Home is where the heart is

Oven is on fire - ha haThanksgiving can feel like a drudgery for the cook no matter how fearless she/he is. Luckily, every Thanksgiving, our dear friends Joy & Terry, host the event. I usually bring a salad or vegetable side dish. This year I’m bringing a pie as I stocked the freezer with pie fillings from fruit of the summer and fall bounty.

I have this book to thank for my pre-planning this year.Art of the the Pie  cookbookI met Kate McDermott the author of The Art of the Pie, in June 2012 when I went to a food blogging conference in Seattle. She was a lovely and humble woman who sat next to me,  told me about her story and food blog, Art of the Pie.  I have followed her baking career since our meeting and feel so privileged to have met her and so happy to own her beautiful cookbook. Kate McDermott & I - June 2012Thanksgiving is all about the pie when it comes to dessert. I took a tip from Kate’s book on page 155 on Pre-Cooking and Freezing Apple Pie filling. Partially cook the apple pie filling, allow it to cool, then place plastic wrap on the bottom of a pie plate, the pour the filling inside.Apple Pie Filling -1Wrap up the filling in the pie plate then place in the freezer. Once frozen, you can remove the plate and wrap the filling more securely with aluminum foil if you wish.Apple Pie filling - 2When you are ready for a pie, make the crust and pop in the filling. The filling can be partially thawed and then you would bake it an additional 10-15 minutes at the lower temperature.  I was so happy to have discovered this I froze peach, peach-blueberry and cherry pie fillings from the summer harvest to have ready for the next party.Pie crust crumblesI generally have issues with managing the dough. I made Kate’s Traditional Art of the Pie Butter and Shortening Dough, which has worked well for me in the past. My problem is the timing of chilling the dough, then rolling it out. For today’s pie I chilled it overnight, sat it out for an hour, but it was still a chore to roll it out. One crust rolled out well but the other did not.
img_2129.jpgOne thing about Kate’s book, is that she is not perfect, nor does she profess to be. She admits that baking can be troublesome and she talks about how to to roll with it.

I scrambled around in my pie box where I store items and found some cookie cutters. This was my opportunity as a baker to make a signature crust. Home is where the pie heart is Patty’s Points:

1. The crust rolls out best for me, when chilled after one hour. It is more pliable.

2. I loved making the filling in advance, completely separate from making the crust. This works for me until I have managed making and rolling out the crust with great skill.

3. It takes practice to make pie crust as it is more art and skill than anything.

4. Make the pie crust topping your own. Be creative.

Happy Thanksgiving – Enjoy your family and friends during this American Holiday.

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Taking stock of Turkey Day

To say I have been busy is an understatement. The same is true for the rest of The Fearless Cooking club members. Thanksgiving came early this year, darn it. I have to work 3 days this week and family is coming in. I made something I have never made before and I could give it to my fellow cooks: turkey stock.

I used Alton Brown’s Chicken Stock recipe . If you look at the recipe it says it takes 14 hours. What a great recipe to put on the stove and forget about while cleaning the house.

The carrots were the final product of the garden and added to the stock.

Two gallons of water with the veggies.

Four turkey thighs added to the pot.

I didn’t have a stockpot big enough so I divided it into two pots.

Cooling off the stock.

Quarts of stock.

Patty’s Points:

1. Don’t tell Alton Brown but I didn’t follow his recipe to the letter. I used four turkey thighs that I roasted in the oven then added it to the stock pots. I read once that roasting the meat brings out great flavors before making gravy so I thought it would work for stock as well.

2. At the end of the day, I used the turkey meat and one quart of the stock for turkey noodle soup. It was a nice meal at the end of a long day of cleaning.

3. It made exactly five quarts of stock as the recipe stated. The slow, medium-low heat reduced the mixture into a fine concentrated stock. I will be sharing the stock with Joy and Char as they use it for their gravy or stuffing.

This cute little turkey made of pipe cleaners and a pine cone, made by my mother many, many years ago. I won’t be able to spend the holiday with Mom and Dad. They are getting older and I get out to visit them every two months. Each visit is a precious moment of remembering good times, despite the daily challenges they face. Thanksgiving is a holiday of purely being thankful without any pretenses or expectations. Happy Thanksgiving Mom and Dad.

Never-before-seen Thanksgiving side dish

The food star of Thanksgiving is the turkey, but what guests remember best are the side dishes. This side dish is a staple of our friend’s Terry and Joy every Thanksgiving. They named it Norfolk Ruth’s Cauliflower after Terry’s mother who was the best cook in Stanton County Nebraska in the 1960-70’s. It is unusual but quite tasty. Maybe it was Ruth’s way of getting everyone at the table to eat their vegetables?

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower
1 serving of homemade white sauce (like the one on the side of the cornstarch box)
1 small jar of drained and sliced green olives with pimento
1 cup of cornflakes, crushedDirections:
Steam the head of cauliflower until it is al dente. Don’t overcook it because after the toppings are in place, it is to be baked in the oven.
Make the white sauce according to the directions on the cornstarch box.
Drain and slice the olives.
Put the cornflakes in a zip lock bag and use a rolling pin to crush to small pieces.

Place the al dente cauliflower in a oven proof bowl or dish, leaving a 2-inch clearance on the side of the baking dish.
Sprinkle the green olives atop the cauliflower, then pour the white sauce atop.
Sprinkle the crushed cornflakes over the cauliflower.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the cornflake topping has browned. Serves 6-8 people.

Happy Thanksiving Ruth!