Potato time!

We’re now just an hour away from the turkey coming out to rest.

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It’s roasting rather nicely. When we baste it next, it’s time to flip it so it’s breast side up.

Also, dad and I chopped up the potatoes to boil, then they’ll roast and then be mashed. Yum.

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Plus the yams!

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Happy Turkey Day

AKA Thanksgiving.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Graduating college, having a super supportive family, great friends I couldn’t do it all without, travel (over 2,000 miles this year), and of course, great food and people to share it with!

I hope y’all are having a great day. We’re getting ready this morning with a whopper of a bird, weighing in at 19.34 lbs. Biggest bird we’ve ever cooked. Something else I’m thankful for: dad will be doing most of the heavy lifting.

Surprisingly, most of the action in the kitchen won’t really get going until 2 pm, but I’ll keep you guys posted.

And yes, Kelly, I’m making the sprouts. (We should make a batch together!)

Good luck to all you tackling the turkey and sides today!

New dairy-free finds

This past week I made my trek out to Whole Foods, and boy, did I ever find some cool dairy-free foods. For whatever reason, desserts are sometimes the hardest foods for me to find. Unlike main courses, cheese is not my enemy here. Cream is. If I were to spontaneously be able to eat dairy again, cheesecake is the first thing I would go for. But in the unlikelihood of that happening, I’ve thankfully got some good options now.

The in-house bakery at the store makes a killer vegan chocolate mouse. It’s smooth, but also very rich. I can only handle a few bites at a time. What I really like about it is that it’s also made with raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. They aren’t an overwhelming presence but they add nicely to the flavor profile. My mom, who shies away from most of my dairy alternative foods, even said it tasted great.

My other great find was a carrot cake with a dairy alternative cream cheese frosting. This time I enlisted my grandmother to try the frosting to confirm that I was not crazy to think the frosting was indistinguishable from the real, dairy-full thing. Again, a thumbs up. Yay!

I also got a small stock going to eggnog and mint chocolate milk. Yes, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Trust me when I say that I am the LAST person you need to remind of that. I regularly refuse to engage in any holiday related things until at least a couple of days after Thanksgiving. But this year I have run into a snag. Usually this time of year I stock up on So Delicious’s Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk. It is hands down the most delicious drink (more so than even my beloved Pumpkin Spice Lattes). But for some reason, Whole Foods hasn’t ordered it! I know it’s still being made because it’s still listed on the company’s website. And I know other people are still interested in it because the checker I asked about it said that they had gotten a good number of calls from people looking for it. I have been checking the store every few weeks since mid-September when I make the trek to restock my usual things. There’s no space for it. There are other pumpkin drinks, but they are either dairy or have caffeine (which I can’t have), so I’m left out so far. In its absence, I have turned to the nog and the mint. Don’t judge.

But, dear readers, this may be an opportunity for you to lend a helping hand to a fellow foodie: do you know of any trusty recipe to make a Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk drink? Or do you know of a way to order it online? I would be very, very grateful!

Where has the time gone?

One minute it’s early October and I’m pleading with the weather gods to make it rain, and the next thing I know it’s pouring outside and Halloween is next week! Well, looks like I have a lot to catch you up on. There’s been a lot of work going on in the kitchen lately, though not really the food-making kind. My mom, grandma, and I sorted through boxes of my grandmother’s pots, pans, utensils, and other items to stock the island we added to the kitchen a few weeks back. For one little woman, she had a lot of kitchen stuff. Quite a bit of it is going back into storage for me to take when I move out (I will have the best stocked first kitchen!). We also pulled out some things for donation. I made a point to stay out of as much of it as possible because when you get three strongly opinionated women in a confined space, the heat can turn up quickly.

Other things to catch you up on in posts coming soon will include my trip to William Sonoma (kitchen Mecca, in my book), a family dinner at a really good Mexican restaurant, and a recipe for peppers and sausage with cornbread. Also, pumpkin spice lattes. Because they are delicious.

It’s officially Fall!

Okay, this has been true for a few days, but I don’t care. I’m still so happy that it is and now it’s October and it will be cold and I can bake and roast and do chefy things to my heart’s content. I’ve been out of the kitchen (in any real way) for a little while now, but I’ve been busy the last few days and I’ll have some new posts up soon. I’m hoping to get to the Farmer’s Market in Forest Grove today *crossing fingers*, so I’ll be blogging about that soon. Also, I’m working on posts about my crazy ice tea recipe, mushrooms, pasta sauce I make from scratch, and a few other things. Happy cooking!

