Making Whoopie…Carrot Cake Pies That Is

The amount of chocolate our kids still have from Christmas is going to keep them going for quite awhile.  They would disagree completely with me, of course.  As scrooge like as I was being in the chocolate department I didn’t want to forego any treats.  I’m not that mean!

So what do bunnies really like?  Carrots!

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I did a search on Pinterest for fun easter desserts.  The plethora of Peeps desserts was a bit scary.  Aside from the fact none of us like Peeps, my kids aren’t little so something less sugar high inducing would do the trick.  I found this Mini Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies recipe and I thought it would be fun to make.  Not to mention easy!  And as we’re still plugging away at our renovation of the bathroom project, well, easy is key.

I will say the overall time to make this of 18 minutes is seriously over optimistic.  Give yourself an hour.  There is only so fast I can go!

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

Begin with finely grating 180g of carrot.  This will give you 1 1/2 to 2 cups of shredded carrot.

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In a mixer add 113g/1 stick of butter (room temperature) along with 100g/1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar and 100g/1/2 cup of white sugar.

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Cream all this together for several minutes until creamy and blended well.  While this is mixing mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Add 250g/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

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Gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixer.  Once all the ingredients are mixed well add the grated carrot.

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Using a piping bag and a large nozzle pipe out the batter into circles about an inch/2.5cm onto parchment paper.  This is very sticky and they come out like wizard hats.  Don’t worry about that, it will smooth out in the oven.  Just tap down the real pointy peaks.

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Bake 6-8 minutes until set and golden.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.

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While these are baking prepare the cream cheese frosting.  I chose to use neufchatel cheese which has a 1/3 less fat.  I know, a funny time to start worrying about calories but what can you do?

In a large bowl add 8oz/226g of the cheese and 56g/1/2 stick of butter (both at room temperature).

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Using a hand mixer cream the two ingredients together for a few minutes.

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Add 187g/1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Mix well until the frosting is smooth and light.

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Pair up the mini cakes so both sides are relatively equal in size.  Spread the frosting on one side and add the other to make a sandwich.

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Keep the ones you don’t eat right away in the fridge.  Not going to lie, these were really good.  With the carrot how unhealthy can these be?  Ahem.  😉

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Do’s Cake and Family Traditions

Does tradition make things taste better?  Not sure with this cake as it’s so delicious but it is very much tied into childhood memories.  It was a cake my mum would make for birthday parties and special occasions and it wouldn’t last long at all.  It’s really the family cake.

My mum got the recipe from our Aunt Do, who is married to our Uncle Bob.  They’ve been married for over 65 years and they are literally the sweetest people you would ever meet.  Do got the recipe decades ago, from a neighbour she thinks.  A recipe from the mists of time!  My sister did say she saw something similar in an old Fanny Farmer book called Mix in the Pan cake.  Could be a variation on that.

This is a very easy cake to make and the cake itself is vegan and the icing could be made vegan without too much trouble.

Preheat the oven at 350F/175C.

In a large mixing bowl sift together 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cups baking cocoa, 2tsp baking soda and 1 tsp of salt.  Flatten the mixture and put 3 large holes in it.

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In one hole pour 2 tsp of vanilla, in another put another 2 tsp vanilla, then spread between the three holes a cup of vegetable oil.  The oil might not fit into the three holes and it will spread out, that’s ok.  With a spoon or spatula mix it all together.

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Next add 2 cups of cold water gradually while mixing until smooth.

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In a lightly greased 13″ x 9″ pan, pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking make the frosting.  In a small saucepan add 2 1/2  tablespoons flour and 1/2 cup milk.  Cook on medium low heat until the flour and milk thickens.  Whisk continually while it cooks.

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Let it cool.  In a medium bowl add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and 1 tsp of vanilla.  Add the cooled flour milk mixture.  If you want this vegan use vegetable shortening and a milk alternative like almond milk.

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Using an electric hand mixer, beat on med high until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

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Add any food colouring and beat for another minute or so.  Spread on the cake.

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I tried, quickly, to do a shamrock as a design.  If you squint you might be able to see it!

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This is so good that it will definitely continue as a family tradition.  I probably should ask Aunt Do if she has any other recipes to pass down!  😉

Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Seafood Chowdah

Years ago, when my family had a small manufacturing company, my dad would make a fish chowder for the Christmas party.  Once he made it, that was it, I don’t think he was allowed to make anything else.  His dish was guaranteed to disappear.  I found his recipe that he used because I wanted to make a treat for my visiting in-laws.

