Posts Tagged 'thanksgiving'

Back to Back Baking

No more falcons, no more live concerts, so it’s back to talking about cooking and baking in the new kitchen. *smile* I got to show it off today to someone new! He said “I want to go home now and redo my kitchen”. We sat in the breakfast room at my fun round bistro table. He loved that handle and the fact that it really can move up and down.

Besides contributing a vegetable side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, I am also “responsible” for sugar free desserts. t-day apple pie This goes back to when my father, who was diabetic, was alive. My father loved desserts and once the diabetes was diagnosed I spent a lot of time learning to make desserts he (and the others with diabetes) could eat. Then a few years ago (2013) Thanksgiving and Chanukah coincided. For American Jews this was a wonderful event and inspired much holiday and culinary creativity. It was known as Thanksgivukkah. Although I fell in love with the rye crust for the pumpkin pie, I don’t really like pumpkin pie. I decided to see what I could do with the Pecan Pie Rugelach recipe.

I made the first batch exactly as called for in the recipe so I could learn the proper textures. Then I began to reduce the sugar AND to remove the dairy – I needed to make it kosher. Since we were having a meat meal, I could not have dairy in the dessert (cannot mix meat and dairy) The dairy for the dough was easy – vegan cream cheese and pareve margerine. pecan pie rugelachThe brown sugar was a bit of a ‘cheat’, but was deemed acceptable by the doctor (who is also diabetic). I use Splenda brown sugar, which is half brown sugar and half sugar substitute. This means that although it’s not sugar free, it has less sugar and fewer carbohydrates than regular brown sugar. When you factor in the lower quantity used, and spread it over the entire batch, it is acceptable for the folks at my table. And even at that, I tend to be stingy measuring the sugar, instead of generous. I’m always VERY generous measuring vanilla extract. 🙂 The other substitution is with the corn syrup. I use agave. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of syrup, use 1/4 cup agave and increase the liquids. The first time I made the rugelach the menfolk for whom it was made went crazy. They loved it. And so a tradition was born. I make SF pecan pie rugelach for Thanksgiving.

My father was also why I started making SF apple pies. inside of pieI changed up my recipe for the T-day pie since I wasn’t happy with the puree made with dried apricots. I did put some dried apricots in with the cranberries and the cranberry juice, but I also used sugar free orange marmalade. That gave the puree the correct consistency and liquidity needed to soften the apples and keep the pie filling moist and tender. I did the same layering with apples/puree/cinnamon & nutmeg as I did in my pie the week before the holiday. This one was much, much better although I didn’t get to eat much of it. 🙂

I’ve also made chocolate pecan pie for my sister in the past. She really loves it and it is so easy to make. That one is sugar-full and I don’t usually bring sugar desserts to Thanksgiving. pecan pie Our friends are fantastic bakers and they bring a smorgasbord of great desserts. But I was having so much fun baking and I knew they did NOT make chocolate pecan pie, so I made that one too. I used the fantastic coconut oil crust from the kale butternut squash pie. I have NO idea how the pie came out, since I never got a piece. 🙂 I brought it to my sister’s house but we did not serve it at dinner.

The shortbread was simply me going over and beyond. My sister and I spend a LOT of time talking/texting/emailing as we prepare for holidays. I tried to bribe her to come over and visit me and promised her some shortbread if she came. shortbreadWell she didn’t come but now the idea of making shortbread was in my head. I got up early Thursday morning and made up a batch of shortbread. I sent half of it to her and kept the other half for myself. I can assure you that the shortbread was delicious. I think I used a different recipe this time than the last time I made it. But the last time I made it was years ago – I have no idea which recipe I pulled. This time I looked at 4 different recipes, figured out the commonalities and made 2 pans. Yum Yum Yum.

I LOVE my new kitchen!!!!!

The Pie Lady

It has happened – we handed over the final payment check. The kitchen ceiling was repaired after the pipe leak (yes, the pipe was repaired also). The floor was pulled up and redone in the doorway and the breakfast room. The kitchen is gorgeous and functional and I love every moment I spend there. I have been cooking and baking and trying out new recipes. I may have done more cooking in the last few weeks than I have done in the last few years. Okay, that WAS an exaggeration, but you understand the emotion there. 🙂

I’m not a vegetarian, I do eat meat, but I eat a lot less meat than I did in years past. That’s partly age/digestion and partly diet/weight. 🙂 Now you know all my secrets. kale pie openAlthough Thanksgiving dinner is not at my house (except for the fun of hosting it last year), I do contribute a vegetable side dish and sugar free desserts. This year I wanted to find something exciting and interesting, something that would ‘represent’ my gorgeous new kitchen. A FB friend posted a link to LiveKindly’s article “12 Meat-Free Mains for the Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving”. The picture looked so yummy I had to click through. The pictures of the entrees were GORGEOUS and nearly all the dishes sounded delicious. Some of them even looked as if they would not be too difficult to make.

There were still 2 weeks to go before T-day, so I decided to test out some of the recipes and decide which I should make. I got ambitious and made both the Kale Almond Butternut Squash pie and a no-sugar apple pie. I was in a hurry and multi-tasking, so I did not chop the kale as finely as it needs. cooked kale pieMy other take on this recipe, and I thought this while I was making it and after eating it, is that it needs liquid. Next time I will either puree some of the squash before adding it to the pie, or mix in some squash soup. The crust, however, is phenomenal. I’ve not cooked with coconut oil before (I’ve used coconut milk) and the particular brand I used was very solid (I gather some brands are not as thick). I foolishly put the dough for the top crust into the refrigerator while I was working and it was so thick/dry that it was very difficult to work it. That’s on me, however, not the recipe. The crust is delicious. My husband said it was like eating scones. He broke off edge pieces and munched on them. 🙂 I have to agree. Using the coconut oil for the crust added a dimension to the pie I’d never have imagined. Fantastic recipe (but add some liquid).

