Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Counting Down

Are my American friends busy this week preparing for their Thanksgiving celebration? Perhaps you are keeping it simple, baking a turkey breast or perhaps going to else where for a fine feast. This year Jen and her family are hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I am wondering just how early the texting and Face Time will begin tomorrow as she starts her preparations, wondering how to do this or that. 

I began my part for the dinner today: the cranberry relish. I keep it very simple: 
  • a bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple, Fuji this year
  • 1 naval orange
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Truvia instead of sugar to taste
I give it a few rounds in the food processor,

until it is nice and chunky.

I really should have made a double batch, but I had only one bag of berries. I love it on pancakes or just by itself.

The Head Gardener has a great friend, Jim, a widower. He brought his boat over today to store it in the barn for the winter. He loves my pound cake. I'd send it to work with the Head Gardener and the men whom he worked with went pretty nuts over the cake, taking way too big pieces and hiding them. Jim was the worst offender. Now each both men are retired. They have coffee every week and go fishing together. Buddies. I usually bake him a cake for Christmas, but he is having his family for Thanksgiving and the HG thought he needed pound cake, so I baked him a cake. 

Tomorrow I will bake the pumpkin and pecan pies. When I tell my friends that I am baking pies, their eyes widen and then they look down as they admit that they will buy theirs frozen or fresh from the super market. I like baking pies. Took me years to figure out how to make a decent crust. I thank Martha Stewart for teaching me. My hair dresser, Barb, shared yesterday her mother's secret for the perfect pie crust: the dough must be kept cold. 
Martha's recipe:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour --Barb's mom chilled her flour
  • 2 sticks of butter, cold--Barb's mom used half lard and half butter
  • 1/2 cup iced water
  • pinch of salt
Barb's mom would crumble the ingredients together then chill them more. The secret, Barb says, to a flaky crust is the marbling of the butter and lard in the crust. The more marbling, the flakier the crust which requires keeping the dough really cold.

I mix my crust in the food processor then divide it in half and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then I roll it out. I'll show you tomorrow.

I'll fire up this baby, a pretty fancy appliance that the modern woman no doubt takes very much for granted. It has all of the modern features: regular bake or convection bake, temperature probe that I use for roasts, and other neat features. It is sleek and pretty and modern.  I found the flour sack Tea Towel at my favorite gift store. I had to buy it because it brings back those glorious memories of my grandfather's '51 red Chevy pick up. We'd load up in it and head to the mountain cabin where we would cut Christmas trees. I won't actually use the towel; I just like to look at it.

I'll get lost in a reverie of sweet Thanksgiving memories as I roll out the crusts. I will remember my mother, flour all over the front of her sweat shirt, the red linoleum counter white with flaky flour crumbs as she'd push the rolling pin back and forth over the dough to make a perfect circle. After we had grown up, the folks purchased a mountain home in a little coal mining town Oak Creek not far from Steamboat Springs. Once they had the little house, we spent all of our holidays there. The first house they bought was just two rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom. I remember the first Thanksgiving there, wondering how she was going to roast a turkey. 

Well, look at this bad boy. Mom would stoke up a wood fire and poke that turkey in the oven and roast it to perfection. The little house heated up pretty fast, so the doors were thrown wide open, letting the snow drift in. 

I don't know why we have hung on to the old stove. It sits under the eves behind the barn, along with other stuff.

 I always imagined the young housewife who had this stove brand new. How proud she must have been. It was in pristine condition while my mom had it, but it had some rough handling over the years. Now rusty with cracked porcelain, it only fosters my fond memories and spider webs in the warming oven. I have yet to roast a turkey as fine as my mom's in my 21st century modern oven. 

The Christmas tree is up, but that is all. I purchased a new one this year after donating my lighted trees last year because I was tired of messing with the lights. This one is not pre-lit. I have decorated in pink for years, but this year I will keep the red truck theme of years gone by and use all of the family heirloom decorations from my grandmother's tree, my mother's, and the HG's grandmother and mom's trees. I haven't used those since we moved to the Garden Spot. I miss them. I need to see them again.

There are other Christmas  preparations going on, too. I have been sewing for the 18" dolls that all of the little girls on my gift lift have. I have six dresses to sew. Meet my own doll--I haven't named her. I found her at a thrift store for only $5. She is a Madame Alexander and is in perfect condition. I can't imagine who would donate such a lovely doll. Right now she serves as my model.



I found the pattern here: Susan Karmar. com/ It is a free download. I had to adjust the pattern size, which I did in Microsoft Word. I had to reduce it 1 inch scale, so I just drug the jpeg image from the corner of the image from 6.5 to 5.5 to get the perfect size. I have four more to sew up and the finish work on these two. I dug through my stash of fabric to find pieces of material that would work. I had to get a bit creative to make all of the scraps work.

Other happenings: Boone got groomed. I wanted photos of his session, but by the time I got to the mobile dog bath, he was already inside. He gets a bath and toe nails clipped. I am sure that as soon as he is turned loose he goes out and rolls in the horse pen.

It has been cold enough to freeze the water features along with the weeds and leaves that the strong winds blow in. What a mess.

Lesson never learned: take the pump out before the water freezes.

Smile, dear.

The week ended on a sad note as we said our final farewell to the HG's dad who passed the end of August. Almost larger than life, he stood well over 6 feet and had a heart just as big. A farmer most of his life, he raised his family with a strong work ethic, good values, and he was a kind and generous man. We will miss him. 

Time to edit, proofread, and publish. (I am watching the Dancing With the Stars Finale. Who will win? Bindi, the crocodile hunter's daughter or Alex, the hero? Bindi is the better dance and such a sweet girl and  Alex is just special. (he and his two other friends brought down a terrorist on a French train, saving many lives)).

Happy Thanksgiving. May your turkey be tender and juicy and your pies perfect. 

As we bless our meal, we will pray for peace and give thanks for all of our blessings, and as I think of you, I thank you for being a special blessing in my life. 


  1. Your Thanksgiving preparations are filled with memories and wonderful thoughts. I never thought to chill the flour when making pastry, but I'm going to give that a try next time. Pies are something I always make, too. They taste so much better than store bought. The doll clothes will make the little girls very happy.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Ann.

  2. Your pastry recipe is going straight into my book. Chilling flour sounds a good idea.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving, Ann! Will you bake my pies, too?

  4. I learned to make pastry when I was in England as an au-pair long ago, but I'm afraid I never made it again when I was back in Holland. So nice to see you have somewhere on your yard still the old stove of your mother.
    Wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you too Ann...hope it was everything that you wanted it to be.

    Your chutney? sounds delish...I just finished making a fermented cranberry green apple one from a recipe from Kraut Source...it was super tasty...but a wee bit sour, LOL.