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holidays 2012

Posted Jan 19 2013 5:32pm
Apple, Pumpkin, Pecan & Cranberry Ginger Pear 

Thanksgiving 2012
We had a great feast  On Wednesday (blessedly a half-day of school), I prepped most of dinner and made the pies.  
If you've ever read a woman's magazine, or a cooking magazine, you'll have read the advice not to try something new for a big event.   I knowingly ignored that advice this year, because on a whim I picked up the .  The pecan and cranberry ginger pear pie recipes came from it, and were spectacular.  
But the biggest change was the pie crust recipe.  I've been using the basic pie crust recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book for 30 years now, and it's a fine, fine recipe.  But the Cook's Illustrated intrigued me: chilled shortening and butter, vodka, and a food processor?  Sounds fascinating, so I decided to go for it.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize when I started that what this method absolutely requires is chilling time.  Fortunately, I managed it anyway.  The crust is phenomenally flaky and tender, and I didn't have to worry about over-rolling and gluten developing, because the alcohol in the vodka puts the brakes on that process.  So overall, the new pie crust recipe was a win, but I might just try making my usual recipe with vodka if I don't have time to thoroughly chill the dough.  
I also made the cloverleaf rolls, which were OK.  They had so much butter in them it wasn't even funny, but they just ended up too dense for me.  The family liked them well enough, but for me they were too labor-intensive for the result. 
Now, the turkey:  for the past few years I've been cutting up the turkey and brining the pieces, and then baking it on a flat sheets covered with aromatics (onion, celery, carrots) and a bit of chicken stock to prevent charring.   Here's how it looks going into the oven: 
22 pound bird, ready for the oven   It comes out fantastic in about 2 hours, give or take.  I brush the whole thing with melted butter and roast it 400 degrees. Yum. 
The back roasted while some of the pies were cooking, and then goes into the soup pot.  The soup was awesome, too.
DH says a 22-pound bird isn't big enough.  We were out of leftovers by the third day, which was OK with me, but not with him, apparently.     The kids' Christmas recital was the first weekend in December.  DH's parents came out for a short visit, and we packed a lot of stuff into their few days.  We went to the Luminaria at the Desert Botanical Garden for annual "holiday cultural event" and had a great time.  The kids all played beautifully at the recital, and thankfully we were able to get a good Christmas card photo when they were all dressed up.    This is not the Christmas card photo!  It's on another computer...
Christmas, not coincidentally, was a much more low key affair.  On Christmas Eve we went out to dinner at Baci . We had so much Christmas candy and cookies  from Trader Joe's and my students (a lovely surprise) in the house it wasn't even funnyI decided there were enough sweets so I didn't bake.  I was so busy in the run-up to Christmas that I didn't get a turkey, but settled for a beautiful spiral sliced ham from Trader Joe's (no bad stuff).  I can't even remember the rest of dinner at this point, although I do remember I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and DH picked oranges from our tree and all the kids took turns squeezing them so we could have fresh juice with our breakfast.  It was a lovely day.

Vacation was filled with various appointments for all of us, including the cats.  I'll get my thyroid cancer test results on January 31; all the others have come back just fine.  In spite of all the running around, it was relaxing and restful, and I did only the work that I absolutely had to do.   Isn't that the way it should be?  
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