The apple pie was also an experiment. I used to make my sugar-free apple pie filling by pureeing raisins with some juice. There is a LOT of sugar in raisins. I had 2 ideas for this year. apple pie closeupI used dried apricots, which have a lot less sugar than raisins, pureed with cranberries and cranberry juice (diet). I misjudged that as it was my first time working with the apricots, and I did not have enough liquid there. I layer the apples, then spread some of the pureed mixture, then sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg, and do the layers again. On the top I put fresh orange zest. It tasted fine, but it needed more moisture. It also was not going to be sweet enough for my brother-in-law, who likes things much sweeter than we do (my husband and I). But we had a great dinner that night – pie for dinner and pie for dessert.

I’ll tell you about the other dishes and the apple-pie remake in another post. 🙂 I’m including the obligatory cat photo. I apologize for the horrible quality but I took it with my incredibly old iPad2 (7 years old already). Had I gotten up to get my camera, WC would have moved and I would not have this picture of her. She’s so cute when she is sleeping. Also QUIET. 🙂
wc sleeping

Thank you

This past week has been a very full week. A bit of an emotional roller-coaster. There were definitely some points in this week that were a bit difficult. Things got better, however, as they usually do when you take a moment to breathe in, relax, breathe out. Many good things began happening, with perhaps the most exciting happening at the very end of the work week. I received some feedback on the work I’ve been doing. *grin* Positive feedback, in case you were wondering. I feel extremely happy and proud. I would even say “validated”.

validationIn my mind, I see a straight progression from the day I first heard about “SL” to the end of this week. The mind is wonderful that way. 🙂 It can make sense out of anything if it so chooses. I was talking with a friend last night, discussing everything. She made the point that I did the work. Yes, that is true. But in my mind and heart – I could do the work and push forward and stay determined because of my friends. Actually – these people were not my “friend” at the point where they reached out and offered a hand. (They are all my good friends today.) I see many people who could have simply shrugged and said “not MY problem” and ignored me. But they didn’t. Each one of these people made what probably seemed like a simply, easy gesture. But to me, the recipient – the combination of each of those little actions was life-changing.

It is so easy to be kind, to be helpful, to be generous. You can’t always see the consequences of your actions immediately. But it could be a life you are saving.

Perhaps you know this nursery rhyme:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

I like the meter, I like the simplicity of the message of that nursery rhyme, but I don’t like that it’s a negative approach. I prefer to phrase things postively.

In response to an email a friendship was born –
Encouragement offered instead of just scorn.
In response to introductions more people were known
Volunteering accepted, a challenge was sown.
In response to distress call an offer was made
A task was completed and yes, “face” WAS saved.
In response to that project a new path was taken
A new life was picked, confidence still unshaken.
And all from the help of my friends.

Gobble, Gobble

Kudos to Michele for FINDING the hats (which do produce a “gobble gobble” sound) and to Bailey for joining me for the fashion show.
turkey-hat

Giving Thanks

Despite a tiny part of me that feels this is too much of a cliche and too dull, most of me embraces taking a moment to acknowledge publicly why I feel truly fortunate to be who and what I am. I am thankful for so much in my life.

For my family – I love you all beyond words. Family is the core of my existence and without you there would be no world for me. Thank you for your love, your support, for being you.

For my friends – you make me smile, wipe my tears, keep me company, share my joys, share my tragedies, teach me about life, celebrate our existence.

For my coworkers – really, you are in the friends category. But this year I need to thank you for rescuing me from the stagnant morass of being a “Stepford Analyst”, as one of you coined many many years ago. Thank you for encouraging me to try something new and helping me learn the way. Thank you for respecting this new passion of mine and letting me incorporate it into my day-to-day responsibilities. I was withering and you brought me back to life. Words cannot express my gratitude.

For my SL coworkers – I’ve never “met” you, probably would not recognize you if we literally bumped into each other in the atomic world. Thank you for encouraging me to join you in your work, allowing me the opportunities to volunteer, learn, grow and enjoy. From teaching me how to login to working the camera to allowing me to landscape to adding me to the support/training teams to answering my simple new-to-VW questions – thank you. You have added immensely to my personal and professional satisfaction and I am honored to count you among my friends.

For my SL friends – oh wow. I’m emotional enough to tell you that by this point in this post there are tears in my eyes thinking of you all. I have friends all over the world – Australia and New Zealand, Germany, UK, Canada, Alaska, California, the US heartlands, the east coast. And probably other places as well. You are so real to me. You are funny, smart, kind, generous, thought-provoking, patient, supportive. I have cried my literal tears in your virtual arms. I have laughed out loud at my computer and your virtual antics. I have loved you and liked you and argued with you. You have given me the opportunity to stretch my emotional, psychological and philosophical boundaries. We’ve gone shopping. We’ve bared our souls. We’ve been totally silly. You are always there. When I count the people who have made my life better, more complete, saner – you are there.

Today as I sit down with my family and friends in RL, the prayer of thanksgiving for having been given life and been sustained to reach this day has never been as heartfelt.

I give thanks for each and every one of you in my life –
Ahuva Heliosense


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