Mmmmm, bread is rising!

I sit here on a brief break to update on the Turkey Day breads. I have made 3 batches of my Sweet Potato Rolls – a tried and true recipe I have used since 1996 when I saw it in the November Bon Appetit Magazine. As I sit they are going through their first rise. In about another hour I will punch down the dough and shape each batch into 16 crescent rolls. I can almost smell the aroma of the rolls baking, mingled with the dried cherries and cardomom wafting through my entire house…so heavenly!

Thanksgiving Breads…

November 18, 2009
Tomorrow I will make my sweet potato rolls (with dried cherries and cardamom), and perhaps even my mother-in-law’s Butterflake Herb rolls. Since I don’t use trans-fats, I have replaced the shortening in her recipe with real butter – but that is my only modification. Sometimes I include some sort of rosemary bread or rolls with my Thanksgiving meal, but I haven’t decided if I will do that this year. I also plan to measure out my dried fruits and nuts for my fruitcakes, which I would like to make next week so they have time to ‘cure'(a 3-4 week process). I soak them with the sugar syrup I use to plump the dried fruit and add Maker’s Mark bourbon and Grand Marnier to balance the sweetness and provide a kick…After several weeks they are ready for distributing to friends and family. Believe me, these are not your ordinary fruitcakes! They have a white cake base and I use dried rather than glaceed fruits. The mixture includes apricots, blueberries, sour cherries, currants, and cranberries – all dried of course. I have had wonderful luck with the dried fruits at Whole Foods. My mouth is already watering!!!

Turkey Day Prep Work!

November 17, 2009
Yesterday was a great day. I made more of my pie crust dough for the freezer, I cubed bread for my stuffing – also in the freezer, and I even dried the habanero peppers Mike and Tanna gave me this weekend. I will smoke them on the day I smoke my turkey (the day before Thanksgiving and also my mom’s birthday!). This weekend I was able to get most of the groceries I will need for Thanksgiving. I have my perishables yet to buy, and my turkey will be picked up the Tuesday before Turkey Day…but not a whole lot left to get. My tablecloth is washed and ready to spread on my table. Dishes are accounted for, and I will buy/arrange flowers et al for my centerpiece on Tuesday the 24th. So all in all I feel fairly ready for the big day. I look forward to our times with family and friends…and that is what it is really all about…

Part 2: Recreating lost entries

November 14, 2009
Recreating Blog Entries…Continued
My previous entries have been lost somewhere in Cyberworld…so I am trying to retrace my steps to document what I have done for Thanksgiving preparations and when…too bad I didn’t think to back up my previous entries.
On Friday, November 6th I ordered my turkey. This year I am trying an organic turkey from Whole Foods. I ordered a 14-16 pound hen and will most likely also buy a turkey breast to smoke. Last year I served three types of turkey: the traditional roasted turkey, a smoked turkey and a fried turkey (provided by a good friend). The fried turkey was tasty, but the smoked turkey was phenomenal! I did a southwestern rub on it and used mesquite and apple woods in my smoker. This year I am considering using Indian spices for my rub…I think the fusion with the apple wood smoke will pair nicely. However, I am still researching this and have not yet made up my mind. Knowing me I will wait until the day before and still modify at the last minute.
On Thursday November 12th I did some prep work for my pies – I mixed up my pastry flour and cubed butter for the freezer. On Friday I made 4 of the 10 pie crusts that I will need for Thanksgiving. I made 2 crusts for my apple pies and 2 crusts for my pumpkin pies. I had planned to have them made by the beginning of last week, but got side-tracked with my Christmas shopping. I used my new Cuisinart food processor…Wow! I bought the new 16 cup processor from Williams-Sonoma (yes, 16 cup…it is exclusive to W-S) and really wasn’t sure it would be that big of a difference. But it was. My flour didn’t ‘poof’ out of the top due to the new seal-tight system, and the locking blade made turning out the dough much easier when I didn’t have to worry about the blade falling out. I also made use of the extra bowls. It comes with the 16, 12 and 4 ½ cup bowls. I was able to use the small bowl to grind my gingersnaps and pecans for my pumpkin pie…every step I can get thru now will be that much less I have to do later!

Re-creating lost blog entries….

November 1, 2009

Goodbye Halloween, Hello November!

It is November 1st and our annual cul-de-sac Halloween gathering is behind us. We enjoyed the trick-or-treaters, the costumes and, most importantly, the company of neighbors and friends – complete with a fire pit this year! (Thanks Bill!!). It is now time to move on to Thansgiving preparations…Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year…the emphasis is on family, friends and food. What could be better? There is no stressing about who I need to give gifts to and what the perfect gift is. It is all about giving thanks and appreciating one another. Food is my biggest life passion, and no other holiday allows me to express my genuine appreciation for my family and friends through food than Thanksgiving.

Having stated that I appreciate not having to stress about the gift-giving, I must clarify that Thanksgiving is not a stress-free holiday for me. But it is generally good stress. I am able to challenge myself, try new dishes, make more pies…ah, pies. Have I mentioned that I make multiple pies for Thanksgiving? It began with six pies the first year we hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Crazy, huh? Well, there is a story behind the madness – a madness, by the way, which resulted in TEN pies last year (yes, TEN)! The history in my husband’s immediate family is that his mom has had a houseful at Thanksgiving since before I first began joining in the holiday festivities. She always has at least 10 pies, and last year I believe a record was set: fifteen pies! When I first began ‘negotiating’ with my husband to stay at our house for Thanksgiving (we live in TX, they are in the northeast) the bargaining chip was pies. He finally consented after I agreed I would make six pies to keep the tradition alive. By this point our sons had gotten used to a series of pies and would have been disappointed at the lack of such gluttony. Do we eat all of those pies ourselves? Not really. What has evolved to be known as ‘Black Friday’ to most has become ‘Pie Day’ among many of my friends. Those who join us for dinner on Thanksgiving partake of the pies after dinner, and the next day we pull out the leftovers and invite friends over to share the goodies.

And now it is that time of year once again. I will be planning the Big Meal, the number and types of pies to make, and eagerly awaiting my son’s return from college. I am setting out to document the process I go through each year and welcome anyone who is interested to sit back and enjoy the ride! Bon Appetit!
Posted by the cleansed palate at 11/1/2009 8:25 PM | Add Comment


There is not a whole lot going on today…I did buy a few staples that will keep until the Big Day…and I will continue to do so to spread the cost out over the month. I usually order my turkey on the first of November, but this year I am contemplating getting my turkey from Whole Foods. In the past I have ordered it from a local meat market. I like to support such specialty businesses when possible; however, I have been less than satisfied with their offerings recently. And the price is significantly higher…

The other ‘complication’ I have this year is I am headed to London with my husband the week after Thanksgiving, so in addition to planning the Big Meal I am trying to have my Christmas shopping finished and the house decorated before we leave. This also means I will need to have my annual fruitcakes made and in the process of ‘marinating’ before we leave for London.

Posted by the cleansed palate at 11/2/2009 8:13 PM | Add Comment