Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Mother's Stuffing Recipe: Gratitude Entry Number 328

Today, I went for a run while DH hiked. We each had a dog in hand. 
Nary a soul on the trail. 
It was heaven. 
Cool day, crisp breeze off the Mississippi River. 
I logged three and a half miles. Frankie lead the whole way. 
She's now sixteen months old. 
Such a big girl. 
Tomorrow, we sit around the table counting blessings, eating enough stuffing to officially count as an "entire baguette" (per person!) and keeping leftovers in the fridge hoping we (I) won't have to cook again for at least another five days. 
I have had an especially good year (knock on wood). 
No broken bones, still running, no serious illnesses, time with family and friends, etc.
So many more things. But to keep this focused, I thought I'd stick with these few that come to mind.
(There are thirty-seven more days left in this year. I know!)

First of all. . . 
For my husband, and the four-legged kiddos. 
For brioche knitting. 
Learning brioche knitting nearly did me in. 
There were major knitting needle throw downs. 
There were a few hissy fits.
Many knots to untangle.
Because it has taken me FOREVER to figure this out.
 Thankfully, no one was hurt.
I am quite proud of this knitting maneuver. 
Score one for Over Fifty Brain!
There will be more brioche knitting in my future. 
For our sweet little special rescue who loves everyone she meets.
She is our "senior" special needs girl. 
She has taught us many life lessons. 
For time with my sister. 
I don't know where I'd be without her support, unconditional love and simple sisterly wisdom.
Our mother was a kitchen goddess on Thanksgiving.
It was the ONE day of the year we could count on her to really throw down in the food department. 
Until she was too ill to carry on the tradition and a bucket of chicken became our Thanksgiving meal. 
(Those were dark days.)
My mom's stuffing recipe resides in my heart and I make it every year. 
Or some iteration of it.
It's gone through some revisions over the years, but the basic premise of it is the same.
I've noted the ingredients which have become "newly-added":

equal parts celery and onions with a stick of vegan butter cooked until onions soften
(1-2 sticks vegan butter)
two or more teaspoons sage, thyme and rosemary (yes, all of them) 
(not the leaf kind of sage, the powder kind)
bread cubes--like four cups or more
*be sure ALL bread cubes are coated in butter before you add a single other thing
(this is where the nibbling/eating of the stuffing always begins--you must taste it to be sure it has a sage-y flavor)
wild rice (1/3 cup cooked--my new twist)
8 oz. mushrooms chopped (new)
chopped pecans and dried cherries (like a 1/3 cup--also new to recipe)
fresh ground pepper (lots)
a bit of salt
cook all these things together over medium heat until everything sort of smells and tastes amazing
add about 2 qts. veggie stock 
add stock in slow increments over a medium heat until all the ingredients begin to bubble and most of the bread cubes look like they are disintegrating, then add more stock, cook liquid down
turn off heat
pour stuffing into casserole dish
pour a bit more stock over bread cube mixture
bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes

So grateful I watched her make this. 
Thanks, mom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vegan Icelandic Coffee Wreath (because it's time for a little less talking and a little more baking)

I have a great need to be in the kitchen. Baking calms me. It makes getting through the news, the oncoming winter and the holidays bearable. I have to keep busy. Following recipes and pinching and folding dough as in this recipe--it's like meditation. Yesterday I baked cookies. Last week, it was this coffee cake. People can be cruel, life can be dreadfully challenging, heartbreaking and sad, but coping by baking--I don't know why, it seems like the right thing to do now. It won't cure the ills of society, but it fills my soul and gives me perspective on life and simply getting through one day at a time, sharing food to show love--this works for me. You can mix the dough for this pastry in about five minutes before you go to bed. The next morning, you'll need about ten minutes to pull the dough from the fridge, combine the filling and roll the wreath. Let it proof for about 45 minutes while the oven preheats and viola: coffee cake. There is literally nothing in the world I love more with my espresso in the morning than this. I have to keep my paws off it all day long while it sits under the cake keeper on the kitchen counter mocking me. This confection always impresses the husband. 
(Let's be honest, it'll impress anyone.)
The aroma of almond, citrus with cinnamon and nutmeg lingers in the house for about two days after it's been baked. 
Our home smells like early winter mornings when we have this on hand, and I love it.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vegan Potato Kale Cauliflower Soup with Bernard Clayton's Dinner Rolls (let me catch you up on what's happened. . .)

