Coming together, feasting is one of my favorite things of the season. This lovely dinner was hosted and created by two of my sister-in-laws, Leslie & Meghan. And my, oh my, wasn't it lovely? I hope you all have an amazing thanksgiving week, surrounded by loved ones!
Well, my kitchen experiments continue with a chapter on dill pickles. During our dating relationship, my husband introduced me to a very special sort of sandwich—one to which, apparently, every Reavely is particularly partial. As an aspiring Reavely, I was quick to join the pickle-mayo & peanut-butter sandwich enthusiasts. That is, after I overcame my natural skepticism of the Reavely tradition.
I have come to crave these strange sandwiches, typically between the hours of 3am and 6am. Ever since my sister-in-law gave me the book, Food In Jars, I have been eager to test these pickles on our special sandwich! Our late night snacking just got more epic.
If you would like to try your hand at home-made pickles, here is the recipe I used!
i have always strongly disliked dandelions. the feeling would become especially acute every time i found myself in our yard, yanking up bucket-fulls of cheery, hardy looking dandelions. what made it worse was the thought that these new dandelions were simply results of failed previous uprootings.
i set out this spring with a new goal.
i would redeem the dandelion.
so, i did just that this year. i researched the medicinal and dietary benefits of these ground leeches
and was quite surprised to find that they are in fact, a well respected healing herb. it is actually quite beloved.
in my research, i found that the leaves are diuretic, high in potassium and extremely high in vitamin A. i found that the roots are liver-strengthening, blood-cleansing, blood building and are high in iron! redemption complete. i spent the day yesterday washing, chopping and drying a 5-gallon bucket full of this crazy plant.
now, i have expanded my herb shelves by adding new jars full of dandelion tinctures and dried leaves for tea!
The dandelion has been redeemed!
one of the things that i've always wanted to learn to do is make breads. i adore the scent of bread baking. i love the texture of dough. but most of all, i love eating freshly baked bread. that's literally the best part of baking bread at home.
now that i have my own kitchen, bread has been part of my experimentation. pretzels were one of the first fruits. they smelled as good as they looked and tasted as good as they smelled.
if you're like me and find the idea of baking bread items to be rather daunting, try this recipe as one of your firsts. it's a rewarding winner.
if you're interested in the recipe, here it is...
Auntie Anne's Pretzels: Copycat Recipe
Makes 12 pretzels
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
5 1/2 cups flour (give or take 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups warm water
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1. warm milk to approximately 110º (not too hot or it will kill the yeast). Stir in the yeast and let sit for 3 minutes.
2. in medium bowl, mix flour and salt.
3. in separate bowl, mix butter and sugar. add yeast/milk mixture. add flour mixture 1 cup at a time.
5. kneed for approximately 10 minutes. (i used my kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook).
6. place dough in a floured bowl and cover. let rise until doubled (approximately 1 hour).
7. preheat oven to 450º
8. punch down dough and divide into 12 equal lumps.
9. roll each lump out as thin as you can and shape into pretzels.
10. combine baking soda and warm water in a wide dish/bowl.
11. dip each pretzel into the soda/water mixture and place on a nonstick baking sheet.
12. sprinkle with coarse salt.
13. bake for 6 minutes.
14. brush each pretzel with melted butter and serve hot with cheese sauce!
there are so many new things that i am experiencing now that i am married. i am learning to make home. i am learning to host. i am learning that husbands eat a lot of food—this is something that is especially true about my husband. needless to say, i am learning a lot in the kitchen.
my mother-in-law gave me a lovely, hour-glass shaped vegetable to which i could not put a name. i was especially grateful when she went on to explain that it was a butternut squash. excitedly, i took said squash home and set it on my counter and proceeded to have an awkward starring contest with it until i decided to consult
for a plan of execution. that was the ticket. i found a lovely recipe for butternut squash, pear and vanilla soup. i embarked on the journey of crossing territory i had not yet seen before.
here is a simple anthology of my experience.
if it looks like something you'd like to try, here's the recipe...
butternut squash soup with pear, cider and vanilla
makes 4-6 servings
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
3 pears, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup cider
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup bacon, finely chopped for sprinkling on top (optional)
dollop of sour cream for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil and onions in large pot over medium-low heat, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the squash and pears and cook for 10-15 more minutes, until onions soften and become transparent and the pears begin to fall apart.
3. Add the cider and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
4. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
5. Using a blender or food processor and working in small batches (be careful, hot liquids expand), purée until smooth.
6. Return the soup back to the pot, adding the salt and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook until the soup is about one-half to one-third its original volume. The final consistency is up to you.
7. While the soup is reducing, combine the vanilla extract and the half and half in a small saucepan. Gently warm it over low heat, be careful not to boil. Once it begins to steam, remove from the heat and set aside.
8. Once the soup is the consistency you prefer, gently stir in the half and half mixture.
9. Spoon the soup into individual bowls, garnishing with sour cream, cayenne and bacon.