Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

"He will be a wild donkey of a man; 
his hand will be against everyone 
and everyone's hand against him, 
and he will live in hostility toward his brothers." 
Genesis 16:12

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, 
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 
for our "God is a consuming fire." 
Hebrews 12:28-29 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before Thanksgiving

This is probably one of my favorite days of the year. I get to do all kinds of cooking on a grand scale. There's all kinds of foods to be prepared - the yams and sweet potatoes steamed - the carrots julienned and steamed - the cranberry sauce - just making sure that all the necessary food items are in the house - the grateful putting in its steamer - the lemon sauce - and pies pies pies.

Yesterday we were working along on the cleaning projects, when I got the bright idea to wash the curtains on the landing, in the front hall and in the living room. I figured that they would come out of the dryer all nice and ready to be hung - NOT! Because of my cold I didn't hear the dryer buzz and when Corey wanted to use the dryer there there they were - a mass of wrinkles. Well despite how behind I felt about things, I then had to spend 3 plus hours ironing those curtains. But somehow, as I was ironing, I felt that the Lord was telling me that if I just relaxed and relied on Him then everything would turn out alright. So that's what I'm doing. And at this point on Wednesday afternoon I've gotten many things accomplished because Emily has been asleep for 2 hours. Never mind that it took me an hour to get her to sleep. I've even gone up to make sure she is still alive. She is. It is such a pleasure to be able to cook many things in a tidy kitchen on a sunny afternoon all by myself!

By 4:30 Emily woke up, and she was soon in a pleasant mood. She also likes it when we are all by ourselves. It was getting a bit dark by then. I got her a juice baba, turned on Toot and Puddle, and she climbed up into the Danish chair to watch the show. When Heidi showed up at 5:30 Emily did not want to go home. I felt bad. I knew that she would love to hang out and cook with me, but I also knew that eventually she'd be into everything. Maybe next year she can help me with Thanksgiving dinner - when she's three and potty trained and can talk in understandable sentences.

Immediately after Emily and Heidi left, Ken and Marilyn showed up all ready to help. It was at least a half hour later that Riley showed up, and somewhere in there Annie showed up. Things began to get rather lively.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving is coming!

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"  
Matthew 25:34-40

And I have the world's worst cold!!! I've had lots of colds in my day, but this one is at the top of the bad list. I went through 3 boxes of Klenex in less than 2 days. I knew I was getting this cold on Wednesday. We were to have our church group over, but Riley managed to cancel at the last minute. Then on Thursday he asked Heidi not to bring the kids until 10. He was hoping I could manage to get in some sleep, as I hardly slept at all in the night. Not a chance. Heidi wasn't too happy with me, but anyone else with a regular job would have called in sick with this cold. By about 11 I knew that I couldn't handle Emily, so I called Riley, who came home as soon as he could. He such a wonderful husband!!!!!

Then on Friday I could see that Christian also had a cold, so I told him he could stay home. I explained to him that I had an ulterior motive, that I needed help with Emily. He was cool with that. He was such a good boy. And I'm sure I would not have been able to handle Emily. She looks like such a sweet little thing - not! When she's not the center of attention she can be horrid. She can get into trouble faster than any kid I've ever known. Her little mind is going all the time, thinking about mischief she can get into. I e-mail Christian's teacher to let her know that I was keeping him home, and she e-mailed me back and said that she had noticed that he had a cold and she felt concerned. There were five other kids out that day. She told me what the work assignment was for the day, and he did it. Emily's worst feat of the day was taking off all of her clothes, diaper included, hopping into the bath tub, which is filled with her clothes and towels, then squatting down and peeing. I was soo mad at her. She avoided me for the rest of the day.

Last night, as I made it up to bed at about 10:30 or so, Riley, who was already in bed, asked if I would like him to go to the store and get me some NyQuil. That was exactly what I needed. He promptly got dressed and headed out to the store. He also came back with some carmex for my nose, which was oh so soothing. The NyQuil did the trick, and I slept all night and hardly had to dab at my nose at all. Now it's Saturday. I'm in bed, and Riley's outside raking leaves - one of his favorite tasks. And when he's done with that he gets to hose down the side walk, which I'm convinced is his ultimativo favorite task. If I don't keep an eye on him he will hose down the neighbor's sidewalks. It's okay as long as he doesn't wear himself out, as I've got lots of things that need doing before Thanksgiving, and I surely can't do it all myself. My cold has gotten to the stage where I have a huge red nose and I'm stuffed up, but at least my nose is finally not setting records for how fast it can run.

