Christmas treating begins

December 17, 2017

If it’s Chex mix, it must be Christmas treat time.

I hadn’t REALLY planned to start making Christmas treats yesterday, but as I was attempting to get the kitchen out of the danger zone where the Health Department was likely to come in and condemn it (the struggle is REAL, y’all!) I figured it would be easier to make up some of that stuff than it would be to try to find a place to put it.

So. Chex Mix, candied mixed nuts, and Hot Damn Pickles.

The pickles really needed to be put in to marinate today anyway, to give them time to replace their brine and get nice and sweet-hot before I parcel them out and can them. They win, hands-down, as the simplest treat I make. You get a gallon jug of hamburger dill chips at Sam’s. You dump it into a colander and drain the pickles. Then you layer them back into the jar with the bigger part of a four-pound bag of sugar and an entire bottle of hot sauce (I use Louisiana; your mileage may vary). And you let it sit on the counter for four or five days, then parcel the pickles out into pint or half-pint jars and can them so they’ll be shelf-stable.

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Not making these, but I thought the pic was cute.

It’s that time. It’s time to contemplate Christmas treatmaking. More to the point, it’s time to go shopping for the goodies with which to make the Christmas treats. And then package them up, arrange them in nice little boxes or baskets, and get them ready to give out in the next 10 days.

Gulp. Ten days. That’s…not long. Thank God I’ve got most of my other shopping done.

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I will admit it. I’m a deadline-driven individual. If you want me to do something, give me a date certain by which it needs to be done. Do NOT, ever, tell me, “oh, whenever you get around to it,” because? It is highly likely to be long enough you have forgotten you asked me.

It matters not if this is work or otherwise. I am at present looking at two projects that deadline this month, one of which involves me getting my piece done before the other individual involved can get hers done, the other of which is, well, sizeable. Ideally, I should be through with each of them by the end of next week.

So what did I do today, you ask?

I made spiced pecans.

Now, in all fairness, the pecans didn’t take long, and I’ve been working on both projects, off and on, all day, and I’ll put in a few more hours on them tomorrow, but I still have miles to go before I sleep, as it were.

And the pecans were HERE. And they were PRETTY. And I’ve been thinking for DAYS about holiday treats.

How it is, is, like this. For, I guess, well more than 10 years, I’ve had a friend who gifts me every year a two-pound box of pecan halves from the South Georgia Pecan Co.  Now, these are purely gorgeous pecans. They’re big — an inch and a half long, 3/4 of an inch wide. They’re tasty. Very few of them come broken into smaller pieces. And like clockwork, sometime in early December, in time for all my holiday baking and candy-ing, here they come in the mail.

They came today.

Now, it so happens that I have residing in my freezer some six or seven pounds of pecans I’d bought from an individual here locally, that I’ve been using in my baking and such. And that’ll be nearly-about enough pecans to do me through Christmas and well into next year (I use them in granola, too). And see above comment on how attractive these pecans are.

So I spiced ’em.  Half of them are savory, half of them are sweet. Likely, all of them will be eaten before they ever make it into a treat bag for Christmas baskets, but hey, I guess that’s OK. ‘Tis the season, and all that.

For the savory ones, I used the sauce I always use when I make my Chex mix (which I’d forgotten to put on the holiday make-in list, so I added it). For a pound of pecan halves, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves confited garlic, with its oil
  • 8-10 drops of hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Melt the butter. Use your immersion blender to whiz the garlic with the butter, and add the hot sauce, seasoned salt and onion powder; whiz it again. Pour over the pecans, and stir well to make sure they’re all coated. Pour them over into a parchment paper-lined pan.

In this case, I set them aside until I got the other batch ready. That involved:

  • Separating an egg, and beating the white with a couple of tablespoons of water until it was foamy (not stiff, just uniformly foamy)
  • Adding 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup white sugar, as well as 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 to 1 tsp hot smoked paprika or hot pepper of your choice

Stir that all up, and add a little water if it doesn’t seem thin enough to easily coat the pecans. Add the pecans and stir until they’re well coated. Again, dump out into a parchment-paper lined pan.

Put the pans in a 300-degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes (be sure you use separate spatulas, and keep up with which one’s which). At the end of the 30 minutes, pour the nuts out onto waxed paper in a single layer, if they’re in a thicker layer than that in the pan, and let them cool completely. Package in something airtight and hide them.

Because if you don’t, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em will get into them well before Christmas, and likely before dinner.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

A table full of Thanksgiving goodness. No one left hungry.

It gets harder each year to write this post, as the dishes for Thanksgiving are very traditional and don’t change much. But, here we go.

There were five of us grown folks who shared a farm-raised turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potato casserole (no pineapple, no marshmallows), mashed potatoes, cranberry salad and a relish tray. I have parceled out many leftovers to Kate, who just left headed for home, and the bird carcass is in the Instant Pot rendering himself into turkey stock. The remainder of the bird is broken down into white meat and dark meat, the dark meat to be used next week sometime to make turkey rillettes, which I will can, now that I have a pressure canner. I have enough leftovers I can eat at least today and tomorrow without forethought to actually prepare anything.

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Thanksgiving: The recipes

November 16, 2017

It occurred to me, after looking back at the annual pre-Thanksgiving post, that it would be a worthwhile endeavor if I were to post for you the canonical Thanksgiving dish recipes. Because, well, if you want to follow the canon, you need the instructions, yes?

I may, in fact, have posted these recipes previously (in the case of the cranberry salad and the rolls, I KNOW I have), but hey, repetition is not necessarily a bad thing, and besides, here they all are in one spot.

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The Turkey Day countdown

November 15, 2017

It’s mid-November, which means….

It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving!

Anyone who knows me well knows that Thanksgiving is my very favoritest holiday of the year. I think because it’s such a paean to excess (and ain’t NOBODY loves excess the way I love excess) and good food (and not very many people love good food the way I love good food) and family (and I know lots of people love their families very much, but y’all, mine are just special, that’s all). Besides, it was my mama’s favorite holiday, and that apple did not fall far from the tree.

Well, it did, but over the years, it’s rolled back toward it. I think. I hope.

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Yes, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. But damn, it was good.

It’s September, so it’s time to cook again.

I seriously have not been cooking much in the past month. I’ve been on the road a good bit, and when I’ve been home, I’ve been busy. It’s cooled off a bit, and I’m more in the mood to cook, and there are still plenty of nice, fresh veggies out there to cook, so it’s all good.

Went a little out of my ordinary zone for Labor Day Sunday dinner with the kids, cooking up a big pork roast into carnitas for tacos, with refried beans, Mexican rice, and street corn tomato pie on the side.

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