November 26, 2010

This Thanksgiving was one of our best yet. That says a lot, being that my Uncle passed away very early that morning. Perhaps we were reminded about the most simple thing of all to be thankful for, life. Because it is so easy to get caught up in the everyday- busyness, boredom, bickering and beyond. How often do we go throughout our days- frustrated, inpatient, stressed- totally losing sight of how precious each day is. Each moment. With that in mind, our family enjoyed a most mellow Thanksgiving at home. Just being together. Happily. Without rushing to get things prepared. Or focusing on the to do's. We were present with one another. Engaged with one another. And it was so nice.

Even with such little focus on the food preparation, everything tasted scrum-dilly-umptious. Let me clarify what I mean by little focus... We were not stressed or rushed in the least to create a masterpiece meal. Nor did we dump pre-made food out to warm up. We slowly prepared our meal. Free from a frazzled spirit. The boys and I did some of the work the day before. And that too, was so delightful. We worked in the kitchen together, for the better part of the day. Cooking with a five and a one and a half year old could've been, well, annoying. But it wasn't. It was awesome. They were both so into working together to create food for our meal and that filled my heart with such joy. I love that we are building family traditions. And that my boys are learning to enjoy being in the kitchen, cooking.

We tried a few new recipes this year that we tweaked to make our own, and they were divine. My goal was to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal free from opening boxes or cans. And that we did. A meal from scratch. Mostly. And really, it was just a tad bit more effort. And so worth it. So if a meal from scratch intimidates you a little, let me encourage you- rather urge you, to give it a try. No cans of sweet potatoes or boxes of stuffing & mashed potatoes. Real food. I can't tell you how good it felt. Because this was a new effort & goal for me. And I am won over. Let me share with you my favorite, from scratch, recipe for stuffing.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the boys and I made this delicious bread. It used to be our Daily Bread. Until I found out that my boys are allergic to wheat. Now, it is mama's bread. So I do not make it as often as I used to. But it is easy. And delicious.

Daily Bread

Put 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons warm water in small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, measure 1 1/2 cups wheat flour, 2 cups white flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup blue agave, 1/4 cup softened butter and 1 cup warm water into a mixing bowl. Mix and add in yeast mixture. Mix/knead the dough for about 7 minutes.

Place dough into a lightly greased bowl. Turn dough in bowl to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl with damp/clean cloth and place in a warm spot to allow dough to double in size. About an hour or two.

After dough rises, punch down. Then transfer to lightly greased loaf pan. Shape dough into loaf. Again, place in warm spot and allow to rise, uncovered until it doubles in size. About an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly on top. Cool on cutting board.

The day before Thanksgiving, I made our stuffing. It sat covered in the refrigerator overnight until about 45 minutes before we wanted to serve it. Then we simply put it in the oven at 350 and baked it for 45 minutes. It is amazing.

Take the Daily Bread made the day before and cut it into small pieces. Place in ziploc bag until ready to use.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of olive oil in pan over medium high flame. Add 1 onion- diced, 5 stalks celery- diced, 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (I used Trader Joe's "21 Seasoning Salute") salt & pepper to your liking (I added LOTS of both) 1 clove garlic- crushed, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Saute until onions are translucent. About 15 minutes. Enjoy the smell.

Prepare 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley- chopped fine, 1 egg- beaten, and 1/4 cup of apple juice. In mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, skillet mix, egg & parsley and mix VERY GENTLY but also very well. Lightly grease baking dish. Transfer mix to baking dish and press down gently. Pour apple juice over the top and cover. Store covered & refrigerated until ready to use.

I warmed this up today (the day after Thanksgiving) in a skillet over a medium low flame. I added a little bit of apple juice (to replenish the moisture that gets sucked up when you refrigerate things) and covered with a lid. It was just as good as the day before. YUM!

I hope your family enjoyed the delights of the day. May all of your days be rich in thankfulness.

1 comment:

Kristine said...

Looks deelish, Jen. Love real food . . . and homemade bread. Thanks for the recipes.
Sorry about your uncle.