November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It's really snuck up on me again (I think I say that every year) but we are so excited to have time with family, enjoy the beautiful weather and some of our favorite traditions. This year I'm in charge of bringing the rolls and pie. I'm going to make our favorite easy dinner rolls and try a new-sure-to-be-favorite, Homemade Raspberry Honey Butter. Janet's blog is beyond lovely and you can see her similar roll recipe with careful and gorgeous photos to walk you through the cresent-roll making process if you are a little nervous.

A nice buttery homemade apple pie is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert and you can see my favorite (shown above) here as well as a lot of other pie recipes in my archives. As I told the women at Church at our pie class last month, when it comes to pie, all those great ingredients thrown together with ice cream on top- how bad can that be? I'm going to make our pies today and throw them in the freezer so Turkey Day is as stress free as possible.

Don't miss David Lebovitz's great stress-free baking tips here- there's something for everyone. Have a very happy Thanksgiving- I am so thankful for each of you that stops to say hi or lets me know that one of my recipes made someone feel special! Hugs!

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

November 21, 2011

Food Rules- an eater's manual

 Have you heard of Michael Pollan before? I first read his book In Defense of Food a few years ago and was blown away by the common sense. It's easy to feel like the 'rules' change every five minutes- butter, margarine, back to butter, no-carbs, whole grains only, gluten free, where ever you look there is a different message- it's down right stressful! Pollan's book In Defense of Food gets down to the straightforward truths of what is actually good for our bodies and presents it in a way that you can understand and absorb. When TLC Book Tours let me know about his new book, Food Rules- an eater's manual, I couldn't wait to read it. The timing couldn't be better with the onset of the holiday season. Every time I open up a magazine or read a blog I think about the holiday and the traditions- the parties, the food, it is the most wonderful time of the year. It's also an easy time to overindulge and forget the common sense that we should really hold on to.

This book is full of the common sense that we all need! Food Rules is a slim and beautiful book, thanks to the lovely illustrations by Maira Kalman. It's nicely organized and easy to delve right into. I read it a little at a time and walked away with a smart, simple new idea to process each time. Some of my favorites? "If You're Not Hungry Enough to Eat an Apple, Then You're Probably Not Hungry." I've found myself repeating that without realized it when the mid-afternoon munchies set it. And hooray- it's apple season! Not surprisingly, I do feel better after snacking on an apple than after grabbing some chocolate from the pantry.

Another I loved- "Don't Eat Anything Your Great Grandmother Wouldn't Recognize as Food." Foods that come to mind- spray margarine and go-gurt. I can't imagine that our ancestors ate either of those. I love chocolate Cheerios, I really do, but can there be any doubt which breakfast is going to make our bodies happier, that or a bowl of oatmeal and berries? And food that doesn't ever go rotten, is that actually food? If the bugs don't want to eat it, why would we, is there any actual food left in it? I think deep down we can tell what our bodies really need without the input of advertisers and other people looking to make a profit despite the costs to ourselves. Reading Pollan's wise words accompanied with Kalman's gorgeous illustrations has inspired me to do better and not in the unobtainable, crazy lifestyle and budget way that can overwhelm. I walked away from this book feeling I could choose better for myself and my family, that we can make simple changes and turn these fresh and helpful ideas into habits.
Thanks to TLC for providing me a copy of the book to review. Stop by the tour list here to see the book tour schedule. You can see the book here on Amazon. It's lovely and one I will read over and over again.

November 16, 2011

Wednesday Want- Immersion Blender

There's nothing like a good immersion blender. I thought this was a not-so-needful kitchen accessory until my mom got one and I realized I'd been missing out. Soups, homemade refried beans, sauces, and more become instantly silky smooth. The whole blender- transfer process is totally viable but pretty messy, at least for me. With all the fun colors and a great sale at Amazon right now, this is the perfect quick gift for the foodie in your life! Check them out here!

November 8, 2011

TWD- Honey Cherry Scones

A couple of weeks ago we were dying of heat and feeling bad that the AC would still kick on. Suddenly, it's cold- really cold! My mommy brain doesn't do so great on dates lately and last night I realized I hadn't made my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Sure enough, I didn't have the ingredients or the equipment for this weeks recipes so I hopped back to last week's Honey Nut Scones. The kitchen was cold and everyone was snacky (someone needs to go to the grocery store already...) so we happily turned on the oven and whipped these scones up. Using honey, whole wheat flour, and nuts (or in my case, dried cherries) they felt like a pretty decent treat.

I didn't used to like scones but now I know better! You don't need any special equipment or ingredients and the recipes are flexible. They are simple to make with butter straight out of the fridge cut into a couple dry ingredients. Pour over some wet ingredients, stir in your favorite mix ins and press into a cake pan. Normally I shape my scones with a biscuit cutter but after I read the tips from the rest of the TWD Bakers, I decided to try pressing them into the pan, cutting them like a pizza (only half way though!) and freezing them while the oven got hot. After they baked, I cut the wedges the rest of the way and the final product was fluffy and light, even with all the whole wheat flour. Obviously they were gobbled up quickly (no time for fancy pictures or good lighting at our house!) While these are still technically a pretty sweet treat (especially when topped with butter and jam), the simple, wholeness of it all felt pretty good on a cold night. You can see the recipe at Jeannette's or buy Dorie's wonderful book already. Mine is tattered and stained and I love it more every day.