Monthly Archives: November 2014
Humble Pie by Anne Dimock. Musings what lies beneath the crust. Andrew McNeal Publishing: Kansas City.2005 (2005)
‘The Proust of pie and her remembrance of pies past. ‘
Chapter 11 Thanksgiving Pie
This is a chain letter.
You have been selected to receive this chain letter because of something you did somewhere, sometime, for someone. This act of yours mattered and was remembered with gratitude by the sender of this letter. So for a moment, sit back and delight in the surprise of being remembered for your good works. You deserve it.
This chain letter began in Afton, Minnesota, in November 1993 to celebrate and make personal the spirit and intent of Thanksgiving Day. The chain is no longer confined to November, nor to that little corner of the world where it started. Gratitude knows neither season nor boundaries.
This is not your ordinary chain letter. This chain letter will not bring you good luck. It will not make you rich, nor prevent you from cruel misfortune. You won’t get anything back from this chain letter. It’s not about getting, it’s about giving – Thanksgiving.
Unlike other chain letters, you do not have to send books, money, stamps, aprons, cards, or dish towels to a name at the top of the list. You do not have to respond within seven days or risk a lifetime of bad luck and misfortune. You do not have to weigh guilt or annoyance before hitting the delete key. You do not have to do anything at all; the chain can go on without you. But if you chose to join in, you will cause hundreds more to be thanked for something good they did in their lives. You will sleep better tonight and a friend just might cross the street to hug you rather than only wave. You will have the great enjoyment of knowing that you are part of life’s fabric and have been both the weaver and the tailor.
This pie recipe is to share because pies are important way of saying thank you. Like compliments and recognition, there are never enough good pies, and this one has all the wonder and delight of discovery of a new star. It is not a difficult pie to make. Even if you are only halfway competent in the kitchen, you should be able to pull it off just fine. Try to make this pie and deliver it along with your letter. This recipe was created as part of a traditional Thanksgiving feast, no matter where or when it is celebrated.
To keep the chain going, just copy and send this letter by e-mail, snail mail or hand delivery. There is no list of names to cross off or add to, but there is space at the bottom to write your own personal thank you. Be specific about your appreciation. Send it to no fewer than two people, for surely there are at least two people you are beholden to for something. Start your own branch and see it wind through your family, childhood friendships, teammates, work partners, teachers and coaches, former bosses, even people you don’t know. Do it now while that reckless impulse is still fresh in you. You will never regret it. And you don’t have to stop at two. You don’t have to stop at all.
If the chain is never broken, it may go around the world three times and be translated into fourteen languages, but more important, the simple act of giving thanks will assume a life of its own. And sometimes when least expected, you might receive the letter again, thanking you for a kindness you thought long forgotten. What goes around, comes around. As it should.
With kind regards,
[your name here]
She includes this recipe, but if you have on of your own, that will work, too.
1 (9 or 10 inch) piecrust, prepared or made from scratch
3 apples (like a Mac or other soft, applesauce variety)
1 (12 oz) package whole fresh cranberries
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup walnuts
¼ cup brown sugar
1.4 cup white flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened or cut into bits
½ (or more) teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°
- Prepare pie crust and fit it into a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to make the pie shell
- Peel, core and dice the apples.
- Place the apple pieces in a large bowl with the cranberries and 1 cup light brown sugar; mix well and place into the pie shell
- Chop the walnuts and then add to a bowl with the other topping ingredients with the back of a large spoon to blend well.
- Spoon topping all over the pie.
- Bake at 425° for 20 minutes; lower oven temp to 350° and bake for 30 minutes more. Cover with foil if the topping begins to darken too much.
Rx pp. 91-1. Letter pp.88-90.
‘Under the spreading chestnut tree…’ Longfellow, The Village Blacksmith
Up until fairly recently chestnuts trees were a part of the New England landscape. A fungal blight introduced at the beginning of the 20th century pretty much took all the chestnuts by the 1940’s. The presence of imported chestnuts in time for the holidays is just a shadow of the spreading chestnut tree’s previous presence.