I’ve been a very busy bee lately

When I get bored, I do random things to fill the time. I’ve been very bored lately waiting to hear back about jobs and waiting for the Oregon weather to get with the program already, so I decided to try my own tactics to nudge Mother Nature in the right direction. First, I redecorated my house with my Fall foliage like I do every year at about this time. No luck. Next I tried lighting my fall scented candles. Nada. I thought I’d up the ante, so I looked up “Fall recipes” online. I didn’t make any serious moves, thinking I could just scare MN into action with the threat of baked butternut squash and maple glazed ham. But no, MN does not take kindly to threats. She decided to turn UP the heat. Well, the saying goes that if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. I do not heed platitudes well. Instead, I got IN the kitchen and it has been a friggin’ throw down with MN ever since.

pasta dinner

I started slow. Oven roasted some zucchini from my garden (still a summer veg). Made some pasta sauce from scratch (not counting the canned tomatoes–who has time to tiny dice 4 or 5 tomatoes when someone else is willing to for a cheaper price?). Both of those could be any time of the year dishes. But I also boiled some carrots. First hint of Fallishness food.

I’m going to take an aside here and say that if you have never had boiled carrots, you should. I usually put a bag of baby carrots in a sauce pan, cover them with water, and put them on the burner to boil/simmer until fork tender. Something sciencey happens to them in that water (I’m guessing something along the lines of cooking converting proteins to sugars, but then I’m not a scientist so that could be complete BS) that makes them awesome. They’re a little sweeter for their sweating, and I love them. The carrots are also my favorite part of chicken noodle soup, which is another dish I love to make in fall when there’s frost and the (gigantic) dwarf dogwoods in the yard start shedding their leaves. Admittedly, I’ve had a love affair with the orange veg for many, many moons. When I was a kid, my mom even joked that I would turn orange from eating so many carrots, not unlike Arnold in that one episode of Magic School Bus. (Yes, I went and looked up that kid’s name. Season 4, episode 6.) But back to my battle with MN!

In response to my modest turn towards Fallish foods, the next day was a solid three degrees warmer. Alright MN, you think you’re squeezing me? Let me show you what I’ve got. What I had up my sleeve was an epic grocery store trip with mom. By the time we had left the produce section, our cart was already about half full. I’m not kidding. That night, I tried to let MN stew on what was about to be unleashed upon her, and dad cooked dinner. He lulled her into a false sense of security by barbecuing steaks. We’ve always been a good team in the kitchen.

finished peppers

My next assault came in the form of stuffed peppers and broccoli. Now, I know what you’re saying, how are stuffed peppers a Fall food? Well, I had found the recipe in my “Fall recipes” search: Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers. Bwahaha! Take that MN! Though I didn’t actually cut the faces into the pumpkins bell peppers (because I do not possess the patience or paring knife skill), I still chalk it up as a point in my corner. Also that night, I spontaneously decided to make banana bread.

banana bread

I don’t know if it was because I was on a high after dealing such a kick to MN and pumped for my next move, or if I was just tired of seeing this one sad banana in the bowl next to all the other bright yellow ones, but it happened. And it was delicious. After letting it cool (for all of 5 minutes out of the pan), I sliced right into the center and took a steaming piece. Banana bread and I go together like Forrest and Jenny.

The next morning, MN showed up, acting all tough despite the loaf shaped bruise on her jaw, and turned up the temp a measly two degrees. Pathetic. I, on the other hand, was raring and ready to go. At 5 o’clock I turned my oven on to 325 degrees and slid a beautiful ham in. I also had Brussels sprouts sitting on the counter and Pillsbury rolls in the fridge, ready to tag in. As the ham baked, I cleaned the sprouts and chopped the shallot that I cook them with.

Another aside, this time about Brussels sprouts. I don’t know how many times people have told me that they think they are gross, or smelly, or utterly unappetizing (because who keeps track of things like that?). Well, you know what? You haven’t had my Brussels sprouts. I have actually converted a few people with them (and soon the world!…I watched a lot of Pinky and the Brain when I was a kid). If you’re interested in my recipe, leave a comment and I’ll share. They are amazing.

Let me say, as much as I love these sprouts, they are a pain to clean and get ready. For that reason, I don’t do them that often. But this battle royale required nothing but my best. So I trudged on and they came out beautifully. The rolls were no big deal. They did their thing. The pièce de résistance was this:

apple pie

I baked an apple pie. From scratch! Yes, okay, the dough was store-bought. But I peeled and sliced all of the apples, and worked out my own seasoning mixture (which I’ll have to tweak for the next time I make one). With the ham, the Brussels sprouts, and this beautiful pie, I was pretty sure I had MN on the ropes. And I knew just how to finish her, Mortal Kombat style.

roasted chicken

I roasted a chicken last night. Along with it, I sautéed yellow squash, green beans, and asparagus pieces, and roasted some herbed potatoes. I’m not one to gloat, but it was definitely a TKO. Today’s weather? Overcast and six degrees cooler than it has been.

Update: It is raining. Muahahaha!