Definitely Time for Comfort Food

A week ago I was filled with such anticipation of being on the cusp of history.  Since then I’ve been in complete shock, along with a lot of the world.

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I wore my version of the pantsuit.  I don’t actually have one so a suit coat would have to do!  I also wore white and purple for the colours of the suffragettes.  I was excited!  But after the evening wore on I could see the writing on the wall.  Going to sleep that night I was hoping beyond hope that the numbers would be wrong. The first thing I saw in the morning was a message on my iPad from a friend in Scotland asking what the hell did this country do.

Clinton wasn’t great shakes but I am having trouble wrapping my head round the fact that so many people accepted the sexism, the racism, the ego, the inciting of violence, and outright lies of Trump.  It pains me that these weren’t deal breakers and in fact celebrated.  I don’t know what is in store in the next few years but I can’t say my normal optimism is in play.

It was also difficult talking about it with our kids.  Fortunately they are old enough to recognise what is right and what is wrong.  Let’s just say my daughter can’t wait to be old enough to vote!

In the meantime we have to get on with our lives.  Given we had another weekend of home improvement and how the week went, comfort food was definitely in order.

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Because we still have a ton of apples from apple picking I thought a pork hand pie with apple and sage would do the trick.

For the pastry I cut in 1/2 a cup of butter into 1 1/2 cups of flour and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  When the mixture is reduced to the texture of bread crumbs and they stick together, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.  It doesn’t take much so add a bit at a time.  Cover and set aside until it’s time to fill the dough.

In a skillet heat up about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onions and begin to cook.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add a pound of ground pork.  Finely chop 2 large cloves of garlic and mix in.

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When the pork is half cooked add a small handful of chopped fresh sage and a small handful of sliced fresh cranberry.  Then add a spoonful of mustard and about a 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Roll the dough out thinly and cut out circles.  I used a bowl for this.

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Fill one side of the dough with the filling.  I had filling leftover because I only needed one pie but that would be good for a later pasta dish!   Brush beaten egg round the edge of the pastry and fold the pastry in half.  Pinch with a fork round the edge and then put 3 small slashes in the top. Brush with the egg and bake at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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My husband made a fabulous dessert with apple and frangipane so it was a lovely meal.

Now that a week has passed I hope the grass roots efforts that are springing up to hold on to the progress we’ve made for equality and to make this place better continue.  It won’t be easy but we do have a voice.

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Cranberry Apple Sauce

A week has passed since our large Thanksgiving dinner and we’re slowly finding space again in our fridge.  I think our puzzle skills have greatly improved this week fitting everything in.  There has been a large dent made in the turkey with dishes created to used up the leftovers.  There was the basic repeat Thanksgiving dinner but you can’t do that all week long so there has to be some creativity.  I made my chili and just added turkey.  I did add the roast potatoes and parsnips to that but that inched the dish closer to the weird side.  But hey it cleared some valuable real estate.  Last night I did a dish with leeks and tonight I think I’ll do up a curry dish.  And don’t forget the sandwiches!  It’s tradition to make turkey sandwiches.  I made mine with homemade rosemary bread, melted cheese and the leftover cranberry apple sauce.  So good I was a bit sorry the sauce ran out.

I found a tip about cranberries from Jovina Cooks Italian which was to use some baking soda to dial down the tartness of cranberries so you use less sugar.  Which in my family is perfect.

I made this cranberry sauce last year and wouldn’t you know it I forgot the orange juice again!  On to plan B.  Apples were one of the ingredients tying the whole meal together to I decided to use a bit of apple cider for this sauce.

Again about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of cranberrys whole into a small sauce pan.

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Add about 1/2 cup of apple cider and bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.   Jovina recommended 1/4tsp of baking soda but I tried 1/8 tsp first as I wasn’t making much and that worked well for this recipe.  It will get all fizzy and bubbly.

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I added about 1/4 cup of sugar, which is such a small amount for cranberries, and stirred well.  Cook until it thickens a bit and then let cool.

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It still had the cranberry flavour but the tartness wasn’t the strong note of this dish.  It was much more mellow without being overly sweet.

Get Stuffed….

I love stuffing especially with gravy.  To me it is great comfort food that is dressed up for the holidays.  I generally make this stuffing for Thanksgiving but when we were back in the UK my MIL did up a lovely roast pork with stuffing balls.  If I was smart I would have asked for the recipe.  I wasn’t.  However, I figured I could adjust my usual stuffing, add an ingredient, and make them into balls.  I think they are great because the best part of stuffing is the browned edges with a bit of crispy to it.  Now everyone gets it with their stuffing.

