Sunday, November 26, 2006

EVENT: Fall Salads At Reluctant Housewife

Roast Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

The chill is in the air. Well maybe not in Southern California on most days. But I do remember the bliss of putting on a warm, thick sweater a pair of jeans and going for a nice walk in the country or down the streets of New York City to meet up with some friends for brunch on the weekend.

I know that many of us had fun with the Summer Salads at Reluctant Housewife - and the three large recaps: Round Up1 Round Up 2 Round Up 3 a few months back and wanted to bring us all together to share some of our favorite Fall Salads.

If you would like to participate in this event please email me at: msgabriellatrue @ aol dot com by Sunday, December 3 with the following information and I will post a round-up a few days later. Within your blog, please be sure to include a link to My Life As A Reluctant Housewife and this Fall Salads Event within your entry.

The name of your recipe
- The permalink URL of your ice cream entry
- Your name
- Your blog’s name
- Your blog’s front page URL

. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

RECIPE: Caramelized Sweet Onions

Caramelized Sweet Onions
Makes 1 1/2 cups

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 onions, ¼ inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter over medium heat. Cut onions into thin slices and place in pan. Cook for about 20 minutes until liquid is evaporated, stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1½ hours until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. The onions can be made three days ahead.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RECIPE: Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Corn and Red Pepper Soup (1)

Corn and Red Pepper Soup

ON FOOD: Thanksgiving Menu

Thanskgiving 03 Table

Brine Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon
Creamy Lima Beans
Maple Cranberry Sauce
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Puree of Sweet Potatoes
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Parsley and Sage Stuffing
Turkey Gravy

Toasted Pecan Pie
Sour Cream Apple Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie

PHOTOGRAPHS: Three Thanksgiving Pies

Thanskgiving 04 pies presented

Toasted Pecan Pie
Sour Cream Apple Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie

RECIPE: Candied Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Serves 8

3 lb large sweet potatoes, peeled
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
1/4 to 1/3 cup bourbon
2 cups marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut each potato half lengthwise into fourths. Steam potatoes on a steamer rack set over boiling water, covered, until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes, then cool, uncovered. Transfer to a buttered 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Simmer brown sugar, butter, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon to taste. Drizzle syrup over potatoes and bake in middle of oven, basting occasionally, until syrup is thickened, about 1 1/4 hours.

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

• May be made without the marshmallows 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheated and then add marshmallows and baked

RECIPE: Brine Roasted Turkey and Herb Butter

Brine Roasted Turkey

1-12 pound turkey
1 gallon cider plus 2 cups
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup whole allspice
6 bay leaves
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup kosher salt
Herb Butter:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
Basting Broth:
3 cups chicken stock
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
6 fresh sage leaves
2 cups cider
1 stick unsalted butter

Brine: Bring 1 quart of cider and brining herbs to a boil. Add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Turn off heat and add and the rest of the cider, reserving 2 cups and 1 gallon of water. Chill until cold. Place turkey in brining bag in refrigerator.

Herb Butter: In a food processor, blend all the ingredients.

Glaze: Boil cider in saucepan until reduced to ¼ cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in butter and cool completely.

Basting Broth: Bring to a boil and simmer a bit until slightly reduced and vegetables are soft.

Cooking the Turkey: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Remove turkey from the brine, rinse, dry with paper towels. Separate skin from breast pipe in the Herb Butter. Rub the remaining butter all over the outside of the bird. Fill cavity with chopped vegetable/fruit stuffing. Truss the bird. Place bird on a rack in the roasting pan. Pour broth into the pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375° F and cook about 12 minutes per pound. (144 mins/2:10 min)If the turkey is browning too fast, place tin foil over the bird. Baste the bird every 30 minutes and brush with the glaze. Continue to roast until thermometer inserted into innermost part of thigh registers 175°F and the juices run clear. Take the bird out of oven, cover with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

RECIPE: Sour Cream Apple Pie

Thanskgiving 04  apple yum

Sour Cream Apple Pie

2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round (1/8 inch thick), then fit into a 9-inch metal pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Chill shell 30 minutes.
While shell chills, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
Whisk together eggs, sour cream, vanilla, 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a bowl until smooth. Peel and core apples, then cut into wedges slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. Arrange apples in pie shell, then pour sour cream mixture evenly over them, coating all apples.
Bake pie 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake until filling is puffed and golden and apples are tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
While pie bakes, stir together remaining 1/3 cup sugar, remaining 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.
Remove pie from oven and increase oven temperature to 400°F. Crumble topping evenly over top and bake until sugar is melted, about 10 minutes. Cool pie on a rack at least 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

