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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan: First Week of Advent

This is the first Sunday of Advent, the Church's New Year. It is a little Lent. Our family's meals will reflect this small fast with more meatless days during the week, no big desserts, candy, cookies or cakes save for Saint Barbara's and Saint Nicholas' feast days. It is a time of penitence, personal reflection and prayer. Much like people make resolutions at New Year's, this is a time to take stock of one's soul and see what needs improvement.

Our menu this week shows some use of leftovers from Thanksgiving still (we've had them stored at freezing temperatures). I'm still trying to use things from our pantry and freezer and minimize our trips to the grocery store. We are making room for a whole steer that will be slaughtered and butchered later this month.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. Starred recipes will follow separately.

Here is the list of foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry that I'm using this week. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Freezer:
Ground Beef
Saffron
Green Beans
Sprouted Wheat Bagels


Fridge:
Eggs
Butter
Milk (& Cream from the Top)
Parmesan
Cheddar
Cream Cheese
Gorgonzola
Homemade Mayonnaise
Yogurt
Lemons
Chives
Celery
Scallions
Leftover Strata
Leftover Cream of Onion Soup
Turkey Stock
Wild Rice Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Shredded Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Potato Roll Dough
Pureed Pumpkin


Pantry:
All Herbs & Spices
Salts
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Olive Oil
Basmati Rice
Hard White Wheat Berries
Soft White Wheat Berries
Steel Cut Oats
Cracked Wheat
Garbanzo Beans
Lentils
Pastry Flour
White Bread Flour
Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Coffee
Tea
Vanilla Extract
All Sugars
Honey
Golden Raisins
Apricot Preserves
Gingerbread
Satsumas
Crackers
Tomato Sauce

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving week is upon us, which means that there is a lot of bustle and cooking and cleaning going on here. Meals this week will be either quick to make or cooked in the crock pot and will be short on leftovers, so as not to have too much extra in the refrigerator for Thursday.

Most of the recipes are or will be posted on the Thanksgiving menu post. I had a turkey in our freezer from the spring already, but picked up a free one from Fred Meyer on my last trip and bought two 20 pound turkeys from Safeway for $0.27 a pound for other meals. I may pick up another one if I can find another $20.00 to spend there. They had a deal where if your total bill was $25.00 or more, including the price of the turkey, you got a turkey at 16.01 pounds or above for $0.27 a pound, 16 pounds or lighter for $0.37 a pound. We like turkey here and it can certainly be used in all the same kinds of things that we normally use chicken for, and $0.27 a pound for meat can't be beat, even if it isn't pastured and has been injected with brine. One day we will be able to raise our own for our meat, but until then, this was a good deal.

Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, the Church's new year, and with it comes the first fast of the year. Our menus will reflect a bit more simplicity and abstinence.

This has been a rough year, but we still have much for which to be thankful. We are in a new area which is a great place for children, which is fecund and abundant in good foods that are easily grown and readily available. I am thankful for my husband who loves without measure. He always puts our needs and desires before his own. I am thankful for a little more knitting time and for my new ballet class. Also, I am thankful that all of our family is doing well in the climate here, Dominic's eczema is almost gone, though it seems counter intuitive that such a dry place would help his dry, scaly skin. All of our health seems to be improved in the dry weather, though our skin needs lots more moisture here than it did in the damp of the west side. I am thankful for our well insulated house that barely lets any cold in, even on 20 degree mornings with the wind howling through the trees. I'm thankful for our little plot of land with its trees, in the midst of all the scrub brush and fields, and for a chance to try our hands at a small part of farm life.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. Starred recipes will follow separately.

Here is the list of foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry that I'm using this week. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Freezer:
Corned Beef
Ground Pork
Mixed Peppers
Frozen Roasted Corn
Turkey

Fridge:
Eggs
Butter
Milk (& Cream from the Top)
Buttermilk
Feta
Cheddar
Carrots
Lemons
Leftover Taco Soup (thrown into the breakfast skillet)

Pantry:
All Herbs & Spices
Salts
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Olive Oil
Wild Rice
Basmati Rice
Sushi Rice
Hard White Wheat Berries
Soft White Wheat Berries
Corn Meal
Rolled Oats
Pastry Flour
White Bread Flour
Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Fetuccini
Coffee
Tea
Vanilla Extract
All Sugars
Honey
Molasses
Mustard
Pine Nuts
Walnuts
Pecans
Chocolate Chips
Dried Cherries
Apples
Bourbon
Homemade Bread and Butter Pickles

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekly Recipes: November 21

Only one recipe this week. But it is really easy and tastes really good. You can start them before you start your day or go to work and have them almost ready by the time you're ready to eat. You can even put the meat in frozen and have it turn out fine.

I know some people consider it heresy to prepare ribs in this way, but we like them. I made these with spare ribs and vallarta beans this summer, served with a creamy pea and potato salad and with the short ribs and flor de junio beans and baked potatoes.

Slow Cooked Ribs & Beans

1 pound beans
water to cover
4 ribs celery, sliced (including leaves)
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds ribs (I've done this with short ribs and spare ribs)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 can diced tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Rinse and pick over beans. Put them in a crock pot with water to cover. Add celery, onion, garlic, ribs, oregano, cumin and chipotle powder. Cook, covered, on low for 6 - 8 hours. Check to see if beans are cooked. They are cooked when the skins split when you blow on them and they feel soft enough to you.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and salt. Cook for another hour to meld flavors. Taste to correct seasoning. Fish the bones out of the pot and serve.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday: November 20



1. I think the children are sick of all the plums. I received this poem from Dominic last night (punctuation and spelling errors included for your reading pleasure):

Plums Make Me Glum

Why are you glum just take a plum
Oh no that's why i'm glum we had
them with diner, we had them with
lunch! We had them with breakfast,
we had them with brunch!


It was one of a series of three poems he wrote, but it is my favorite one. I love homeschooling. They were never exposed to this much poetry in school, and never tried to write their own poems before they had a regular pattern of reading, listening to, memorizing and reciting poetry.


