Archive for November, 2010

thanksgiving menu

November 29, 2010 1 comment

After a 5 day holiday its time to wake up tomorrow and return to regular life. The 9 1/2 hour horror show that is the typical monday these days.  Its a good time to sum up and most of that summing up is cooking.

I really started the weekend before by making corn bread and chicken stock. The corn bread I doubled the recipe on the corn bread box and added the left over grits from breakfast. That made them moist and good but it didn’t really dry out as much as I would have liked . I cut it up into squares a couple of days before Thanksgiving but should have done it the day I made it. I tossed it in the oven a couple of times on a low temp to dry it out further.

The  stock I made out of neck and back & organs of a local chicken that i simmered with a couple of bay leaves for 4 hours. I kept it in the fridge and scooped off the condensed fat. I also added the broth from any veggies i cooked during the week. I had intended to use it in the dressing but when the cooking got into a team sport plans changed.

The day before I pulled one of the pumpkins off the front porch and pealed and chopped and seasoned and cooked all the flesh. I used a lot of fresh ground spices, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, anise star, all spice, and fresh ginger. I figured letting it sit over night the spices would mix and instill themselves in the pumpkin. I ended up underspicing by a considerable degree. I probably didn’t fully realize just how much pumpkin i was dealing with. I also baked some pumpkin seeds with salt and a little lime, they were delicious. I left a few for the compost i’ve had good luck with volunteer pumpkins.

I also brined the turkey. I put in the cooler with 2 gallons of water a cup of sugar and a cup of kosher salt. the turkey i had ordered a couple weeks ago from some local farmers and then picked up on Tuesday at Cafe Berlin. I got the biggest one they had 17 lbs. more because i wanted to ensure i got a female more than i wanted a giant bird. I had to put it in the cooler on its side and it ended up bruised on one side. There was a little talk on facebook about brining and its done to both clean it and tenderize the meat. When you buy it in the grocery store its already packed in salt water.

The day of I started cooking a little before 7. I rinsed off the turkey and patted it dry. I rubbed it inside and out with olive oil and stuffed it with 2 local pears, 3 big cloves of garlic, and a white onion. I baked it at 425 for an hour and then backed it off to 325. Pretty much according to the directions from the farmers. I baked it upside down both to keep the breast meat moist and because it was too big for the roaster pan.

While it was baking Brenda put the neck and organs boiling with a half of a pack of celery. I added maybe 4 tbsps fresh picked white sage and maybe 2 of oregano plus a bay leaf and we boiled that for about 3 hours. Someone turned up the fire or I would have let it go 4. Brenda combined that with the cornbread and some more fresh sage and I roasted some fresh chest nuts and diced them in and that was it.

Early on in the day i made pie crusts. I found a gluten free recipe on line. folded in shortening into rice flour. i was regretting not getting lard, supposed to make crusts flakier. I made one the same way with wheat flour it wasn’t any good. I baked them for about 20 minutes with the turkey. two i did with pumpkin. added some egg, brown sugar, and condensed milk. My sister Betty had sent a quart of minced meat from my grandma trapp’s recipe so i made a minced meat pie as well. it was excellent. one of the better gluten free deserts i’ve had.she had also sent down some gluten free cranberry bread. we broke that out with coffee in lieu of breakfast since we were having a giant meal early.

Then got the stove top stuff ready. Cubed up some red potatoes from the market for mashed taters. Made them pretty classic with whole milk and butter and fresh ground pepper. Brenda made gravy out of turkey drippings, corn starch and I pulled up a horeradish and cleaned it up. Freshly grated it was good. Don’t think I’m going to prepare it just keep it fresh in the freezer and grate as needed, just like I do my ginger.

We also did butternut squash also mashed with brown sugar, butter, and roasted walnuts. The sweet potatoes i did in small cubes cooked on the stove top in the water from the pumpkins. I grated in extra star anise and fresh ginger and added butter and Springfield honey. they were a little mushy from scaling up the recipe.

Brenda and Heather brought a Panerra cheese bread and we chunked it up and toasted with butter and garlic powder. Did a relish tray with my dill and bread & butter pickles, black and green olives. I opened a chilled can of whole cranberries, fluffed with a fork and it was dinner. I was most appreciative of the teamwork. Everyone jumped in to help which made it really nice and allowed us to eat a couple hours earlier.

Categories: cooking

foundational moles

November 20, 2010 1 comment

We’re debating moles here on Leslie Lane. My attitude has been live and let live. They aerate the soil which my clay pit desperately needs and don’t do anything but cosmetic damage. I am not going for a vast expanse of monoculture grass so the tracks haven’t really bothered me. Its not really noticeable curbside but its been a growing problem. This fall a bunch of tunnels have appeared near the  house, i’m guessing to take advantage of the warmer soil. Dad claims they’ll wreck the foundation. I am dubious but dad is right enough it led me to an internet search. Couldn’t find any indications they do any damage except cosmetic damage to lawns. They’re tunnels appear to collect nuisances as when you eliminate them new critters move in, other moles, mice, wasps & hornets and such. I’m not thrilled with my ever growing system of mole tunnels but killing the little bastards seems extreme and likely to invite new invaders to move into the vacuum. So for now i will share the yard with my myopic friends. If they become problematic or i learn something that changes my mind i’ll invest in a mole trap. With my already extant tunnel system i can expect it to be a reoccurring issue.

Categories: gardening

from computer fast to thanksgiving feast

November 17, 2010 1 comment

its been a little minute since i’ve posted anything. i was without a computer. i broke my power cord in the same place that i broke the last one so i decided i needed to change my computer usage and it took me a few weeks to get my desk moved and set up in the spare room so i could try to move most of my computing and all of my plugged in computer time in the office. but what i found was i kind of enjoyed not playing on the computer. freed up some time which i promptly wasted reading novels, re-read snowcrash and the diamond age both just as good a second thoughtful time through.  floated the lemine river the last 12 miles before the the 2 miles before the mouth of the missouri. loverly it was. saw a beautiful bald eagle, piliated woodpecker and great hawk and great blue heron sitings. floating is a misnomer though as if we would have allowed for current we would probably still be there. there were places were the leaves had fallen and they just stayed there, very beautiful. patches of color but mostly bare so you could see through the woods like you can in winter. some pretty bluffs. nice big easy river. not a lot of motor boats on a cool fall day. dad finished the new compost bin. its a lot bigger a square plywood box framed with two by fours and a plywood bin. today at lunch i raked leaves and layered them in with the house coffee and scraps and started shoveling in the top layers of my compost that’s been going. i think there’s probably a fair bit finished down below and i’m gonna mix it in to make the leaves go faster. should have enough capacity to hold all of my fall plant material at once. i want to use the compost to turn up a couple of beds hopefully of spinach, lettuce, and kale. still need to harvest the horseradish but its still green so i’m letting it grow. i bought alcohol to process the witch hazel tincture, european style not distilled like i’ve always used. i’m waiting for it to lose the rest of its leaves and i’m going to prune off suckers. also have a pretty darn local thanksgiving feast in the works. brenda and heather are driving down bless their hearts. i ordered a pasture raised bobtail white, next year i’m going to heritage, but i’m excited nonetheless, littler than a factory bird but realer and there’s only going to be four or so. plus i’m gonna do mashed taters, red if there’s some left. i’m going to hit the market first thing. i’m also doing sweet potatoes cubed and cooked in a little water in the cast iron skillet with spinach, fresh chopped ginger, freshly ground star anise & nutmeg (my bastardization of a recipe i had at Jack’s Steakhouse on HT3’s b-day dinner [a very cool affair with live piano, a beef mushroom wine soup, a wine soaked local streak, the sweet potatoes, and a baked alaska for two{suitable for four}]). and butternut squash with brown sugar, butter and roasted nuts (not pecans this year’s don’t come out for two more weeks.) cornbread dressing with fresh roasted chestnuts and the nasty bits of the turkey (neck and organs [i love my family]). some type of cranberry dish, maybe just the canned kind (not the tube though). also will have the homemade bread & butter pickles that get better and better as they sit. got a bottle of a nice italian red. taking the day before to cook. sightseeing and an AA meeting on black friday, the first day of winter market with brenda and heather (those pecans i mentioned and a breakfast burrito) and then see them off with two days of weekend to clean up and deal with leftovers and relax before the grind. life is sweet. i am blessed and looking forward to a full holiday season at my own home for the first time in my life. greetings to the national christmas tree which is winding around wyoming enroute to columbia to spend the night at the holiday inn. sorry i won’t get across town to get you a commemorative ornament. know that i love you just the same.

Categories: cooking, friends, gardening