Unlike the spinach balls, I knew I had all the ingredients!  🙂

It’s important to plan ahead somewhat for this dish as the bread needs to be stale.  I usually get a sourdough boule and break it up a day or two before making this.  Leave it out for all the pieces to get a bit hard.  Because these will make the balls the pieces need to be somewhat small.

I baked these at about 350F/175C.  Because we had so many things going on in the oven this seemed the average temp.  These can be baked at a higher temp, just keep an eye on them.

Chop up about a half an onion finely and a few cloves of garlic.  Saute them in olive oil until softened.

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Add two cups of veg bouillon and simmer for about 10 minutes.  While this is cooking chop about a cup of cranberries and several fresh sage leaves.

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Mix the cranberries and sage in with the bread and then work in about a pound of sausage of your choice.  I chose mild Italian sausage for this.  I didn’t want any flavours overpowering the sourdough or the sage.

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Now here comes the messy part.  Just take off your rings and roll up your sleeves!  Pour in the broth with the onions and garlic and mix well.  Take a few minutes to do this so you don’t have any dry bread bits.  Add about a cup of shredded Italian cheeses and mix thoroughly.  Form into balls and place onto a cookie sheet.  As these won’t spread while baking you can keep them somewhat close to each other.  This recipe makes a lot of balls.

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I baked these about 20 minutes or so.  Once they are golden brown check one to make sure it is cooked through.

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These could easily be made vegetarian.  Just remove the sausage.  Though I have to say this is the first time I used meat in stuffing and it worked really well with the sourdough.

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It also paired well with the apple sage gravy I made to go with the turkey.

Cranberry Sauce

I remember always thinking as a child how strange the cranberry sauce out of a can looked.  It never looked appetizing!  So recently I started making my own for Thanksgiving.  It is very simple, isn’t odd shaped and is tasty.  My mum loves it so I really make it for her.  🙂

I use a small saucepan and add about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of cranberries whole.

Add a bit more than 1/2 cup of water and get it simmering.

Once the cranberries start splitting and softening start with about 1/2 cup of sugar.  What I do is add a bit at a time starting with the 1/2 cup.  I know some of my family love the tartness of the cranberries so I don’t want to oversweeten it.  If it were for me I would had a ton of sugar to this!

Once the sugar is dissolved I add a handful more cranberries so the texture of the sauce is more rustic.

Next I add some ground ginger.  Normally I add about 1/2 cup of orange juice but I didn’t have any so I added a bit of lemon juice.  It wasn’t bad but orange juice is a better choice.

Simmer until everything is dissolved and the cranberries are softened.

Remove from heat and let cool.  It will thicken as it cools.  I made this the day before and it took less than 1/2 an hour to do. It really is easy.

And not only does it taste good, it isn’t a weird shape!

Sourdough Bread Stuffing

I came up with this recipe years ago.  I wanted to make something simple, delicious, and a step up from the stove top stuffings.  As much as I like those, this is Thanksgiving!  The bar has to be raised.  🙂

It is important to start the day before with the bread.  I bought a Sourdough Boule ( I know I didn’t bake it, but this is a huge time saver with all the cooking we have to do!) and it gets torn up the day before to turn it a bit stale.  This allows the absorbing of the broth without making it super soggy.

On the day of I slice up some cranberries and celery leaves.  I usually use celery but right now all I have left in the garden is a few small stalks and a ton of leaves.  I’m amazed I have that!  Turns out the leaves are a better choice for colour and flavour.

I toss the cranberry and the celery into the bread and set aside.  Next I chop up some garlic and onions and saute in olive oil.

Once the onions have softened a bit then I add about 4 cups of veg broth.  Several of my family members are vegetarian so it is important that all the sides are vegetarian so they can eat.  🙂  Bring the broth mixture to a boil then simmer for a bit.

Now it is time to put it all together.  Add a bit of the bread mixture to the baking pan and then add a bit of broth.  It’s important not to add the broth all at once otherwise you will have  really soggy spots.  At this point I also add in shredded Italian cheeses.  I usually get the 4-6 cheese variety.

Make sure you have plenty of bread as it will shrink down as you add the broth.  Once it is filled up I top with cheese.

We had an oven already heated at 350 F so I covered the stuffing and baked for about 15 minutes, then I uncovered it until it browned on the top a bit.

It works really well with the turkey and I like putting a bit of the gravy over the stuffing.  🙂