Of course I couldn’t leave it alone!  I had to make it my own.  Good thing my dad is used to these kind of shenanigans.  It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t scarf down a bowl of his if it magically appeared before me.  It would not have a chance to get cold!

This is a very easy dish to put together, just make sure you have good quality ingredients.  No skimping!

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I found lovely cuts of salmon and cod at the co-op.  You want firm fish for this chowder.  I cubed three red skin potatoes and covered with water.  Bring the water to a boil and while the potatoes are cooking prep the other ingredients.  I chopped half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and begin cooking the onion.  Once the onion is translucent add the garlic.  I couldn’t find salt pork so I chose to use pancetta instead.  If you find salt pork you do not need a lot otherwise you can overpower the chowder.  I chopped about 1/2 a cup of pancetta and added it to the skillet.

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Add a handful of fresh thyme and a 1/2 cup of dry white wine.  Cook for a  few minutes.  Once the potatoes begin to soften add the contents of the skillet to the pot.  Cube the fish and add that as well.

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Add enough water to cover the fish.  Don’t bring it to a boil!  Slowly cook the fish at a low simmer. It will gradually begin to flake without becoming tough.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add a bit more wine to taste if you need to.  Wait until you are ready to serve before you add a cup of cream and two tablespoons of salted butter.  Warm through and serve.

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My husband made some homemade bread to go with this dish.  So good with butter!  And it holds up as leftovers.

Bakewell Tart and Delicious Traditions

Another season down and on to feeding the creative side of my brain!  I managed to end the tax season in my typical fashion of coming down with a really bad cold.  So much for hitting the ground running.  I am finally catching up with everything.  Unfortunately bills and things have to have a higher priority than blogging.  Boo.

Part of my inspiration this year for blogging is to bake or cook dishes that have a bit of family tradition.  I place a great deal of value on having a connection with the past as we go forward with the new generations.  I don’t like history forgotten.

A few weeks ago I asked my dad what treats his mum cooked or baked when he was growing up.  My Grandma is someone I’d love to go back in time and spend a day baking with.  She was incredibly smart and the ultimate multi-tasker.  I sometimes think she would read, watch telly, and do the cross word at the same time because her brain needed the high end exercise.  She passed away when I was very young but I have wonderful memories of her.

My dad responded with a list of things she would make like amazing homemade bread, sponge cake, and bramley apple pies.  She would also make bakewell tarts.  As this has been on my list for awhile I thought that would be a great place to start.

The recipe I used was from the Baking with Mary Berry baking book my sister gave me for my birthday.  It is actually pretty straight forward.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

In a mixing bowl add 1 1/2 cups of flour and 6 tablespoons of cold butter.  You will see this is not for the faint of heart when it comes to butter!

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Using a pastry fork blend the butter and flour until well blended.  You want it to look like small bread crumbs.  I found it weird that no salt was in the recipe.  It wasn’t too bad but next time I make it I would add about 1/4 tsp of salt.

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The next step is to add a bit of cold water at a time until the pastry comes together.  This part is hard to explain as you don’t want it too dry or too wet.  So keep adding until is just comes together.  This step always brings me back to when my dad taught me how to make pastry.  He learned from my Grandma.  I was an adult when he taught me but it was still fun standing side by side learning from him.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt 9 tablespoons (see what I mean?) and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Cook for a minute or so.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

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A one large egg, beaten, 3/4 cup of rice flour, and 1/2 tsp of almond extract.  Mix well.

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Set aside.  Grease a tart pan that has a loose bottom.  The recipe called for 7 1/2in/19cm diameter pan.  I don’t have one of those but I have a rectangle one roughly the same area size.  Roll out the pastry and lightly press into the pan.

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Trim the excess and set aside.  Spread raspberry jam on the bottom of the pastry.  I kept it a bit too thin this time round but I will put more in.

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Pour in the filling and then cut the excess pastry in to strips and place them in a criss cross pattern.  Brush with milk.

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Bake for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown and the filling is set.

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If you would like dust it with icing sugar.

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This isn’t overly complicated and is worth the effort to make.  The almond and raspberry flavours are a great pairing.  I hope I did my Grandma proud.  🙂

Finally French Baked Eggs!

There are times where you have to try, try, and try again.  Such is life.  It gets a bit annoying when that happens with a recipe.

I saw a recipe in a cookery book of Barefoot Contessa’s for easy baked eggs.  Ooh, I thought, this looks amazing.  Let’s have a go.