It's soup season. I could eat it year round, but soup's appeal really begins to nestle in my bones around late October and runs all the way through til April. I blame this soup on my sister. She visited last week, and during one of our many "excursions" around town--(and there were many), we stopped in at Foundation Grounds Coffee in Maplewood, Missouri. They have vegan options on their menu! Yay! I had a bowl of their potato kale soup--a very restorative and nourishing break, with a cup of their hot chocolate. So. Good. I couldn't get the soup out of my mind and my food memory backlash wouldn't let go. So here I was yesterday afternoon trying my hand at the same soup, only this time, going into our garden for fresh kale, tossing in some cauliflower we had on hand and aromatics of onion and garlic for good measure. In total this soup has six ingredients give or take. The hands on time is minimal for such a ridiculously good soup. So simple. I needed simple as I am experiencing my first full-on cold. Or maybe it's a light case of flu. Whatever I have, it's rendered me light headed and low-energy. So soup making was something I could handle. Well, and then I craved bread. 
 Never one to ever, ever serve a bowl of soup without crusty rolls or a loaf of bread, I opted for one of my old time favorites: I whipped up a batch of Dinner Rolls from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Small Breads. Love this cookbook. 
When I bake these, I modify the recipe quite a bit to my vegan/whole grain style of baking.  
If you'd like to make these rolls with less "hands-on" time, place all the ingredients in a bread machine. It's much quicker. I make these at least once a week.
They bake up superbly, crusty and are pure heaven. Freeze the left over rolls for the next night.
 (*My god it's taken me an hour to write this first paragraph, cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Brownies (and why I run. . . with Frankie)

The pumpkin craving kicked in and I began a search for what I'd bake. Not that there isn't a billion options with regard to pumpkin. I have pumpkin recipes galore within the hundreds of cookbooks scattered around this house to last me the full month of October and then some. Thumbing through the stacks yesterday, I was sure of one thing, the cinnamon and ginger were coming off the spice racks. Finally. 
I have old recipes cut from magazines stuffed in files as well. Add an internet search on top and I became a "frenzied overwhelmed baker"! 
I finally settled on my direction and ingredients. 
I would go "brownie" with my pumpkin. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vegan Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Rosemary Pecan Cookies (September flew by. . .Milestones and Knitting Markers)

I bake a batch of these rosemary cookies at least once a month--when I remember to trim my rosemary. The cookies are delicious, aromatic and, of course, filled with chocolate. Lately it's been all I can do to keep up with my garden. The late summer heat wreaked havoc on everything from the tomatoes, to the lawn to even the oregano--which tolerates everything. While I was doing some container plant housekeeping I discovered hidden underneath some erstwhile yellow pear tomato plants a little bush of rosemary I had tucked into a container as companion plant with thyme and lemon balm. After trimming back the vines, here was this gorgeous, full rosemary plant flourishing. I pinched off a stem and inhaled the piney aroma. I had to bake something with this now. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Late Summer Reflection

This morning I woke at five a.m. Never happy to be so rudely introduced to a new day, I obliged my body's biological demands (as many women my age do on any given morning), deciding going back to sleep would render me useless. I'd be a wreck the rest of the day for having squandered a perfectly good morning on trying to catch a few extra winks. I love my sleep and am an early-to-bed-girl. 

Mornings are me time. Ever so quietly, I read, I write, I read some more. It was quite beautiful this morning. The full moon was peeking out from behind the clouds in the west, and the sun was barely beginning to rise in the east. I try to keep as quiet as possible for fear of waking the sleeping dogs: 
Let sleeping dogs lie--I remained true.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Vegan Peach Cobbler with Crunchy Muesli Topping (revamped from the Amish. . . and my new "coloring book" obsession)

 I had two bowls of this peach cobbler last night. First bowl was my test picture (does that one count)? I HAD to eat it or the ice cream would have gone to waste. Second bowl was right before bed. No regrets. I have to tell you peaches are one of my most favorite fruits. When this time of year rolls around and my kitchen counters and fridge are full of summer veggies and stone fruits, I am in heaven. Cobblers are one of those desserts that even a non-baker can master. Using an old passed down recipe from my mother's cookbook collection, this cobbler came together in a snap. 
It's ridiculously simple: eight ingredients. No stand mixer required. 


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