What is your favorite go-to comfort food on a cold and snowy day?
I hope you caught this week’s Facebook LIVE when I made two very popular cold weather comfort foods - grilled cheese and tomato soup! According to historians, the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became readily available. The similar French croque monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich, which originated in European cafés and bars as a quick snack. Both are so delicious and both can take on so many variations - I shared several grilled cheese ideas during our broadcast.
Our New York City studio is set up with all the ingredients for making grilled cheese and tomato soup – two easy recipes that can be made quickly after work, school or any time you crave them.
We love doing these Facebook LIVE shows – I shoot one nearly once a week when I am not traveling. Many of them are done right here in our Martha Stewart Living “Turkey Hill Kitchen” from The Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/c/SPC_BRD_MSL_Kitchen
For these sandwiches, I am using Borden Cheese – made with milk from dairy farms across the country.
We also have lots of other ingredients for our grilled cheese, including fresh tomatoes, bacon, pickles, mustard, pears, apples, and ham – the possibilities are endless.
I prefer to use fresh bread for my sandwiches – bread made at one of my local bakeries or bread I’ve made myself, such as brioche, whole grain or country white. What type of bread do you like with your grilled cheese?
Kevin Sharkey loves grilled cheese, so he joined me in the kitchen for this special broadcast. Kevin chose a grilled cheese with gouda, tomato, bacon and pickles on white bread – sounds very tasty.
And, while some prefer to butter their bread, others like to use mayonnaise – what do you use?
Keep the flame on low, so the bread does not burn – it should just turn a nice brown color.
How do you stack your grilled cheese? I like to use three pieces of cheese, but watch the show for my special tip to prevent the tomatoes from making the grilled cheese soggy. I am using my favorite Enameled Cast Iron Pots. This deep cranberry is so popular, but they come in several different colors. They’re available exclusively at Macy’s and make great holiday gifts. goo.gl/L4KuDR
Our SVP Managing Director of Corporate Development stopped into the studio with his friend, Cory Rosen. Maybe they’d both like some grilled cheese…
I made Noah a grilled cheese with Colby and Monterey Jack, and bacon on whole wheat bread.
Oftentimes, grilled cheese is paired with a bowl of hot tomato soup. Our recipe is so easy to do – made with crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, salt and pepper – watch this Facebook LIVE for the how-to. It’s so easy to make your own. https://www.facebook.com/marthastewart/videos/10154818080866289/
Here, I am pouring the chicken stock. If you make a lot of tomato soup, just store in containers and freeze it for later.
You can use your own garden fresh tomatoes, but you can also use canned crushed tomatoes.
And here is one of our grilled cheese sandwiches – perfectly browned with lots of melted cheese.
Grilled cheese with delicious tomato soup – the perfect pair on a cold, snowy day.
Our great "burlapping" project continues at the farm.
As many of you know, I've been covering shrubs and hedges with burlap for many years to protect the branches from splaying and even breaking from the weight of snow and ice. Every season, our wrapping methods become easier and more streamlined, giving me peace of mind during the cold weather months.
I feel it is equally important to protect my outdoor garden ornaments from the harsh winter elements. A winter freeze, alternating with thaws, could crack or crumble any kind of stone, or cement, especially if it is antique. During this time, all my outdoor containers, planters, and birdbaths, are drained, and covered in the same burlap used for my live specimens. Here are some photos of this process.
I have many outdoor containers at the farm. These are two smaller planters on my terrace parterre – they’ve been emptied of plant material and soil and are now ready to be fitted with burlap covers.
Because stone and cement are porous and sensitive to harsh elements, the urns are first covered with plastic. Heavy duty trash bags fit perfectly over these smaller vessels.
Wilmer and Carlos unroll the burlap. This is the same burlap we use to cover my boxwood. When we can, we reuse burlap from seasons past; however, it is also available in giant rolls of 40-inches or 60-inches wide.
Carlos cuts enough burlap, so it can be doubled for extra protection. Also called hessian, burlap is made in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India from jute, a tall, grass-like plant grown for its strong fibrous stalks.
Wilmer wraps the burlap around the plastic covered urn.
Then, using the end of a screw driver, he tucks the fabric as far under the container as possible.
Once the burlap is secured underneath, Wilmer begins working on the rest of the urn – pulling the burlap snug around the container.
To sew the burlap, we use jute twine – the same twine we use for so many of our outdoor projects. I love using jute twine around the farm – it is 100-percent bio-degradable and recyclable.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
Starting at the bottom, Wilmer makes small knots along the opening to hold the burlap together as he sews.