To start her method was to broil.  I followed it to the letter.  Three times and failed each time.  I was starting to get annoyed!  The flavours were there but the yolk would over cook and the whites would stay runny.  Not the way I wanted.

In the meantime I tried Jovina Cooks Italian recipe for Marinara Baked Eggs.  I still struggled with getting the yolks runny but it was a better result.  My husband and I talked about maybe separating the eggs and cooking the whites for a bit.  Darya on Tortore mentioned in the comments the same idea so that settled it.  I was going to give it another try.

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This recipe is for one serving.  Finely chop a handful of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Then finely mince a clove of garlic.  Grate about a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  Set all this aside.

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Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.  In a shallow bake safe dish heat up 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream and a tablespoon of butter.

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Separate three eggs and add the whites and half the cheese and herb mixture to the dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until the whites are almost set, fluffing a few times as it cooks.  Add the three yolks.

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Add the rest of the herb and cheese mixture.  Bake a few minutes more until the yolks are warm but still runny.  I was feeling really positive by this point!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat.  Grate a bit more parmesan over the eggs.  Toast up crusty bread to serve with.

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Look at that, runny yolks!  This was easy.  🙂  And oh so good.  I am so happy I figured this out.  There is an extra step but it means I get the result I’m supposed to.

Lamb with Prosciutto Mushroom Sauce

Every once in awhile we’re confronted with how fast life really moves.  This weekend our daughter had her semi-formal at the middle school.  It was a masquerade ball which was a fabulous idea.  I wish we had that theme in one our school dances.  I had a great time help our daughter get ready.

It was striking to us though as it was obvious that she is no longer a little girl but a wonderful young lady.  I kept thinking back to the first time I helped her do her hair and makeup.  It was seven years ago for Halloween and she wanted to be a geisha girl.  She was small enough I had to have her on the bathroom counter so I could do her face.  Not being used to make up she kept twitching as I tried to do her eyes. 🙂

This time, as she is nearly as tall as I am, I had to reach up to curl her hair and do her eyes.  It seems like the past seven years have gone by in a flash.  And, if you don’t mind me saying so, she was stunning.  We are just so proud of how she is turning out.  Beautiful inside and out.

I was able to find time earlier this week to do some cooking and wanted to play around with prosciutto.  I thought prosciutto with mushrooms would be a lovely pairing.

In a skillet melt a few tablespoons of butter.  Season the lamb steak with salt and pepper and sear both sides of the lamb.

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Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C to be medium rare. In the same skillet melt a little more butter and add a cup or so of sliced shiitake mushrooms and saute until they start to brown.  Then add a few cloves of garlic that have been finely chopped with a teaspoon two of fresh thyme.

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Allow this to cook slowly to soften the garlic.  If the mushrooms soaked up a lot of the butter then add a bit more.  Add 1/2 a cup of dry white wine and let it slowly simmer and reduce down.  As the lamb is resting add about 1/3 cup of chopped prosciutto and stir well.

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As a side dish I roasted golden beets, parsnips, and potatoes.

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We need the good food to distract us from this crazy winter.  We got another 6 inches or so dumped on us this weekend.  We’re running out of places to put it!  Some spots in our garden are about 4 feet deep.  The actual snow fall is now mid-thigh to me.  We have a slight problem of our greenhouse being snowed in and we can’t get the door open.  Unfortunately our potting soil and pots are in there!  Our seeds have arrived so we need to get this sorted out within the next week.

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Spring can’t come soon enough this year!

Rosemary Garlic Pork

Apparently we missed one hell of a game last night.  We don’t have cable any more so I started the day checking out the ads from the Superbowl.  I’m guessing the game was way better than the ads.  I made the mistake yesterday of going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  It was mobbed.  Not only was the “big” game last night but we are also now in the middle of yet another big snow storm.  So there was game shopping on top of the panic shopping people do before a storm.  This storm didn’t shift to the east this time so we’ll be getting a lot of snow today.

My husband lucked out with the travel and was able to come home safely.  I had a good time with the kids last week but it’s great to have him home with us.  I was struck the other day how much our kids are growing up.  After taking them out for a light meal we drove back and bad music was playing on the radio.  Our daughter decided that we needed to listen to some real music.  So she put on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and she and I belted out the song.  Slightly to our son’s dismay!  She took us through the 80’s and we ended with the Cupid Shuffle dancing in the kitchen.  Then we topped it off watching Master Chef Junior.  Those kids are incredible cooks.  We are just blown away that an 8 year old can do restaurant quality dishes and an 11 year old did up a branzino.  It’s insane.

