It's our first Thanksgiving without the boys. Andrew is in New York and Steven is in Boston. Rick and I are going to Linda (of G4 fame) and Richard's. I guess maybe I'm over compensating but it has been great fun making a bunch of stuff, none of which is necessary.
I've been watching Spain On the Road Again so I decided to try to find some Cava that Mario was going on and on about. With bubbly, one needs nibbles and I've been addicted to David Lebovitz's Spicy Glazed Nuts recipe so I had to make some of those. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry except the small pretzel twists (someone must have gotten into them...) and I was too lazy to make a trip to the market. Oh well, a new variation.
I always like to make and eat cranberry chutney, in addition to the more traditional cranberry sauce. One can never have too much cranberry garnish on the great day. I found a terrific recipe for Cranberry Chutney with Chrystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries on Orangette's blog. I made it on Tuesday and I was worried that the ginger was overpowering. I brought some to my Wednesday Quilt Group and Susan and Suze reassured me that it was okay. On a whim, I added some cayenne to a small portion. I tasted both today and the harsh ginger overtones have evened out. I really like the heat from the cayenne.
Originally, Linda had been thinking about making Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie and I was going to contribute a pumpkin cheesecake. When I saw the picture of the pie (from Fine Cooking, Thanksgiving 2007), I begged her to let me make that instead. She made it last year. I made the pastry last night and baked it blind. I got up this morning and made the filling. The recipe seems really good. I am looking forward to tasting it.
Last month, I discovered Clothilde's recipe for Chocolate Frozen Yogurt at Chocolate and Zucchini, another of my favorite food blogs. It is fabulous. I raved about it when our book club met and Robin said, "That's what you should bring for Thanksgiving." It seems a bit like gilding the lily but maybe it will be a comfort to someone. Who said Thankgsiving dinner is the superbowl of meals?
I can no longer buy sprouts in bulk at my local market. They come pre-packaged. So the drill is, search around for the package with the best sell-by date, (were they really $1.50?); take them home; put them in a sandwich or a salad. In a couple of days they seem funky.
New Victory Garden activity: grow your own sprouts in your kitchen! Before kids, Rick was a sprouts grower, hobbyist variety. I found some tops from that era that never got tossed. They work great with a mason jar.
Sprouting is really fun. Measure out about 1 T. of seeds for starters. Place them in a wide-mouth jar (use a jar that holds at least 20 oz.). Cover with about 3 inches of water. Use the appropriate jar top, depending on the size of the seed. Soak overnight. The next morning, drain off the soaking water, rinse, drain, and place the jar at a 45 degree angle in a bowl (so that the water can drain out), in a dark cupboard. Morning and night, for the next 2-5 days (depending on the seeds), rinse and drain, and then return to the dark cupboard. During the last two days of their growth, the sprouts can be grown in the light and they will green up. You can change the jar top as the sprouts grow, using a top with larger holes so that you can flush out seed hulls while rinsing.
After ordering seed from Pinetree, I discovered a wonderful new-to-me health food store, Harvest House, in Concord, CA. They have seeds in bulk as well as all of the sprouting paraphernalia, and a seed mix, Zesty Sprouting Mix, 16 oz. for $4.99. The mix contains radish, crimson clover, fenugreek, and alfalfa seeds.
As soon as I started eating/harvesting the first batch of sprouts, I started growing a second batch. If you wanted to grow the individual seeds to see the differences in taste and germination times, you could have three batches going at once. It's a simple pleasure...
I know everyone says that California only has two seasons: rainy and not rainy. It's just not true. We have been having a glorious autumn. I can't remember such a perfect October. November has been more of the same. We are all worried about the dreaded D-word. We have had two storms, the last of which (Halloween weekend) dumped 3-1/2 " of rain on our garden. It barely moistened the soil. We do need lots more rain but our rainy season is really just starting. The hills are starting to green-up. Many trees are shedding their leaves but the foliage has been spectacular this year. I try not to feel guilty relishing these perfect days. This is a picture of our street. Semi-rural. These are Japanese Maples, Acer palmatum. I am putting them on my garden wish list.