2. I had my first ballet class in 17 16 years this week! Amira's ballet teacher teaches a class for adults and it is free to moms with girls in class. I held my own pretty well and am not as sore as I thought I would be. I'm so excited to be dancing again.


3. We had a rather long road trip this past week. On the way back home, we were driving at night. Alexander and Dominic asked if they could have their lights on to read. Jerome wanted his light on, too. He can't reach it, we couldn't reach it while driving, Alexander couldn't reach it without taking off his seat belt, so the answer was no. Yasmina began crying because she was tired and unhappy about being in her seat. Jerome said "Yasmina is mad because my light is off."


4. In another entry for the randomizer competition, he also began singing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Apple Sauce!"


5. We are reading the third Mysterious Benedict Society book and I am really hoping it isn't the last in the series. This has been such a fun set of books. The first book had some weaknesses in the writing, but overall, we've been pleased with them. They are fun for all of our children and Rich and I enjoy solving the mysteries along with the book. Although these books center on exceptional children, there isn't the whole we're surrounded by idiots and all grown ups are useless thing that was in the Lemony Snicket series, nor the non-consequence from our deceit and breaking the rules that was sometimes in the Harry Potter series, nor the lying is just a-okay that was part of the Eragon books. The writing isn't as good as Harry Potter, but it is still an incredibly engaging story.


6. Thanksgiving is coming! I have a post up with our menu and links to recipes. I will be adding other recipes a little each day over the next week. One of the things we are most thankful for this year is my out-laws 40th wedding anniversary. We are all rejoicing with them as they renew their wedding vows this weekend.


7. Don't forget my book drawing! Because of our road trip, I still haven't finished up my book review, but it's coming! You have until midnight Pacific time to enter for the drawing.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes

Thanksgiving is my favorite non-Church holiday. We usually have a big brunch on Thanksgiving, then have to feed the children lunch anyway and get sidetracked dealing with that in the middle of all the cooking for dinner. So, this year, we are actually planning for lunch! Can you imagine?

I will be linking to or posting the recipes for most of these in the next week, so please keep checking back.

Breakfast:

Pepper & Sausage Brunch Strata
Satsumas
Steamers
Coffee
Tea

Lunch:

Cream of Onion Soup
Caesar Salad made by my MIL

Relish Tray:

Mixed Olives
Hot Italian Giardinera
Pickled Sweet Hot Peppers
Bread and Butter Pickles
Dill Pickles
Cheese
Crackers
Chex Mix
Deviled Eggs from my MIL


Dinner:

Herb Roasted Turkey
Bourbon Gravy (I'm making extra turkey stock from roasted turkey legs this weekend for the gravy and dressing)
Wild Rice Dressing
Bread & Cornbread Dressing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Horseradish Relish made by our children's godparents
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans
Sweet Potato Rolls
Corn & Pepper Pudding

Martinelli's
Wine of various sorts
Mexican Coca Cola in glass bottles made with real sugar that you can get at Cash and Carry
We're not serving it this year, but this Eggnog is the best we've ever had and all we make now.

Flaky Butter Crust
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Cranberry Cherry Pie
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
Apple Pie
Gingerbread with Sweetened Whipped Vanilla Cream made by Alexander

I have a particular order in which I bake the pies. The pumpkin and cranberry cherry pies get baked first, as they require the highest oven temperature, then the Nantucket cranberry pies and apple pies, then the chocolate pecan pies. Alexander makes his gingerbread in the morning on Thanksgiving while we are doing other prep work.


Leftovers:

Turkey Sandwiches with Chipotle Mayonnaise and/or Celery Seed Dressing
Turkey Tetrazzini
Leftover Casserole
After Thanksgiving Soup



Pepper & Sausage Brunch Strata

Start preparing this at least a day before you want to serve it. I get the bread ready the morning before I make it and put it together the night before, then bake first thing in the morning. This is a good way to feed a lot of people. I make a pan that is 11" X 15" to feed everyone.

1 loaf bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and left out to dry
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (see my recipe for making your own)
1 very large red onion, peeled and diced
1 pound mixed peppers, sliced (or a bag of frozen mixed sliced peppers)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
12 eggs
2 cups rich, whole milk
freshly ground pepper
hot sauce to serve

Grease baking pan and put bread cubes in it.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until it is starting to brown and the fat renders. Add onions and cook until the onions are translucent, add peppers and garlic and cook until peppers are soft.

Layer the vegetables and sausage over the bread cubes. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.

Whisk together eggs, milk and ground pepper until completely blended and pour carefully over the bread and vegetables. Press down with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure all the bread is soaked. Cover with foil and refrigerate until the morning.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake, covered for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes to brown a little. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve with hot sauce of your choice.



Cream of Onion Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
chives (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook the onions in butter over medium low heat, until they are very limp and soft, but not brown. Add flour and stir to combine and brown the flour very slightly, 3-5 minutes. Stir in thyme, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Slowly add milk, making a thinner and thinner paste as you stir constantly to combine all the milk with the onion mixture. Stir well, add sherry and cover and cook another 10-15 minutes over lowest possible heat. Stir it from the bottom every few minutes. It will become thick and creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Garnish with snipped chives if desired.


Herb Roasted Turkey

15-20 pound turkey
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 lemon, halved
6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary, remove needles from all but two, chop needles
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Remove any giblets from the cavity of your bird. Make a quick broth from the giblets to use in addition to any drippings or stock you have. Rinse and dry the turkey and place in your roasting pan.

Rub entire turkey, inside and out, between the leg and body, wing and body, with salt and pepper. Using your hand, loosen the skin over the breast and stuff with chopped rosemary, getting as far around the bird as you can. If you have extra sprinkle it over the bird.

Toss the onion quarters into the cavity of the turkey, sprinkle the entire turkey with the juice from the lemon and put either one or both halves of the lemon in the cavity as well, stuff the two whole sprigs of rosemary into the cavity.

