Archives for posts with tag: Thanksgiving food
Painting shows ingredients for turkey-apple stew, plus a border collie.

Turkey-Apple Stew. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

Thanksgiving Day found me with my family in the house where I grew up, preparing traditional Thanksgiving dishes with my mother. At eighty-three Mom still does the heavy lifting, so to speak: she makes the dressing, stuffs it into the turkey. She makes her never-fail pie crust, which we fill with pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk, brown and white sugars and spices and with sliced Pippin apples (The Gravensteins are long gone by Thanksgiving Day). I make rolls from my Grandmother’s recipe, only pausing to sneak a half cup of healthy whole wheat flour into the dough. Wednesday afternoon we peel potatoes and snap the ends off fresh green beans from the Bay Fair Farmers’ Market and boil and peel chestnuts for the dressing, cook whole cranberries with a little sugar and water. Thursday afternoon I make salad dressing and whip cream while Mom prepares a simple brown gravy from pan drippings, flour and water. We roast yams in the oven after the pies come out, cook the green beans in the microwave and the potatoes on the stove. I scoop the dressing from the bird. Bryan carves the turkey and lays slices on a platter.

Original watercolor painting shows ingredients for apple pie

Gravenstein Apple Pie. 8″ x 8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick.

At two o’clock we sit down to a bountiful table, the three remaining Dimmicks and our guests Johnny Harper and Art Peterson, who will play music in the living room after they have eaten their fill. This year I am struck by how long this has been our family tradition, how many years Mom and I have made this meal together, dividing our tasks and cooperating to get the food on the table in a timely fashion. We do have skirmishes: I am a careful baker, sifting the flour into a cup on a flat surface, heaping it high and leveling it off with my hand, but I find that I cannot sift easily with my recovering wrist. When I ask Mom to sift, she holds the cup in the air, occasionally shaking it to settle the contents, and hands me cups that I don’t think are full enough to level. We laugh about this later, after I have told her how much I like making this meal with her every year. We are the last two generations of our family and we do not know how much longer we will get to do this together. I enjoy the simplicity of a day spent preparing a feast and the routines we have developed.

The day after the holiday finds me with many fall tasks undone, due to a thirteen-week hiatus with a compromised right hand. My winter sweaters need hand-washing. It is time to start making cookies for Christmas and for an early Chanukah party. Add to my schedule three hours of hand and wrist exercises per day and I wonder, like many of you, how I will ever get everything done. The only answers I can come up with are to keep it simple and to just do the next task, to jettison things that seem too much for this year, as I work to transform my injured hand and wrist to new strength and health.

At the same time as I celebrate old family traditions, a new opportunity has arrived: my friends Maia Duerr of Liberated Life Project and Lauren Ayer of Quilts of Change have put together a Virtual Holiday Faire for 2013, where you can purchase my Paris CD and two original watercolor paintings, plus notecards, quilted bags, coaching services and other offerings. Please visit the Faire to have a look for yourself. Your purchase will help support independent artists and consultants.

Last, but not least, Susan of Susan Eats London, kindly sent me a care package to raise my spirits: she went to her favorite bulk bins and picked out aleppo pepper, dukkah, farro, Puy lentils and Nigella seeds, none of which I have ever used, plus blue cornmeal, fresh fig jam and three kinds of chocolate! I shall be having some cooking adventures in the future. If any of you want to provide suggestions or links for using these ingredients, the Comments field is open. I am thankful for all who enjoy reading The Kale Chronicles and grateful that my hand will allow me to type a blog post for you.

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I still have a lot of pears in the house from my friend Margit’s tree, sitting in a brown bag in the back of the refrigerator so that they will stay as green as possible for as long as possible: my mother only eats pears when they crunch — I’ll eat them slightly softer than that, but I do not enjoy pears that have turned yellow (It’s that mushy texture).

Yesterday I pulled out the pears and found about five yellow ones, two large and three small. I had volunteered to make a dessert last evening — my mother has a sweet tooth and is eating soft foods until her current round of dental work is over. Plus, I had done something that made her uncomfortable and needed to work my way back into her good graces.

Original watercolor painting shows pear clafouti, dried cranberries, pears.

Pear Clafouti with Cranberries. 6″ x 6″ watercolor pencil on paper. Sharyn Dimmick.

What to make? I could roll out pie crust and make another pear tart tatin. But Johnny once said he wanted to elope with that when I served it at Ballad group, so it would be better to make that when he is around to enjoy it. Carly Sullivan had posted a recipe for clafouti that I had saved. I took a look at it again, and then adapted it for ingredients we had. Basically, I used white sugar instead of honey, milk and half and half instead of buttermilk, omitted the vanilla and added dried cranberries to the fruit layer, browned the butter and cooked the pears in it, throwing the sugar on top to caramelize, cooking it down until the mixture was fairly dry, giving the pears time to absorb butter, sugar, lemon, ginger and cranberry flavors. The cranberries made it pretty, too.

To make the clafouti I just made:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Select 2 large yellow pears (or 3 smaller ones). Core and slice them thinly, but do not peel them: the skins help hold the pear slices together.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a skillet, allowing the butter to brown, but not burn, before adding the sliced pears.

Sprinkle about 1/4 cup sugar over the top and jerk the skillet a few times so that the sugar gets distributed among the pears.

