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Cooking with Myra: Easter feast has multitude of flavors

April 19, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 18, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.

Spicy Lamb Chops with Mint Mango Sauce

By Myra Starkey

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.

- Pablo Picasso

Our house should be a reflection of us. The colors on the walls in my house are beiges and pale yellows. These are calming colors, but I think we decided to paint the walls in neutrals because these hues match everything. Our house is more than 150 years old and has wooden floors, which have been scuffed by many years of running feet and roller skates. Later, when the boys learned to skateboard, they practiced inside when I was not around. The floors around my kitchen table have dents in the wood from the kids tilting their chairs back on two legs, despite my warnings of the danger of doing so. Our house bears these wounds proudly, and they only endear this structure to me.

Taylor is the decorator for our family. He gained this title long ago when he developed an eye for antiques and color. He has a knack for putting different items together to make a room livable yet interesting. We have collected items over the last 25 years from more antique shops and second-hand stores than I can begin to count. If one were to come in and look around, the scheme would be called eclectic, which is short for a lot of different stuff.

Last weekend, Taylor and I went to Rockport with our old friends, Doug and Laura, from Shiner. Our main, planned activity was the Rockport Tour of Homes. It is fun to look at houses and see how other people live and how they decorate. There were six houses and one yacht on the tour. We were particularly interested in this incredible mansion that had been built this past year on Fulton Beach Road overlooking Aransas Bay. It lies beyond an ornate iron gate in a walled enclave.

On Saturday, with tickets in hand, we headed for our first stop at a new mansion on the bay. Beyond the gate is a beautiful winding path through oak trees bent by the ever present coastal winds. We entered though a massive front door into a room with a 20 foot marble fireplace hand carved in Italy. The ceilings in the downstairs of the house were 25 feet tall. The main room looked out over the bay. Below was a tiled pool surrounded by four large classical marble statues of women representing the four seasons. The inside was filled with beautiful chandeliers and incredible African wooden carvings. The house lacked for nothing and had one of the largest kitchens and 10 burner stoves I have ever seen.

Our next stop was a small house in Key Allegro, which was right on the bay. Looking out the large picture windows, one could see nothing but waves and water. This house was decorated with pale green and blues like the color of the sky and ocean. Decorative tiles in the kitchen continued the same theme as we gazed toward the dining room table set for imaginary guests.

The next house on our tour was my all-time favorite, and I have been on a lot of home tours. Color was the scheme, and I have never seen such a wonderful use of the spectrum. This Cape Cod-style house was in Harbor Oaks, which is a canal community. The front columns of this green house had bases made of sea shells, starfish and river rocks. This was just a hint of what was to come. We entered into a large room that had several sitting areas with bright orange slip covered sofas and red coral tapestry chairs. The fireplace mantel was made with the same river rocks and shells as the column bases. Some walls were painted bright orange, others purple or turquoise, and still others vivid yellow. It immediately brightened my spirits. Even the laundry room was filled with color and sketches of clowns. Everywhere I looked, there was color and lots of brilliant art.

The backyard had decks overlooking the canal with comfortable wicker couches filled with bright floral pillows. I wanted to just sit down and ask for a lemonade and spend my afternoon relaxing. We walked back into the main house and toured the kitchen, which had a massive island, and I imagined hungry grandchildren lined up with their plates to be served. The bedroom had handmade quilts of red and white.

The home had been recently completed, and the result was a feast for the eyes. I cannot imagine getting up every morning amidst such a wash of brightness and not greeting the day with a smile. Right now, I feel like painting my walls, starting with turquoise and ending with sunflower yellow. I just have to get my decorator to go along with the plan.

Last week, my friend, Janet, had supper club at her house, and she created an Easter feast. She prepared several of the dishes and gave recipes to the rest of the group. There was a multitude of colors and flavors on the plate; spring rolls with papaya, lamb chops with green mint sauce, carrots with orange and olives and another dish of red beets with green beans. I prepared individual Pavlova's for dessert topped with fruit and cream. Everyone agreed that the meal was both delicious and colorful. Here's a menu to celebrate the amazing world of color in food.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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