But now I've stayed in bed most of the morning, accomplishing little. My dear husband has brought me a cup of coffee, a cup of hot water, two satsumas, a piece of raisin toast and a crumpet with butter and honey. So now it's time to get going and get ready for Thanksgiving.

The main thing is that we have to get cleaned up, and we have to buy the missing food items. The sitting room, the library, and the back rooms surfaces all need cleaning. Oh, and the bath rooms and front hall and dining room, and living room and kitchen. Now since the queen of England is not coming, only one of her loyal subjects, I need not make things perfect.

guest list:

Riley and Molly
Annie and Corey
Heidi and Christian and Emily
Ken and Marilyn
Mom and Dad
Blake and Linda
with Blakey, George, Clair, Courtney, and Charles
and finally - Aunt Charlotte

That's 12 adults (of a sort) and 7 children, and with luck the children will all enjoy themselves in the back room. Annie wishes that she was one of the children, and maybe that's a good idea. She could be a monitor (I just won't tell her).

As usual it is planned that we shall have two turkeys, one barbecued and one stuffed and roasted. This seems crazy, and you know it just might be, be we seem to have done this for quite a while. But anyway, the two turkeys seem to dictate two different sets of accompaniments. The barbecued turkey has no stuffing and produces no gravy, hence the sweet yellow rice and sweet spicy carrots.

Thanksgiving Menu:

carrots and celery sticks for appetizers - I don't think such a big meal should have much more

Roast turkey
apple and sausage stuffing
mashed potatoes
candied yams and sweet potatoes
turkey gravy

Barbecued turkey
sweet yellow rice
sweet peppery julienned carrots

French bread
cranberry sauce


pumpkin pie
rum pumpkin pie
pecan pie
pumpkin pecan pie
chocolate pecan pie
eggnog pie
Chemeketan pie (a fairly well kept family secret)
grateful pudding with lemon sauce
whipped cream to go on everything

Lots of people like to call Thanksgiving turkey day. I like to think of it as pie day. The other foods really are better as left-overs.

Well now it's Sunday morning and I'm still sick, but I only have to blow my nose about once every half hour. And it doesn't run uncontrollably, which is so nice. Riley got up early this morning and washed the kitchen floor. He looked exhausted when he was finished, and after a while reading the sports page, he crawled back into bed. So how are we to ever get things together for Thanksgiving?

There's a lesson to be learned here. I've had this lesson many times before, and don't seem to have learned it. The lesson is: don't procrastinate, because you have no idea what might happen in the end when you think you are going to get something done. Get things done at the first opportunity.

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, 
just take the first step." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Even if you're on the right track 
- you'll get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD - Kugelhopf and Chicken Pot Pies

"Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other." 
Psalm 85:10

This weeks TWD (Tuesday with Dorie) project is kugelhopf, which is a pastry I've always liked, so I was delighted to see it come up. I got the kugelhopf started this morning.  Emily helped of course, though she was a bit on the wild side this morning.  First I set her on the task of putting the raisins into a dish, which she did. But then she spotted the dried cherries - her favorite - and she threw those in also. Then I put her in charge of buttering the cake mold.  She buttered both the inside and the outside of the pan.  Then she put raisins down the hole.

The dough went together all right, but after three hours it hadn't risen a smidge.  So then I turned the warming cupboard on to 80 degrees and stuck the bowl in.  It's been in there for 5 hours now, as we all went out on day out - Riley, Annie, Corey and I.  So right now I'm going to go see what disaster has befallen the dough.

So in the meantime, while waiting for the kugelhopf to rise, I made chicken pot pies - something I've never made before.

