2012 Kentucky Derby Party Menu

When Ms. Jeannie spent a couple of years in a rented house on a horse farm in pastoral Pennsylvania, she fell under the spell of Derby fever.  She lived in PA at the exciting time of Smarty Jones’ run for the trifecta, when friends would host ‘Smarty Partys”  and the pride of a local hometwown horse victory could be felt miles around.

Smarty Jones headding to victory at the Preakness!

Smarty won the Kentucky Derby. Everybody cheered! Smarty won the Preakness by 11 1/2 lengths. Everybody was enraptured!  Smarty rounded the last quarter mile at Belmont in the lead. Everybody was anxious. He neared the finish line. Hearts were hopeful!  Birdstone made a run from behind. Smarty and Birdstone were neck and neck. Birdstone crept ahead. Birdstone wins the Belmont.  You could have cut the devastation in half that day. It seems everybody was rooting for Smarty – even Birdstone’s jockey apologized!

And that, dear ones, is what makes horse racing so exciting! You just never know what may happen until the very last second. Sports enthusiast or not, everyone can appreciate a good suspense story and that’s just what the Derby delivers, year after year.

With just a week and a half left until Derby day, Ms. Jeannie has party preparations on her mind.  Every year, she sticks to a few traditions and then adds new elements on top to keep her guests surprised.

Ms. Jeannie always starts the party planning process by watching her two favorite horse movies…

Next, Ms. Jeannie visits kentuckyderby.com and reads up on all the entrants. Ms. Jeannie is a sucker for any horse that is white or has a great name. This year she has her eye on a few…

Hansen (aka the white one!)

Hansen

And these creative namers:

Went The Day Well
Daddy Long Legs
I’ll Have Another

And, because she loves all things Irish, Ms. Jeannie is throwing an extra bet on the Donegal Racing Stables entrant…

Dullahan

The favorite of the race right now is Union Rags, who has had an impressive race history and comes from a long line of champions. Ms. Jeannie always like the underdogs the best though. So she’s going to stick with her top picks above. Although that Union Rags is one pretty cute horse!

Union Rags

Now that she has her favorites picked out, she can start her party planning.

FLOWERS

Traditionally red roses would be the flower of choice for table decorations at any Derby party, but Ms. Jeannie likes to mix things up, so she’ll be using red clover flowers instead. They are blooming en masse in her side yard, and look so lovely and farmy that she can’t resist picking a few bucketfuls.

Red clover flower blossoms

MUSIC

The Corduroy Road was an Athens, GA based bluegrass/folk/Americana band that Ms. Jeannie first heard at an outdoor market a few years ago. She loved their twangy sound and old-fashioned lyrics, so much that she had them come play at her friends surprise birthday party.  Sadly, one of the two singers left the band to go to medical school, so they don’t play together anymore, but luckily they gave Ms. Jeannie some music before they said their goodbyes. So she treasures each song dearly and plays them often.  It is perfect party music, since it is subtle but upbeat. See for yourself… here’s one of their you tube videos…

COCKTAILS

When there is a horse running in the Derby with the name, I’ll Have Another, you just have to make them the star of the cocktail hour! Ms. Jeannie always serves Mint Juleps (tradition of course!) but this year she will also serve a new drink to match the bay color of I’ll Have Another. This drink is a Southerner’s delight, containing Jack Daniels whiskey (appropriate!), pecans, sherry and an intriguing  smoked element that can either be done on the grill or the stove.

Smoke Signals cocktail

Smoke Signals – Makes 4

  • 2 cups pecan wood chips (or hickory)
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 10 tablespoons Jack Daniels Whiskey or 10 tablespoons other whiskey
  • 6 tablespoons amontillado sherry wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Line heavy large pot with heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle wood chips over bottom of pot; cover. Turn exhaust fan on high. Heat pot over high heat until smoke begins to form inside pot. Fill 9 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch metal loaf pan with ice. Place in pot; cover tightly. Smoke ice until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Cover loaf pan tightly with plastic wrap; freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Using ice pick, cut ice block crosswise into *large* smoked ice chunks allowing 1 per glass. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep frozen.
  2. Bring 1 cup water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pecans; reduce heat to medium and simmer until syrup tastes like pecans, about 12 minutes. Strain; discard pecans. Cover and chill pecan syrup until cold, about 2 hours.
  3.  Place 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons pecan syrup in cocktail shaker. Fill with plain ice cubes; cover and shake until cold. Divide mixture between 2 old-fashioned glasses. Repeat with remaining 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons pecan syrup, and ice. Place 1 smoked ice chunk in each glass and serve.
DINNER MENU
In honor of all white Hansen, Ms. Jeannie will serve an assortment of white cheeses from Trader Joe’s. She is keeping appetizers low-maintenance this year since the Smoke Signals cocktail is a little more involved. Plus, everybody loves cheese and Trader Joe’s carries a wide variety from all over the world.
For the main course, carrying the Irish theme for Dullahan, Ms. Jeannie will make a Braised Brisket with a Bourbon Peach Glaze.  Of course the peach glaze, gives it a southern flair, but it retains its Irish roots by being braised in beer! Ms. Jeannie will also being using locally raised grass-fed beef, other than that she will follow the recipe exactly. If all goes well it look like this:
Braised Brisket with Bourbon Peach Glaze

For a side dish, Ms. Jeannie will make homemade, oven baked bistro french fries, which for the occassion, she will rename, Daddy Long Legs, after one of her favorite Derby contenders in the creative names category.