Let turkey rest an hour or so, to bring it closer to room temperature (they cook faster and more uniformly if you do so).

Roast in whatever manner makes you happy. I use a high heat method, putting the rack in the lowest position and placing the turkey in the oven legs first to cook the dark meat faster. For our 20 pound turkey, I will roast at 500 degrees and start checking the meat at two and a half hours. When the juices run clear from the thigh and the skin is nicely browned, it is finished.


Bourbon Gravy

We like gravy. We make a lot of it. We usually make about 12-16 cups of it. This recipe is a ratio and method, you can make as much or as little as you want.

For every cup of liquid you need one tablespoon of fat and one tablespoon of flour. I will list this recipe as though it were for four cups of liquid and let you do the math.

1 cup bourbon (or broth or water)
1/4 cup fat (some combination of turkey fat and butter is what I use)
1/4 cup flour
4 cups hot drippings and deglazing liquid from turkey (if you do not have enough drippings, augment with turkey stock you have made ahead of time or, failing that, chicken stock or broth)
thyme (dried or fresh)
salt
pepper

Remove your turkey from the roasting pan (you cannot use the foil pans to deglaze, so you may lose some of the yummy fond and pan juices if you use one) to a serving platter and loosely tent with foil. Pour out pan juices into a measuring cup, de-fat, reserving enough fat for the gravy.

Place the roasting pan across two burners (either the right side or the left side, not across the front, for instance), and turn the heat to medium. Pour in the bourbon and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits of skin and fat and loosen the caramelized juices from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid reduces a bit and you have most of the stuff from the bottom. Pour liquid into the bowl with the pan juices and/or stock.

Place roasting pan back on the heat and pour in turkey fat, with additional butter to make enough fat if necessary, to melt and add flour, stirring constantly. Allow to brown slightly, then very slowly pour in pan drippings, deglazing liquid and any additional stock. You will essentially be making a thinner and thinner paste if you do this slowly enough.

Add thyme to your taste (I use a tablespoon or more for ours) and cook over medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens a little less than your liking, it will thicken a little more off the heat. Taste for salt and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into gravy boats and serve.


Bread & Cornbread Dressing

12 tablespoons butter
3 large onions, finely diced
6 stalks celery, finely sliced
4 cups crumbled cornbread (I make some up the day before)
4 cups cubed stale bread that has been left to get dry (I use a mix of white, whole wheat and rye)
1 bunch parsley, finely minced
1 cup fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
leaves from 6 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
turkey or chicken broth to moisten lightly
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook until soft. Add cornbread and bread cubes and stir to distribute vegetables and butter evenly. Add 4 remaining tablespoons of butter to the pan, along with the parsley, sage, rosemary ad thyme. Mix well. Moisten with turkey broth until it is the consistency you like and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put dressing in a buttered casserole dish and bake, covered, at 375 until well heated, about 20 - 25 minutes. Serve.


Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is another general recipe. I make what looks like enough, keep adding things until they taste right.

at least 1 large potato per person plus about 5 more, if you have small potatoes, double this, scrubbed and peeled and quartered (honestly, I probably use 10 pounds of potatoes each year for this)
at least 1 large head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and left whole
at least 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
at least 1 pint heavy cream
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
garlic granules (optional, if your garlic isn't strong enough for your liking)

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes, covered. Don't trust a knife, because it will pierce the potato much more easily. In the last 10-15 minutes, toss in the garlic cloves to cook and soften.

Drain potatoes and place pan of potatoes back on heat, at low to medium low, to dry them out a touch and start mashing them. Add the butter and mash that in. If it seems like you need more, add more. Pour in cream, little by little, and mash that in too. Most recipes say to warm the cream first, but I don't. I just keep the potatoes on low heat while I do it.

Taste for salt and season as desired. I add lots of pepper. Some people use white pepper so the color doesn't show, but none of us cares about that. If it doesn't taste garlicky enough for you, add some garlic granules. Taste again. Serve in a warmed bowl with a pat of butter on top.


Corn & Pepper Pudding

I've been tweaking this recipe a little, so if it is different than what you remember, that is why.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups milk
1 pound corn kernels (I'm using the roasted corn from Trader Joe's)
1 pound mixed peppers, chopped
1/2 cup roasted, peeled green chiles, diced (canned is fine)
6 eggs
2 cups grated cheddar (or a mix of cheddar and pepper jack)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While oven is preheating, melt butter in the oven in a 4 quart casserole dish. Pull it out before it browns.

In a large bowl mix remaining ingredients well. Pour into casserole dish and bake 40 to 45 minutes, until just set and starting to brown around the edges.


Flaky Butter Crust

This makes two crusts. It is the best pie crust ever.

2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
16 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup ice cold water (add up to two tablespoons more, one at a time, if necessary)

You can whip this up really fast in the food processor, but since I make it in gigantic quantities for Thanksgiving, I mix it in a huge bowl by hand. Literally. I whisk up the flour, salt and baking powder, then rub in the butter with my fingers.

Mix flour, salt and baking powder either with a whisk or for about 20 seconds in the food processor. Add butter and rub through flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with pea sized pieces of butter dispersed through it. Alternatively, pulse 10 times in food processor, if you are making a small batch.

Add water and stir with a wooden spoon to mix (or pour into FP and pulse until mixture comes together) and knead a little with your hands (very lightly) to pull dough together. Add additional water, one tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is not cohesive enough to form a dough when pinched.

On a floured surface, cut dough into two pieces and flatten into 1/2 inch thick discs. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour or up to overnight. Roll out on a lightly floured surface as you normally would.


Pumpkin Pie

This started as my husband's maternal grandmother's recipe. He had already changed it by the time I met him, but we've changed it even more over the years.