Like in the Fable of The Monkey and the Cat from Aesop, no less
Aesop for Children (1919)
61. THE MONKEY AND THE CAT
Once upon a time a Cat and a Monkey lived as pets in the same house. They were great friends and were constantly in all sorts of mischief together. What they seemed to think of more than anything else was to get something to eat, and it did not matter much to them how they got it.
One day they were sitting by the fire, watching some chestnuts roasting on the hearth. How to get them was the question.
“I would gladly get them,” said the cunning Monkey, “but you are much more skillful at such things than I am. Pull them out and I’ll divide them between us.”
Pussy stretched out her paw very carefully, pushed aside some of the cinders, and drew back her paw very quickly. Then she tried it again, this time pulling a chestnut half out of the fire. A third time and she drew out the chestnut. This performance she went through several times, each time singeing her paw severely. As fast as she pulled the chestnuts out of the fire, the Monkey ate them up.
Now the master came in, and away scampered the rascals, Mistress Cat with a burnt paw and no chestnuts. From that time on, they say, she contented herself with mice and rats and had little to do with Sir Monkey.
The flatterer seeks some benefit at your expense.
But chestnuts were also good roasted – and they still are.
To stuff a roasted Goose or Duck.
….Geese and Ducks are also stuffed with Chestnuts from which the peels and membranes have been removed [and which have been mixed] with Butter.
Rose, Peter, ed and translator. The Sensible Cook.(1683) p. 66.
Evidently FDR also like some chestnuts stuffed in his holiday bird.
Young, small turnips should be cooked in water without wine for the first boiling. Then throw away the water and cook slowly in water and wine, and chestnuts therin, or, if one has no chestnuts, sage.
–Pleyn Delight, #17. (The Menagier de Paris, 1393)
They’re all other ways to say:
‘Pudding in the belly’
Which is, as they say in the 17th century,
“Good Belly Cheer”
If it’s any comfort, even in the 1600’s they sometimes called it stuffing and sometimes called it dressing….and had a few other variations just to cloud the issue even more.
There was not any Stove Top in 1620.
Om een jonge Henne te vullen. (A young hen to farce)
Neemt geraspt Witte-broot/ en 3 harde doren wan Eyeren kleyn gewreven/ met wat geroockt Speck/ geroockt Vleesch/ wel kleyn gesneden/ dan gestoten Folie/ Peper/ Gember/ en een weinigh Saffaraen; en alles wel onder een gheroert/ de Hen daer mede gevult/ dan gestooft met Boter/ Wijn/ Water /gaer zijnde/ wat Verjuys en Saffraen in het sop gedaen/ dan opgerecht.
Rose, The Sensible Cook. p. 62-3.
and now in modern English
Take a grated White-bread, and 3 yolks of hard-boiled Eggs, mashed fine, with some (smoked) Bacon, and (smoked) Meat, chopped very finely, then ground Mace, Pepper, Ginger, and a little Saffron; all well stirred together, the Hen is filled with this, then stewed with Butter, Wine, Water. When done some Verjuice and Saffron is added to the broth, and then it is served
The word “smoked” (geroockt) exists in this context in Dutch in 1627. English meat, similarly prepared, seems to be referred to as “hung”; the term “smoked” isn’t used until the end of the 17th century. Although the effect is the same, the intent, at least in England, was not to flavor, so much as dry, the meat. kmw
and now perhaps in modern English:
Stuffing recipes are really hard -most stuffing isn’t a recipe…..
6 cups of bread crumbs (I pulsed good bread through the blend, and kept some of it a little chunky, I like some texture)
3 hard boiled egg yolks (snack on the whites because the smells of this coming together may make you a little peeked
1/2 a pound of smoked bacon, diced
14 oz smoked kielbasa or other smoked sausage (14 oz is the size of the package – it’s not a magic number)
Mace – the spice:
also Pepper and Ginger. Saffron if you can afford it. Total spice might be about a tablespoon. It should have some smell over the meat. The bread absorbs a lot of flavor, so don’t be afraid.
