She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:27

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

Today I'm beginning preparations for our Homemade Thanksgiving Dinner.
On the menu:
Turkey of course, we pick up the turkey today.  This turkey was raised about 30 mins drive from here on a free range outdoor turkey operation.  I will try to take pictures.  It may be raining but it is a cool place and we feel great about eating this bird.

It wasn't raining, it was a beautiful evening and warm.  Bowman & Landes have so many customers this week that they have kids directing traffic.

The turkey comes in a box and immediately that it is removed the box already has an occupant.  The turkey has been vegetarian fed.  This does not mean that the turkey is a vegetarian.  It simply means that the feed does not contain any animal products or by-products.  Turkeys I'm sure will eat whatever bug they can especially when they are out on the range like these sometimes are.

Mashed potatoes.  I don't particularly need them with all the other starches but Chloe will eat mashed potatoes and I really want her to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.

Stuffing.  I am getting ready to bake some bread. 

I will buy some turkey sausage at the turkey store today.  We have celery, carrots, apples, raisins, walnuts etc etc.

I cut one loaf of bread into cubes and diced onions, celery and garlic.  Then I fried a pound of turkey burger from Bowman & Landes.  The turkey sausage had an ingredient called spices, which is much too vague for me, so until I can ask them exactly what they mean by 'spices' I will use the 100% ground turkey.  It is really good anyway.  I browned the meat and added the vegies and sauteed until they were just translucent.  I seasoned the breadcrumbs to my liking, Italian, and added the fried things.  Chopped apples and walnuts.  You can add anything you want here.  Raisins would be nice but I forgot to buy them.

I had been nurturing a sprig of sage on my porch from the summer.  It had grown a lot since I brought it in and it was destined for Thanksgiving dinner.  There is a close up of the stuffing.  The stuffing is in my opinion the most important part of the dinner.  Well you do have to have a turkey, that goes without saying but the turkey is the final touch to the stuffing.  All those juices running down through the stuffing, mmm mm.  Now you must break a couple of eggs into the stuffing and mix them in and then pour some water over all to allow you to make clumps to help you stuff it into the bird.  I stuff the inside and the neck area.  Then when the bird is cooked you can take the stuffing all out and serve it in a serving dish. 

Brussel sprouts.  I found a delectable looking recipe I plan to try.

These aren't the frozen kind.  These were fresh, well sort of fresh.  I think they had a very long trip, the kind of trip I would dred to make by car, or truck.  They came all the way from California to Ohio to grace our table.  I'm being completely honest here, these were not local by any stretch but they were grown in the USA.  They were in really bad shape and I peeled and chisled much away leaving the inner parts.  I buttered the pan and put the brussels in sprinkled paprika because I don't have or like hot pepper.  Then I drizzled them generously with maple syrup.  When the turkey came out of the oven these went in and the temperature went to 425F.  I stirred them frequently and they took about 45 minutes.  Next time I will toss them in the syrup to cover them better and put more butter in.  They were delicious though.  My mother-in-law said they were. 

Green beans, from the garden, for Chloe.  Pretty sure she won't want Brussel Sprouts.

Sweet Potatoes.  We didn't grow any but we were able to find some organic ones at the grocer.  Second choice would have been stuffed dumpling squash.  Yum.  Can't wait to try that soon.
I boiled the sweet potatoes in water and drained and mashed them.  I buttered the pan and put them in.  In the saucepan I melted butter and brown sugar and cooked for a bit then I added the chopped pecans.  I spread this out over the top of the sweet potatoes and put it in the oven with the brussel sprouts for the last 20 minutes.   These were delectable and definitely replaced and exceeded the whole marshmallow thing I used to do.  I don't use marshmallows anymore.

Apple cranberry salad home made.  Never made it before but really looking forward to trying it.  It was great but I didn't get a picture.

Biscuits.  Chloe prefers whole wheat biscuits so whloe wheat biscuits it is. 
The biscuits went into the oven with the sweet potatoes.

Apple pie

I mixed cinnamon and white flour and tossed the apples with it, then I drizzled the whole thing with honey, just a little as these are Fuji apples which are quite sweet already.  The pastry is 100% whole wheat and butter.

