Thanksgiving pie: cranberry orange cream pie…with a chocolate crust

Wow, this past week went by so quickly because I spent most of my days in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving.  Just like last year, I began my preparations on Sunday and did a little bit of work every day to ensure that by Thanksgiving morning I wasn’t in a crazed, chaotic rush to get everything finished by dinnertime.  And it worked!

One of my favorite pies is this cranberry orange cream pie that I modified from a recipe from Southern Living magazine years and years ago.  I last made it maybe 3 years ago and when I was planning my Thanksgiving menu earlier this month (listen for me to rattle it off on the video), I knew it was time for this pie to make another appearance.  I love this pie so much that I knew I had to share it!  You really need to make a pie.  So why not make this one?  Find the recipe here.

 

Fall is time for…

Plenty of things:  knitting, drinking tea, coloring in front of the fire, drinking tea, reading in front of the fire, drinking more tea, planning my Thanksgiving menu (I get immense joy out of planning my menu and then executing it!!), putting the garden away for the winter, choreographing barre routines, working on my cottage food license…so many things to choose from!!

I have been getting some knitting and sewing done this month–I finished two projects that had been in limbo for a few weeks while I found time to pick up some zippers that were the correct length and color-coordinated with my fabric.  Here are the finished products:

These small bags are sized to hold a Kindle Fire, so they are roughly 5 inches tall by 9 inches wide. The purple one was for a friend–she is one of my barre regulars and I just adore her.  The green one was a donation to a silent auction for a meeting I attended last month. I started another one last weekend that does not yet have a final recipient assigned to it yet.  One of my favorite winter activities is to knit in front of the wood stove in the evenings or on those nasty days when it is snowing hard and I have no desire to go outside.  Sometimes I exhaust myself and end up taking a nap, knitting needles and runaway balls of yarns drooping off the couch.

I’ve been reading more in the evenings this fall.  I just finished reading Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner.  This book discusses the battle over water in the West:  dams, floods, irrigation canals, droughts, politics, corruption, etc. I remember waaaaay back in college I started reading this book and I became so disgusted and enraged that I had to stop reading it.  Now, nearly two decades later (Whoops, did I really just date myself? I guess I did…) I can read the book because let’s face it: with all the crazy going on in the world these days, one sort of has to desensitize oneself in order to get by.  I’m not saying I’ve Capturecompletely lost my compassion, but I tend to let the bad things roll off my back more easily these days because I have to if I am going to maintain that compassion.  But suffice it to say that this book brought up many excellent examples of how humans can be so arrogant and stupid in their quest to exert their control over nature.  And, get this: to follow up that book, I chose my next book to be The Battle for the Buffalo River by Neil Compton.  And guess what?  This book follows a similar plot as Cadillac Desert!  The good news is this book has a happy ending–the Buffalo River was not dammed and subsequently became the nation’s first national river in 1972.

Still, there is only so much reading on such depressing topics I can do in one sitting.  So I break it up by coloring, knitting, reading other things, planning Thanksgiving, and pondering my cottage food license (to be honest, though, I haven’t really done much work on my cottage food license this fall–which is something I SHOULD be working on).  I tend to find that coloring is generally more relaxing, though.  And I have several new completed pages in my coloring book to show for my relaxing, fire-side efforts:

Now that Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, I need to get serious about my menu.  I found a new recipe for a Moroccan-spiced winter squash dip that I made last week and I LOVED it.  If my vegan friend comes again, I will have to make this dip.  It will pair perfectly with homemade pitas, which I made for the very first time last weekend (along with homemade, from-scratch, falafel–it was the best!).  And I know what you are thinking: How can that be?!  How have you never made homemade pitas?

I know, I know.  It’s just one of those things that never happened. But they are so stinking easy, I will be making them again.  And again. In fact, maybe I will do a video on how to make them!  And you will make them, too!  Perhaps the video will include the winter squash dip, too.  But first…

I’m going to dig out my pile of unsorted recipes now.  Maybe I will find a hidden jewel that I need to include in my Thanksgiving menu this year.  It will be like a scavenger hunt to find exciting new foods to try!

 

How to dry brine a turkey

I love love love Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  And I am hosting this year, both friends and family, so we’re expecting a nice crowd of about 8.  But who knows?  If I see anyone in the neighborhood up for adoption Thursday, I might drag them along for our Thanksgiving ride, too (we play Scattergories after dinner–it’s so much fun!).

