Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the Homefront: Jonathan Adler Happy Chic Zebra Table

From JCPenney

The idea for this table was born when I found four of the cute little Jonathan Adler Happy Chic Chloe Zebra Trinket Trays shown above at our local HomeGoods.  The Happy Chic line was developed for JCPenney in an effort to help this company change its outdated image and shore up its flagging sales (but alas I have a feeling this effort may be too little too late).  As their name implies, these little ceramic plates are meant to sit on a counter or tabletop as a catchall for any small items that need a temporary resting place.  I decided, however, that they would be just as useful as tableware (and so did the HomeGoods folks, apparently, since they placed them in the kitchen dishware aisle!).  I was attracted to the plates' unusual colors and geometric shapes.  Since I had no square dinner plates at home, I ended up buying four of them at HomeGoods for my zebra table.  One can never have too many white plates, right?  Anyway, here is my simple but unique table:

Dark brown wooden bead place mat from Target; square white dinner plate by Denmark Tools for Cooks from HomeGoods; dark blue linen napkin (birthday gift); Jonathan Adler Happy Chic Chloe Zebra Trinket Tray as dessert plate from HomeGoods; white-handled flatware and blue goblet from Target many long years ago.

The generously-sized blue napkins were a birthday gift from my husband, found on his recent trip to Los Angeles.  The porcelain Somalian Zebra Napkin Rings decorating one end of the table were purchased many years ago from the Museum of Jewelry catalog (and are still available!).  I initially intended to use them for their real purpose, but ended up preferring the napkins between the plates, so I used the rings as table décor instead.  The small beaded zebra is actually a Christmas tree ornament, and the silver tray with African-inspired pattern was purchased in Fort Collins, CO, from a large department store, but I can't remember which one!

One of the zebra napkin rings being used
for its intended purpose. 

The zebras inspired me to select an African-themed menu for this table.  I have one cookbook on African cooking called Flavors of Africa: Spicy African Cooking:

Most of the recipes are too spicy hot for me, but I noticed as I looked through the book that several recipes from Ghana were seasoned more appropriately for my wimpy taste buds, so I chose a chicken stew from Ghana called Palaver Chicken as my main dish.  The Avocado with Groundnut Dressing is also a Ghanaian recipe (groundnut is another name for peanut).  Injera bread is an Ethiopian staple, but it can be used as a base for the appetizer or to soak up any remaining broth from the Palaver Chicken.  For dessert, I chose an easy recipe for Bananas Ghana, since many desserts in Ghana are based on this local fruit.

Happy Chic Zebra Table Menu:

Avocado with Groundnut Dressing*
Injera Bread
Palaver Chicken
Brown Rice
Bananas Ghana**

From What's Cooking in Your World?

*Avocado with Groundnut Dressing

2 avocados
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. shelled peanuts
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
chile powder to taste
salt to taste
minced fresh chives for garnish

Peel and cube the avocados.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside.  Crush or grind the peanuts for a few seconds.  Mix the peanuts with the spices until well combined.  Sprinkle over the avocado cubes.  Garnish with the minced chives.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serves 4.

From Pretty Peas

**Bananas Ghana

2 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise
1/2 C. orange juice
2 T. brandy (apricot is suggested)
2 T. shredded coconut or chopped peanuts
1/4 C. sour cream
1 T. sugar

Combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the banana pieces in the mixture and place them in a 9-inch square baking dish.  Mix the orange juice and brandy and pour over the bananas.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, basting the bananas with the juice occasionally.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the coconut or peanuts.  Combine the sour cream and sugar and serve on the side with the bananas.  Serves 4.

As usual, Lindt Lindor Truffles -- almond (purple wrapper), Irish cream (pink wrapper), and extra dark chocolate (black wrapper) flavors this time -- are offered in a shallow glass bowl at the other end of the table.

The dining room credenza did not escape the zebra theme:

These wooden zebra figures carved in Kenya normally sit in one of our guest bedrooms, but I decided they needed to join the party in the dining room.  The zebra with the bowl happily, if rather incongruously, munches on eucalyptus pods collected by my husband somewhere on his travels.

He may not be striped, but Spot the Dalmatian brings his own
signature black and white pattern to the table!

From National Geographic

"Kuwa na siku nzuri!" means "Have a nice day!" in Swahili (the language commonly spoken in East Africa).

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