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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hometime Georgia!

Time off is  a wonderful thing isn't it?? I'm almost positive it was necessary for our mental health this month, as so much has been swirling around in our world. We're coming into the full swing of fall with colder temperatures, holidays, get togethers, and more work! Finding time in everyday life to slow down and reconnect with our families, is a delicate balancing act. One of the ways I find to do this is with cooking. When we do have time off I can guarantee a full table of folks, for most of the stay, and find its the perfect forum for trying and perfecting holiday recipes. A dry run of sorts that can give you an excuse to take some time out of your busy schedule for a Sunday dinner, an impromptu Wednesday evening, or a Saturday night event. I'm going to give y'all a peek of what I was up to while I was home last week, and a couple of favorite no fail recipes that are an excellent finish to any meal.

The picture above comes from Saturday night. We had a dinner party that extended well into Sunday afternoon, with family and friends that was a really good time had by all. Herb and peppercorn crusted pork loin, roasted baby red potatoes, collard greens and blackeye peas from our local farmers market, veggie  and cheese trays, relish plates, and pumpkin pie graced our table. Sunday morning came along, and with it caramel sticky buns, Skyy vodka bloody mary's, fried potatoes, a mountain of thick bacon, and scrambled eggs with cheese topped off the food coma that I placed everyone in.
These sticky buns are a labor of love, they take time and patience and are made in my house to celebrate the joy of cooking for those we love. I will post the recipe for this in a future blog on brunch, but for now, enjoy the idea. The time will come soon enough that we'll tackle that project. The bottles of red wine, the Guiness, and the cocktails flowed freely; and I had several people floating in and out of the kitchen, helping, hindering and grabbing a cold beer. Most people don't relax this way, but I certainly do! I just wish Mom and Gramma couldve been there, it would've been more perfect.
This pumpkin pie has been raved about as "the best pie I've ever had in my mouth" (Steve Almasy), and is so easy anyone can put it together! I dislike making pie crust immensly, but Paula Deen has a no fail recipe that I like, if I am up to making crust at all, that you can access here. http://www.pauladeen.com/article_view/pie_dough_how_to/. However, your girl cheats and does use the Pillsbury brand ready made rolled up variety that you can purchase in your local grocery store's dairy section. Flute the edges and go! Here's my take on a traditional favorite, that's sure to please the masses.          
Pumpkin Pie
Ready made pie crust or Paula's no fail crust recipe
1 can Libby's brand pumpkin
3/4 c dark brown sugar
2 lg eggs
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I love fresh ground!)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 to 3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
(no cloves or allspice in my version)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and proceed either rolling out your pie crust or placing it into a 9" pie plate. Flute your edges and place it back in the refrigerator to chill while mixing the rest of the ingredients. In a large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, eggs, condensed milk, heavy cream, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and mix well. Pour into prepared pie crust and place into the oven on a cookie sheet(to catch spill over, just in case) for fifteen minutes. When the timer goes off, lower the temperature to 350 degrees, and set the timer for an additional 45-50 minutes. You'll know when it's done by the golden brown crust and the center will not "jiggle". A toothpick inserted of the center of the pie will come away clean. Serve warm with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1 c  heavy cream
1-2 T confectioners sugar (to your taste) 
1+ tsp Watkins double strength pure vanilla extract (to your taste)

Whip cream, sugar , and vanilla on medium to high in a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overmix, or you'll have butter. Refridgerate leftovers for up to 24 hours.

There was time during the first part of the week while the weather was chilly and damp to make homemade challah bread. This is a favorite of my family that goes back several generations. I pulled this recipe out of a book that had made it's way onto my shelf all the way from Duluth Minnesota, The Temple Sisters of Israel. Amazing texture, egg richness, and great presentation, lent to wonderful sandwiches, superb French toast, and delectable croutons. When I get back home I'll make sure I publish this recipe, because while it was a little labor intensive, the results were unmatched and the ease of instructions and simplicity of the recipe made it a breeze to make. Make sure you leave a comment if there are any other recipes you'd like to see featured here or I can always send them direct.
 I think the whole point was to really tell y'all that when you take the time to do something you love for the people you love, that the world seems less dire. You forget for a moment that there are bills to pay, and errands to run, and work to be done, and revert to a simpler time and state of mind. Everyone needs to slow down sometimes and just savor the moment. I certainly did. It made coming back out here on the road to run thousands of miles a week a lot easier to bear, knowing what's waiting for me at home the next time I'm there. Until next time, eat well, laugh often, and drive America's highways safely.

gypsy gourmet