Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Getting dressed for game day. Iron man is wearing dads’ barbeque apron.

I took pictures all day of my little sous chef cutting mushrooms for the stuffing, mashing sweet potatos . . . however it’s getting late and my patience is wearing thin so here’s the pie.

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Dumping in the pumpkin puree.

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Where’s the pumpkin?

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Adding the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

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. . . Sugar

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. . . Eggs

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. . . more sugar but must taste it first . . .

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add some heavy cream and . . . mix it up . . .

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Voila ! Two delicious pumpkin pies ready for the oven.

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Thanks for cleaning up sweetie . . .

We baked some no knead bread. The bread was wonderful ! Crispy crust, moist and chewy on the inside. Make this bread. It is the easiest recipe I’ve ever made.

Just before going into the hot oven

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Fresh out of the oven and cooling down.

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We roasted chestnuts, peeled them up and put them into the brussell sprouts with a bit of bacon and sherry. (Nigella Lawsons’ “Feast”)

Garlic mashed potatoes. My husbands’ specialty.

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. ( my homage to the American feast)

Couldn’t do without some stuffing. The only thing I made from a box. (oh, the horrors!)

Brined and roasted the turkey. It was so moist on the inside and wonderfully crispy on the outside thanks to the basting with maple syrup and butter. mmmmmm.

and of course, just a little wine.

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Everybody getting ready for the feast.

We talked about what we were all thankful for. My list was long and varied. But for today what I am thankful for is a family to celebrate this thanksgiving holiday with. There was a time when I was so lonely. The holidays always intensified that feeling. I am so thankful to be surrounded by family and to be able to cook a wonderful meal. Put love and thought into what I am making and then serve to people I love. That’s joy.

The only thing missing was a fellow foodie. If anyone said mmmm that is really good . . I would go on and on about my cooking methods and recipes. My enthusiastic explanations would fall on deaf ears and my poor listeners’ eyes would glaze over.

Don’t you want to know how I made that no knead bread? What about the chestnuts. Let me tell you about roasting those chestnuts. What about the turkey? Do you think next time I should add more star anise into the brine? Can you taste the orangey flavour? The gravy . . . add the liver next time? This is so much fun let’s talk about it. Please?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown

I have to be confess: I’m not the most playful mama. I don’t like going to the park and playing ‘tag’ with my wee one. Noah watches too much t.v. so I can do something other than coloring, painting or going back to the park for what seems like, the 100th time, on any given day.

Here’s what I do like to do. I turn Noah into a Sous chef in my kitchen and we start to cook. Since Thanksgiving is in one more day and the family is coming over we get to party in the kitchen.

The prep started Friday. We baked pumpkins for a pie. First step. Cut the pumpkins in half and dig out the seeds:

Thanksgiving 2009 047 Why stand on the chair when the counter is so much fun?

Place pumpkins onto baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water and bake in 425 F degree oven until fork tender.

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pumpkin puree

Nothing this lovely ever comes out of a can. I can’t wait to turn this puree into a pie!

Next on prep day: Cranberry sauce.

First: pour cranberries onto a pot.

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Add zest of one orange

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Also juice of one orange . . .

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Sugar, a touch of Grand Marnier to taste . . . with a dash of water . . .

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Cook on medium low heat until most of the liquid has reduced, the cranberries have popped (isn’t that such a festive noise?) and the cranberry mixtures has turned into . . .

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Thick, gorgeous sauce that is finger lickin’ good!

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Yum – O!

Last, but not least. The Turkey. The Brine. The Love.

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Assembled ingredients for the brine. This Brine recipe is from Nigella Lawsons’ “Feast”

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Dissolve salt and sugar in the water.

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After adding the rest of the ingredients really get your hands in there and mix, mix, mix.

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Ignore the camera strap in the picture . . . Noah had to put some orange, onion and herb pieces on the turkey for a ‘blanket’.

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He kept squidging, touching and adding pieces on top while saying “ooooooo love, love mummy, love . .” The extra ice was to displace some of the water so the turkey would be submerged and also as an extra precaution to keep the turkey icy cold while bathing in the brine.

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Blankets on, Job well done. Until Tomorrow.

