Tuesday, November 30, 2010


After a slight delay, here is the delicousness that was Thanksgiving. We got another Stokesberry Farm heritage turkey this year, though we were smart and got on the list about this time last year (which reminds me...we need to do that again!). This was the first year that I basically cooked the turkey all by myself, with a bit of prodding and assistance from Debbie. I slathered this glorious bird in plenty of butter, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and filled the insides with mirepoix - just like a chicken, only bigger!

We made stock with giblets that I added to the pan drippings with some flour to create the most incredible gravy I've ever had. It was thick and dark and there was so much fat in it that it broke, but that didn't matter because it coated everything in rich, flavorful intensity.

Stoney Plains farm is officially the place to buy absolutely adorable mini vegetables. These red cabbages are my favorite:

I chopped them up along with a bunch of brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and fried it all in bacon grease:

By this time, I must have been getting hungry, because I stopped taking pictures of individual dishes and just got one big picture of everything:

From top to bottom, here's what's going on: Debbie's delicious green beans, the turkey, Alex's classic roasted delicata squash, Debbie's legendary cranberry chutney, the gravy, my experimental cranberry mole, Debbie's famous cornbread stuffing (now with chanterelles!), the brussel sprouts, and two types of cheesy mashed potatoes so that Miya could have one bowl entirely to herself (hah!). We all accomplished at eating as much as we possibly could, and then there was desert, which consisted of super sticky pecan pie, apple crisp al la mode, and Miya's pumpkin pie (made from her very own pumpkin).

The day after Thanksgiving, a bunch of our friends got together and had a Thanksgiving-left-overs potluck. We made a buffet of everyones left-overs so that each person could make their own mixture of Thanksgiving stuff in aluminum foil, and then wrap it up and throw it into a roaring fire place to re-heat. This might be my new favorite way to eat Thanksgiving left-overs.

On Sunday, we went to our friend Justin's house for a second Thanksgiving. Justin had a Skagit River Valley Ranch turkey that gave some stiff competition for our Stokesberry bird! Besides turkey, Justin (plus a few people helping out) made a beef roast, cornbread-jalapeƱo-bacon-cheese muffins, roasted fennel and mandarin orange salad with a honey dressing, sweet stuffing made with raisin and walnut breads, mashed sweet potatoes, a hearty and complex vegetable soup...and I'm sure there is more I'm forgetting, but Justin always impresses me with his culinary magic!

...And now I don't think I'll have to eat again for a couple of days...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

My morning meditation:

Few things are better than "cutting" butter into flour by hand. I start with frozen unsalted butter and cut it into roughly cubic-centimeters. Then I mix it into the flour by squishing each cube of butter between my fingers until the mixture has a sort of flaky consistency.

SNOW!!!! (and biscuits)

I started following the recipe for the scones served at A Spot of Tea in Rhinebeck, NY (which is apparently and unfortunately now out-of-business!). But we were all out of eggs, so on a whim I decided to just substitute extra milk for the egg. They turned out to be the best biscuits I've ever had with this incredible fresh milk flavor that was absolutely captivating. And if you were wondering (because I was), there is really no difference between a scone and a biscuit in the US, they are both simply a soft leavened quick bread. Though what you use them for might define whether it's a biscuit or a scone; if you eat it with jam and cream it's a scone, if you smother it in gravy, it's a biscuit. Also, shortcake is just a large cake-sized scone or biscuit or whatever you want to call it. Anyway, we smothered these in bacon gravy and ate it with sausage and coffee, so I'm calling them biscuits. Oh, and I did mention the snow, that's the best part!!

After breakfast we decided to go for stroll in the snow to get more milk and eggs, but first we needed a warm beverage to keep us company on our cold walk.

Behold, the makings of The Snowball:

This is a concoction we developed with a previous house-mate during the 2008 snow storm. It's Valrhona hot chocolate, Stumptown coffee, Bailey's Irish cream, Jameson whiskey, and Rumpleminze peppermint schnapps. It gives you the power to conquer the world in the comfort of the best warm fuzzy blanket. It's the perfect beverage.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Mac And Cheese

I have to give my friend, Sarah Richardson, some credit for the creation of this dish. She made a mac 'n cheese with butternut squash a few weeks ago that filled my soul with squishy delicious comfort, joy, and inspiration - the best kind of comfort food! So I took Sarah's idea and ran with it... here is my mac 'n cheese in the making.

From left to right, top to bottom, here's what's goin' on: sauteed chanterelles and baked delicata squash, onions pepper and sausage frying in a liberal amount of butter, cheddar cheese, and pasta. I made a cream sauce with all that butter plus some flour and milk, then added the cheese and everything. Topped it all of with some breadcrumbs under the boiler and here's the finished product.

IMPORTANT EDIT: I totally failed to remember the most brilliant part about Sarah's Squash-Mac-n-Cheese! She actually substituted the squash puree for the roux! More squash means less carbo-coma!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They can run, but they can't hide...

Every day that bike to work, I pass a spot that usually has some shaggy mane mushrooms. However the trick with these mushrooms is you have to catch them right when they pop up out of the ground, otherwise within a few hours they turn into an inky mess (these mushrooms are also called "inky caps"). Here is what an inky mess looks like:

It's been cool and stormy with plenty of rain the past few days, and then today was quite warm and sunny - this must be exactly what shaggy manes like, because I found more today than I've ever seen before! And lucky for me, some of them were still young enough to eat!

Coprinus comatus

The hunt is definitely the point of eating this mushroom, it really doesn't serve much of a culinary purpose. It's fairly flavorless and has a texture comparable to sauteed onions. But, since I finally found it, I had to eat it out of principle. I sauteed my catch with onions and cabbage and then smothered it with Golden Glen Creamery Red Pepper and Onion Cheddar and topped it with cilantro, voila: