Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cranberry Problem

If you looked into my spare freezer you would think I have a serious condition with regard to cranberries. I keep buying them when they are on sale and tossing them in the freezer, figuring I'd use them eventually. Well, I think I have 8 bags in the freezer as of today. Fortunately, it's the time of the year for making Cranberry-Rhubarb Compote and filling out the gift stash. My list is maybe a little smaller this year but I'm sure I'll keep coming up with names so I'll likely be back up to the 60+ jars needed in no time.

Today's double batch of compote is spiced up with 1/2 teaspoon ghost pepper powder (thanks to Roxanne) and came to a total of 9 half-pint jars. They are processed for 15 minutes in the boiling water bath and then rest for 5 before cooling. This brings the gift stash up to 38 jars. I have enough ingredients for another double batch of this compote which I'll make another day, without the spice.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


8:00 am: Get out of bed. Make coffee. Discover we are out of our favorite coffee, the one we have shipped to us 10 pounds at a time. Order coffee. Get the turkey and the stuffing out of the fridge, find the turkey roasting pan.

9:00 am: The brined turkey is now stuffed and will go in the oven at 10. The pumpkin pie is returning to room temperature and is hanging out next to the apple pie (made last night), waiting for their photo op. The rest of the stuffing is in a baking dish. A very large papaya has been cut. The papaya has nothing to do with our Thanksgiving feast, I just felt like buying it. I'll have some for breakfast shortly.

10:00 am: The turkey is in the oven. The pumpkin bread has joined its flashier brethren on the table. Potatoes have been peeled and are waiting in a pot of water until close to dinner. Turns out, neither of my children like papaya. We have a lot left. The dining room has been cleared of all the books, papers, magazines, and random projects that have accumulated there over the last few weeks. The stand mixer's bowl and whisk are now in the freezer for when I need to make whipped cream for the pumpkin pie.

10:30 am: Remember that there is a parsnip to go in with the potatoes. Peel, chop and add. Waiting for the dishwasher to finish so I can get a pot to cook the broccoli in. Usually the creamed broccoli is made days in advance but this year it seemed OK to wait until the day of the party.

11:30 am: Creamed broccoli is made and resting on the stove, over the back burner so it gets the heat from the oven to keep it warm. Dishwasher emptied. Tablecloth on table, centerpiece centered. I've been told by my Mom not to set the table until she gets here because she has something for it. Holding pattern for now, I guess, but I will get the nice china out and ready.  Off to take a shower.

12:30 pm: The china and silverware are out of storage. The foil is off the turkey and the house smells wonderful.

1:30 pm: Made the canapés. Honey goat cheese and cream cheese blended together and then piped onto crackers, topped with bacon jam. Lesson learned - the disposable pastry piping bags are Not Reliable. Cheese squirted all over the place so the canapés are not as pretty as visualized. Parents have arrived. New leaf runners are on the table and the table is being set. Potatoes are boiling. Sweet potatoes have arrived and need to stay warm.

2:30 pm: The turkey is out of the oven. I repeat, the turkey is out of the oven! Potatoes mashed. Extra stuffing now in the oven to bake while the turkey rests.

3:00 pm: Time to eat! The turkey is carved, the sides are ready, the pies are now warming in the oven. Here is the gloriousness that is our feast:
3:30 pm: We are completely stuffed.

4:00 pm: PIE! The whipped cream is made and everyone gets some apple pie and a few people even have room for a slice of pumpkin.

4:30 pm: My parents head home and we start in on the dishes. The dishwasher is on it's third load for today and we're still not done. Time to relax. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's That Time of Year Again

Pie season!

Actually, Thanksgiving. But really isn't it all just about the pie?

Today I made 2 pumpkin pies. Since I'm working tomorrow I wanted to take one in and have one ready for our big dinner on Saturday. I already made pumpkin bread last week, I'll start the turkey brining tomorrow night, and make the stuffing and the apple pie on Friday. The rest will get made on Saturday morning. It is all under control.

Here are the pumpkin pies. Instead of evaporated milk I used less sugar and then used a combination of egg nog and sweetened condensed milk. (Note to self, open the can completely, don't make the little triangle holes. It doesn't pour out easily. I always forget.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Frozen honey and bees.
It's been getting down into the 20's at night over the past few days and it is time to insulate the hive. When I went out there this morning to do that, I didn't see any bees at all through the window and I got a little worried. I reasoned that since I didn't see a huge pile of dead bees on the floor of the hive they must be in there somewhere. Sure enough, as I was working they started moving around and coming to the window.
Fondant boards on the right.

First I took the hardware off the window panel and set all that aside. Then I opened the hive and checked on the bees. The honey in the combs looked frozen but I suspect the freezing point is quite low so it was probably just sluggish.  Then in order to put the fondant boards in I took out a little bit of wax that was unfilled and not really in the right place. It was so cold it was brittle. The fondant boards went in and I moved a partly made, partly filled comb behind it. The false back went next and then I added some spacers to make everything fit correctly.

After that, I put the foam on top of the lid and then put the panels on the sides. It would have been easier with 2 people but I was able to get the back and side panels on and then I could work on the front. Since the front panel closes up most of the entrance and the bees had started to come out by then, I had to shoo the bees out of the way so I could get the panel on without hurting them. Once I got the bungee straps together I was able to shift the panels into the proper position. Then the roof went on over the top insulation panel.

Now that I have the panels up, though, it will be almost impossible to check on them. I have to have faith that they have enough to eat and will survive.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apple Kuchen

My neighbors across the street have a Granny Smith apple tree and were kind enough to give me some apples. We'd had a conversation a little while ago about how well all the trees did this year and that they were inundated with apples. The other day my doorbell rang and there was my neighbor with some apples! (These are different neighbors than the ones with the apple tree that broke under the weight of its apples.) I'd wondered what to do with them and then we were invited to another neighbor's' house for dinner so I thought to make a kuchen with apples rather than peaches.

The kuchen base is:  1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla, beaten together, and to which 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt are added. The batter is pressed into a greased springform pan and then the fruit is placed neatly into the batter. Then the fruit is sprinkled with 3 T. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and baked at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

I'd been warned that these apples had a tendency to cook down quickly so I think that the short baking time was better as they held their shape but were still soft.  One could serve it with ice cream but it really didn't need it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Don't Say a Word

Sorry so dark!
Tonight for dinner we had goat cheese and roasted tomato ravioli with a mushroom cream sauce. And the 10 year old ate it.

Yeah, you read that right. It was a sauce containing eggs and mushrooms. We just didn't say so. It was a huge hit, even if the sauce "broke" because the heat was too high. Here's how I made it:

Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

2 T. mushroom powder (I used the dried suillus mushrooms)
1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten
salt and white pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg

The eggs, cream and mushroom powder were slowly heated (not slowly enough, note-to-self!) with the salt, pepper and nutmeg until thickened. While it was resting I made the ravioli. We've found that the 10 year old's favorite ravioli has chicken in it but if I can't find those, the goat cheese and tomato ones are a good option. I thought the hotplate was as low as it could go but apparently it was still too hot and the eggs cooked a bit. You can tell by the photo that the texture was off. The taste was perfectly fine. If I wasn't trying to keep the mushroom powder a bit of a secret I might have added more. Or chunks of mushroom. But this was just right for today.

Don't say ANYTHING!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Perfectly Matched

Bacon jam and honey goat cheese. 'Nuff said.