1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin, pureed and strained if necessary, or canned
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (up to 2 teaspoons if you are using standard grocery store spices, we use really strong Vietnamese cinnamon)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (1 1/2 if you are using pre-ground)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until center is set and crust is lightly browned.


Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is basically a candy bar in a crust. I used to use corn syrup in this, but have since found a way to make it with all brown sugar.

2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups pecan halves
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is set and crust is lightly browned.


Cranberry Cherry Pie

I picked up this recipe from some ad for canned cherry pie filling. I always wanted to make it with real cherries and not the canned junk, so I finally redid the recipe. We use frozen cherries that we thaw and the juice from them. I often make this with an almond crust, but usually at Thanksgiving, I make it with a standard pastry crust. You will need two crusts for this pie, a lattice crust on top is beautiful, but not necessary.

3 cups frozen cherries, thawed and juice reserved
2 cups cranberries, washed and picked over
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (also known as starch, or grind up instant tapioca)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix cherries, cranberries, sugar, corn starch and almond extract. Whisk juice and tapioca together until tapioca dissolves. Mix into cherry cranberry mixture.

Pour into prepared pie crust. Cover with top crust, cut slits to vent crust (or make a lattice crust) and flute edges. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbling and thick.


Apple Pie

This is what I have come up with as our idea of a perfect apple pie: It tastes more like apple than spice, with a clear flavor.

8 large apples (mix sweet and tart, softer cooking apples and those that retain their shape, if you can), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
unsalted butter to top filling
Double pastry crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix apples, sugar, corn starch, nutmeg and lemon zest in a large bowl. Pour into prepared pie crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, seal, flute edges and cut slashes to release steam.

Bake in center of oven for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.


Gingerbread

I couldn't find the recipe that we normally use, so cobbled this together from various recipes online. We liked it better than our other recipe. Alexander did everything to do with making it and it was enjoyed by all of us.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup honey
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
3 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
powdered sugar
lightly sweetened cream, flavored with vanilla and whipped to serve

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan.

Combine butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Fold into liquid mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the cake feels finished. Cool, then sift powdered sugar over the top and serve with whipped cream. This is better after a day or two of being wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature.


Celery Seed Dressing & Chipotle Mayonnaise for Turkey Sandwiches

For the Celery Seed Dressing, mix together:

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
salt and pepper to taste


For the Chipotle Mayonnaise, mix together:

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced


Turkey Tetrazzini

1 package fettucini
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
4 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
3 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 cups chopped turkey
1 cup peas
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, divided
salt to taste (very little, if at all, as the pasta, broth, cheese, and turkey are all salted)
freshly ground pepper to taste
a little freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (zest lemon and reserve for garnish)
1/2 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs
finely chopped parsley for garnish
reserved lemon zest for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a large casserole. Start a large pot of water, well salted, boiling.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat and cook celery and onions in it until wilted and just beginning to brown. Whisk in cream cheese quickly, so as not to burn, reducing heat if necessary. Sprinkle flour over mixture and whisk to combine. Cook a couple minutes to start to brown flour. Slowly whisk in broth, a little at a time, until completely combined. Stir in cream. Allow to cook and thicken, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat for about 8 - 10 minutes. Stir sherry and 1/2 a cup parmesan in and stir to combine and melt. Remove from heat. Taste to season with salt and pepper and add a little nutmeg.

While sauce cooks, add pasta (you may wish to break the pasta in half) to boiling water and cook until slightly undercooked, less than al dente. Drain pasta and pour into prepared casserole.

Pour sauce over pasta along with turkey and peas. Sprinkle lemon juice over mixture and mix in the casserole.

Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and mix with panko and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Sprinkle over the top evenly and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until mixture is bubble and topping is lightly browned.

Mix chopped parsley and lemon zest and sprinkle over dish before serving.


Leftover Casserole

One year, Rich made up a casserole with the leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal, which turned out remarkably good. We now do it with the bits and pieces that are left over after the sandwiches, the one other turkey meal and the carcass has been made into soup.

Take all the last bits of brussels sprouts, wild rice dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy. Stir it all together in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Serve for your last Thanksgiving hurrah of the weekend. If you have any rolls left, serve them with this for a nice meal for your family once everyone else has gone home.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan: November 15 - November 21

This week is the second Bean Week Challenge I'm hosting. Please join up, leave a comment and link to Mr. Linky if you have a blog.

I'm deep in preparations for Thanksgiving. We are still hosting it, even though we are living in chaos, because chaos at home is still easier than chaos away. I'm excited to be doing it, because I love making Thanksgiving dinner and sharing it with our friends and family. Remember, if you have a frozen turkey, start thawing it early! I'm pulling ours out of the deep freeze this week. This week is also when I'll be cooking up all our sugar pumpkins for pies and breads and other things. The extra will get frozen. I'll also be roasting turkey legs and making extra stock for the gravy and dressing, making bread and cornbread for dressing. Next week, the serious cooking will begin: Cornbread, pie crusts, pies, soups, dressings, breads and all those good things. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. Starred recipes will follow separately.

Here is the list of foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry that I'm using this week. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Freezer:
Barbecue Beans
Shortribs
Peppers


Fridge:
Eggs
Butter
Milk (& Cream from the Top)
Feta
Carrots
Scallions
Split Pea Soup

Pantry:
All Herbs & Spices
Salts
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Olive Oil
Hard White Wheat Berries
Soft White Wheat Berries
Corn Meal
Steel Cut Oats
Garbanzo Beans
Black Beans
Flor de Junio Beans
Pastry Flour
Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Coffee
Tea
Vanilla Extract
All Sugars
Honey
Apples
Pears
Watermelon
Butternut Squash
Sugar Pumpkin

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekly Recipes: November 14

Apple Cinnamon Waffles


I took this picture when I made these for Alexander's birthday.

6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups milk
5 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (white will work as well)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Ceylon)
1 tablespoon salt
4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Heat waffle iron.

In a medium bowl, whip egg whites until stiff.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until pale yellow and thick. Mix in butter and milk and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add to egg yolk mixture and mix well to incorporate.

