Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I hosted Thanksgiving again this year and it was a very quiet affair after all the excitement of my 30th Birthday celebration (which was awesome, by the way).
For dinner, I had Mom, Dad, Steve, Matt, Jan, and Neil over and we made all the usual dishes such as creamed onions, potatoes au gratin, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie (which Matt made with my eggs), and pan fried brussel sprouts. I did try two new recipes this year, one being chocolate mousse!
I was easier than I thought it would be. It turned out to be a little rich, so I think I'll reduce the amount of chocolate next time. I got the mousse dishes at the Red Bench for $6.95 for a set of four- score!

The other new recipe was for a stuffed, rolled pork loin wrapped in prosciutto roasted on apples. This was also easier than it looks, especially since I had the help of Mom and Dad in the kitchen. Mom made the stuffing and Dad layed out the prosciutto on wax paper for wrapping. We dressed it the night before, so all I had to do on Thanksgiving was pop it in the oven- Totally painless!

Here they are, ready to go into the oven.

Here's the picture of what the loin was supposed the look like off the cover of Bon Appetite magazine...

And here is what it looked like at my house! Not bad for trying out a new recipe, I must say.

It was juicy and delicious; the apples and prosciutto helped keep it moist. The only think I would change if I made it again is to only halve the apples instead of slicing them into wedges. I think they would have held their shape better.

Thanksgiving was wonderful and I'm looking forward to Christmas!

My Vacation

I took some time off starting on my Birthday and used the time to finish up some canning projects!
First- harvest my leeks! We've had a couple of freezes, which makes them sweeter, so they were ready to come out of the ground. I grew these from seed and was pleased with my modest harvest. They'll go in soups all winter long...

Next- pickle more Brussels sprouts! Because 13 jars aren't enough!

I also had a chance to break in the new Pressure cooker I got from Mom for my birthday! It cooked a 4lb. beef roast in an hour! I'm looking forward to trying out lamb in it next!

Finally- Can this year's cranberry sauce supply! I made 25 jars after getting two monster bags from Costco (I'm learning to love that place). There are several jars already on their way to California with Mom and Dad!

Matt's Birthday

For Matt's 26th birthday, he wanted to go to the Portland Japanese Garden. I had always wanted to go and never had, so I was really looking forward to seeing it in all its Autumn glory. It did not disappoint! After a wonderful lunch at Wildwood and a quick stop at City Market, we headed up into the hills to the Garden. It was crisp, but not raining and the maple foliage was absolutely dazzling!
We saw every fiery shade of red to orange and yellow as we walked along the paths.

Then, we sat and admired the quiet beauty of the "rock lake"

and admired the clean simplicity of the rock garden...

and enjoyed the sound of running water and watched the sluggish koi swimming to the surface.

It was spectacular- fall is such an amazing time to visit the Japanese garden. It was quiet and not very crowded. There was a feeling of stillness as if the garden was going to sleep...

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's Up?

A lot! I'm always surprised at how busy I am every fall. When the weather starts to get colder and the days get grey and gloomy, I always want to just curl up in flannel pj's and listen to the rain beat on the roof. BUT, there always seems to be numerous things I have to attend to and get ready before finally settling in for winter. First, there's Halloween; my favorite holiday. I didn't decorate this year, but had lots of fun chilling with Nicole while we handed out 1oz. bags of Kettle chips instead of candy! I have lots left over if anyone's interested...

Fall is also a great time to work on Christmas projects since it starts to get dark so early. My latest: hand blown eggs from my chickens! It's so easy and yet leaves you with a very pretty product. I tend to think that the natural colors of the eggs are so pretty, that they don't even need dye. Hopefully, they will grace the Christmas trees of all the people I love this holiday season.

October is also the time to start thinking about bulbs! I've planted irises (bearded and dutch), daffodils, and tulips in all the little nooks and crannies in the backyard. I also ordered my garlic online and planted 10 heads worth in this little spot I cleared:

Fall is also a time of clean-up. I tidied up and organized the greenhouse so it's all ready for starting seeds come February. Got the hoe, shovel, and rake cleaned up and stored in the garage. Potted up my strawberry shoots and picked the last of my tomatoes. On the list for this weekend: harvest the leeks and celery!

Since the tomatoes were so late to ripen this year, October was also the month for making lots of good tomato sauce. I made plain as well as seasoned, both of which are frozen in large recycled yogurt containers. The possibilities are endless...

Fall is also the season for pears, Brussels sprouts, and apples! Nicole and I trimmed Brussels sprouts while watching a movie and handing out chips on Halloween. We had eight stalks done in no time! I pickled 13 jars worth last night and I'm wondering if that's going to be enough...

Nicole and I also collaborated on applesauce, spiced apple butter, and a new apple/ pear butter recipe.

This food mill came in so handy! Thanks Mom for this great gift!

Glad we made so much apple butter at once- it takes forever to cook down!