Pumpkin pie

I roasted the pumpkin over water and then Mark pureed it while I washed piles of dirty dishes.  I would totally have pureed it but I think sometimes Mark just wants to be a part of the process so all of us will have had a hand in this pie.

I didn't use sugar in this pie.  I used honey, only not as much as you would use sugar.  I used whole milk fresh from the farm and eggs.  I made a big mistake putting them in the oven on a cold cookie sheet.  If you are reading this you may already know this but I make pumpkin pie once a year and every year have to learn the same lesson.  This is one reason I'm writing this, so that I can read it next year and make sure not to make that huge mistake again.  The cold pan warped and spilled the filling out onto the foil underneath and didn't smell so good by the end of the baking.  The warp went away but that pie had a little less filling.
I served whipped cream with the pumpkin pie.  I scooped the cream off the top of the milk last week until I had a couple of pints.  This way I will have some cream to whip as we gobble up the pie.

Pecan pie.  This was also not made with sugar but with half and half honey and maple syrup.  I was really impressed and my husband loved it.

Really missing the kids this year.  But they are all together out west somewhere making Thanksgiving memories of their own.  And I'm happy about that.
Here is a picture of the whole feast.

Recipients of the feast this year though few in number were large in spirit and incredibly dear.
The folks always enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner.  For years Grandma served Thanksgiving dinner to crowds of people.  Now she brings her signature albeit not so chemical free oyster dressing which I have tried in the past but could not bring myself to eat.  My husband loves it and so does his dad.  The older kids always relished that part of the dinner.
The precious next generation, my youngest and my grandson.  They set their own table and had a feast to their liking with green beans, turkey and mashed potates.  Chloe loves wholewheat biscuits so they had that too.  They had a little jug of gravy to share as well.  Love the kids, so thankful we still have them.  Isn't God Great, making sure we have children still even though we are older.
I love to cook, and I love to eat.  Cooking helps to give me something I can do in a world where there is plenty I can't do.  I usually clean up the next day but the next day I was sick (exhausted I'm sure) and so Mark had to clean up.  lol

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Angels Are Singing

I remember when I used to hear the angels singing.  I was expecting you, Chloe, and for awhile after you were born I could still hear them singing if I was quiet and still.  Their voices mingling and harmonizing so beautifully together and the unmistakable sound of instruments beyond my recognition.  I knew it was the angels.  There was such a peace and joy in the song without words.  They gave me hope in my suffering and I knew I was never truly alone.  I wondered, "Why me?" as no-one I ever spoke to had heard them.  I also wondered why I didn't hear them anymore, especially after Debbie passed away and the silence from heaven was unbearable to my soul.  God gives us what we need when we need it.  I have a new angel.  It is you, Chloe, singing all day long whatever you are doing.  You have the song of angels inside of you.  You bless.  This is why I haven't heard the angels sing lately, because now I have you. <3

...For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17: 21

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful for My Spot

This morning I decided that I am not doing a very good job of staying on my housecleaning schedule.  I'll admit that I was feeling a little bad about it.  Later in the day I sat down to fold some laundry and my thoughts turned to finding a reason.  Was it only last Saturday that I decided to clean the outside of my house?  It was a rare beautiful day and I swept the siding with a broom and washed the outside windows and all the North facing walls got their green scrubbed off.  The wall on the deck side was not getting out of a good wash either.  I finished up the job on Sunday afternoon and rearranged the deck for the winter.  Monday I decided to cut up and cook a huge pumpkin.  A pumpkin so big I couldn't lift it.  It was a lengthy job, cutting it and cleaning it and then cooking and pureeing.  All in all I got 50 cups.  The next day I made my very first pumpkin soup.  Of course I had to forget the nutmeg but I promised to try again another time and make it delectable.  It  was a new taste for us, but we practice trying new tastes especially local flavors which this pumpkin is.  Tuesday night just as we were getting ready for bed Mark discovered a very large owl in the rooster pen.  He had killed one rooster already but flew away when Mark interrupted him.  We had to go and put up extra netting across the front wall to make sure he couldn't get in if he came back which we were pretty sure he would.  On Wednesday we harvested the remaining nine roosters.  We started at 2:00pm and ended at 6:30pm.  That was the best time we had made yet.  I know the owl got the leader of the flock.  His name was King and he was extremely protective of the others.  I can just imagine him standing guard between the owl and the other roosters, even charging.  That was his attitude.  He gave his life to protect.  Bless his heart.  Today I was setting about the job of cutting up all that chicken and getting it into the freezer.  I was on my second and Mark said he thought I should take the rest of the day off.  I was happy to oblige and decided to leave the rest for tomorrow.  Anyway I had ironing to do and clothes to fold and put away and a house to straighten up.  I thought maybe to throw a batch of cookies together which I may just do yet, but first I had to write.  So many things to write about and not much time to do it.  The house may be a little neglected and projects lined up to be finished but life is good, rather life is great and I'm thankful for my little spot.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Do you know what happens when you cook?

Do you know what happens when you cook and bake and preserve? 

You make a big mess and everything gets dirty so you have to start cleaning.

You wash and put away dishes and wipe and organize counters.

You may have to wipe the cupboards and clean the fridge and wash the floor and take out the trash and clean the trash can.  

You will wash the towels and cloths.

When you are done you will look at your brand new kitchen and you will feel really good about yourself. 

Feeling really good about yourself will inspire you to bake something to celebrate.

uh oh

Friday, October 26, 2012

Me a Food Snob?

On Sunday we harvested 7 roosters.  It seems a little odd for the first post to talk about harvesting roosters.  In my corner we raise chickens for eggs and also for our own meat.  Harvesting 7 in one day is a new record for my husband and I.  Everything went smoothly with little time for lag.  Last year I was so tired after just three and I pushed myself to get a fourth one done.  I would need a whole day to recover.  Not this year I'm so happy and thankful to report.  On Monday morning I put two of them in the crockpot for a dinner party that evening.

We had been invited to go out for dinner by a relative.  In the past I would have been excited about it but not this time.  I had begun to dread invitations to go 'out' for dinner.  Over the last year or two we have gradually changed how we eat.  We currently eat no processed food.  That is unless we process it ourselves.  We have grown to distrust the food industry and find it hard to eat something which was not prepared by us or someone who we know loves us.  The big name brands are not our friends, they don't really care about mine or my families health.  What our town has is a large offering of big chain restaurants and fast food.  So we don't eat out any more.  I had to turn the invitation down and that was really difficult for me as I am beginning to feel like a real 'food snob'. 

"Oh, I'm sorry we don't eat that kind of food."

But we don't.

As it turns out we invited everyone to our place for dinner.  No one was going to ask us to invite them and cook for them.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure that out or why I stressed about being invited out.  Everyone was excited about coming to our house and hanging out and eating at our leisure in the privacy of our own family home, not to mention the savings on their pocket books.  My husband suggested throwing two roosters into the crockpot.  I was impressed with him, not because of his generosity, he's always been that, but because he was willing to eat chicken so soon after harvesting.  He has consistently worked on our system and set up and apparently it's working.  My health is improving too and I am much stronger than I had been.  This means I'm much more helpful this year. 

Two roosters are much too big for our large crockpot whole so I cut them up.  I slathered them with olive oil and dribbled white rice vinegar all over them.  I usually use a good white wine but I am all out of white wine and waiting for my little sister to visit so I can get some more. 
(hint hint little sister) 
Anyway the rice vinegar did exactly the same thing.  I salted and peppered and generously sprinkled the top with curry powder and sliced an onion to spread over the top. 
It cooked on high for 5 - 6 hours.

When it was cooked I got one lady to remove the bones.  She saved them for soup.  Another lady cooked the whole wheat organic noodles.  I took the liquid from the meat and using creamy milk from my whole non homogenized milk and a little flour I made a thin gravy.  No seasoning was necessary.  We put all our efforts back into the crock and we had the best chicken and noodle dumplings ever, paired with green beans from the garden gently steamed and tossed with real butter and sliced almonds.   For dessert we had apple/berry crisp with
vanilla ice cream.