Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm cooking and cleaning and generally getting my Martha on today. Busy trying to cross things off my seemingly endless to do list and really looking forward to the festive meal tomorrow.

I'll be posting a holiday round-up next week. Just popping in to wish all of you and yours a wonderful, joyous, delicious, Happy Thanksgiving! May your cups runneth over and your waistbands be forgiving!

Enjoy the holiday!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes

Here we are staring straight down the barrel of another Thanksgiving. And every year at this time, I find myself asking the same questions: "Who are these people and why must I continue to provide them with nourishment??"

I kid, I kid. These people are my family and I'm happy to provide them with nourishment. The trouble is, my people prefer to take their holiday nourishment in the exact same form every year. Not a single deviation would be welcomed. They want what they want, and the people will have their traditional foods this Thanksgiving ... as they have every other year since the dawn of creation.

Now, that wouldn't be so bad, were I not a food blogger and in need of fresh content! Hello, might we have some lovely crisp-roasted brussels sprouts instead of the green bean casserole? No. No, we can't. So what's a blogger to do?

Provide you with links to my previously posted holiday recipes. Perhaps you're a new reader and you've missed them the first time. Or maybe your people are amenable to a bit of deviation at the holidays. If so, color me jealous. In any case, consider this a "Best of Diva" Thanksgiving style. Enjoy!

Diva Family Thanksgiving Favorites:

Recipe for Make-Ahead Gravy - this one's a time saver and a life-saver.

Herbed Bread Stuffing - my take on a classic.

Cranberry Port Conserve - my all-time favorite cranberry sauce.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread - a seasonal treat with all the warm spices.

Pork Stuffing - a tender recreation of my mother in law's recipe.

So, tell me about your people. Do you switch up the holiday menu? Or are you part of a traditional tribe? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Joy of Cooking: Gingersnaps

Do you read cookbooks like novels? Does your staggering stack of culinary tomes make Imelda Marcos' shoe collection look like child's play? (And, by the way, I'm guilty as charged on both counts.) If so, you're not alone and I have fabulous recommendation for you, its called: Cookbook Lovers Unite. A brand new blog dedicated to celebrating the cookbook whore in all of us.

Cookbook Lovers Unite is a group of bloggers intent on treasuring the joys of the printed cookbook. Anyone can join in the fun and the rules of the group are simple. Twice a month, a theme will be posted on Cookbook Lovers Unite and bloggers are encouraged to make something from, and post about, a recipe from a book in their collection. All recipes must be from a printed cookbook, so no online recipes, word of mouth creations, or - well - you get the drift. Once you've posted, be sure to link your creation to the theme's original post via the linky widget provided. Its just that easy and just that fun. I hope to see you there!

I very much wanted to join the first group theme - Your First Love: Our First Theme - but I've missed the deadline. While I did, in fact, make a recipe from my first cookbook love, I just didn't have time to write about it ... so I'm doing it now. Consider this my way of introducing you to the Cookbook Lovers Unite project.

Cookbook wise, my first love is decidedly classic: The Joy of Cooking (1974 edition). I fell hard and fast for it while deep in the throes of a particularly violent episode of Chicken Pox. I was in my late teens - far, far too old for such an illness - and as such I was really knocked out, just spectacularly sick. Recovery was slow, scratchy, and hopelessly boring.

While doing hard time on the couch, mostly in front of the TV watching the 1984 winter Olympics, I casually picked a well-worn copy of The Joy of Cooking off my mother's cookbook shelf. Instantly charmed by the kitschy, retro illustrations, the book captured my attention far more than I expected; I read it cover to cover. And, more than that, it captured my imagination. I began to envision elegant dinner parties with chic canapes and fizzy punch. Or luscious, long-simmered stews, served bubbling hot from the oven on crisp winter nights. I began dog-earring the pages, creating my imaginary menus and longing to feel well enough to get cooking. Eventually I recovered and, if memory serves, I made my family a meal from Joy shortly thereafter.

I still have and treasure that battered old copy of Joy. Over the years, I've returned to it again and again ... for quiches, pot pies, French bread, and my all time favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. It truly is a classic and I continue to be charmed by its retro tone and whimsical presentation. I mean, c'mon, this edition contains recipes for: moose, beaver, and bear! Its a hoot!

To honor my first love, I decided to bake Gingersnaps. And, for once, I decided to simply make the recipe as directed. This was my first time using this recipe and I wanted to give it a chance before fiddling with it. Though I did add an extra 1/2 tsp. of ginger. Shush, don't tell.

Honestly, these aren't the Gingersnaps of my dreams. They're delightfully crisp, the texture is just prefect, but they're altogether too sweet for my tastes. Next time I will cut back on the sugar and increase the ginger. I intend to play around with it and report back. Stay tuned. Though if you enjoy a sweeter cookie, this baby's for you.

Lastly, as a nod to tradition, I'm presenting the recipe as written in the book. I find the distinct lack of instruction amusing. I hope you will too. Seasoned bakers will know to follow proper creaming / wet /dry ingredient technique here. (Basically, cream your wet ingredients, whisk together and beat in the dry, form the cookies and bake. ) As written this recipe provides only two steps with very little instruction. Given such brevity, its a wonder the book is 787 pages long!

Recipe from the 1974 Edition of The Joy of Cooking
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Mix ingredients until blended. Form dough into 3/4 inch balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes.* As the ball melts down during baking, the cookie develops the characteristic crinkled surface.

Yield: about 10 Dozen 2 inch cookies

* Unless your cookie sheets are old and forlorn, there's really no need to grease the cookie sheets. I didn't and it worked out just fine. Do immediately transfer the baked cookies from the sheet to a wire rack to cool. That is a must!