Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Orange Foods and Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It's food focused and doesn't carry the stress of the winter holidays (for me, at least). I managed to come home for most of the six years that I didn't live in Denver, with a few exceptions. To me there is nothing better than crowding around the table with family, friends, and a delicious meal.

I was in charge of orange foods this year. My Dad assigned yams to me and I ended up making a pumpkin pie. For the past few years we have eaten my aunt's pumpkin cheesecake instead of pie, but there were a few traditionalist in the bunch who requested pumpkin pie. I'll never pass up an opportunity to bake pie.

I'm not going to write up all the recipes because I found them all on the internet. And, it is sort of silly to do a full Thanksgiving recipe write-up after the fact, no? So I'll just show photos and links.

This is the recipe I used for these lovely yams. I almost doubled it and added more maple syrup than called for, but not enough to make them cloyingly sweet. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

This is the recipe I used for the pie. I roasted my own pumpkins because I love to roast things, and because I think it tastes better. Really, it's just more fun that way.

I was very happy with this pie, even though there were a few hiccups along the way. I mixed the batter in the Kitchenaid and I found it's one flaw. The beater attachments doesn't reach the bottom of the bowl. After I had nearly filled the pie I realized that there was a pool of sugar in the bottom of the mixing bowl. I carefully ladled the filling back out of the crust and into the bowl and gave the mixture a good stir before pouring it back in. Also, the filling was really thin and I was convinced that it wouldn't set, but it did.

I had some extra filling and crust so I made us a little mini pie for lunch in my muffin tin. I forgot to snap a photo of the pie after it was baked, but I did take a picture of the mini pie.

The crust was heavenly!!! I always have trouble with pie crusts--too dry, too wet, not cold enough. This one mixed up easily and rolled out perfectly. And it was all butter so it had much more flavor than a crust made with shortening. Not quite as flaky, no, but I'll take flavor or flake any day.

I had a delightful day roasting, mashing, mixing, and baking, and eating.

This is only a small piece of the dish carnage...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Digs

Where have I been? Um, working a few jobs, look for full time employment, enjoying the first snow, and moving into a lovely new apartment with an old someone who decided to brave the Colorado cold for me after all.

We searched Capitol Hill high and low for apartments and saw a great many. We were looking for apartments that we could afford in which we could both live comfortably, as in not on top of each other, and with a little character. And I was obviously scrutinizing every kitchen, imagining where things would live and where I would chop. We are lucky in Denver because most houses and apartments are plumbed for gas, meaning most properties have gas stoves. I actually ruled out several apartments because they had electric stoves. Ha! What luxury! PDX, eat your heart out!

So this is the lovely kitchen we ended up in. I love the tile floors, the vintage cabinets, the short fridge (?!), and, of course, the gas stove. I've cooked quite a few things and even baked some bread and am quite happy with it. Running the oven makes the whole apartment feel like a sauna, and it does make some scary big flame type noises, but I don't care, I love it!!! The kitchen window is south facing and we get tons of natural light (sunlight! in winter!) throughout the day.
I am also now a proud owner of a vintage KitchenAid Mixer! My aunt had it for years (I think she got it from her ex-mother in law) but never used it because it was stored out of sight in a low down cabinet. Let me tell you, those things are beasts to pick up. So it lives on my counter with la Virgen de Guadalupe watching over it. I've only used it once (to give the bread hook a whirl) but I foresee lots of happy mixing in my future.

The only downside to this kitchen is that there is no dishwasher or garbage disposal, things that I had gotten quite used to. It actually hasn't been as tough as I imagined, although I am a bit appalled at how much food goes into the trash (trimmings, etc). With a disposal I never saw how much accumulated over a few meals. I would like to compost but how does one compost in a one bedroom apartment? If you know the answer, please tell me.

I'm feeling very inspired by my new kitchen and look forward to some blogworthy eats. And now that there's a reliable (not crappy) camera in the house I think I'll post more. (Truly, the photography block is the reason I don't post more.) I have a few pounds of roasted green chilies in my freezer and some pretty good ideas...