Chicken Pot Pies

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 14 ounce can of chicken stock
3 cups of homemade chicken stock that has been reduced and defatted
3 cups of diced left-over chicken
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced rather small
6 white mushrooms, sliced up rather thin
1/2 cup frozen peas
French herb mix, about 1 teaspoon
salt and pepper
puff pastry, cut into squares big enough to top the chosen baking dishes
1 egg + 1 tsp water for egg wash

The other day I made roast chicken for dinner. I had stuffed it with chopped carrots and onion. The vegies didn't cook, but after dinner, I pulled all the left-over meat off the chicken, then I put the carcus and vegies into a pot and added a bunch of water, not enough to quite cover the chicken. I put on the lid and cooked for a while. Then I took off the lid and smushed down the chicken into the water, and cooked the whole lot for a while more. When it all looked quite cooked, with the bones all falling apart, I put the whole thing through a strainer - the cone shaped kind. I put the strained liquid back into the pot and cooked it a while longer to reduce it. Then I put it into a bowl and then into the refrigerator. When it was all cooled down the chicken fat was nice and solid on the top, and I scooped it off - saving it, as it was lovely rendered chicken fat. It was this remainder that I used in the pot pies - it was probably about 3 cups, but I didn't measure it.

So for the filling for the pies I got a large saucier, melted the stick of butter and added the onions. I cooked those for a while, until the onions seemed tender, and then I added the flour, and cooked that for about 2 minutes. Then I quickly whisked in the chicken broths, stirring vigorously to make sure there were no lumps. I then added the carrots. With hind sight, I think that I would have put the carrots in a bowl with a bit of water, cover them with plastic wrap, and cooked them for a couple minutes in the microwave, as it took them a while before they were cooked. So when the carrots seemed well on their way to being cooked, I added the potatoes. These I then cooked for about 10 minutes. then I added the chicken, mushrooms and peas and simmer the whole thing for about 5 minutes.

I had preheated my gas oven to 400 degrees. The filling that I made would probably fill 8 pies, but I only made 4. I used 10 oz. soufflé dishes. These are big enough for a dinner for a man. I did not eat all of mine, and I think maybe a 6 oz dish would have been enough. But anyway, I filled the dishes. Got my puff pastry squares cut to size and brushed then with egg wash, and press them down onto the dishes. Then I baked them for 20 minutes.

We all liked the pies very much. As I said, I didn't finish mine, but I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator and I plan on having it for lunch tomorrow. We all thought that it might be nice to try and make pasties out of the remaining filling.

It seems to have risen.  I know that there were extra futsy things to do with the recipe, but I just put the dough into the well buttered pan and put it into the warming cupboard to rise.  Then, when I thought it had been in there long enough, I heated up the oven to 375 and stuck it in.  I looked at a lot of recipes for guglehopf on the internet and they didn't seem as complicated as Dorie's, though I'm sure hers will get wonderfully perfect results.

So right now mine is in the oven, and we shall see what we shall see.

Well I took it out of the oven after 20 minutes. It sure looked done to me. I even stuck it with a tooth pick. I promptly turned it over onto a wrack to cool, hoping that it would fall out on its own, which it did eventually. When it seemed cool enough to dust, I put it on a plate. It was light to handle, and that seemed light a good sign. We then all had a piece after it was dusted and photographed.

verdict: I really liked it. Then only thing I would change is that I would mix up the dough in the evening, turn it out into the prepared pan, and let it sit and rise over-night, ready to be baked in the morning. I thought that is was just sweet enough, though I think that I added an extra tablespoon or two of sugar. I think I could be great soaked with a simple syrup with rum or brandy.  And one could add some different things to it, like nuts or chocolate.  I'll definitely make it again.

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." 
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Emily's New Dress

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."  
Proverbs 31:30

It seems that Emily is getting quite used to having her picture taken. I hope this isn't a bad thing. Heidi bought her a new dress, one we both liked a lot, and she asked me to takes some pictures of her in it.

She also got a "new" sweater. I got it at Goodwill for 2.99, and I think it matched the dress very nicely.

Emily was then done with her picture shoot on the stool, and wanted to interact with her favorite doll, the one she is the most devoted to.

She laid her down for a nap on the stairs, but changed her mind, and took her upstairs to put her to bed in the crib. And then she went over to the table to turn on the music box (referred to as "sica box" by Emily), so that the baby would go to sleep.

So while "baby" slept I took Emily to get her ready for her nap. But she wanted to wear her jammies, which were down stairs, so we retrieved "baby", and went down stairs for a while.

Emily then went down for a nap, and had a nice long nap, but unfortunately she woke up very unhappy. I let her fuss for a while and then I suggested that we go into the kitchen and make cookies, and she perked right up.

"Style is a simple way of saying complicated things."
Jean Cocteau