For the recipe click here Bistro French Fries with Parsley and Garlic

For a second side dish, Ms. Jeannie will make a wilted spinach salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, along with a homemade white wine dressing.

She’ll throw a few loaves of crusty french bread on the table as well and call dinner done!

For dessert, she will carry the Went The Day Well theme and offer her guests a bountiful array of locally grown strawberries (now in season!), crumbled dark chocolate pieces, smoked almonds and espresso. If she planned correctly, her guests will have indeed felt that in fact the day went well!

HAT

What’s a derby party without a hat! Ms. Jeannie still needs to get her derby hat, so don’t you panic either, there is still a little time left. Etsy has a large selection, depending on your budget. Here are Ms. Jeannie’s favorites in the following price points:

Under $20.00

Ivory Rose Fascinator by CastleMemories – $18.00

Under $50.00

1970’s Picture Hat from the Vintage Hat Shop – $42.00

Under $60.00

Wide Brim Black Derby Hat by theoiginaltree – $54.99

Under $80.00

Hot Pink Fascinator by HatsByCressida – $80.00

Under $200.00

Blue Sinamay Derby Hat by daisyhere – $175.00
Or you if you are of the crafty sort, you can make your own homemade derby hat from things lying around the house or the craft store. Either way, you’ll look stunning!
If you have any Derby traditions you’d like to share, please send us a message or a photo!
Cheers to all you race fans!

Set A Contemporary Vintage Table

For years now, Ms.Jeannie has been collecting bits and pieces of antique china to use alongside her everyday dishes. These everyday dishes are as basic as basic can be: white, plain, unadorned. The only bit of flair they possess is that they were made by an Italian plateware company. This makes the plates oval shaped instead of round and the coffee cup saucers are offset to accomodate a slice of biscotti alongside your coffee cup. Other than that they are strictly ordinary.

Having said that Ms. Jeannie discovered one day, while cleaning out her china cabinet, that when she paired these ordinary day plates with her vintage china treasures, her whole table setting instantly hummed with it’s own sort of individuality and surprise. The ordinary looked extraordinary and the mis-matched patterns looked marvelous next to each other because they contained a lot of similar colors.

So Ms. Jeannie started experimenting and was delighted to discover a very broad range of different decorating options when it came to pairing vintage with contemporary.

This is an example of how you can set a contemporary vintage table by combining contemporary dishes with vintage china.

If you look closely there are 10 different plate patterns/designs in this setting. They all work together because they have two themes tying them together: birds and green leaves.

The unexpected vermillion color in the napkin also helps tie together all the warm colors without looking forced or too matchy matchy.

The square bird dish is actually a contempoary soap dish, but has been repurposed to act as a small bread plate or a drink coaster here. It also matches the colors of the black and white toile-looking hunt plate as well as the antique orange, black and green floral bread plate from the 1930’s.

The colors in the antique sugar bowl match the colors found on the vintage bird water glasses. The crazing on the sugar bowl also matches the faux antique patina on the contemporary white salad plate from the Todd English Collection.

You can see here just by adding or subtracting pieces you can get different effects from your table display:

Ms. Jeannie is drawn to three things when it comes to scouting vintage china. She loves anything made out of old English ironstone, anything that contains the color green in its design and anything that contains crackling or crazing marks. So her collection has thousands of ways that it could displayed together since they have those three characteristics in common. You can start your own vintage china collection based on color, shape, time period or region for your own unique look.

This table arrangement was made up of the following pieces:

1 antique sugar bowl (circa early 1900’s)

1 Contemporary ceramic soap dish from Creative Co-op

2 contemporary salad plates from the Todd English collection

1 contemporary fox hunt salad plate from Corona

1 antique bread plate from T.S.&T Paramount Ivory circa 1930’s

2 vintage bird beverage glasses circa 1950s

2 vintage coffee cups (swirl pattern) from Hitkari Potteries

1 contemporary coffee mug from the Todd English Collection

1 vermillion colored cloth napkin from Pottery Barn

Start your vintage tableware collection with this curious antique sugar bowl for $14.00

Curious Antique Sugar Bowl – Pink & Yellow Rose Pattern from msjeannieology