Here is a closer look at one of them – very simple and easy to make. Wilmer is an excellent burlap sewer, and has been covering my urns for several years.
There was a lot of tucking involved, and a lot of knotting.
And, then he began sewing.
Wilmer sews from the base to the top, making sure the burlap fits snug around the container as he goes.
At the top of the urn, Wilmer makes one more knot, and it’s completed.
The same process is done for the other urn. First it is wrapped in plastic, and then in burlap.
Then, the burlap is tucked underneath and several knots are made along the opening to keep it together.
Wilmer sews the opening closed using jute twine and a large needle.
Finally, Wilmer sews the top of the urn, so the entire container is wrapped snug for the cold season ahead.
The burlap nearly conforms to the shape of the urn.
These two urns look like sculptures.
Next was a pair of urns in my back courtyard behind my kitchen.
Plus a large antique birdbath.
This birdbath was covered in the same way as the urns, but because it is so large, it needed special industrial strength plastic sheeting instead of a trash bag.
The plastic was also tied near the top and bottom to keep it secure and to prevent water from seeping inside. Now it is ready for its burlap cover.
Because these urns are also larger than the ones on my terrace, the burlap is draped over the top of each vessel and then sewn on two sides.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it takes just one cracked urn from the elements of winter to learn this lesson. For me, it’s all about precaution.
Wilmer also made sure the burlap protected as much of the bottom of each vessel as possible by carefully stitching one end and then connecting the twine to the other side.
Nice sewing, Wilmer!
And in the end, my outdoor planters and urns are protected from the heavy ice, damaging moisture, and high winds. There are still quite a few to wrap – what should we burlap next? How do you protect your outdoor planters in the winter? Let me know in the comments section below.
Here at my Bedford, New York farm, the outdoor grounds crew is busy "burlapping".
One of the first signs winter is just around the corner is the sight of burlap being wrapped around various shrubs and hedges. Burlap covers protect the tender branches from splaying and breaking from the weight of snow, while shielding the foliage from freezing windburn. It is a practice I've followed for many years, and I think it also provides a cozy and pretty look to the winter landscape. This season, we've been very fortunate - milder autumn temperatures allowed us to get a good start on this great "burlapping" project. Yesterday, however, we woke up to a coating of snow, so winter is fast approaching.
Here are some photos.
Rolls and rolls of burlap are needed to cover my hedges and shrubs each winter. After every season, any burlap still in good condition is saved for use the following year. Here, Chhiring brings out the first roll.
Because the burlap covers are custom fitted for each hedge and shrub, any burlap cover from past seasons is labeled, so it can be reused in the same exact location the following year.
This roll of burlap is for the hedge on the east side of the peony garden. A drawing is added to make it clear.
The burlap is unrolled so it can be placed over the hedge.
The frames are built at least one foot above the hedge so even the heaviest snow doesn’t weigh the burlap down and crush the tender foliage.
The heavy burlap is placed by hand over the frames, one section at a time.
Chhiring carefully covers the end of the hedge and makes sure it is covered equally on all sides.
Shorter stakes are placed at the foot of the row. The burlap will be wrapped on the outside of these stakes, so the entire section is straight and secure.
To make it taut, the burlap is pulled down and attached to the ground stakes with screws, sandwiched between the stake and a wooden strip.
Pete screws strips every two or three feet along the bottom of the hedge.
All the wooden stakes, strips and shims were milled at the farm, and get reused from year to year whenever possible. Even scraps of wood can be repurposed for various projects.
The strips are about six to eight inches long – just long enough to accommodate two or three screws that will keep the burlap secure for the season.
The project also requires rolls and rolls of jute twine.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
At each end of the hedge, Phurba pulls the extra burlap snug and sews it together, so it is neat and tidy.
Everyone on the crew has developed very good sewing skills.
Here, Chhiring also sews together any areas that appear too loose because of the shape of the hedge.
Here is a view of one of the hedges of the peony bed. Because the hedges are wide, long pieces of burlap are sewn together to accommodate them properly.
Chhiring starts to unroll another section of burlap. Each roll lasts about three seasons. Since this is the second season for this supply of fabric, the covers are already made – making the process a lot easier for the crew.
Chhiring carefully places the burlap over the next hedge.
Pete secures more strips at the base.
More sewing is done to make the burlap structure taut.
Here is another side of the hedge border surrounding my herbaceous peony bed.
As you can see, the burlap still allows the boxwood to “breathe”, and get sunlight, which is important even during the colder months.
Here is the inside of the peony bed after all the burlap is secured.
I’ve been burlapping for many years and find that it is really the most reliable way to protect my hedges and shrubs. With this area complete, the crew can move on to the next one.