Because every other stuffing/dressing etc from the 17th century I looked at called for it, I added 3 whole eggs, beaten, a 1/2 stick melted butter and then some broth to moisten it. A little wine would not be amiss at this point, especially since I don’t know anyone who is boiling their Thanksgiving turkey….although……
The broth I bought that I’m loving this November
Put the whole batch in a buttered 9′ casserole and bake, covered for 1/2 hour at 350º and then 1/2 hour uncovered.
It’s easy. Really.
Flour. Water. Salt. Leaven.
And you can do it on whatever your schedule is.
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François . If you don’t know them, let me introduce you. They have a blog on their website. They have a book for Gluten Free. They have another for pizza. And one for whole grains.
You mix up the dough once, toss it in the fridge, and take out a lump to bake when you need it.
Further back in time, back in the dim, dark ages of the 20th century, Laurie Colwin had written of a similar approach, but in essay form, and I had tried it and then forgot. AB5 has step by step instructions and photographs and is perhaps the most basic of basic bread dough making that I have ever read. And I read a whole lot about bread and dough.
So, stop reading already – go make some dough!
The Master recipe is on the website… I’ve got loaves to form, see ya soon!
And where else would Top Chef prep that but in …
click and watch the preview—–
and when you’re watching Wednesday night, IF you happen to see the Pilgrim Sarah Jenney…..
Because nothing say Thanksgiving like Cranberry-Sage Vinegar….
It’s kind of exciting this time of year when you begin to really feel that the holidays are just around the corner. I hate the spending of money, but I love the gift giving — and I especially love giving hand made ‘delights’ that are tailored to someone’s specific tastes!
One of the first herbal concoctions I ever made was an herbal vinegar, and I thought this one would be especially nice to share for the holiday season. The use of cranberries in this vinegar turn the color a wonderful crimson red and sage adds a “seasonal taste”. Great for use with fruit salad, chicken salad, greens (cooked or raw), etc.
As shared by Rita Richardson in The Herb Quarterly (www.herbquarterly.com):
Cranberry & Sage Vinegar
1 cup fresh cranberries
7-8 fresh sage leaves (or dried whole leaves)
1-2 bottles rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
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This is the time of year that my thoughts turn to
There’s nothing like the days growing shorter to make me want to be out in the sun. Or at least in a sunny window. And so it is in November that I really want to garden. Maybe I’m just living in the wrong hemisphere, or maybe it’s just my contrary nature, or maybe I just need some dirt not covered by snow and ice.
This year, I will really and truly try to garden indoors. Again.
But I don’t have the best track record.
- I tend to feel sorry for the poor pitiful specimens in the grocery store, most of which were a deep breath from dust before they got off the truck, and so I bring them home….at least with herbs they can be used dried…..and thus I continue my long tradition of The Dead Plant Society collection.
- OR I forget that since I live in a well shaded yard, and that even when the leaves drop from the trees, it’s still dark by photosynthesis standards.
- OR that the brightest windows are often the draftiest windows and plants don’t like to grow in Arctic breezes, it’s not just the snow that gets them down.
- OR that the first killing frost or the first snow are past the point to dig something up from outside and bring it in. And definitely the too-late mark for looking for a shovel or a pot or a bag of potting soil….
- OR I try to start seeds without supplemental grow lights and the shortest days of the year are not long enough for any good germination.
- AND I forget that artificial heat, even at the low levels I keep it at, dry out the pots Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah quick
- And then Michael Tortorello has a great story on Kitchen Gardens in the New York Times. I am inspired all over again. I have sorrel and thyme already in, and I have vowed not to buy anything in the grocery store, but rather wait for the Plymouth Farmers Market and buy only actual plants and not dried herbs that still have soil attached…And I have not 1, but 2 pieces of ginger root that have sprouted…Shades of The After-Dinner Gardening Book!
Have a wonderful day!