RECIPE: Toasted Pecan Pie

Thanskgiving 04  pecan sunburst

Toasted Pecan Pie

3 cups pecans about 3/4 pound, divided
6 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coarsely chop 2 cups pecans and reserve. Spread 1 cup pecans on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until nuts are aromatic and darker in color, about 12 minutes. Cool, then grind nuts finely in processor. Maintain oven temperature.
Roll out crust on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round and place crust to 10-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze crust 20 minutes. Whisk eggs in large bowl until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and ground toasted pecans; whisk until blended. Mix in chopped pecans. Pour filling into crust.
Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is puffed and set (center may still move when dish is shaken), about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool at least 3 hours. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

ENTERTAINING: Thanksgiving 04

Thanskgiving 04 place set

In 2004 the boys were just under 6 months. So it had been a very long time since I had really done a whole "to do". I really needed some "Me" projects. So I picked a big Thanksgiving dinner. I made the table cloths, did up a major meal, made a lovely flower arrangement and so on and so forth. It was a very special first Thanksgiving for our family.
Begin Thanskgiving all set

I know we started with my squash curry soup and then moved on to a traditional Thanksgiving feast. I did make a failure of a dish that I had gotten from one of the food magazines. It was a sweet potatoe torte. It was revoltingly sweet. It also burned a bit but that was probably the best tasting part of it.

Thanskgiving 04  plated

ON FOOD: Thanksgiving Quote - Sarah Hale

“Pie, which is formed of the choicest parts of fowls, enriched and seasoned by a profusion of butter and pepper, and covered with an excellent puff paste, is, like the celebrated pumpkin pie, an indispensable part of a good and true Yankee Thanksgiving” – Sarah Hale, 1827

Sunday, November 19, 2006

ON FOOD: Thanksgiving Quote - Folk Song

For pottage and puddings and custards and pies our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies; We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon, If it was not pumpkin, we should be undone.- Early American Folk Song

RECIPE: Parlsey and Sage Stuffing


Parsley Sage Stuffing
Serves 6

1 to 1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 1/2 white or yellow onions, chopped
1 cups celery, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
salt and pepper
1 1/2 loaves of bread, a day old

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Break the slightly dry bread into big pieces. Add onions and celery and cook over medium low heat until soft. Add parsley, sage, salt and pepper. Place bread in a large bowl and pour onion mixture over and combine until the bread is covered. Place in a shallow roasting pan and cover with foil. Place in oven with the turkey for 30-45 minutes. Be careful not burn the bottom.

Tip: The bread should be a day old so it absorbs more liquid. If you forget to place the bread out the day before so it dries out, simply cut or break the bread into pieces and place into a preheated 300°F oven on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

ON FOOD: Thanksgiving Quote - Harriet Beecher Stowe

"The making of pies at this period assumed vast proportions that verged upon the sublime. Pies were made by the forties and fifties and hundreds and made of everything on the earth and under the earth". - Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oldtown Folks

ENTERTAINING: Thansksgiving 05

Last year we had a very simple Thanksgiving. The boys were too active to be spending much time decorating or cooking. So I just had a very simple table setting. The menu was filled with my Thanksgiving repetoire. I rarely deviate. The only deviation is to add more dishes but keep the my classics.

Thanskgiving 05 THE TABLE

Thanskgiving 05

RECIPE: Turkey Gravy


Good Old Gravy
Makes 4 Cups

1 cup white wine
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
3 tbs water or stock
deglazed juices

While the turkey is resting, deglaze the pan on top of the stove by using some of the stock. Pour out all the contents from the roasting pan and strain the pan juices and remove the fat. Place the pan back on the stove and melt the butter, pour in the strained liquid. In a small dish, combine flour and water and mix until a runny paste forms, add more water if needed. Add the paste, wine and rest of stock to the pan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is very thick and brown. Watch it carefully so that it does not burn.