Starting with about a quarter of the egg whites, fold into batter to lighten. Incorporate remaining egg whites by folding them into the batter.

Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into waffle iron and cover with 6 - 8 apple slices. Close lid and let cook until done to your liking. Repeat until all waffles are cooked.

These are fine just with butter, but if you can find or make apple cider syrup, that is the best.

Makes about 20 - 21 waffles



Nantucket Cranberry Pie

I was going to have a finished picture of this to post, but our schedule has changed since I first posted our menu for the week. We are having to miss the potluck in order to be there for some family members. Fear not. It is for something good. Here is the recipe in any case, and I'll post a picture sometime around Thanksgiving.

2 cups cranberries, washed and picked over
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 10" pie pan. I have also successfully made this in a stoneware pan.

Place cranberries, walnuts and sugar in pie pan and toss to mix. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, butter, sugar, flour and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Pour over cranberry walnut mixture and smooth over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set.


St. Martin's Day Almond Crescents




Dough:

1 cup warm milk
3 large egg yolks (use the extra whites for meringues or to add to tomorrow's scrambled eggs)
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Filling:

2 cups almond meal
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Glaze:

2 cups confectioner's sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Put all ingredients for dough in bread machine (or mix conventionally) and run on dough cycle. Let rise until doubled.

Mix filling in a medium bowl.

Split dough in half and roll out, one at a time, into 1/4 inch thick circles and cut into 8 wedges each. Place about a tablespoon of the filling on the wide edge of the wedge and roll up. Place on a greased baking sheet, point side down. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F.

When rolls have risen, bake in for about 20 minutes. Cool before glazing.

Mix glaze while rolls cool. Drizzle glaze on rolls and serve. Makes 16.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday: November 13 *Giveaway!!!*



1. This card (and its entire genre) cracked me up. You're going through something tough? Well, suck it up! The juxtaposition of smarmy, caring card and cope as a theme just tickled me.




2. I saw The Pursuit of Happyness on a flight home from visiting my cousin a couple years ago. I didn't have my headsets in, but it looked interesting enough to watch for real when I got home. I did. I enjoyed it. Here is a little blurb about the actual man.


3. It's time for a second Bean Week next week. I normally have my menu plan up by Sunday night, but we have a family obligation that may cause me to have it up by Monday instead. I will still try to have it, and the Mr. Linky, ready before then, but I only promise it will be up by Monday night.


4. I intended to have my book review up more than two weeks ago. I don't have it up yet. So, I will host a giveaway for it first and try to get my review post up this week. If you like knit lit, enjoyed The Friday Night Knitting Club and would be interested in receiving an early copy of the uncorrected manuscript of Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs, please leave me a comment saying so with a way to contact you. I will randomly draw a winner by next Friday.


5. I will have more time than normal to knit this weekend, which is very exciting to me. I'm hoping to have a finished object in the next two weeks. Which I think would be my first knit object of the year and only my second crafted anything this year. Very sad.


6. Advent is coming soon and I am not positive of where our wreath and candles are. I'm even less positive about where the creche is. Or where I will set it up. We are still dealing with nonsense with the house and haven't closed or done the finishing on the floor that we want to have done. Pray, pray, pray. Please.


7. Another prayer request for everyone. As we suspected, things are going downhill for our former airport. It is very bad. Please pray that the folks there are able to get through this and those who are causing the problems will be removed.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: Knit the Season

I meant to have this book read and reviewed before last Tuesday to coincide with its availability in stores. I am a little late on that, but I wanted to give it a chance and an honest review. This may kill my chances of ever receiving another book or product to review on the blog, but I wanted to be honest.

In late September, I was contacted to see if I were interested in reading a knitlit book. Somehow, it escaped me that it was part of a series of which I didn't particularly love. So, I said yes. It arrived in October.

Once I realized my predicament, I wasn't sure what to do, but I really was determined to give this book a shot, as I think the first was the author's first published novel and I know that authors can improve as they practice and grow.

If you enjoyed the Friday Night Knitting Club, I expect you will enjoy this book. This story is a fun read. It goes quickly, it includes both cooking and knitting, which are both activities I love. I also love reading. It seems like it would be perfect for me. It wasn't. I'll start with my criticisms and then go on to the things I liked.

As an erstwhile author aspirant myself, I saw too many of my own writing flaws in the book. I am often annoyed at books (and songs and other things) that are MESSAGE stories. Stories in which the message matters more than the story. It is tempting to do this, and my attempts to write fiction have often been riddled with this problem. When Kate Jacobs gets beyond her socio-political message, the story is great. It is a little too self-conscious in places, but the characters are good, especially for this genre.

I knew from the first book the social and religious bias that would likely be present in this one, and even though both Channukah and Christmas are mentioned in the book, the religious significance of both is almost entirely missing. The eight day miracle gets a mention, but without the miracle, and nothing is said of the Nativity. That frustrates me, but I did not really expect anything else. This didn't bother me as much as the crassness that was found in some places regarding s*x. It is one thing to have vulgar language come out of a character's mouth who is known to be that way, but using crass language in descriptions becomes a part of the narrator's character and it was off putting to me. I don't know if authors do this to seem more frank or more modern, but I don't like reading vulgarity for no reason other than having it in the book. I am no prude when it comes to the passions or reading about them, but see no reason to be crass and common about them, especially when it is the author speaking rather than the characters themselves.

Some of the characters were somewhat neglected in this novel, but I don't know how that could have been avoided as the majority of it dealt with a few of the inner circle.

I'm assuming that the editorial errors in the manuscript version I received have been corrected in the edition available for sale now, so I will not delve into them, with one exception. One character's name was somehow changed on one page to be the last name of a character from another knitlit series that I read, this one a mystery series. I found that a little humorous and I'm sure it was entirely coincidental.

