I have a confession to make. I did not make Thanksgiving Dinner. This was a first for me, but seemed a wise choice as we busy ourselves getting ready for Joe’s next big surgery. I opted to order a turkey baked in a brick oven from a Turkish grill near us. Stuffng, potatoes, green beans, shepherd’s bread and baklava rounded out the menu! Our son brought his homemade blackberry pie and I added some Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Haagen Daaz. That was it. I didn’t make pumpkin and pecan pies. No focaccia bread. No sweet potato balls. Nary a green bean casserole. And we loved it! We relaxed, had more time for putting up the Christmas tree in the afternoon, and enjoyed each other. That is not to say I will do it that way from now on, but it was a good choice this year. No, I did my cooking AFTER Thanksgiving, getting in some kitchen therapy with leftovers.
First, I made Shepherd’s Pie using gravy, turkey, vegetables and a small amount of stuffing for the filling. Topped with cream mashed potatoes and baked until brown and crusty, it was delicious. Then, a turkey bake with layers of stuffing, turkey and cream of chicken soup dressed with cranberry sauce. Yummy. But my favorite idea came from remembering how I loved for Daddy to make me fried mashed potatoes when I was a little girl and he had a cafe in the bus station in Jacksonville, Texas. He would simply spoon up some potatoes, add some chopped onion and brown it on the grill. Later, potato pancakes, German style, became a favorite. The big pancakes I created for this dish are a mix of the two. To make them, I added 2 eggs to roughly 2 cups of mashed potato and chopped green onion, browned them in butter in a cast iron skillet. Topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, I can tell you they didn’t last long!
Cranberries scooped out of a big tub filled with water and berries are pretty enough to keep in a bowl for a centerpiece, and a tasty main ingredient in dozens of nutritious and festive dishes. This week Skye and I shopped for the berries, and made cranberry vinegar when we brought them home. I have experimented with various herb vinegars, even rose petal vinegar, but this was my first to make with cranberries. The preparation is simple. Watching the vinegar blush, then color and deepen to glowing red was fun, and the cranberry vinaigrette Skye made for a Thanksgiving dinner salad was fresh, tart, and tasty.
Wash and pat dry 1 cup fresh cranberries
Bring 4 cups white vinegar barely to a boil.
Pour hot vinegar over berries in clean jar, cover with lid, and set outside in a sunny spot until desire color and flavor are achieved. One recipe said leave outside for 2 weeks, but we were too impatient – we bottled ours on the second day! When ready to bottle, strain and discard the berries and pour the vinegar into bottles which have lids or corks. I like to keep mine refrigerated.
We also made Cranberry bread, and along with other desserts, I will serve a lovely English Wensleydale cheese with cranberries! Cranberries on my mind!
When a chilly evening makes hot soup for supper sound good, I don’t have to be here to cook it on the stove top if I haul out the slow cooker. Crock Pot cooking has cycled back into popularity. Many soup recipes can be adapted. Nothing smells better when you come into the house in the evenings! A loaf of crusty French bread or a pan of cornbread complete the meal.
Mary Ann’s Black Bean Soup
3 cans black beans, undrained
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
32 ounce box of chicken stock (or homemade)
1 cup red and green peppers, chopped
1 can diced green chilies ( I love using Hatch chilies)
2 oranges, juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons cumin
1 link smoked sausage, sliced (we like to use jalapeno sausage)
Put all ingredients into crock pot and cook on high 4 hours. Before serving, dip out a cup of beans, mash, and return to pot. May be served with a drizzle of sour cream or yogurt.
Which of these things is not like the others? I love decorating with squash and pumpkins this time of year. Our bumper crop of Meyer lemons (this one is left on the front row) adds to the displays of orange and golden color. Originally from China and considered to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange, the fruit is tender, juicy, with peel much thinner than a regular lemon and juice with hints of honey and thyme. Some of my favorite recipes using these tangy, sweet fruits include: Meyer Lemon Risotto, Lemon Bars made with Meyers, Lemon Muffins using the whole fruit, including the peel, and Lemon Curd. The last will be my recipe offering today, since I am cooking it right now. I like lemon curd to spread on toast or scones. It is also a tasty filling for tiny tarts with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Meyer Lemon Curd
- Enough Meyer lemons to provide 1/2 cup juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Zest lemons to measure 2 teaspoons and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup. Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a metal bowl and add butter. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook or cook in double boiler, whisking, until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Push curd through a fine sieve into another bowl. If not serving warm, cover surface of curd with wax paper and cool. Keeps refrigerated for 1 week.