sparkly trees. I always try to have a blazing fire and appropriate music.
31 Osso bucco is traditionally served with a long-handled spoon, called an "essatore," to scoop out the marrow. I don't own such spoons, so I use tiny silver demitasse spoons from my old Tiffany Clinton silver flatware. Determined eaters try to scoop every bit of of the buttery marrow from the bone. I served the osso bucco atop a buttery potato puree, along with small braised carrots, brussels sprouts, and leaf spinach from my greenhouse.
32 The first course was a rich risotto of chanterelles, garnished with fresh parsley - from the garden, of course!
33 A beautiful plate of vegetables, which was passed around for seconds.
34 And the final touch - two types of pastry dessert cups -tuiles (filled with a scoop of lemon curd and a dollop of whipped creme fraiche) and brandy snap cups served with a scoop of home made lemon ice cream or gelato. And please believe me, the lemons came from the citrus trees in my greenhouse, which have been very giving this year.
35 Here I am in the servery, happy to be hostess on such a lovely evening.