The best parts of the book? The relationships between the characters, the stories of Dakota's mother Georgia, Dakota's realization that her goals and accomplishments are not the only valuable things to work toward and that there is something to family cohesion and unity. Personally, reading this book spurred me to pick up my own knitting again, so there was that benefit to me.

These books are not literature. They are nice, quick reads. They are fun. I would not expect anything deeper from them. Kate Jacobs, however, does seem to be able to do that in the relationships she portrays and for that should be applauded. She handles people's reactions and feelings about death very well which is not standard in light fiction.

I like reading any fiction about cooking or knitting, so in this case, regardless of my opinions about some of the book, I would probably have read it anyway. I was nervous about giving a review that wasn't 100% in favor of the story, but again, I wanted to be truthful. It is an engaging story. The characters seem real, it is easy to relate to them, they have different enough personalities. In terms of subject, Jacobs' strength is weighted heavily to the knitting portion over the food portion of the book.

I think Knit the Season would be an enjoyable holiday read in front of a fire with a mug of cocoa or hot cider or hot toddy of some sort. Even though it may sound like I didn't enjoy the book, I actually did. Even with my objections, I liked reading it. It is somewhat predictable, but most books in this genre are. That isn't a real big criticism of it. I still enjoy all my happy little murder stories, for example, even though I usually figure them out fairly early on in the book.

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Frugality (Part XV): Holiday Shopping

I meant to post this last week, but it just didn't happen. I wanted to get this posted before too long, so I may have to come back to revise it later.

We have a few gift giving holidays coming up rather quickly. Those of you who aren't finished with your holiday shopping are probably trying to figure out what you will get for everyone, or everyone else, on your list. I am going to suggest a few things, some that will be useful for next year and the others that might help this year.

One thing that is fairly obvious, though doesn't always get accomplished around here is to shop for Christmas presents (and birthday presents and other presents) all year round. I am better at this some years than others. This would not be one of those years. Not to mention, I gave away a whole lot of my present stash when we moved so we wouldn't have to move it with us. You will need to set aside a specific place for these gifts, otherwise, you will just end up forgetting about them, losing them, or not being able to find what you were sure you picked up for Aunt Helen in May. Shopping year round means you can take advantage of clearance and other sales and not be subject to the whims of the market after Thanksgiving.

Something I've been doing to reduce the cost of books and other things this year is to do my searches on Swagbucks (I will get a couple points if you sign up using my link and you will get a few as start up). I use the points to get gift cards that I either use to reduce the price of things I am buying or to use as gifts themselves. I don't rack up points as fast as some people do, because I don't use all the gizmos they have. I occasionally have a code that gives me an extra point or two, but mostly I gain points from my searches.

Something we have done several years is to have a homemade/handmade Christmas. Now, it is very easy to make things that cost more than you'd buy them, so you do have to be a little careful and plan this. It also helps to start making your gifts early in the year, unless you really work quickly. There are too many online resources, recipes, patterns and ideas to post here. Do you knit? Crochet? Sew? Cook? Can you put together a cocoa mix or cookie mix? There are so many things you can do that would make beautiful and useful presents.

Last year I made candies and snack mix to give to people. Our house was decorated with spun sugar for weeks. We often give away some of our preserves. Usually, this is a tandem thing. I make some sort of knit or food item and Rich makes something that is artistic and pretty. One year he made carved wood light houses, one year he painted glass ball ornaments (from the inside!). He has made wooden planes for our children, a wooden rocking boat for them to share and I have made stuffed toys for them, knit clothes, hats, sweaters, mittens, slippers, you name it.

A few years ago, we had a rather low key Christmas. We had been reading the Little House books with our children and we decided to have a Little House Christmas. Everything we did was made, including what we gave to the children and what they gave to each other, mostly with things we either already had or bought regularly. That has led to our children planning and making gifts for each other and us that has been touching to watch in the years since.

My only warning about hand made holidays is that you need to know your audience. Sometimes the person receiving the gift does not understand the effort (and money) that went into it and can receive it poorly, thinking that you were opting only to be "cheap." I wouldn't waste time trying to educate those people during gift giving times. Just swallow your retort and find something else to give them next time (or this time, if you know that is how they will react). We jokingly talk about knit-worthy people in our household, for instance.

In our home, we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas and give small gifts to everyone in their stockings then, we celebrate all 12 days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany and give the last presents then. The children have talked about doing all of our gifts at Epiphany, since the tradition prior to the 19th century was to give gifts on the feast that honors the visit of the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. We have not done that yet, but we do give some gifts for Epiphany as well.

If you wish, you could spread out the gift giving and smaller, less expensive gifts each day of the 12 days of Christmas. A few years we have forgone lots of presents and given something large to all the children or a couple larger gifts that are for all of them. One family in our extended family asked the children if they would like to forgo presents altogether if they used that money to go on a really neat trip at a great resort. They did, and none of them regretted it.

Something we took advantage of this year was all of the freebies offered at VistaPrint (take a look down the sidebar on the left). We made a personalized sticky notes, notepads, invitations, Christmas return address labels, regular return address labels, postcards, thank you cards, all of which can be personalized, for the price of shipping. You can even make your own Christmas letter on their website, including pictures for some of them, gift labels, business cards, calendars, magnets, all for the cost of shipping.

Remember, too, that just because it says it's a return address label, for instance, you don't have to use it that way. I know of someone who turned hers into "This item belongs to" type labels to put in books, backpacks, jackets and such. I used their business card template to make my knit gift labels, with lines for what the material is, washing instructions and size.

We are using many of the things we ordered for stocking stuffers for our children. Children love their own little note pads and cards on which they can write or draw whatever they want. They had cute little things which you could make caricatures of the whole family, but the one we liked stopped at seven people. We would pay for it if we could get every one of our family on them.

If you are ordering online for some or many of your gifts this year, please check Retail Me Not for coupons. You can search on the name of the company or product and a list of known coupons with a percentage rate on how well it worked will come up. I have saved us a lot of money online using this website.

