Saturday, November 29, 2008

McDaniel Family Cornbread Dressing

This is the recipe exactly as it was handed down to me by my mother-in-law, who received it from her mother.....

One or two nights before you are going to cook a turkey, cook a pan of cornbread, and eat no more than four pieces:
Corn Cake
Beat 2 eggs. Stir in:

2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups corn meal
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt

After this mixture is blended, lightly stir in 6 Tbsp. Saffola or corn oil. Do not over-stir.
Pour into buttered 9 x 13 pan. Bake 25 minutes in 450 degree oven, or just until set.
Let the leftover cornbread sit, uncovered, until the next day. Then break it into a large bowl. You can crumble it up, because it will do that during the mixing anyway.

Slice a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread, 2 or 3 slices at a time. Stack the 3 slices up and cut them into small cubes (about crouton size). Add them to the cornbread, a few slices at a time, until the mixture is about half-and-half (perhaps a little more cornbread). This takes about 2/3 of a loaf of bread.

Finely dice one very large onion, or two onions. Add about the same amount of finely diced celery (about 3 large stalks). Saute this carefully in about 6 Tbsp. butter (no substitutes) until onion is transparent and celery is not crisp. Now, you can either put this mixture into the bowl with the breads, or you can blend it first. After blending, stir it through the bread mixture thoroughly. It will make the mixture quite moist.

Spicing the dressing: This should be done a little at a time, stopping now and then to check the aroma of the dressing, and perhaps taste a cube. Sprinkle on ground sage and also poultry seasoning. Use more sage than poultry seasoning. You can also sprinkle on a tiny amount of pepper. But there is pepper in poultry seasoning, so be careful. After you have sprinkled and tossed and tasted until it is right, then add turkey broth one tablespoon at a time. If the dressing seems moist and clings together, don't add any broth. Too much moisture will make it unappealing. One more word about spices: the flavor increases with cooking, so stop before it seems strong.

The recipe doesn't say how long to bake it or at what temperature because it was always used to stuff the turkey. I like to cook it in a separate pan, uncovered, at about 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, so the top gets nice and crunchy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Here's what my Christmas Dinner table will actually look like. I think this is a better shot than the one that appeared in the News-Review's Home for the Holidays insert. They did not tell me ahead of time that they wanted me in the picture!
For Thanksgiving it's a bit simpler. My parents and my brother joined us for the traditional feast...

Roast Turkey with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Green peas
Fruit Ambrosia
Candied Yams
Featherlight Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Charleston Poundcake

Conspicuously absent is the Cranberry Sauce! We were busy celebrating my husband's birthday Wednesday evening, when my son and I would normally be making our Homemade Cranberry Sauce. I thought I'd be up in plenty of time to make it Thursday morning and still get it chilled before dinner, but when I went to the freezer I discovered I was out of cranberries! I had dehydrated the last of them to use in the salad I made for our Think Local Umpqua Benefit in October.

A quick call to my mom and she assured me she had some canned sauce she would chill and bring with them, but, alas, it was forgotten. We survived just fine, but I will definitely be restocking my supply of Bandon cranberries before Christmas!

After dinner we took turns answering "if" questions my son had hidden under each place setting. I had picked up a copy of If...(Questions for the Game of Life) by Evelyn McFarlane & James Saywell at a used book store in Sutherlin last week. Here's a sampling of some great conversation starters:

If you could find one thing besides money in your attic, what would it be?
If you could put one sentence in the U.S. Constitution, what would it say?
If you could go back in time to observe any event from history, what would it be?
If you had to be represented by an object in your house, what would you choose?
If you could easily visit one known planet, which one would you go to?
If you could have freshly cut or picked flowers delivered to your home each week, what type of flowers would you choose? (I said sunflowers.)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Local Toffee Makes a Great Gift

Donna Holm of Glide, Oregon makes delicious hazelnut toffee! It is the perfect consistency--not too brittle, not at all sticky--a perfect crunch to it. This is a great local gift idea for your friends and family with a sweet tooth. Click on the flyer to enlarge it for details on ordering. And don't forget to order at least one bag for yourself!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pain au Levain with Cranberries and Pecans

This is one of the loaves we mixed, fermented, shaped and partially proofed on Wednesday. It finished proofing in the refrigerator overnight and was baked Thursday morning.

Baking in a preheated Dutch oven traps in all the steam, giving the loaf a beautiful, crispy crust. The formula is straight from Daniel Leader's book, Bread Alone, though we substituted dried cranberries for dried cherries.