Allow mixture to cook down until the pears have released their liquid and the liquids have reduced to a thin caramel.

Turn off heat.

Add the juice of half a lemon, a generous grating of fresh ginger (use your microplane and grate directly over the fruit), a small handful of dried cranberries.

Pour the fruit mixture into a tart pan or pie plate.

Now make the batter:

Crack 3 eggs and whisk them.

Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and whisk again.

Whisk in 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Add 1/4 cup half and half and 3/4 cup milk*

Add vanilla extract (I poured it into the cap from the vanilla bottle and used about half a capful).

Whisk until just blended.

Pour batter over prepared fruit in pan.

Bake for thirty-five minutes. Serve warm or cold, cut in pie-like wedges.

* Our standard milk is 1%. If you have whole milk, like Celi, just use a cup of whole milk — I added the half and half to make the milk richer, but you can make it with any kind of milk you have, including soy milk, nut milk or coconut milk.

Food Notes: This made a easy, delicious dessert, creamy and custardy with crisp, buttery edges. Cooking the fruit first on the stove meant no watery flavors. This would make an excellent Thanksgiving dessert if you are not utter traditionalists like we are, having to have pumpkin pie with whipping cream, made from the recipe on the Libby’s can, slightly modified. (We also make fruit pie of some description, cherry or apple or blueberry or mixed berry, depending on what is around).

The Lauren Project: Lauren is back in Santa Fe, still cooking up your recipes. Please be patient: we will announce the prize winners by the end of this month.

Painting shows ingredients for turkey-apple stew, plus a border collie.

Turkey-Apple Stew. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

The day after Thanksgiving we are happy campers: we camp in our house. We have leftover rolls. We have leftover pie. We have leftover roast turkey, cranberry sauce and a few extra baked yams. Sometimes we have mashed potatoes and brown turkey gravy. When we get hungry, we grab a roll, heat up a slice of pie, filch some sliced  turkey off the platter. But when we get tired of grazing, sometime in the next day or two I make turkey-apple stew, employing leftover turkey, gravy and stock, with the additions of carrots, apple cider and fresh apples. I have to keep an eye on the gravy supply and make sure I make the stew before my brother feeds the gravy to Ozzy, the border collie. We make a rich, dark brown gravy from the drippings in the roasting pan, flour and water, and Ozzy loves to come for Thanksgiving.

What I use to make the stew is mostly dark meat. I strip it from the thighs and drumsticks, throwing the bones and sinews into the stock we started Thanksgiving day with the giblets, odd pieces of celery, any unwanted skin. Eventually, we will strip the entire carcass and throw it in our biggest pot for stock. We will probably make turkey and noodles with that, but stew comes first in the post-Thanksgiving rotation.

I begin by slicing apples and cutting carrots into batons. I use four apples and three carrots, usually, but you can adapt this to your own tastes. I don’t peel the apples. Because my Mom does not like eating pieces of onion, I will cook a small, peeled onion whole in the stew and remove it before serving. If you like pieces of onion, go ahead and add a cut -up onion or two to your stew.

Saute 3 carrots, cut into batons and

4 sliced apples (and optional onions) in a few Tbsp of olive oil and butter.

Sprinkle vegetables with dried thyme (stripped from five or six stalks)

When vegetables begin to brown,

Add some turkey stock and 1 cup or so of apple cider (I saute the vegetables in a standard skillet and add stock and cider until it is full). If you want it more savory, use more stock and less cider. For a sweeter stew, reverse the ratio.

While vegetables simmer, strip your turkey and cut it into pieces you can put in your mouth.

Put turkey pieces in your pot of leftover gravy (If you don’t have leftover gravy, you’re screwed as far as this recipe goes unless you can scrounge up some brown drippings and make some more. In a pinch, you can thicken stock  with flour, but it will be a pale imitation of the real thing).

Heat the turkey in the gravy, as you would for hot turkey sandwiches. When vegetables are tender, add vegetables to turkey and gravy. Taste and season. I like to add Tabasco at this point — just a little. You might prefer salt and pepper. Nutmeg is a nice addition, too, and I can imagine that ginger might be good. The original recipe (published years ago in the San Francisco Chronicle’s magazine) calls for adding cream. Sometimes I throw in just a splash of half and half to round it out, but it is not strictly necessary.

I have served this plain in a bowl to eat with leftover rolls. I have served it over rice. I have served it over soft polenta. You could even eat it over mashed potatoes.

Food notes: You can, of course, make this stew with white meat if that floats your boat. For goodness’ sake, please don’t make it with cream gravy — even gravy mix is better than that. In our house when the gravy supply is low, we extend it with brown fluids: coffee has been used, or Kitchen Bouquet, or meat drippings from some other meal.

You can gussy this up by adding cream or half and half to your taste. If I have brandy, cognac, applejack or hard cider I’ll toss a jigger in with the apple cider and stock. If your sauce is thinner than you like, you can make a quick roux of flour and butter to thicken it — we usually reduce our gravy to save it so mine doesn’t need any additional thickening. If you have parsley on hand, chop some finely for a beautiful and flavorful garnish. If you want to be the next Martha Stewart, carve some crab apples into fancy faces, roast them and garnish with that. Don’t tell Martha I said that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! See you next week.