Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One more day.

Until Thanksgiving. We've moved into the cooking zone, where I start making things ahead like breads and pies. I like that zone, or would without a two year old raging around the house that I have to keep an eye on. The cleaning is mostly over, or given up on.

My office/guest room looks like this, which we're going to call 'close enough'.

It's almost done, except some books still need shelved.

Unfortunately, my book shelves look like this:

...I suspect that photo says as much about me as any single photo I've ever taken.

My desk looks like this, but I've given up on it.

Now I'm gearing up to do some cooking. First up is corn pudding, which is so easy it's almost like not cooking. This is the recipe Alton Brown did blindfolded on his Thanksgiving episode. Do yourself a favor, though; if you plan to serve more than two people, double the recipe. The reaction seems to be to eat a piece, say "Hey, this is good" and eat two more. (There is a traditional family corn casserole recipe, but after I tried this one year, I'm not allowed to make it any more.)

Then I'm doing Fruit Brick. This recipe started life as an apple-oat bread recipe in some 'celebrate the holiday' book or magazine or other. I've tweaked it and messed with it for years, and turned it into something totally other; every year I add or substitute something new. This year it's orange zest, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. There's so much room for substitution, I'll add comments in the ingredient list.

*3-4 shredded apples, with peels. I generally use granny smiths, but you can vary the texture and sweetness and moistness quite a lot by your apple choice; a red delicious and three granny smiths is a nice combo. You can grate them with a cheese grater. Look out for seeds.
*2 eggs
*1/4 cup vegetable oil. I usually use decent olive oil, but I've also used safflower and corn. Olive gives it a nice taste. Regular old vegetable oil is bland but it works.
*1/4 cup water
*1/2 cup white sugar, or 1/4 cup honey. The honey tastes much better, but makes the 'bread' even more dense and moist.
*1/2 teaspoon each salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. I play with the spices a lot; nutmeg is really good, so is allspice. Candied ginger would be good too if you go for that. I'm using fresh orange zest this year. Real vanilla bean scrapings are also yummy.
*one handful chopped nuts. Here you can go wild. The recipe originally called for walnuts, but I find them bitter. I usually go with whatever's local, both for interest and because it's cheaper. In Hawaii I used mac nuts. Here, I use pecans or sunflower seeds.
*1/2 handful raisins. You can substitute any dried fruit here, and you can add quite a lot more than half a handful (though take it easy; it's got to fit in a loaf pan). Give it a rough chop first, if the pieces are big, so it's easier to eat. I've used dried apricots before, and dried berries. This year I'm using dried cranberries.
*2 cups flour. Originally called for white, I often use whole wheat.
*2 handsful rolled oats. This can vary hugely, depending on how moist the other ingredients are. If you've got juicy apples and used honey, go up to three handfuls. Otherwise, tweak it as needed.

Toss the shredded apple in the flour and oats, and set aside. Mix together everything else. Fold in the apples and flour/oats. Cram into a metal loaf pan (glass roaylly screws the baking process - I had raw fruit brick one year) and bake at 350 F for an hour to the rest of your life, depending. An hour usually does it, but do the toothpick test (stick something into the cake and see if ooze sticks to it when you pull it out - if it oozes, it ain't done, but this stuff is moist no matter what, so crumbs are okay). One year it took three hours to bake, when I tried making it with applesauce. The year of the glass baking dish, I finally pulled it out semi-raw, sliced it, and put it under the broiler to finish cooking. (I got raves about how good it was, but it was WAY too labor intensive to do again.)


Anybody want a two year old on a rampage?


Anonymous said...

Being single without any kids, I have a rule when I take kids. As long as you can agree to it I'd take her.

As soon as the first person starts crying (could be the kid or me) the kid goes home.

Let me know.

Pam ;-)

Donna Lee said...

I have the opposite problem, no children around. Well, actually Kate is here and she made the pumpkin pies today. I warned her that if she messed them up everyone would hate her but she did ok. Except that she made enough filling for 4 pies. So, we will have fresh pumpkin pie with our leftovers on Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Laural said...

I'll trade you the raging almost 5 y.o. for the 2 y.o. Just give him some Christmas tree cakes and Capri Suns and you will be buds for life.

Pearls Mother said...

Happy Thanksgiving, don't worry the grandparents will soon be there and the Goober will have a whole new audience.

Amy Lane said...

Uhm, you don't want me around the two year old--I'm a bad example. I called the four year old a "pussy whiny bitch" this morning. Within hearing of the teenagers. I'm going to hell--and I'm sorry, but they probably won't let me make Fruit Brick there, which is a shame, because it looks like a good recipe.

Louiz said...

I have a rampaging 2 1/2 yr old, how about swapping?

organizer2003 said...

I'm late to this party...

yum!! That fruit brick sounds very tasty. I'll have to try that this year.

Some questions for clarification:
Do you grease and/or line the loaf pan?

What size loaf pan--8 x 4 or 9 x 5?

While I have metal, I generally use stoneware. Do you think that would create the same problem as the glass?

Many thanks for the recipe!! Hope you've come out the other side of Thanksgiving ok.


Bells said...

I really like the sound of the loaf. A lot. I like the 'handful' measurements.