If you are a food person, you may already know about Penzeys. What you may not already know is that they offer many freebies on their site as well, for the cost of shipping. These make great stocking stuffers for other foodies or are a fun way to try out something you wouldn't otherwise buy. Use the coupon codes you find at Retail Me Not and express ordering at Penzeys' website and you will only have to pay for shipping. This is a great thing to do if you already have an order you wish to make, but it will work even if you are only getting the free items.

We are big on consumable gifts here. The two main exceptions being clothes and books. We love giving and receiving food or ingredients, art supplies, paper goods, things that will get used up during the year. We are also big on games and experiences. Some of the things we have received that were the best gifts were family passes to zoos or museums that offered experiences that we could share. It also meant that it wasn't a big deal if we only went for an hour or two, we could always come back. We are not huge on cheap toys that will break or go into disuse as soon as the decorations come down. Things that can be used creatively, like blocks, are much more appreciated here. We love anything hand made, so those will always be winners here. Many of these things are also, conveniently, inexpensive to give. They do take an investment of your time, which is a great part of them, in my opinion.

I have written from our perspective here. We celebrate St. Nicholas, the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany. Obviously, you may insert whatever you celebrate. I hope these suggestions help make your holiday shopping easier. Maybe next year, I'll get an earlier start than I did this year!

Previous Posts:
Make it at Home
Grocery Shopping
Waste Not, Want Not
Soup
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Use What You Have
Combining Trips
Storing Bulk Purchases
Turn It Off
Grow Your Own
Buying in Bulk
Gleaning
Entertainment on the Down Low
Finding Fun Locally

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Menu Plan: November 8 - November 14

Veteran's Day is on the feast of St. Martin this year, which is somewhat appropriate, as St. Martin was a Roman solider. We will be breaking our Wednesday fast to honor both the saint and our own veteran. I'm making apple cinnamon waffles for Rich and we'll be making almond filled croissants for St. Martin.

Our Saturday dinner is taken care of as our neighborhood is having a harvest dinner potluck. There are two big neighborhood potlucks a year and we managed to move in time to attend both.

I forgot to mention that I will be hosting another Bean Week Challenge next week. My menu plan is usually up no later than 8:00 p.m. on Sundays, but we have a family thing going on that may delay it. So, I'll say no later than 8:00 p.m.on Monday.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. Starred recipes will follow separately.

Here is the list of foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry that I'm using this week. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Freezer:
Leg of Lamb
Ham
Chorizo
Bacon Ends
Ground Beef
Corned Beef
Whole Spinach
Peas
Peppers
Roasted Poblano Strips
Pineapple Tidbits
Cashews


Fridge:
Eggs
Butter
Milk (& Cream from the Top)
Parmesan
Cheddar
Celery
Carrots
Basil
Scallions
Salsa
Apple Cider Syrup

Pantry:
All Herbs & Spices
Salts
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Olive Oil
Hard White Wheat Berries
Soft White Wheat Berries
Steel Cut Oats
Granola
Pastry Flour
Basmati Rice
Pinquito Beans
Split Peas
Sesame Seeds
Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Water Chestnuts
Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Coconut Oil
Sesame Oil
Coffee
Tea
Vanilla Extract
All Sugars
Honey
Molasses
Raisins
Apples
Pears
Plums
Watermelon
Acorn Squash
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sugar Pumpkin
Riesling Grape Juice

Car:
Kashi Strawberry Cereal Bars

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

For Cousin Andy

Because Rich is still 10 years old at heart and can't pass up a dare:

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Weekly Recipes: November 7

I've decided to put my weekly recipes in one post. If I have something else come up, I'll post them separately, but this way I'm not cluttering things up too much, I hope. Only the Mexican rice has photographic records. And I didn't get the finished rice photo.

Quick and Dirty Mexican Rice
I make this when I don't have time to make the roasted salsa for tomato rice.



3 tablespoons lard or oil
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups long grain rice (I use basmati, because I keep that, brown basmati, jasmine rice and rice for sushi/risotto/rice pudding in the house)
4 cups chicken broth
salt, to taste, I use maybe 1/2 teaspoon
2 whole pickled jalapenos, split open

Prepare your vegetables while you heat the lard or oil over medium heat.


Saute the vegetables until the onion begins to wilt.

(Please ignore the dirty stove)
Add the rice and saute until it turns opaque and gives out its fragrance. Add the chicken broth, salt and pickled jalapenos and bring to a boil. Let boil until you see a steady stream of bubbles coming from "tunnels" in the rice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook (without peeking) for 15 minutes.

Uncover and stir to fluff. Serve.


Tex Mex Skillet
This is a great way to get lots of protein in a one dish vegetarian meal.

3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 peppers, seeded and cut into strips
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups cooked beans (I use black beans or pinquitos)
2 cups corn kernels (frozen is fine)
1 can black olives, drained and chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten

Heat oil in large, oven safe skillet. Saute onions, peppers and garlic in oil, stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Add the beans, rice, corn, olives, cheese, milk and eggs. Stir to combine. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the center is set.

Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Herbed Rice Pilaf

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cups basmati rice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

Saute onion in butter over medium heat. Add rice, tarragon, thyme, basil and pepper and saute until rice is opaque. Add chicken broth, parsley and scallions and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes without peeking.

Stir to fluff and serve, taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary.

Lamb and Guinness Stew

Lamb stew is my favorite stew, I like it better than beef stew or venison stew, though I like both of those. I even like it better than the pork and green chile stew I make, though that is pretty close.

Olive oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat
4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (they have to be peeled)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 bottles of Guinness (possibly some water or beef broth to thin stew toward the end)
6 large carrots, scrubbed and diced
4 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced (peeled or not, I generally use nice looking potatoes and scrub well without peeling)


Heat oil in large pot. Add lamb and brown on all sides. Add onions, sliced potatoes, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until onions soften and start to brown.

Pour in Guinness and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about an hour.