Noah insisted on dragging the heavy cooler outside. “I’m strong mummy let me do it!” When daddy was done work he dragged the cooler out from it’s hiding place under the barbeque cover and had to show daddy “the love”. He was pretty proud of all the work we did and it entertained the both of us for most of the afternoon. We had such a good time. We were productive and had such a good time making a huge mess in the kitchen.

Here’s the link to Nigellas’ turkey brine recipe. It’s on the Food Network website.

More cooking tomorrow!

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to Say “Thank you”

I stayed for a few days with a dear friend of mine a while back and when I got home I sat on my bed and started sobbing. I didn’t realise how stressed I had been and her home was a haven for four days. I was moved by her love and generosity during my visit. Her love and quiet home was just the thing I needed. A simple ‘thank you’ didn’t seem right. I wanted to thank her again and again. On the flight home I was reading Elizabeth Gilberts’ book, ‘Eat Pray Love’, and when I came upon this quote, I e-mailed it to my friend when I got home:

“. . . in the end, though, maybe we must give up trying to pay back the people in the world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert “Eat, Pray, Love: . . .”

So. Thank you again. Here’s to all of you that sustain my life and make my world a less lonely place to be: 

Say thank you . . . . “forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

Likely 2009 014 Whisky Jack (Likely, B.C.  Summer 2009)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to make Homemade Ravioli with a really good butternut squash filling and smothered in a creamy sauce.

In my shopping frenzy at the farmers market the other day I bought the nicest squash. I decided to make homemade ravioli. I had never made ravioli before and I thought: how hard can it be? The question I should’ve asked is: How long will this take?

First, I quartered my squash, covered it in olive oil, salt,pepper and put it in the oven for baby and me . . wait, that’s not right . . . It’s hormonal my brain takes all sorts of turns in odd directions when I’m not looking. So. I put it in the oven at about 375F for 45 minutes or so. I wasn’t paying much attention to the time as I was trying to whip up the ravioli dough.

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Butternut squash before going into oven.

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Some flour, a few eggs salt and pepper into my mixer. Recipe said to mix until dough forms a ball. (I googled home made ravioli and have since lost the paper I printed it out on so – go google, get the recipe and leave me alone)

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Here is the ball of dough after adding a bit more egg and olive oil. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and let the dough rest for about an hour or so. (recipe said 30 minutes) Then started rolling. The rolling took forever.

Ravioli Sept3109 001Pasta dough is not the most forgiving sort. I wished for a pasta maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer or at least a heavy marble rolling pin. So I rolled and rolled and rolled. Until my arms hurt my head hurt and my feet hurt.

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Here’s the recipe for the filling: 1 Squash, 1 Cup full fat ricotta, 1/4 tsp or so nutmeg,cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Whiz it up in your food processer, done. I put the filling into a piping bag. It was easier to get onto the dough and looked much prettier. Yes?

(I got the filling recipe from The Food Networks’ Giada De Laurentiis of “Everyday Italian”)

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Look at my lovely row of pretty filling. The recipe called for an egg wash between the filling to act as the glue for the top layer. I tried it once but it turned the dough into a goopy mess and I couldn’t re use the dough when making more. I didn’t use the egg wash for the next batch and the ravioli still turned out great and stayed together without the egg wash.

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All done (all that work for a few ravioli?)

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It was getting late and I was too lazy to make a sauce and I didn’t want to wait for water to boil so I fried some ravioli up in butter and olive oil . . .

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. . . . Sprinkled with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and some olive oil . . oh so delicious and worth the hours of rolling out dough . .

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The Next Night:

Here’s the sauce I made. I had cooked up some bacon earlier so rather than cleaning the pan I put it aside to use the leftover pork fat and crispy drippings for my creamy sauce. Mmmmmm.

I deglazed the pan with about 1/2 cup of white wine. Let the wine reduce for a bit, added some heavy cream, let it reduce and bubble away then I added the parmesan cheese a little bit of grated nutmeg, salt and pepper mix, mix and voila! The creamiest most amazing sauce in the world.

I fried up some greens in a bit of Olive oil and garlic, boiled up the ravioli . . . added ravioli to the sauce . . Here it is all plated up and ready to go. It was sooooo good. The greens were perfect with the richness of the ravioli and cream sauce. Mmmmmm delicious delicious.

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Dig in. Doesn’t that look good?