Thanksgiving 2013

This is my last Thanksgiving as a non-married.  For this I’m thankful.  Mr. MM and I will be tying the knot in December.  We decided to stay home and prepare our own little Thanksgiving feast.  There’s nothing better than spending the better part of a cold fall day as Mr. MM’s sous chef.

The menu consisted of roasted chicken (I don’t particularly like turkey); stuffing/dressing; roasted vegetables (the benefit of roasting a chicken); sweet potatoes; gravy; and brussels sprouts.  For dessert, Mr. MM made an apple and fig pie from scratch.

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stuffing/dressing mise en place.

Over the years, I’ve tasted many a variety of stuffing/dressing.  This apple, shallot and herb dressing is by far the best I’ve had.  I love that it incorporates celery root instead of celery stalks.  You get the subtle note of celery without the bits of stalk that overpowering your fork full.

Years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn, I hosted my family for Thanksgiving.  Since I was hosting, I mixed up the menu.  I swapped out our ‘traditional’ recipes for updated versions including the apple, shallot and herb dressing recipe.  While I was at work, my parents and sister took on the task of gathering all the ingredients for dinner (particularly for the stuffing/dressing) at the Union Square farmer’s market.  This was just before the foodie movement went into high gear so they had a heck of a time finding said ingredients.  

This year, we found everything at Wegmans.  Easy breezy.

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bird’s nest.

We loaded up the roasting pan with potatoes, parsnip, carrots, onion, and herbs as a nest for the bird to rest.  Mr. MM rubbed the bird with this amazing spice mix that I bought in Istanbul two years ago.  It’s an amazing blend of spices that has a bit of heat to it.  We’re running low!

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bird is the word.

Amazing.  For a vegetarian, Mr. MM sure does know how to roast a bird … and make gravy.

I’ve never been a fan of pie.  So when Mr. MM announced that he would like to make a pie from scratch (including the crust), I wasn’t that thrilled.  He asked me what kind I would prefer.  Apple.  While making the crust, he discovered that it’s hard work.  The filling recipe called for dried apricots.  I suggested we use figs (as we had a bag full in the freezer) instead.

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apple fig pie mise en place.

Yes, that is a jar of cinnamon sticks in the photo.  I not only zested a clementine rind into the mix, I also zested cinnamon sticks.  It’s amazing how much more flavorful and aromatic freshly ground cinnamon is.  We let the filling sit and incorporate all the delicious flavors.

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fuel for the chefs.

You do not cook in our house without proper fuel.  A bottle of Chandon, goat gouda, gruyere, Robiola Bosina (soft, mildly stinky, mushroomy), and a baguette from Whole Foods.  We’ve tried baguettes from Trader Joe’s, DiBruno Brothers, and local grocery stores.  Hands down, Whole Foods makes the best ready-to-go baguettes in our area.  Although the baguettes at Bistro Le Minette are even better!

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the table is set.

Why don’t we use our Russel Wright dinnerware everyday?  When I set the table for Thanksgiving dinner, it made me so happy to use the Russel Wright.  Or is it because I only use it for special occasions that it makes me so happy?  It’s become something precious. Will it lose it’s preciousness if we start using it every day?  We did find flatware that would look gorgeous the Russel Wright.

A little side rant … do you know how hard it is to find reasonably priced and nicely designed flatware that is NOT made in China.  When I saw the Lucca flatware at Crate and Barrel, I fell in love with the pewter finish and classic design.  Plus it is one of the very few flatware sets that are not made in China.  It’s made in Italy.

Around 17:30 (preparing for our trip to Germany), all the hard work paid off.

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mahlzeit!

How many hours to prepare?  And only 20 minutes to feast.  Sigh.  But it was delicious.  The apple and fig pie with vanilla bean ice cream was yummy … for pie.  Such a lovely last non-married Thanksgiving.

Old Navy opens at 19:00!  Target opens at 20:00!  Let’s go!

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The Sound of Music

SoundMusic1

… the hills are alive with the sound of music.

My favorite ‘holiday’ movie is The Sound of Music.

Unfortunately, Netflix does not stream this movie.  This year, I was hoping that someone would be putting the dvd on sale during ‘ Black Friday’.  I have not found one retailer making such an offer!  I’ve only found the multi-disc 40th anniversary dvd option for $25.  I don’t want the 40th anniversary addition.  I just want a dvd containing the movie … no sing-a-long version … no ‘extras’ … no reunion of the cast 40 years later.  Just the original full length 1965 version of the movie on dvd.  And definitely not the Carrie Underwood remake.  I even looked for it on ebay … and I made a vow never to participate in ebay nonsense again.  No luck on ebay.

As I head out today to be engulfed in ‘Black Friday’ madness, I will keep my eyes open for the Von Trapp family.  Wish me luck!

My friend Jessica’s amazing muffins.

The last time we went to Brimfield, Jessica made gluten-free muffins.  I’ll admit that I was VERY hesitant.  Gluten-free?  How could they be anything but cardboard?  Man, was I wrong.  This is why I’m posting the recipe.  These muffins are AMAZING.

They’re a taste of fall … nutty, cinnamony, and so satisfying.

Grab your mixing bowls!  This gives me another opportunity to use the Pyrex set I bought at Brimfield during one of our first trips!

Vintage Pyrex mixing bowl set.

Vintage Pyrex mixing bowl set.

Get your mise en place:

Muffins
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt or apple sauce (Following Jessica’s lead, I use the apple sauce)
1/2 cup honey

Topping (The topping is what puts these muffins over the top!)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.
  2. Heat the oven to 325F.
  3. Line a regular size 12 muffin baking pan with large baking cups.
  4. Combine the almond flour, pecans, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  5. Combine the eggs, yogurt (or applesauce), and honey in a separate larger bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  7. Evenly fill each baking cup with the batter.  The cups will be about 3/4 full.
  8. Drizzle the topping over each muffin (prior to baking).
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
  10. Test with a toothpick.
  11. Bake longer if necessary or remove and let cool.
  12. Taste and be shocked that gluten free muffins can taste this amazing!

 I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as we do!

Autumn

 

 

 

 

fall

 

Autumn is definitely one of my favorite seasons.  I love that first morning after a hot summer when the crisp air hits my face, the sky is bright blue, and I think …. college football.

Our little Japanese maple is putting on quite a show as he does every autumn.  The first morning I noticed him all decked out in gold, I thought of Robert Frost:

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leafs a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

I don’t know if I love this poem for its own merit or my love of ‘The Outsiders’.  Hmmm.