Friday, November 30, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

New ride

Juliana will grow out of her infant carseat soon, so we bought a booster/carseat combination for Pieter. When it came he was very excited about it and wanted to try it out. Nothing like novelty to get some smiles. I was pretty happy about having him harnessed up inside, too!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Finding the Tree

The day after Thanksgiving we headed into the hills and found the perfect tree for us. It was noticeably warmer, with less snow than last year. But we still had fun going with Mark in his big truck. Juliana fell asleep on the way, so I stayed behind with her while the boys picked out the tree. The photos of Ben are by Pieter - he is getting better!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey at its best

It seems like every time it is time to cook for Thanksgiving, I've completely forgotten where all my favorite recipes are, what steps to take and how much time I need to plan for. This time around I decided to find all these favorites and write them up. I now have a Thanksgiving section on my Recipes page for future reference and I thought I would take a closer look at taking care of the great turkey. Tuesday night I put the turkey in a brine. Wednesday night I pulled it out and put it in the fridge for another night to let the skin dry out. Thursday morning I got busy with the stuffing.

Two days before Thanksgiving I made sure I had plenty of bread for the stuffing. I made two batches of my standby whole-wheat sourdough bread. I love this bread because it is so simple - whole wheat flour, bread flour, water, yeast, and salt. It doesn't get any easier than that. I cut them the night before and left the slices out to dry overnight. In the morning I looked up several of my favorite recipes from Martha Stewart and Cook's Illustrated. I came up with this one.

Pecan, Apple, and Wild Mushroom Stuffing
One pack of dehydrated wild mushrooms
6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sage, thyme and marjoram
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups apples, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
12 cups bread cubes
1 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Warm up the chicken stock and soak the wild mushrooms for an hour. Drain and reserve the stock. Chop mushrooms.
  • Melt the butter, saute onion and celery. When soft add herbs. 
  • Transfer to large bowl. Add mushrooms, parsley, pecans, apples and salt. Mix.
  • Add bread and mix.
  • Whisk stock and eggs together, pour over bowl and toss.
  • Microwave the stuffing 6-8 minutes until very hot (can't handle with your hands)
  • Stuff the turkey!
  • Put any left into an oven proof dish, cover and cook at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

I pulled out my favorite Cook's Illustrated cookbook, The New Best Recipe. It has a great how to for Roast Stuffed Turkey. My favorite thing I learned this time around was closing the cavity with wooden skewers and twine. I don't think I've ever had such a nice result as this before. After it was stuffed, I roasted the turkey chest down (on 5-6 carrots, about 1/2 inch of water, and several thyme sprigs) for 1 hour at 400 degrees and then slow roasted it at 250 degrees for 2 hours longer. Then I flipped the bird, turned up the oven to 400 again and roasted another 1 1/2 hours or until the thigh was 170 degrees. Starting back-up helps the thighs cook faster so they are done at the same time as the breast. I basted it throughout. 

While the turkey cooked, I made the best gravy. It really was amazingly yummy. I did this one straight out of The New Best Recipe

Giblet Pan Gravy
1 tablespoon olive oil
Reserved giblets - heart, gizzard, neck
1 onion
1 1/2 quarts homemade chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8 stems fresh parsley
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
  • Heat oil and saute the giblets and neck for five minutes. Add onion, saute until soft. Cover and cook 20 minutes.
  • Add stock and herbs. Simmer 30 minutes. Skim scum. Strain broth and return to a simmer.
  • In another large pot, make a roux: melt butter and add flour. Whisk constantly for 10-15 minutes. Slowly add the broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally for another 30 minutes or until it is thickened.
  • When the turkey is done, use the baster to suck up the juices from the pan and put into the gravy. Continue to cook down to your desired thickness. I had plenty of juice in the pan, so I didn't need to use the wine to pull up the browned bits from the pan. Instead I just put the wine directly into the gravy and simmered it for a while.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
{After the Feast}

Friday, November 23, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Monday, November 19, 2012

Silly Boy

We brought Maya to the vet for a health check and later that afternoon I look over in the kitchen and see Pieter cramming himself into the pet carrier. He actually asked for help to close the door! Getting out was a bit harder and he needed some help with pulling and rotating around. Silly boy, I tell you...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tulip in Action


Maya and Juliana are really enjoying each other! Maya, being a young cat, has lots of playfulness and seems to realize that she needs to be just a bit more gentle with Juliana. At 10 months old, Juliana is just starting to wear one my favorite knits that I knit for her, the Tulip Cardigan.  This is such a lovely, bright sweater, I just might have to knit up a larger one for her next winter. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fun with Grandpa & Grandma

Grandpa and Grandma came for a visit all the way from New Hampshire and arrived in the midst of a snowing morning. We just received a beautiful toboggan from a friend and had to try it out. Surprisingly, with such little snow, the toboggan moved pretty fast. Even Grandma took Pieter down the hill and had a crash filled with fun (and screams)!
{Grandpa keeping Juliana warm}

There was a lot of book reading. Grandpa told us about one of his favorite childhood books, Paddle to the Sea, that he received from his Aunt Bessie (sister to his Grandmother Floy) when he was seven years old. We found it at the local library and Grandpa read all of it!  
{Grandpa getting some kitty time with Maya}
{Enjoying local pizza and beer}
{Pieter learning from a master of puzzles}
We made dark-chocolate cutout cookies that were so good. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Straight from the Martha Stewart Living December 2012 issue. I pulled out my animal cookie cutters and Pieter did a great job helping. Now I need to learn how to frost them using royal icing.
We had a lovely time and it went by way to quickly. Now we just have to get Grandpa and Grandma on Skype to continue the book reading!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pebble


Pattern: Pebble
Yarn: O-Wool Balance, Vermont Organic Fiber Company
Needles: US 7

During our trip to Michigan this summer I knit up this little vest. What an easy knit and such a nice warm vest for a little one during these colder days. The yarn is a blend of cotton and merino, making a soft finished knit, perfect for babes. I love how this came out and I especially like the blend of this yarn.

I upsized the pattern to a 6-12 months size by:
  • using worsted weight yarn,
  • using a larger needle size (7 instead of 4),
  • increased the body by ten rows (and one buttonhole), and
  • added 4 more rows to all the shoulder/strap pieces. 
Juliana has been wearing it quite a bit as of late. She is very proud of her new skill - climbing up into her little chair.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tend the Earth

During September I was busy quilting and sewing, using Tend the Earth fabric by Deb Strain. The nursery at church needed a bit of sprucing up, so I hunted up some fabric that would match the blue and purple walls. This collection was turned into two quilts, aprons, pillows, wall hangings and some bean bags. My friend Nancy from church made the cute pillows using a panel from the collection and helped me with the endless sewing-by-hand binding of the quilts. It really makes it so much more homey for the little ones.
{patchwork quilt}
{spiral quilting by my local quilt shop, Dakota Quilt Company}
{quilt using panel from the Tend the Earth collection}
{pillows from the panel}
{Tend the Earth wall hanging}
{aprons for the nursery volunteers}
{bean bags for fun}
{bag using fabric scraps}
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