Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More pies...and some cranberry sauce

One of the things I miss the most in Houston is cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Now it is much easier for everyone if we go to my brother's. So I have been relegated to making pies and bringing wine. This afternoon I baked two pies, one apple and one pumpkin. My pie crust attempt last weekend was so successful that I did it again.
One thing I have never done is make a pumpkin pie totally from scratch, cooking the pumpkin. This is as close as I get...

We are huge NPR junkies, and after many years of listening to the piece about Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Recipe I started making it a few years ago. Now it's one of our standards.

Try'll like it!

Bulbs, week one

Wow, the amaryllis has absolutely shot up! I can't believe how much it has grown in one week.
The paperwhites are taking their time...hopefully this means that the alcohol solution is working and they won't be so tall and leggy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pie baking

We had a dinner party on Saturday night for several Japanese visitors to M.D. Anderson. Mike made a meal including a roasted chicken and several other dishes from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano. I decided to get into the Thanksgiving mode and make a more traditionally American dessert, apple pie. This is the recipe I always use:

1 10-inch unbaked pie crust
7 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. lemon juice


1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Mix apples, flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Combine topping ingredients using a pastry blender or food processor. Sprinkle topping over apple mixture. Place pie in a large paper bag and close bag with staples or paper clips. Place bag on cookie sheet and bake in center of oven at 400ยบ for 1 hour.

I even made the crust from scratch...don't remember the last time I did that! I used Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe, which turned out very well. My mother has always insisted that lard makes the best pie crust, but I couldn't find any lard at Whole Foods! I used unsalted butter, just as the recipe calls for. I did come to realize that my food processor is not big enough to make a two crust batch, so I end up doing it by hand.

I love my apple/peeler/corer...I'm sure I would never make an apple pie without it!
It made fast work of those Granny Smiths!
Yes, you really do bake it in a paper bag. I'm not sure why, you just do...
The result was delicious...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Holiday blooms

One of our favorite holiday traditions is to force bulbs to bloom indoors. I guess this was so appealing in Wisconsin because by December NOTHING is in bloom, compared to here in Houston where something is always blooming. I took this picture of a hibiscus flower in our backyard today.

So over the past weekend we bought some paperwhites to force. In the December issue of Martha Stewart Living it says that using a 10:1 solution of water and rubbing alcohol will prevent them from getting so tall and leggy that they fall over. I figured it was worth a try...I'll let you know how it works.We also bought a amaryllis bulb to force. It is planted in dirt, and will get transplanted to our yard after it blooms.
Hopefully it will be as beautiful as this Wisconsin bloom from 2000.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My clone

People have always commented that my daughter looks a lot like me. Shortly after returning from her honeymoon she had her hair cut short, in that "pixie" style I have favored over the years, and now there's no denying the resemblance. Here is a picture of me taken on Christmas 1980 at age 29 (with my new cross-country skis...I miss them!)

And here is a picture of Kate at age 25 with her new haircut...I guess it's true, she does look like me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Apron contest

Apronista is having a contest to win one of Carrie Sommer's fabulous aprons. All you have to do to enter is go to the sight and leave a simple is that? Speaking of aprons, here is one I just made from the Four Corners Apron pattern for an apron exchange I was in.