Friday, November 17, 2006


The Kids at Knott's

My mom was in town and she took us all to Knott's Berry Farm. It was a total blast. Timmy loved this little ride and so did Xander. I know Xan does not look like he loves it but you see he is very busy trying to figure out how the lock on the arm works. My mom and I went on some of the big rides and had so much fun. I think the Silver Bullet roller coaster is the most fun! I could ride them all day long.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Thanskgiving 04 pumpkin stars

RECIPE: Perfect Pumpkin Pie

RECIPE: Creamy Lima Beans


Creamy Lima Beans
Serves 6

1 1/4 cup lima beans
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground

Put lima beans with enough water to cover them and cook almost all the way until tender - about 15-20 minutes. Pour out any remaining water. Stir in the butter until melted; add sour cream and allspice. Then add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine

ON FOOD: Thanksgiving Quote - from 1779

A 1779 letter from a schoolgirl in Boston reads,

"All the baking of pies and cakes was done at our house and we had the big oven heated and filled twice each day for three days before it was all done, and everything was Good, though we did have to do without some things that ought to be used. Neither Love nor Money could buy Raisins, but our good red cherries dried without the pits did almost as well . . Of course we could have no Roast Beef. None of us have tasted any beef this three years back. . . But, Mayquittymaw’s Hunters were able to get us a fine red Deer, so that we had a good haunch of venison on each Table. These were balanced by huge Chines of Roast Pork at the other ends of the Tables. Then there was one big Roast Turkey and on the other a Goose and two big Pigeon Pasties [pies]. Then there was an abundance of good vegetables of all the old Sorts and which I do not believe you have yet seen. . . It is called Sellery [celery] and you eat it without cooking.”

ON FOOD: Turkey 411 - Tutorial


Size Matters: Allow about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person; 8 to 10 guests will require a 15-pound turkey.

Frozen v.s. Fresh: There is not too much difference in taste. Many fresh birds seem frozen but they are in a semi-solid state at 26° F while a frozen bird is below 0° F. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator and not in the microwave or at room temperature to avoid bacterial growth. To defrost a frozen bird, 24 hours per every 5 pounds is required. So a 15-pound turkey will take 3 days to defrost.

Stocking Up: Remove the giblets and neck from the bird’s cavity. Keep the gizzard, neck, and heart for the stock. The liver is too strongly flavored to use so reserve for another use. Prepare the stock a few days in advance. Chop 3-pounds of turkey wings and scatter on a baking pan and roast 1-hour at 400° F. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add heart, neck, and gizzard. Brown 10 minutes then add a chopped onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 10 minutes then add in cooked wings. Place the roasting pan over two burners, pour in two cups water and bring to a boil. Scrape up all the browned bits with a straight wooden spatula. Pour water and bits into the pot. Add 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and a handful of fresh parsley. Cover the ingredients with water by 2-inches. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam, lower heat and simmer for 4 hours. Strain and discard solids. With a fat separator remove any fat. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Stuffing: Stuff the turkey just prior to cooking to avoid bacterial growth. Don’t pack the stuffing tightly into the cavities because it will expand. Stuff the neck cavity only with stuffing. This will make it look plump. But place a mirepoix of vegetables and fruits (chopped carrots, celery, onion and apples) inside the body of the cavity to impart a nice flavor but not dry out the bird. The stuffing should reach 160° F, if it does not beforethe bird is cooked, then scoop it out and place in a baking dish and bake until it does.

Basting: If you pour stock into the pan when you put the bird into the oven, it will mix with the drippings and make a delicious basting broth. Remove the tin foil covering the breast and baste the entire turkey every 30 minutes with a bulb baster. Baste quickly so the oven temperature does not lower too much.

Is it Cooked? The turkey’s breast and leg meat is so different that it is as if it comes from two different birds. The breast is cooked when it reaches 170° F while the leg is done when it reaches 180° F. It is important to cover the breast so it doesn’t burn. The bird should be removed from the oven when the thigh reaches 175° F since it will continue to cook while it rests. The only way to tell if it reaches temperature, is to use an instant-read thermometer that is pushed into the thickest part of the thigh but don’t let it touch the bone since it conducts heat.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

RECIPE: Maple Cranberry Sauce


Maple Cranberry Sauce
Serves 6

12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup water

Combine cranberries, syrup, sugar and water in a medium saucepan, cover. Bring to a boil for ten minutes. Remove from heat and add zest. Serve warm or cold.