Since I love to cook, this is absolutely my holiday.  And I prep well in advance so that I don’t get too stressed out on Turkey Day.  I began my preparations on Sunday, FIVE days before Thanksgiving (one can never be too prepared).  I found my Thanksgiving menus from the past 3 years along with my list of To-Do and When, and created my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations.  And since I have a vegan friend joining us for the big day, nearly everything is vegan.  Here’s the menu of what I’m making:

Non-vegan:  Turkey with gravy  /  cheese log

Vegan:  gravy  /  ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls  /  pumpkin pie  /  mashed potatoes  /  corn casserole  /  curried fruit  /  sweet potato casserole  /  roasted carrots & parsnips  /  French cornbread dressing  /  chocolate hazelnut-blueberry pie  /  mulled apple cider

Stepdaughter # 2 is bringing chocolate pie, coconut cream pie, cranberry sauce (from a Harry Potter cookbook, no less), and a sweet potato & apple dish.

THAT’S A LOT OF FOOD!

And in case you’re curious, here’s my what my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations looks like:

Sunday:

  1. toast hazelnuts & skin.  chop.  toast pecans. chop.
  2. make vegan pumpkin pie–from scratch–& video
  3. start sourdough starter
  4. make curried fruit topping
  5. make vegan pie crust for chocolate hazelnut pie

Monday:

  1. make French cornbread
  2. make turkey rub
  3. roast garlic
  4. make sweet potato casserole topping
  5. make herb/spice mix for ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls

Tuesday:

  1. brine turkey & make video
  2. grate cheese for cheese log
  3. bake sweet potatoes in skin
  4. cut & toast French cornbread
  5. mix together dry ingredients for chocolate hazelnut pie

Wednesday:

  1. slice / steam carrots & parsnips
  2. make chocolate hazelnut pie
  3. assemble curried fruit
  4. assemble sweet potato casserole
  5. prep corn casserole
  6. prep dressing
  7. make sourdough roll dough (bread maker)

Thursday:

  1. make ‘Thanksgiving’ roll dough (bread maker)
  2. bake curried fruit
  3. roast carrots & parsnips
  4. roast turkey
  5. bake sweet potatoes  / corn casserole  / dressing
  6. bake rolls (Dutch oven & solar oven &/or in kitchen)
  7. mulled apple cider (Crock Pot)
  8. pressure cook potatoes
  9. make gravies

Wednesday night will probably be my most ‘stressful’ night in part because I will work Wednesday afternoon and I teach barre that evening.  So by the time I get home & showered, it will be quite late to begin some of the prep.  But the good news in all this is if it doesn’t get done on Wednesday night, it will just happen on Thursday.  And Thursday won’t be all that crazy, despite the long list of things I have to do.  The turkey will take up the largest chunk of time, and while it cooks I can prep other things.  Then while the turkey rests, I’ll bake the casseroles and such.  Should be a fairly relaxed day, all things considered.

Now, about that turkey.  I prepared my turkey this afternoon with a rub and dry brine.  I had a near turklamity while bagging the turkey, and you can witness the look of horror on my face when I thought I was about to lose it.  If you want the rub recipe, it will be posted here.  And here’s the video:

Homemade pumpkin pie–totally from scratch!

I’ve been radio silent for a couple of weeks–other priorities have taken my time away from videos and blogging.  Such is life, I suppose.  This is the last week of the CSA and then I’ll have a bit of a break.  We had a really good season, but I am looking forward to focusing on other things for a few months.  Videos will continue throughout the winter, but may be more sporadic–who knows?

But I’ve got two, count ’em TWO, videos specifically tailored to Thanksgiving this week.  This is the first installment, which walks you through how to make a pumpkin pie, completely from scratch:  from pumpkin to pie.  And you know what?  It’s really not that hard!  Sure, it’s more time-consuming than opening a can of pumpkin puree, but this is better.   Waaaaaaaay better than pumpkin from a can!

The second video will show you how to dry brine a turkey.  Never tried it?  Well, you should!  I think this will be my go-to turkey preparation for Thanksgiving forevermore.  Look for that video tomorrow!