Archive for In the Kitchen
I decided this year to order the biggest bird I could find. It made sense. The local farmer I was purchasing from offered all free-range turkeys over 18 pounds at a flat rate. I told him I would take one of their biggest, and on delivery day, the hugest turkey I’d ever seen showed up on our porch.
This week, in preparation for our big Thanksgiving feast, I thawed Mr. Turkey so that I could get him baked and deboned. (Here’s my easy method for preparing the turkey ahead of time and re-warming it on Thanksgiving day.) All was well until I got out my big roasting pan.
Uh-huh. I could actually hear the turkey laughing out loud at the very idea of me trying to bake him in what now appeared to be a very tiny pan.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just get out my large roaster oven. Surely that would be plenty big enough.
At least the turkey fit inside. But no way, no how was that lid going on. And a lidless roasting pan would not bake a turkey. Okay then. Plan C?
Hmmm, Plan C. Plan C. I had not foreseen the need for a Plan C. As I stared at the huge bird (who by now was rolling his eyes, shrugging his wings, and getting bored with the entire situation), I racked my brain for options. Go to the store and fork out money for….yeah right. Just a few days before the holiday? What would my store even carry that would be big enough to bake this bird?
It occurred to me that maybe I could bake the turkey directly on the oven rack, with a pan underneath to catch the drippings. I immediately recognized that this was a silly idea since I didn’t have a pan large enough in the first place, so all the drippings couldn’t be caught. I could just envision a dried out turkey with lots of drippings crusted all over the bottom of my oven. Not to mention the fact that when drippings drip in a hot oven, the coils can catch fire, smoke can fill a kitchen, smoke alarms can scream for way too long, houses can smell horrible, and Thanksgiving dinners can be ruined.
You realize all these thoughts went through my head in a time span of about 45 seconds? Nonetheless, I was practically waving a tea towel in front of the smoke alarm just picturing the entire scene.
I moved on to Plan Q – which involved texting a friend. I remembered that she had mentioned that she had an extra large aluminum pan at her house. I don’t love baking in aluminum, and I doubted that such a pan existed that would fit my gigantic-sized turkey, but I figured it was worth a shot. Within an hour, my friend arrived with two roasting pan options. One pan was tiny – as in, it was made for normal sized turkeys. But the other one? Well, I could have leapt for joy. That pan fit my turkey with several inches to spare!
As you can see, the turkey feels exposed, being photographed in all his glory. He’s even blushing a slight pink. Here – I’ll cover him:
And into the oven he went. My friend saved the day. The turkey turned out tasty. And even though we’ll be feeding 15 people on Thanksgiving, I do believe we might have a bite or two of leftover turkey to enjoy in a sandwich this weekend.
Have you ever seen a turkey that big? Do you have any fun Thanksgiving preparation stories to tell?
Cold? Hungry? Need some energy? I have the magic potion. And there are three variations to the recipe!
Have you tried my Warm Vanilla Soother? It’s the first of the three soothing drink recipes I concocted. Drinking this is like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold day, and I always feel nourished and energized afterward.
Once I realized how wonderful the vanilla drink was, of course, I had to try making a chocolate variety. Thus, the Warm Chocolate Soother was born. It’s like drinking a brownie that is warm right out of the oven. (Be careful that you don’t trip on the kids while rushing to make this. Yes, it’s that good. But your kids might need dinner or a diaper change first.)
Last, I created a Warm Pumpkin Soother. It’s a holiday party in a mug. Ahhhhhh…..
So, let’s review. Delicious, satisfying, warm, nourishing, filling, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Or pumpkin. Or vanilla. Take your pick.
Which is your favorite?
Recently when I was making a batch of Honey Whole Wheat Bread, I mixed the yeast, water, and honey in a jar. Then I walked away and got distracted by any number of activities that may have included helping to solve a math problem, answering a knock on the door, or switching a load of laundry.
In the back of my mind, I knew I was in the middle of baking bread, but it’s really amazing how time flies while yeast is activating in a jar. One of my boys finally noticed the growing monster on our kitchen counter and announced with a grin, “Mom, I think your yeast is ready.”
Oh yeah, ya think? Sure enough, I do believe that mixture is alive and active and ready to be added to the rest of the bread ingredients. As you can imagine, my bread dough rose really well that day. I do believe I will forget I’m baking bread more often.
Whenever I say something to someone about one of my kids not liking something I make for a meal or snack, I get reactions like, “What?! Your kids are picky eaters?” No, no. I say. All four of them shout, “YES!” and do a fist pump each time they look over and see what has been prepared for them to eat. They give me a loving squeeze and pick me up off the floor (because three out of four of them can do that now), swing me around, and offer to do the dishes after we eat. They eagerly dig into each prepared dish, helping themselves to seconds and thirds – no matter what I have fixed. I’m four-for-four on every single breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack item I prepare.
The truth is that if I ever happen to prepare a meal that all four boys like without making any adaptions, it’s an amazing feat. They aren’t brats about it (usually), but shucks if two of my boys don’t even like corn. One won’t eat peanut butter. One hates bananas. One likes just about anything…but he’s not a big fan of anything with pumpkin unless it’s pie. One will only eat green beans if he has ketchup to dip them in. Only one boy will eat a fresh tomato and it’s beyond me why one of my cute blondies won’t eat a sweet potato fry because it’s orange and you know, tastes a little funny.
Do I baby my kids when it comes to food? Only in my spare time. When one of my boys hesitates about the food I’ve made, I remind him that I have not made anything weird or gross to eat, that I’m not going to make anything else for this meal, that most of what I make they do like, and they are to be grateful for the wonderful variety of food we always have at our house. They always have to eat some of what I make. If it truly makes them gag, they are on their own to find something nutritious that is less disgusting to them.
