Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12I’ve always liked using candles in and around my home.  I think that the fall/winter months are my favorite time of the year to let candlelight provide the light needed to dine by.

Until the early 20th century, everyone ate by candlelight, I’m sure they didn’t think of it as anything more than an essential way to see what you were eating.  Bright lights became the norm as the introduction of electricity was installed in homes and restaurants everywhere.

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Party Resources ~ Carolyne Roehm}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Party Resources ~ Carolyne Roehm}

According to Jan Whitaker of Resturant-ing Through History,

…there were some ultra-refined people who considered the glare of bright light vulgar. Etiquette expert Emily Holt recommended in1902 that candles be used instead of gas or electric chandeliers for home dinner parties lest the dinner resemble a “blazing feast … in some hotel restaurant.”

Candlelight promised the gentility of an elite dinner party, far removed from loud music, noise, and guests who drank too much. Candles suited the tea room perfectly. Not only did they shed flattering light, they discouraged the rowdy, fun-seeking masses from entering the door. Tea room owners, overwhelmingly WASPs, also liked how candles, as well as lanterns and fireplaces, created a quaint atmosphere that they imagined resembled how their Colonial ancestors lived.

I confess, candlelight does seem to make everything look better.  Even the faces of guests seem aglow when we dim the electric lights and let candlelight do its magic.

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12

So, in addition to a recipe for my beef stew (below), here are some pretty tables with candlelight as their main source of illumination.

{image source}

*Note, this image captures what my stew looks like when I serve it in these bread rounds, but for some reason, my food photography leaves much to be desired for capturing the delicious goodness on the plate.  Thank you for your understanding.

KB’s Irish Stew (serves 6)


2 pounds Chuck roast, cubed, patted dry

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons butter

4 large carrots, scrubbed and sliced

8 large mushrooms, sliced

3 medium potatoes, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 1/2 cup frozen peas

6 cups beef broth+

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste


Cube beef, trim off excess fat.  Heat oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Dry beef with paper towels; season with salt and pepper; brown beef in small batches.  Once brown on all sides; continue until all beef is browned; set aside.

Lower heat to medium and add onion and carrots, (it may be necessary to add a little more oil) cook about 2-4 minutes (until translucent); add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have released their juices.  Return beef to pan and add broth and cubed potatoes.  Reduce heat to keep (medium-low or low heat)* stew simmering; cook for 2 hours, with lid on pan.  Check periodically in case more broth is needed.

*This can be cooked in the oven at 325° for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, check periodically to make sure you don’t run out of broth in the stew.

30 minutes before stew is finished, make slurry of flour and whipping cream, add to stew and stir.  Check and adjust seasonings.

Serve in a mini-boule that has been hollowed out (retain lid) and dry for a few minutes in the oven or with a loaf of crusty bread and salad.

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Mercury glass candles make everything shimmer and it seems they are very popular this fall.

I like tapers as much as votives and often use a combination when we serve dinner.  Do you have a preference when you entertain?

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12Downton Abbey – isn’t this pretty?  I can’t wait for Season 3!

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Inspiring Interiors ~ Christmas in Oslo}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{via}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Inspiring Interiors}

The above image is one of my favorites, I borrowed it from Kifus over at Inspiring Interiors.  If you’ve never visited her site you’re in for a treat.  She features homes from all over the world and most are exquisite. {The tray that holds the mercury glass votives and vintage silver candlesticks is so pretty}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{The New Victorian Ruralist}

Isn’t this a clever idea.  I’m not sure where you’d find 7 rustic ladles of varying sizes but it’s a very fun image.

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{the adventures of tartanscot}

Every Christmas Scot of the adventures of tartanscot shares photographs of his dining room table, complete with little gifts for guests and every year I’m inspired and in awe.  His talents in all of the design work he does is always worthwhile.

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Party Resources}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{Shari Curtis Mortensen ~ Pinterest}

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{tumblr ~ That Inspirational Girl}

I realize some of the table settings are wedding settings, but you get the idea, right.  Besides, we have a wedding coming up (watch for posts pre/post wedding) and candlelight will be a huge part of the ambiance of our (Son #2 & fiance) upcoming celebration.

In light of the stew recipe, maybe I should plan on this (below) form of candlelight…

Garden, Home and Party 11.8.12{tumblr ~ Little White Daisies}

Do you enjoy dining by candlelight? 

I’ve joined in the fun at Stone Gable for her Turtorials and Tips party, see you there.