Tip: Cranberry sauce can be made one week in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

RECIPE: Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Cream
Serves 6

1 1/2 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and halved
12 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup whipping cream
12 tablespoons butter
White pepper

Place potatoes in a large stockpot. Cover with water and salt the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the water well and place two clean kitchen towels on top of the potatoes and cover stockpot with the lid and let rest about 10 minutes. This will absorb a lot of excess steam from the potatoes enabling the potatoes to be fluffy. Press the potatoes through a food mill, ricer or a sieve. Meanwhile, place the garlic in a saucepan and about 3 cups of water. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, strain the garlic and rinse with cold water. Repeat this process two more times. Chop the garlic finely or push through a garlic press. Place back in the saucepan and add butter, and cream. Melt the butter over low heat and stir to combine. Combine the garlic cream with the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. If you make the potatoes in advance, re-warm them in a double boiler. If you don’t have a large enough double boiler, then place the potatoes in a large metal bowl that will fit part way in a large pot. Fill that pot half way with water, or enough water so that it won’t touch the mixing bowl. Re-warm the potatoes over medium high, stirring occasionally.

HOLIDAY: Thanksgiving History and Lore

Thanksgiving History and Lore

Thanksgiving is a “food” holidaywhich chronicles the history of America.

Thanksgiving Postcard 1912ish Pilgrims

The last Thursday in November has long been fixed in our nation as a day to come together, slow down our hectic lives, and celebrate time-honored traditions. It has always been a day to gather family and friends together to join in a meal and reflect on what we have to be thankful for, whether small or large. The Thanksgiving dinner symbolizes the bounty of good things, not; only food, we have been blessed with. It is a day in which new immigrants and the young learn to become part of the American fabric while the elderly and long standing citizens pay homage to their past history and remembrances. Although the basic meal and celebration is similar for all Americans, side dishes and activities differ from family to family. In every household it is a day eagerly anticipated, a day when belts become too tight, and a day when someone falls asleep watching a long football game after dinner.

Thanksgiving Postcard 1912ish Menu

Man has long believed that spirits or gods controlled the outcome of one’s harvest. Harvest celebrations to honor gods have been held since long before the establishment of formal religions. Once religions were formed, paying homage to the gods of the harvest became an important part of the culture. The Greeks honored Demeter, goddess of grains, at an autumn festival, Thesmosphoria. The Romans held the fall festival Cerelia to honor Ceres, goddess of corn, when pigs and fruits were offered to her. Harvest festivals continued well after the fall of the Roman Empire throughout the world. In England, The Harvest Home celebration was held in the fall after the fields had been harvested.The Puritans transformed and brought the fall harvest celebration to America where it was eventually transformed into the holiday we know today. In 1609, the Puritans left England for Holland to flee religious prosecution. The Puritans became worried their children would come to adopt the ways of the Dutch, which they considered frivolous and so they brokered a deal with the Merchant Adventurers, a group of English investors, to provide the sea passage to America in exchange for seven years work. In America they would be able to start their own community. On September 6, 1620, 44 Puritans set sail on the Mayflower along with 66 strangers. These 110 became known as the Pilgrims and together they created the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that guaranteed the two groups would be united and equal. They decided to settle in an area that they named after Plymouth, England since it had a first-rate harbor and brook. When they landed, it was November, too late to grow crops, and less that 50 of the original 110 survived the subsequent harsh winter. The Pilgrims were concerned about the local Native Americans, but the nearby tribe was peaceful and on March 16, 1621 an Indian came into their village and said, “Welcome” to the Puritan’s surprise. This Indian's name was Samoset and he had learned English from fishermen off the cost of Massachusetts. He lived in a village along with Squanto, another Indian, who also spoke English and had spent some time in England after being rescued by English slavers. Squanto taught the Pilgrims invaluable lessons about the natural resources of their new land, teaching them how to tap the maple trees for syrup, which plants were edible, how to grow corn since the wheat they had brought from England would not grow in the rocky soil. By the next fall, the Puritans successfully harvested enough corn to store, fruit to dry, fish to salt, and meat to cure to sustain them over the long winter. Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be hosted by the Puritans with the Indians as their honored guests. The feast lasted three days with games and displays of hunting skill. During the following year a bountiful harvest was not produced so Thanksgiving was not held. The third year, there was a severe drought and Bradford declared a day of fasting and praying and shortly thereafter it rained and a day of thanksgiving was proclaimed. These original Thanksgivings and subsequent ones held by the Puritans were holy days. In addition to the food and games, most of the day was spent in church service. The Puritans had long since abandoned celebrating many typical Christian holidays such as the saints days and Christmas which they rejected for being as blasphemous as holidays with pagan roots like Harvest Home. The Puritans believed ritual honoring of individuals served only to legitimize an ecclesiastical hierarchy, something fundamentally un-Christian. These Thanksgivings, however, eased the human need for celebration and joy while respecting their strict religious beliefs. Thanksgiving spread throughout the thirteen colonies and was heartily adopted by other Puritans and other immigrants who had traveled across the seas to find a new life. Although people had long given thanks and held harvest festivals, these celebrations became the first true American holiday

The first Thanksgivings were not well documented so it is not precisely known what was served. The dinner was more than likely eaten outdoors since no building would have been big enough to accommodate all of the Puritans and the 90 Indians. The menu probably included fish, shellfish, dried fruit, corn, berries, fowl and venison. Since it was the British who were in charge of cooking the meal, it can be safely assumed that they adapted their cuisine to use these new foods. 13 Pilgrim women were responsible for all of the cooking. British cooking placed the emphasis on meats, both game and fowl, while wheat or corn products and fruits were less important. Sweet foods were rare and would have only been prepared for special banquets such as Thanksgiving. Venison would have been the main game meat and Edward Winslow documented, in 1621, that the Indians brought 5 deer to the feast.

Thanksgiving Postcard 1916ish Turkey is served

The fowl would have included geese, ducks, perhaps a swan and turkey. The turkey would have been wild, not domesticated at this point in history, and quite small compared to today’s average size. Some spices, reserved from the Mayflower voyage, would have been added to the dishes that were presented to the more important people at the dinner. There were no dairy products, as cows had not yet been brought over from Europe. Every dish, sweet or savory, would have been served at the same time, not in courses.

Thanksgiving Postcard 1920ish Turkey

By the 1640’s, Thanksgivings across New England were proclaimed almost yearly but not without debate. Some ministers and governors felt that yearly celebrations would instill a feeling of overconfidence in God’s generosity. But by the 1660’s, Thanksgivings were firmly rooted in society and no governor tried to exclude the day from the calendar. The day was still arranged around a series of church services. By the early 1700’s, many communities ceased the afternoon service so people did not have to walk miles in the cold four times in one day. Since there was more time of the day that not was dedicated to prayer or work, games, dancing, ice skating, and sport games became an integral part of the afternoon. Later, as people began to move far and wide throughout the colonies, the annual pilgrimage home began to take form. Outside of New England, Thanksgiving was not widely celebrated. As the dinner portion of the day grew in importance and the harvest was usually bountiful, more pies were baked and more meats were roasted. Since, the early Colonialists did not celebrate Christmas, some of the usual treats were sorely missed and so plum pudding and mince pies became an essential part of the Thanksgiving menu, just as turkey pie and pumpkin pie had become. In 1705, the town of Colchester, Connecticut postponed Thanksgiving in order to wait for a shipment of molasses so the indispensable pumpkin pie could be made.Thanksgiving proclamations became vehicles for governors and ministers to endorse the Revolutionary War and the preservation of rights. In 1777, a national day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed for the 13 colonies after the colonial army defeated General John Burgoyne in the Hudson Valley. This put Thanksgiving well on its way to becoming an annual holiday. Even during the height of the Revolution when many families had to do without certain foods, Thanksgiving was celebrated from New Hampshire to Georgia. Because of the war colonialists had no access to raisins for mince pie or beef for roasts. But celery was just being introduced to the colonies from England and it was one of the first vegetables to be eaten raw. To celebrate the end of the Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris a Thanksgiving was proclaimed for November 28, 1782. A few years later Representatives from states outside of New England began to feel uncomfortable about imposing a northern holiday on their constituents. Also, Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican representatives were worried about crossing the line separating church and state, one of the principals upon which the young country was founded, because the holiday was still thought of as a predominately religious one. The Federalists, who thought churches were bulwarks of the social order that would support a strong central government, continued to support annual Thanksgivings. Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison all declared national days of Thanksgiving. Jefferson did not since, as he said, “civil powers alone have given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.” New Englanders continued to celebrate Thanksgiving regardless of whether the President declared the day or not.The Thanksgiving preparations were begun weeks in advance. By the 1820’s, the turkey, which had been domesticated, had secured the place of honor at the table but chicken pies, geese and ducks were still served in conjunction. All these birds would have been suspended from a hook and roasted over the fire in such a way that the drippings fell into a pan and could be ladled back over the bird. The chicken pie was a major component of a New England dinner. Mutton, beef, venison and pork were served as well as after being roasted in a pot with a tight lid and set in the fire with embers on top. Some families served shellfish, abundant along the coasts, but they were not considered special enough for Thanksgiving since they were so readily available. Cranberry sauce, apple butter, and currant and gooseberry jellies were always prepared. All fruits were stewed since the early Americans rarely ate raw foods. Apple cider was the typical drink in New England, while Germans chose beer and French, wine. Thanksgiving vegetables were cabbage, potatoes, turnips, squash and of course, the pumpkin. These vegetables would keep all winter in the cellar. The pie, an English institution, was a major part of the meal. The mincemeat pie was begun well in advance because the beef had to be minced, the nuts shelled, the apples peeled, the raisins seeded and then everything minced and basted in molasses and brandy, after which 10 days were required for the for the pie to ripen. Trade had been well established making it easier to have molasses and tea. More pies were baked closer to the day, fruit pies, pumpkin and custard pies were among them.

