The last days of winter are a cozy time, offering fleeting days of quiet before the bustle of Spring begins.
It’s time for casual family lunches, afternoon tea, cocoa after school, a fondue party on Saturday night with the neighbors…so many ways to enjoy home and each other.
And what better setting than a round table?
The Applewhite Table, designed to bring the essence of rustic American design to your home, works as well in a dining area as in other spaces — perhaps facing a bay window.
While round tables are ideal for a casual lifestyle, they also adapt beautifully to more formal occasions — with crisp linens, stemware and fresh flowers as centerpieces. On this Boheme Ascension Dining Table, you can imagine the soft reflection of candlelight on the polished zinc top. Seating six, the Ascension table’s antique milk finish adds to its appeal and echoes its Belgian heritage.
Wonderhowto.com has a complete guide to arranging flowers for a dinner party. “Keep it low” is a cardinal rule, especially at a round table. “Low and long” is the recommendations of lifestyle guru Clinton Kelly, and be sure to keep the water at room temperature. Kelly also suggests small bud vases on the table, rather than a single, major arrangement. Shop for a variety of these at local thrift stores.
My Favorite Round Table Memory
Years ago, I was invited to lunch with Lady Bird Johnson at the LBJ Ranch in Texas. The former First Lady led us all in saying grace as we held hands around the table. The menu was from the King Ranch Cookbook, and I think, one of the best meals of my life in every way. On the table was a bouquet of Texas wildflowers that elicited conversation about Mrs. Johnson’s commitment to the beautification of not only Texas, but all the states.
It’s that time again–the neighborhood chili supper to benefit the local library or school. What better place to do all the planning than a friendly round table? There’s room for all volunteers to work comfortably. Inspired by contemporary Italian design, the top of the Curata Table is of white oak veneers, while the base has a black nickel finish.
Make memories around this iron-based coffee table over mugs of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. British potter Emma Bridgewater is known for her vibrant homespun design, including an array of personalized mugs.
A cozy ritual that never goes out of style, the fondue dinner is yet making a comeback. Only a round table will do for maximum enjoyment of this European style of eating that makes ordinary ingredients exotic.
The 54-inch top of the Urban Elevation Table is constructed of waxed resawn maple, offering a rustic yet sophisticated style. Aluminum sheeting on the single pedestal base adds to the table’s bold, dramatic design — ideal for a lovely, relaxed occasion.
Comfy seating around an ample round coffee table encourages a free-flowing discussion at this month’s club meeting. The design of the Medina Round Cocktail Table has a time-worn saddle brown finish paired with a black base, and the 48-inch top easily accommodates refreshments for the group.
For the final days of winter, consider chili or old-fashioned Beef Stew. Beef stew recipes stay in families like bequests. But here is one you might want to add to your recipe box — offered by New York Times food columnist Molly O’Neill. Make a batch for the Saturday crowd coming in from skating, sledding or shopping — or the crowd gathered to watch college basketball games.
Old Fashioned Beef Stew
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into inch cubes
- 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 ½ cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the beef a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch; add more oil as needed between batches.
- Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the beef, beef broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
- Cover and cook, skimming broth from time to time, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the onions and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Add broth or water if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle among 4 bowls and serve. Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.