Two weekends ago, I had the honor of hosting the most fantastic lunch with my pal Dean Renaud for Jessica Murnane's One Part Plant For Reals Meals series. I've admired these meals for months from afar, so when she asked me to host one, I could barely contain my excitement. Dean and I both hail from Kentucky and have thrown our own equally-epic Derby parties before we ever met each other, so it was only natural that we cook up a Southern spread. But making plant-based recipes was a definite first for us both. Fried chicken and pimento cheese went out the window in favor of surprisingly delicious grit cakes and raw Derby pie. To give the setting a fresh, spring look, we adopted a white, wood, and green color scheme with hits of gold. For our centerpiece, we gathered small plants in a vintage crate (which once held Ale 8, a soda made in KY). And then to add greenery to each setting, I crafted some placemats out of fake moss. What's wonderful about these guys is that they only look complicated — I swear! Sadly, I didn't take step-by-step photos as I made them, but hopefully these instructions (plus photos by the lovely and talented Ms. Carolina Rodriguez) make the project fairly easy to follow.1. Purchase a moss runner like this one, which measures 48 inches long. Use sharp scissors to cut the runner into placemats large enough to hold a dinner plate. Because I needed six placemats, I bought two runners. I cut four from the first runner (each placemat measured 12 inches long) and then I cut two more from the second runner. Use scissors to cut rounded corners on each placemat.
2. Place a dinner plate onto the placemat, then lift up one side of the plate to tuck in a few cut flowers; we used ferns with gold-painted tips (just use acrylic paint and a paintbrush to make them yourself) and wax flowers. Play with the placement until you're satisfied, making sure the flowers' cut ends lay beneath the plate.
3. Remove the plate, then use a glue gun to affix the flowers in place, covering the glue with extra stems when possible. Lay the plate back down and fill up on food.