It took me one week plus one day to cook everything for Thanksgiving dinner.
The main meal consisted of the following:
Risotto with pesto and roasted tomatoes
Green bean fritters
The only thing that came out of a bag was the frozen corn kernels. I also cheated on the risotto by using store-bought vegetable stock. I normally make my own stock, but the 2 vegetarians in our family frown on my using meat stock. Of course, that means they won’t touch the stuffing so I make it extra meaty by adding sausage. mmmm, sausage.
The dessert menu was as follows:
Maple pecan pie
Apple cranberry pie
It broke my heart when I saw Elly eating almost nothing from the Thanksgiving meal, but all was forgiven when she inhaled close to half of the pumpkin pie.
I injured my shoulder on that pumpkin pie because I bought a neck pumpkin that was probably bigger than Elly. It was a beast to cut up! But, it was worth it. Fresh pumpkin tastes so much better than store-bought canned pumpkin. Yet, a lesson was learned. Next year, I will buy two smaller neck pumpkins.
I don’t know about you, but here in the Haigh household we dye eggs year-round.
Although, we used to only use the Paas kit, I have since learned that normal food dye works just fine. My egg dyeing recipe now consists of a few drops of food dye, 2 tbsp of vinegar and about a cup of cold water. Easy.
The trouble is in limiting Elly to only dyeing 2 or 3 eggs at a time. Otherwise, all of our eggs would be hard-boiled, dyed and sporting smiley faces.
After making Jake dog biscuits for his birthday in May, I realized how easy they were to make and have kept Jake well supplied in homemade biscuits ever since.
Though the book called Baking for Your Dog is chock full of different biscuit recipes, I have only used the “Christmas Sausage Cookies”. Too many of the other recipes call for crazy healthful ingredients like wheatgerm, seaweed powder, and buckwheat flour. I love my dog, but I simply refuse to buy fancy flours just for him to eat. He has to muddle through with the flour selection on hand.
Dan says I am spoiling him anyway.
Yet, Jake is in his senior years now.
I hope when I am in my senior years that someone will make me homemade treats.
If I were a kitten, I would purr.
Instead I’ll just gush.
OMG, I love my new wok. Truly, I don’t know how I survived so many years without one. For the first time in my life, I can make fried rice without pulling my hair out. Nothing stuck to the cast iron. Not the eggs. Not the rice. Nothing. To clean it, I wiped it with a paper towel.
The cast iron retained heat beautifully once it was heated up. The trick of pushing up already cooked foods to the sides of the wok so they cooked at a lower temp worked brilliantly. Truly, the wok is an ingenious piece.
Just in case you want your own because I had you at purr, the wok is a Lodge Cast Iron Wok 14 inches. Because I don’t live in Tennessee near the Lodge store, I purchased mine from Amazon and had it delivered free thanks to our prime membership.
Even though the wok comes pre-seasoned, I opted to season it again by deep frying some doughnuts in it. (Really I just wanted an excuse to make some doughnuts).
Elly helped, of course.
But, back to my wok.
It’s big. I have no idea where I am going to store it yet. For now, it is sitting on top of my stove so every time I walk into my kitchen, I see it there and smile. I can see myself cooking a whole lot more in it than just fried rice and doughnuts.
We have lived in this house for almost 8 years. For all of those years, my baking ingredients, such as flour and sugar, were scattered across the kitchen. For a time, the sugars were kept on the shelf behind the stove. Never was it convenient to reach over a hot stove to grab a cup of sugar. Yet, I tolerated the annoyance because the sugar canisters looked so pretty sitting on that shelf.
Finally, I could take it no longer. Pretty be damned. I needed orderliness to reign supreme.
It took some shuffling and some paring down, but the baking ingredients are all housed on the open shelves in between my collection of cookbooks.
It has cut down on prep time. It has even increased my baking output. It is all just a little easier now, which is good since more often than not I have a little helper in the kitchen with me.
Elly and I are taking these cookies to a Valentine’s Day party.
They are the chocolate Valentine cookies from Pillsbury Best Cookies cookbook.
They have been taste tested and approved by Elly.
Me: “Are they good, Elly?”
Elly: “They are chocolate! Try them!”
Yep. She is my daughter. She loves chocolate like I do.
Elly woke up this morning and the first thing she said was “I am 3”.
Then, she spent the next 4 hours asking me if her friends were here yet.
As soon as her friends and family did start to arrive, Elly began to ask if she could open her presents and put candles on her cake. It was hard to wait.
Because Elly is my only child and because I love birthday cakes maybe even more than Elly does, I made her not only a birthday cake but also cupcakes in two sizes.
The cake was a yellow cake from Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook. The icing was a melted chocolate yogurt concoction.
The cupcakes were chocolate zucchini cupcakes with purple cream cheese icing.
After cake came presents.
(alphabet nesting blocks)
After presents came more playtime with her friends and family.
Whacking her uncle in the head with a balloon is always good fun.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Elly!
Elly has become a minimalist.
After adding just a dab of icing to a cupcake, Elly told me that there was enough icing on the cupcake.
Even after repeated encouragement, Elly would not add anymore icing nor would she let me add any more icing to the cupcakes. She had already decorated them and they were perfect.
Oddly enough, the cupcakes with the least amount of icing were the first ones eaten at Vaishali’s and Joe’s birthday party yesterday. Perhaps, Elly was right. Less is more.
On the 12th day of Christmas, dear friends gave to me 12 chefs a-baking.
Naturally, we baked sugar cookies.
Well, actually there was only 4 chefs all under the age of 13 not including myself. Yet we made a mess thrice our size.
It was so much fun! Perhaps the best part was the flour showers: dust hands with flour, raise your hands up and then clap.
True, it was less fun to clean the mess up. I think it took me an hour. Totally worth it though.
Of gingerbread men and women!
The Ninja cookie cutters were a gift from my cousin, but you can get your set here. They were a hoot to decorate.
The recipe for the gingerbread cookies that I use year after year came from a book that was gifted to me many years ago when I was still a kid in college. It was perhaps my first cookie cookbook, the Pillsbury Best Cookies Cookbook.
Elly helped of course. The decorating set I bought from Pampered Chef were just perfect for her little hands.
The cookies she decorated are featured below. I especially love the trees.