Holiday Goodies

turkey.jpgAh, so it begins. 

From my cousin:
“Well, so far, there will be about thirty of us.  We should talk about the menu and see what we want everyone to bring. We’ll need two turkeys. Kevin says he wants to deep fry one.”

This, from my cousin Leland in Kansas where we will meet for Thanksgiving.  I will happily fly to Tulsa from Los Angeles, then drive on cruise control 120 miles to the small town of Parsons for Thanksgiving dinner at his big blue Victorian home with a host of cousins, grandchildren, stray local teen-agers and two uncles well into their 80s. (One will bring a cream pie and the other, green jello.) 

Once we settle where the out-of-towners sleep we will find ourselves smack in this small town of 13,000 in the middle of the country, the grocery shopping dependent on a Wal Mart just outside the city limits where there is never a shortage of iceberg lettuce, year round.  (A side note: I felt slapped down, yet hopeful to discover a small plastic container of basil buried among the radishes when last there.) 

Read more ...

horns006.jpgMore than twenty years ago, when my Auntie Elinor was living in Riverside, Illinois, she began sending me the special holiday cookbook that her local newspaper published. It was packed with all kinds of recipes that readers had shared. I always loved reading through its pages.

One year, as I read through the recipes, I came upon an interesting cookie called Horns. Tender pastry dough, rich with butter and sour cream, is rolled out thin and sprinkled with a cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture. Wedges of dough are rolled up and baked. The dough is very nice to work with and rolls out very easily. If you haven't had a lot of experience with pastry dough, this is one you'll want to try. It's very user-friendly.

Read more ...

ImageMy first taste of goat’s cheese was at a tapas restaurant in Chicago many years ago. The soft, creamy cheese with a fairly mild, salty taste was topped with pine nuts. At the time, the flavors were so different from what I was accustomed to eating. During the years since that first introduction, I’ve become quite fond of the full, rich flavor of goat cheese.

One of my favorite ways to serve goat cheese is to spread the room-temperature cheese on a platter and top it with sliced sundried tomatoes in oil, smashed kalamata olives and slivers of fresh basil. I drizzle some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes over the whole platter and serve it with baguette slices. Guests cover the bread with oil-soaked cheese and then top it with the tomatoes, olives and basil. The whole thing can be assembled right before guests arrive. It’s not a concoction I developed myself. Mary Risley, of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco served it at the first class I ever took from her.

This holiday season I’ve combined those same ingredients and baked them in tiny little cream cheese tart shells. The rich custard holds all the ingredients together in a flaky cream cheese cup.

Read more ...

icecream sundaeThanksgiving is next week. I am in amazement as to how quickly this year flew by. Last year at this time I was starting to clean out our pantry in preparation for experimenting with a gluten free diet. That experiment turned into a way of life and everyone in our home has greatly benefited from it.

With the change in diet and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would savor the little moments(Levi and I walking hand in hand to school), embrace my accomplishments, no matter how great or how small, and to try and be in the moment as much as possible.

I have been gradually planning my Thanksgiving menu. Gradually, because I am in denial that it is next week. Pie has never been my dessert of choice. It wasn’t something I enthusiastically raised my hand to make. In the past, when I did indulge in a piece of pie, it was always the center that I savored, discarding the crust.

Having 5 egg yolks on hand, with a day left before they had to be tossed, it was this cinnamon ice cream recipe that inspired me to create, what I am calling, a deconstructed apple pie – a la mode. A big bag of raw pecans and some homemade graham cracker crumbs were incentive to help this idea grow.

Read more ...

fresh-green-table popovers 01This Christmas especially I am wishing we could be with my Mom and Dad and sister in Delaware. But it is not to be, so I will have to make do, recreating the traditional Christmas morning breakfast we’ve cooked year after year. Popovers are the star, with scrambled eggs and scrapple on the side. Scrapple might be a bit hard to find in Massachusetts (!), but I will definitely be making my Dad’s famous popovers. Only I’m not sure which pan I’m going to use.

When I was a very little girl, my job was to stand on a stool, dip a paper towel into a can of Crisco, and grease the cast-iron muffin pan with the stuff. The Crisco kind of went by the wayside, but for some reason, that cast iron pan wound up with me, and has traveled around the Northeast for the last 25 years or so. I’m not sure how old the pan is (it’s marked “Griswold, Erie PA,” so I know for sure that it was made before 1957, when the Wagner company absorbed Griswold. But it is likely much older than that). But I think it is due a little more respect than I have given it lately.

Read more ...