Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It was good fruitcake. I couldn't eat the pecans (nut allergy) so my mother would pick them out of my piece before serving (that wouldn't be adequate today I'm afraid as my allergy has grown worse rather than better with age) but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the cake. In fact, it was one of the very few sweets we were permitted. You couldn't eat much of it, being so heavy, though I suspect that made it all the more special-something to savour in small bits. I seem to recall it contained a fair amount of brandy though I have no idea if my mother was (as the saying goes) "moistening" it (pouring booze into it).
I'm less enchanted by the cakes as an adult. I'm sure that it's just a matter of being able to eat whatever I please, and not needing to wait all year for something palatable to pass my lips. I'd just assume skip the cake and go straight for the brandy. My husband however, being Scottish, likes his fruitcake so every year I make one-for his birthday in January. We don't mind having our fruitcake when others are taking down their trees, and it really is something to look forward to after the holiday season.
I'll be making mine a bit early this year (though the cake does well to "ripen" for a few weeks anyway) as we're expecting horrible weather (ice storm) and I will be trapped in the house all weekend (they do not treat the county roads as well as they ought to). What better time than to bake-up a storm?
I ran across THIS recipe from my very favourite home economist in the world, Marguerite Patten. I'm tempted to make it in place of my usual fruitcake as it does sound wonderful and I trust her recipes. I also by chance have an unopened jar of Golden Syrup on hand (I thought Danny might like farls, but I never got around to baking them). Mine uses applesauce for moisture, but I don't really think it would suffer without it. HERE's the cake I usually make.
I'm also planning to make a Christmas pudding which will need ripening time. I may well be on the edge of over-doing it but I'd like to make stollen as well. Since I'm giving home-baked goods this year, I have an excuse for trying out all these new recipes of old favourites. Oh, and the mincemeat-Lord knows I have quite a bit of that.
Now that I think of it, I'm sort of looking forward to the inclement weather.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
If all else fails, leave a comment or drop me an email and I'll try to direct you to the recipe.
It was about 4:30 by the time we got out of there, so we did what any good parents would do-we took Danny out for ice cream. Believe it or not, he still came home and ate a dinner of chick pea salad and roasted red peppers, so I'm not too worried about the chocolate shake.
This was Danny's first time in a Runza (we eat away from home maybe twice a year-tops) and I was really pretty proud of how well-behaved he was, sitting there eating his milkshake, and I must admit I was silently congratulating myself for being such a superior mother-at least until he began chanting (loudly):
I got the runs at Runza!
It was slightly less mortifying than the time he announced publicly: "Mummy's underwear is held together with safety pins!"
Good thing he's really cute.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
This time of year I fill my freezer with bags of cranberries and then miserly ration them out through the rest of the year. They were pretty expensive around here, but last week they went on sale for $1.39 a bag so I stocked-up. It almost seems a shame to waste them for Thanksgiving.
In my experience, the less you fuss with the cranberry sauce, the better. Cooking them in sugar and water according to the directions on the bag is still the best use I've ever found. A bit of orange zest stirred-in at the end is nice, but by the time you're adding sections of citrus fruit to it, you're overpowering the cranberries. This is a common tactic carried out by people who do not like cranberries. I'd just skip it rather than subject it to that treatment.
On the other hand, cranberry bread with orange juice can be delicious. Or how about Cranberry Ice Cream?
Over the years, I've made numerous cranberry pies (not even counting the "pie" I made last week) and the following is my all-time favourite. It would be a perfect finish to any Thanksgiving meal.
Cranberry Raisin Pie:
You Will Need:
Two Crust Pastry
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups cranberries, halved
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
butter for dotting at end
cream for brushing
sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix together in a pot everything except extract, butter, cream and sugar. Bring to a boil slowly (medium heat) and boil gently for five minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into bottom crust, dot with butter, and cover. Make slit to vent. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 30-40 minutes.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Today I began the starter which requires potato water. Since we were having mashed potatoes for dinner, it was simple enough to save out a cup of the cooking water.
The recipe for the starter is as follows:
1 cup potato water, cooled to lukewarm
1 tablespoon yeast (yes, I cheat and use yeast)
1 cup rye flour.
Stir, cover (don't use a metal bowl) with plastic and keep in a room between 65-70 degrees. After three days, you're ready to make rye bread.
This bread keeps very well once it is baked, and I have successfully shipped it to people across the country having it arrive in perfect shape (or so they have told me). It also freezes well. I'm not making a turkey for Thanksgiving (it's a bit much for three people) but I can't help but think it would be a wonderful base for a turkey sandwich.