To welcome home my husband I decided to make a pork loin with garlic and rosemary.   I found this recipe from Daily Dish Magazine to use as an inspiration.

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Coarsely chop the rosemary and garlic.  This recipe takes a lot of garlic which is fabulous.  I used almost a whole bulb of garlic.  Place in a bag and add about 3/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Season the pork loin with sea salt and pepper and marinate for at least an hour.

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In a skillet heat up olive oil and pan sear the pork loin on both sides.

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Finish in the oven at 350F/175C.  In a small skillet heat up the marinade and begin to reduce down.

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Add butter a tablespoon at a time until there is a nice balance of the wine, lemon, and butter.  While the pork is resting saute some swiss chard with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Slice the pork and serve over the chard.  Top with the sauce.

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It goes very well with roasted potato and parsnip.  It was wonderful catching my husband up with how our week went and listening to him tell us about his.  🙂

Sage Pear Turkey

How did it get to Saturday already?  Where did this week go?  My husband is travelling for two weeks and I’ve had the kids this week.  It’s been a whirlwind of band practice, concerts, tennis practice, and herding the pets.  Plus the tax office is starting up with some things and suddenly it’s Saturday.  I hope next week goes by just as fast because then my husband will be home. 🙂

We had a lovely Thanksgiving but we delayed it a day because a snow storm blew through the night before the actual holiday.  We were lucky because we didn’t lose power but a lot of people did and they were stuck with all that food and no way to cook it.  Some got creative and fired up the old grill.

As usual we order our turkey from a local farm.  Usually we order it from Mayfair Farms a few towns over.  When we don’t it’s because I flaked and waited too long.  This year I didn’t, I ordered early and asked for a small turkey, about 12-13lbs.  Yes, that won’t be a problem, I am on the list!  Pat on the back and all.  Well, best laid plans and all that because the turkeys turned out to be even healthier and hungrier than planned.  Our turkey ended up being 17.56 lbs!  Holy moly.  So I quickly put out the word to my family members to bring containers.  Did any of them do that?  Absolutely not.  Sigh.

As I drove out into the woods to pick up our bird it started snowing and by the time I got to the farm it was really pretty.

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Craig and Sarah, who own the farm, have been here for a few years now and have really made it into a growing concern which is wonderful.  And I was greeted by the “guard” dog who definitely had to check me out.

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Each year I try to do the turkey a bit differently from the last to keep it fresh so I thought I would do a sage and pear roast turkey with butter.

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I softened 1/2 cup of butter and worked in a handful of chopped fresh sage.

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Luckily the turkey still fit into the roasting pan.  Not the lid though so I had to use tin foil to cover.  Murphy was really hoping I’d screw up somehow and the turkey would magically fly out of the pan and onto the floor.

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I’ll admit I don’t like this next step of mucking about with raw poultry.  I stuffed most of the butter under the skin and what little was left rubbed into the outside of the skin.  Season with salt and pepper.  I used white pepper because we ran out of regular pepper.

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In the basin of the pan add a peeled pear, chopped, half a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of sage, and a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry, and a couple of cups of water.  Cover with tin foil or a lid and begin roasting at 325F/160C.  If the turkey is less than 15lbs, cook it 15 minutes per pound, if more than than, then drop it to 12 minutes.  This is per the Fanny Farmer cookbook.  So our turkey was about 3 1/2 hours.  An hour and a half in I basted.  When there is an hour to an hour and a half left remove the cover.  Normally I wait to the last 45 minutes but because I added so much butter I knew this wouldn’t dry out.

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Now I love turkey skin and let me tell you this was amazing.  Crispy and full of flavour!  And because I put in all the ingredients for the gravy at the beginning it is just about made.  I put it on the boil and add dissolved corn flour a bit at a time to get the thickness I want.  Stir constantly.  I usually add a bit of Gravy Master but not too much because I want the subtle flavours of the pear and sage to come through.

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We did our usual roast veg and I made the stuffing balls I did last year.  I also made a fabulous cranberry port sauce.  That I forgot to serve. Honestly, all that effort.  All well I’ll serve it at Christmas.

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Of course we had way too much food.  I always stress about making sure we have enough food though logically I know we’ll have leftovers taking over the fridge.  But it was wonderful to have family together for my favourite holiday.