Thanksgiving Postcard 1912ish Patriotic

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

RECIPE: French Feta Salad with Pear

French Feta Salad
Serves 2

Maple Vinaigrette
1/3 cup toasted Hazelnuts
1 Butter Lettuce
1 Pear
1/2 cup French Feta Cheese, crumbled

Toast hazelnuts and rub the skins off.

Wash and dry butter lettuce. Peel and core the pear. Slice into thin pieces. Place in Maple Vinaigrette. Toss Maple Vinaigrette, pear and lettuce. If serving in a big bowl, toss in hazelnuts and feta Cheese. If serving on individual plates, place a mound of lettuce and pears on each plate and then sprinkle hazelnuts and cheese over the top of each plate. Sprinkle with pepper.

Blog Food Events, Reluctant Housewife Recipes
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

RECIPE: Perfect Pumpkin Pie


Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Makes: 1 9-inch pie

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 cup apricot preserves
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon (rounded) salt
1 16-ounce can pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, whisked until blended

Both the filling and the crust can be made one day ahead but bake it the day you will be serving the pie.

To make the filling:
Using a whisk, mix the first 6 ingredients of the filling in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Blend in pumpkin, whipping cream, sour cream and eggs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 3 ingredients for the crust in processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and process until clumps form. Gather the dough into ball, place on plastic wrap and flatten into disk; chill 15 minutes. Roll out dough on floured surface to 14-inch round and then transfer dough to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch and fold overhang under. Crimp edge as desired. Freeze 15 minutes. Line crust with foil and pour in baking beads or beans. Bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes. Remove foil and beads. Bake crust until pale brown, about 10 minutes more. Spread preserves over crust cover and set aside until ready to use.

To Bake the pie:
Preheat oven temperature to 325°F. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover; chill until cold.

RECIPE: Puree of Sweet Potatoes


Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds Sweet Potatoes
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub the skin of the potatoes clean. Prick the skin all over the potato. Place a layer of tinfoil on a baking sheet then put potatoes on top. The potatoes may ooze while baking and it is much easier to throw out the tinfoil than clean the sticky mess off the baking sheet. Bake for 45-65 minutes, depending on size, until soft. Take out of the oven and let cool slightly. In a small saucepan, pour in the milk and butter. Heat over medium until the butter melts. Scrape the potato out of the skin into a pan if going to re-heat or into a bowl if not. Stir butter mixture into the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

RECIPE: Devilled Nuts

Devilled Nuts

4 cups mixed nuts
oil for deep frying
2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp pepper

Heat oil in deep frying pan or wok and fry nuts one handful at a time on medium heat, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Combine spices and toss into nuts.