This style of rye is pretty similar to what we used to get from the bakeries in Chicago, and somewhat similar to what people call a New York Rye. It does take a bit of work, and last year I tried it numerous times with various changes until i found one that worked. If you type "rye bread" into the Search Blog field at the top of the page, you can see all the attempts on a single page. It was fun, and educational. I hope this year is as successful.
I'm looking forward to some soft boiled eggs and rye toast next weekend.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
So I'm standing in line purchasing my Advent calendar and a rubber duck wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David (hey, we're an interfaith family) and a jar of capers when the woman next in line begins reminiscing. She was slightly older than I (I'd guess about fifty) and had a very heavy German accent.
"Jah, they were just pictures on paper, not chocolate ven I vas a child. My muter, Jah she knew I vas peeking ahead."
At that point it sort of felt like the conversation was either going to turn quite maudlin with stories about the Marshall Plan, or she was going to enter comedic territory with descriptions of her mother punishing her by holding her hand over the kitchen range (if that were funny, which I guess it's not, but in the context of a culture that gave us children's stories like Struewlpeter, it has amusing aspects). Instead, she didn't elaborate.
I wonder what stories Danny will have to tell complete strangers about me?
Friday, November 16, 2007
The light in here is terrible, and my camera somewhat crummy, but I think you get the idea.
The texture was light and fluffy and it was quite delicious. The clarified butter was a bit much, but it did serve to keep it from drying out.
Recipe may be found a few posts down the page.
First a hint: Gourmet magazine, 1973.
OK, you'll never guess, it is a tuna pate. No really, it is-and wait until you read what goes into it. Obviously, it is an Hore -DE-Orveee (as my Mum used to say)-you don't want to make a big sandwich out of it.
I made a few minor changes in quantity to the recipe, but it is essentially the same.
You Will Need:
2 7 oz. tins of tuna packed in oil
1 tablespoon softened butter
1/2 cup heavy cream, slightly whipped
2 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup clarified butter
Clarify butter, and have it ready to pour.
Put drained tuna through a food mill or food processor until paste-like. Combine it with everything except the clarified butter.Pack it into a small dish and cover it with clarified butter. Chill until solid. About ten minutes before serving, grab a defibrillator-wait, sorry I was thinking out loud again. About ten minutes before serving, remove the dish from the ice box and let stand at room temperature. While you wait, you can use the time to surf the American Heart Association website and get caught up on your CPR skills.
Really people, moderation, OK?
And a gas mask.
Cabbage soup. Oh my gosh, it's like she's writing herself into a Ukrainian joke.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It's not like anyone screamed:
Oh my gosh, you idiot-you'll get botulism!" or anything like that, but since they seemed to feel so strongly about processing it in the boiling water, I took that to mean, "Oh my gosh, you idiot-you'll get botulism", and really, who the hell wants that?
The problem, (according to the USDA where the guidelines originate) is that the soils are different than they were as little as twenty years ago and due to acid rain, there are different bacterias that can thrive that never used to. Now this could all be hogwash, or an explanation coming from someone that never took biology much less earth science trying to summarise a government guideline-at any rate, I'm not about to second guess the advice. If I were soaking this in booze, like the pears from a few weeks ago or Jenn's mincemeat, it would be a different story, but a jam of rutabagas, oranges and thyme simply does not seem worth the risk. It's not like if we get hit with a nuclear warhead tomorrow that I'm going to be holed-up in a fallout shelter kicking myself for not canning the rutabagas*.
I'll go ahead and make a short version of the recipe to serve tonight and tomorrow. Under refrigeration I suspect it would keep a week fine, but we'll use it over a couple of days as a sort of chutney.
*No, I'm not canning to stock a fallout shelter, though given the state of the world it might not be an entirely bad idea.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Anyhoo. things are looking up, and Jenn has graciously sent me her family recipe for mincemeat. I suppose if I find suet I can lay in a stock for making a Christmas Pudding as well.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I tried the Wahoo Locker (they just laughed), BIG Meats, and Just Good Meat. Apparently, butchers no longer hang and trim the slabs anymore and those of us that like a couple of cups on hand to dice up in the mincemeat are out of luck.
I mean, if you can't get beef suet in The Beef State, I just don't know what the world (or Nebraska) is coming to.
I'd like to find some in the next couple weeks to put-up mincemeat for Christmas. Any ideas?