Homemade Egg Noodles & Pasta

Homemade Egg Noodles

Beat until very light:
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Then beat in:
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt

Stir in and then knead in as much of 2 cups flour as you can. You can use all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour or a blend.  This makes a fairly stiff dough. Knead until smooth, 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also make this in a food processor. Put 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the work bowl. Beat the egg yolks, egg and water together and add through the feed tube with the machine running. Add additional water or flour one tablespoon at a time to reach the correct consistency, then let the machine run for about 30 seconds. Turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.

After kneading, cover the dough and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.

If you don't have a pasta machine, just cut the dough into 3 or 4 pieces and roll each one as thin as possible on a lightly floured board or counter. You want it almost transparent. Let dry a bit before cutting into desired shapes.
If you have a pasta machine, cut the dough into egg-size pieces and cover with a towel to keep them from drying out while you work. Run one piece through the widest setting of the pasta machine. Fold in half and run through again. Repeat several more times, lightly flouring it if necessary, until the sheet of dough is smooth and not sticky. Change the notch on the machine to the next setting and run the dough through without folding. Continue to change the setting and run the dough through until it is the desired thickness, generally about 1/16 inch, number 6 on my machine. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Let the sheets dry a bit before cutting by machine or by hand into wide noodles, fettucine or spaghetti. Place in soft bundles and air dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking or 24 hours before storing. You can speed this up in a dehydrator( 30 to 60 minutes, depending on thickness at about 145 degrees). Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water. The time will depend on how long they have dried, but check after just 3 or 4 minutes.

This egg pasta can also be used to make ravioli, tortellini or it can be cut into rectangles, dried and used for lasagne. No need to cook it before assembling the lasagne!

Store thoroughly dried noodles in ziploc bags or glass jars at room temperature or in the freezer. I usually make enough in November for Turkey & Noodles after both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also like fill cellophane bags, tie with raffia and give them as gifts for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bread Baking Day

I spent the day doing some one-on-one breadbaking instruction with a new friend. Pictured above are Almost No-Knead Bread (left) and Pain au Levain (right) that were baked in a Dutch oven and in the back is a loaf of Pain au Levain that was baked directly on the baking stone, using a spray bottle for steam (not as pretty, that's why it's in the back).

Below are some panned loaves of Power Bread (ground raisins, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds) going into the oven. The four loaves of Pain au levain with Dried Cranberries and Pecans are finishing their proof in the frig and will be baked in the morning.

I still have egg noodles to make tonight for our What's for Dinner? class in Sutherlin tomorrow!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And the winner is...........

Well, actually there are two! The first name I drew was someone from my hometown and I will deliver it personally. Since I won't have any shipping expense and because I can mix two cakes at once in my Bosch mixer and bake two cakes at once in my oven, I decided to draw another name just from the out-of-town readers.
Sooooooooooooo..... the winners are.....
Kim Turner of Roseburg
Aura Lee of Coos Bay
Thanks to all of you who entered and sent encouraging words!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cake Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter my Reader Appreciation week contest! Only two more days to enter.

The Scoop on Local Walnuts

Local walnuts are ready at Cleveland Rapids Orchards in Garden Valley (553 Cleveland Rapids Rd., 673-5660). Ray and Kaye Lehne harvested 16 ton of Hartley walnuts from their orchard this year, down from last year's 30-ton crop, but still a good year. Hartleys are a less acidic variety so if walnuts tend to make your mouth sore, these would be a good choice. The nuts have already been dried and sorted. They are available in three sizes: medium for $.90/lb., large for $1.10/lb. and jumbo for $1.25/lb. You can purchase the medium size cracked for you for $1.00/lb.

I opted for a 25 lb. bag of the jumbos and plan to spend the evening in front of the fire, cracking walnuts while we watch the election results come in, all cozy in my hand-knit, red, white & blue, non-partisan, Get-Out-The-Vote sweater! The sweater is an Election Day tradition with me; perhaps cracking walnuts will become a tradition too.

Kaye said I can expect to get about 43% nutmeats by weight from the jumbos. I will keep track so I can compare the cost per pound to buying walnuts from the grocery. Of course, there is no comparison in quality, freshness or flavor! For storage, I will get them cracked and into the freezer as soon as possible, but they will keep in the garage in the shell all through the winter and early spring.

Cleveland Rapids Orchards should have walnuts available for the next 2 to 3 weeks, but if you want a particular size I suggest you get out there soon.