Hey, I get it. I don’t really love bananas either. We all have different tastes and preferences. But we don’t get to whine or complain, and we do need to be tough and thankful. Why yes, I have given that lecture a few (hundred) times.
All that to say, last week I decided to make Raspberry Oatmeal Bars for breakfast. When I mentioned my plan, one of my boys said, “Okay, but I like apricot jelly better than raspberry.” To which I replied, “And I like summer better than winter, what’s your point?” Not really. Although I do…like summer better. But it occurred to me how easy (and tasty) it would be to make the oatmeal bars half and half. Not always can I run with the taste preferences in my household, but for this? Sure, why not?
I doubled this Raspberry Oatmeal Bar recipe. I pressed the mixture into a 9×13 pan. I spread apricot jelly on one half and raspberry jelly on the other half. I sprinkled the oatmeal deliciousness on top, I baked the bars, and we all had a breakfast we loved. All six of us. Even the one who didn’t really think oatmeal bars sounded good that morning. To which I answered, “This is what we’re having for breakfast. And don’t forget to drink your milk.”
Next time, instead of making them half and half, I think I’ll make them like a checkerboard – each piece a different flavor.
In my spare time.
Does everyone in your house eat everything you make every time?
And so, since I acquired another couple of pumpkins last week, I have them in the oven today so that I can be on top of my pumpkin game. It’s not just the kids who want these treats. There’s just something about rain, soggy leaves, and wind that make me want to bake pumpkin recipes.
I wanted to remind you about the post on my site detailing how to easily cook a whole pumpkin. It’s the easiest way to make pumpkin puree – you won’t even chop off any of your fingers!! Plus this method turns out a puree super delicious and perfect for all your pumpkin recipes.
So kids, pumpkin pie…coming up!
What’s your experience with making pumpkin puree? Ever cooked a whole pumpkin before? Do it!!
Feeling spicy? As in – do you have plenty of cinnamon on hand? You’ll need it after you look through all the recipes in this post.
While I think about food year-round and enjoy all the different flavors each different season brings, I have to say that there is something so exciting about Fall Recipes. It must be the cinnamon, and the warm drinks, and the comfort that comes along with all of these flavors – not to mention the anticipation of upcoming holidays.
Today I compiled 21 of my favorite fall recipes. If you don’t have pumpkins or apples around – you’ll need to go get some. And I believe we already covered the need for cinnamon….
9. Apple Crisp
In addition, you’ll definitely want to check out these tutorials:
Now your turn. What are your favorite fall recipes?
It’s been sort of a crazy few months around where cows are concerned.
You’re picturing it, aren’t you? With that one little statement, you have now conjured up in your mind a scene in which the local cows are behaving in strange ways, perhaps showing up on people’s doorsteps, speaking in full sentences, or maybe climbing onto billboards to paint a message. (Is anybody else now hungry for Chick-fil-A?)
What I’m really trying to say is that our regular milk sources have had unfortunate issues with their milk cows, leaving us without a source for raw milk. Boy have we ever been spoiled for the past few years.
Thankfully, as of last week, we were able to find another source for this liquid gold. What did I do just as soon as we picked up our milk? Well, I took a picture, of course. Then, I shook up a jar of milk and had a glass. And then I made buttermilk. And yogurt. And kefir.
Doesn’t it take a long time and a lot of work to make buttermilk, yogurt, and kefir? Only if you consider five minutes a lot of time and shaking a jar a lot of work. Seriously, making homemade, cultured dairy products is so easy - and think of the money it saves!
So there you have it. My fridge is now full of great milk, fresh cream, and all the cultured dairy products I need for baking and making smoothies. You’ll find all the links and instructions for making these products here.
Do you make any homemade cultured dairy products? If so, which ones are your favorites?
Remember the Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets recipe I shared a few weeks ago?
I wanted to suggest that in an effort to cut down on waste (that’s a lot of little plastic bags) and effort (it takes extra time to scoop each serving into bags) – you may want to simply store your Instant Oatmeal Mix in an airtight container.
I made a double batch recently, which filled almost three half-gallon jars. On the lids, I wrote,
“Shake well. Scoop 1/2 cup of mix into a bowl. Add 1/2-3/4 cup boiling water.” My boys can take it from there.
This is super easy – and I can’t tell you how nice it is to have this instant oatmeal on hand for busy mornings and for mid-afternoon snacks. The kids stir in any dried fruit or other add-ins they want with their oatmeal.
And a quick note to reinforce that you shake the jar before scooping out your 1/2 cup serving. One of our boys made a bowl without shaking first. All of the sucanat had sunk to the bottom, so his scoop tasted rather bland. Always shake the jar to make sure you get a more tasty bowl of oatmeal!
Have you tried making this Homemade Instant Oatmeal Recipe? I highly encourage it. What a time and money saver!
I have decided that there will probably be lots of tomato plants lining the streets of gold in heaven. Every time I make a salad and include the fresh tomatoes from our garden, I am reminded of God’s goodness. There is so much yum in a summertime fresh tomato.
Last week, we had some leftover chicken which we added to lettuce and tomatoes with shredded cheese for a quick lunch. I stirred in some Homemade Ranch Dressing and loved every single bite.
But as they worked their way through the meal, munching on the homemade crackers with their salads, even my youngest had to admit, “Mom, this is actually a really good lunch.”
Actually? Yes, how shocking.
Whatever. I was in the middle of eating fresh tomatoes straight from heaven. They could say whatever they wanted.