Uncover pot and add carrots and diced potatoes. Cover and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Taste to adjust seasoning (remove thyme stems if you used fresh), thin with water or broth if desired.

This makes a thick, rich, sauce. It is not the gravy like sauce found in other stews. This is stand a spoon up sauce, it is supposed to be that way. The base potatoes make it very substantial. So, do not thin it too much.

We serve this with soda bread (it is the raisins that are optional not the buttermilk, and we do not use the raisins), a salad or sliced tomatoes and fruit. It is very filling.

With accompaniments, this can serve between 10-14 people, or leave leftovers to be frozen for later. On its own, it can serve eight with enough for two lunches the following day.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday: November 6



1. We spent Halloween gorging on candy, drinking cider and watching movies. We watched Wallace and Grommit A Matter of Loaf and Death (which was great!) and the old, black and white, Godzilla. This week, the children were discussing what color Godzilla was. The boys settled on green or almost black green. Amira piped up to say that they didn't know that. "The movie was grey!"

2. On All Saints, we carved our pumpkins. Rich and I never got to ours, but I'm sure they would have been wonderful. I was torn between the Sacred Heart, an Alpha and Omega or the Blessed Virgin.

The children's, though, were great. Elijah wanted a happy Jack o' Lantern, so we did that for him. Dominic went for his namesake. We thought Jerome would, or a lion as his symbol, especially since he wanted a lion on a leash or to ride when he dressed up as Saint Jerome, but he decided on St. Nicholas. Amira chose a simple cross, making her dad's night after the complicated few he did. Alexander carved his own, choosing on his own the four symbols of the four evangelists. For Yasmina, Rich scaled down this design to fit her pumpkin. Here they are:


Yasmina's punky



Saint Nicholas



Amira's cross



Elijah's happy Jack



Saint Dominic. He is the patron of astronomers and astronomy and is often depicted with stars. Rich couldn't get the traditional monastic profile with the lily staff and rosary that Dominic wanted initially. Dominic was satisfied with this.



Alexander carved these primitive images. We are encouraging him to sell his art work, as we've seen many similar paintings and sculptures in art shows selling for a lot of money. College fund anyone?


Other views:



3. Yasmina had a great time marching around the back yard while Rich was gutting the pumpkins trying to find a "punky" (her word) that she could lift.



4. Poor Amira is doing really well with learning to read. Poor Amira? Well, you see, she is learning how to sound out words, and for the most part, this helps her. She came to me this week, though, to tell me she knew how to spell phonics: F-O-N-I-X. We had a discussion about the Greek word phone and how English gets most of her words from Latin and Greek and sometimes sounding things out doesn't work unless you know the sounds from those languages as well.

5. What I Heard, What She Said:

Amira was in the bathroom and called out to me wanting to know why there was a kangaroo on the moose. ???? Turns out she was looking at the mousse bottle which was that Aussie brand, thus the kangaroo.

6. What He Said, What He Meant:

Dominic read our Old Testament readings this week. On All Saints, his was from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9. In it he read that "For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immorality." Immortality. It's amazing what one letter can change.

7. I found this satire hilarious and sad all at the same time.

7b. (Yes, I know this makes eight, but it was in a similar theme) Mark Shea addressed a very common confusion about praying to the saints. The comments are especially good, I think. I was reminded of the story, I think about Mark, when someone insisted that Catholics worshiped statues. He explained the difference, made clear that they didn't, gave biblical examples, the whole deal. The fellow would have none of it. "You don't know that's what you are doing, but you are worshiping statues." Finally realizing that there was no reasoning with this person, he replied "No, since Vatican II, we worship banners." I think I've posted this before, but it bears repeating, if you are going to accuse me of something at least get it right. The comments about bearing false witness in Mark's blog post were sobering, and ought to be.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Menu Plan: November 1 - November 7

Our bean week went pretty smoothly. I did have to make a menu change on Wednesday, as we didn't have as many eggs as I thought we'd have so I substituted a vegetables Jalfrezi with rice, using the pinto beans. Also, I had forgotten that Friday was a fancy pants work dinner for managers and spouses, so the children got pizza with Rich's boss' children while we ate amazingly good food and drank amazing wine at a very nice restaurant. We'll be doing two meals with beans this week (I usually try to do at least one), so I kind of think of it as a make up day. The next Bean Week Challenge will be the week of November 15th, if you'd like to try again this month. I am thinking of doing a more Middle Eastern theme to my meals that week, since this one was taken up with Mexican/Tex-Mex most of the time.

Since today is the feast of All Saints, our children are preparing to dress up as their favorite saints, carve pumpkins with images of the saints and to eat even more candy and drink lots of hot chocolate. We aren't able to have our big church party this year, but we were determined to allow them to have it anyway, even on a smaller scale. No doughnuts on a string or apple bobbing, but still fun.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. Starred recipes will follow separately.

Here is the list of foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry that I'm using this week. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Freezer:
Chuck Roast
Lamb Stew Meat
Chorizo
Bacon Ends
Sprouted Whole Wheat Bagels
Cooked Mixed Beans
Sliced Peppers
Peas
Whole Spinach


Fridge:
Eggs
Butter
Milk (& Cream from the Top)
Parmesan
Cheddar
Celery
Carrots
Pickled Jalapenos & Carrots
Scallions
Ginger
Salsa

Pantry:
All Herbs & Spices
Salts
Tomatoes
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Olive Oil
Hard White Wheat Berries
Soft White Wheat Berries
Cracked Wheat
Granola
Pastry Flour
Basmati Rice
Brown Rice
Pinquito Beans
Penne
Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Sesame Oil
Olives
Capers
Homemade Tortillas
Coffee
Tea
Vanilla Extract
All Sugars
Honey
Molasses
Pomegranate Jelly
Raisins
Apples
Pears
Plums
Pomegranate
Watermelon
Acorn Squash
Sugar Pumpkin
Riesling Grape Juice

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