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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Slacker

I’m a slacker, on all counts. Posting, cooking, photographing, I’ve just been slacking all around, though thinking a lot about hipsters on food stamps. But that’s for another day. Here, though, are some tasty shots from Easter brunch. Sharing food with friends is obviously one of life’s greatest pleasures. Especially when everyone brings something…ham, goat cheese souffles, green bean casserole, and pear and chocolate cake. And candy, of course.

Bloody Marys
Bloody Marys.

Steaming Green Bean Casserole
Serving it up.

Goat cheese souffles
Goat cheese souffles, courtesy of Misty.

Christian
Ham.

Plate
Potluck.

Misty and Adam
Misty and Adam.

Tulips
Pretty tulips, cake, and peeps.

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Ginger Chewies

December 5, 2009

I haven’t been doing too much baking lately. So, when my sister announced that she wanted to do a cookie exchange for her birthday, I figured it was time to get back in the game. I came across these Ginger Chewies and initially used the recipe to make the gingerbread portion of Thanksgiving dessert. They turned out pretty good the first time so I thought they would be a good choice for the exchange.

Butter, brown sugar

Ginger Chewies from Chow
I made the recipe as-is, though I made my cookies too small because I needed lots for the exchange. Next time, I’ll definitely make them bigger. They were good, but size matters here. Also, I doubled this recipe the second time and it multiplied well. A double batch was just right for my 6-quart KA.

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
About 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Ready for the exchange

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and molasses, and mix until blended and an even light brown color, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.
3. Spread the granulated sugar on a large piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll 1/4 cup of dough between the palms of your hands into a 2-inch ball, roll the ball in the sugar, and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue making cookies, spacing them 2 inches apart.
4. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Ginger Chewies 2

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Thanksgiving table

We hosted Thanksgiving this year, which was only the second time for us. The first time was three years ago, Thanksgiving 2006, and I remember spending weeks refining my menu, checking off my list for the grocery store, and putting together a meticulous schedule, which started several days in advance. This year’s Thanksgiving was pretty much the opposite. I spent a few minutes here and there flipping through magazines and clicking around on Epicurious. I managed to throw together a tentative grocery list and shopped the Sunday before, forgetting several items and not picking up others because I didn’t yet know that I needed them. Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which should have been spent mise en placing, were instead spent working. When I started working for the food bank a year and a half ago, I had no idea that as long as I worked there, the week before Thanksgiving would be the craziest time of the year, with no menu-planning to be had.

Thanksgiving 2006’s menu was carefully filed in my big binder of loose recipes. When I pulled it out to revisit what I made that year, I laughed. It reminded me of looking at old yearbook pictures and wondering why the heck I picked a certain sweater or hair scrunchie. Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey. Who thought that was a good idea?? Apparently I did. And while I’m sure it was delicious, I’d like to think that I continue to refine my menu choices over time.

Obviously Thanksgiving is such a food-focused holiday, with so much emphasis placed on the perfect bird and traditional sides. So much so that we field call after urgent call at the food bank from folks who can’t afford to put a holiday meal on their table. This burden falls to our agencies, many of which are run by older volunteers out of faith-based organizations, folks who are often a heartbeat away from being food pantry clients themselves. Food budgets at these organizations are few and far between, and volunteers often reach into their own pockets to put together holiday meals for families who need them.

Leftover cranberries over fage yogurt. Leftover cranberries over yogurt.

Our Thanksgiving menu this year turned out to be a mish-mash of recipes, which turned out to be just fine. Better than fine, really delicious actually. I wanted to do a corn pudding and tracked down a recipe from a friend of a friend, a recipe that she has raved about many times. My friend Brooke’s boozy cranberries recipe was added to the mix, made special by the fact that Food52’s readers had just voted it their favorite of the cranberry recipes a week or so earlier. And while catching up with my friend Violet the week before the holiday, she recommended the Silver Palate Cookbook stuffing, a mix of different breads, sage sausage, and tart apples. Just goes to show that a perfectly concocted menu that’s planned weeks in advance isn’t the only way to go.

And let’s face it, taking those calls from folks who don’t have enough to eat is really hard. And that makes it super easy to appreciate the fact that a natural, free-range turkey and recipes that don’t involve a box (except for the corn pudding!) are well within my reach.

Dessert

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