Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Saturday, December 3, 2011

pan gravy for turkey

over the years i have tried various turkey gravy recipes.  one of the most important steps to making pan gravy seems to be using the savory drippings from the turkey pan.  so, i always do that.  another important step to the process is making certain the pan is hot on the stove, prior to adding any liquid to the gravy.  i usually use two burners for the large roasting pan.  also, it is important to remove the turkey fat from the drippings prior to mixing the pan gravy.  a gravy separator works wonderfully for this step.  i also use instant wondra flour for this process, as it seems to blend much smoother than other flours.

to start the process, remove the turkey from the roasting plan and slice for the platter presentation.  i usually cover the platter with foil and place in the oven to keep warm.  then, add about 3/4 cup of chicken stock to the pan and bring up to a brisk simmer.  i use a flat whisk to scrape the pan.  next i mix 1/4 cup of flour in more chicken stock, about one cup.  when thoroughly mixed, i pour this slowly into the simmering mixture on the stove, while whisking.  then, add seasonings to taste.  i used a splash of pink salt, ground pepper, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  the gravy could be strained if desired.  serve with turkey, dressing and any type of potatoes.

this platter features sage and thyme leaves cut from my garden earlier in the morning.

heart shaped pancakes

i am a huge fan of cooking pancakes in different shapes. last year, i served ghost and cat pancakes for halloween.  everyone seems to love a special touch to a classic breakfast food.  here are the standard blueberry pancakes, served with a bit of powdered sugar and a few raspberries on top.  no syrup is even needed. 

surprise your guests with this twist on a classic easy recipe.  these heart shapes were filled with love.  : )

ice cream

for thanksgiving this year, i decided to serve a simple dessert.  vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and chopped nuts.  after watching a month of television shows highlighting pies, cakes, tortes, and other fabulous desserts, i decided to offer a simple dessert instead.

i had no complaints.  in fact, my family wanted to even wait a couple of hours before having the featured sweet.  simple fresh vanilla ice cream with sander's caramel sauce, topped with a few chopped nuts was not only delicious, but the perfect dessert for this year's celebration.  don't be afraid to serve the obvious, often guests love an old favorite.

fresh mozzarella

for a variety of dishes or as a stand alone cheese with summer sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella should be a regular choice for weekly grocery shoppers.  this mozzarella cheese is nothing like the processed shredded cheese that most grab as they run through the grocery aisles.

this fresh cheese is moist, flavorful and melts beautifully in many Italian recipes.  since this is a fresh product, once the seal on the cheese container is opened, the cheese must be used within a few days.  this product does spoil rapidly, which gives thought to what must be added to that shredded product often used.  it seems that cheese can last for months in the refrigerator.

consider trying the fresh mozzarella when preparing baked pasta dishes or pizza.  this fresh product also pairs nicely with ham, olives and crostini.


for my fellow tea lovers out there, i have found another brand of tea that is just wonderful.  teaosophy tea is provided in perfect sachets and is hand harvested when the leaves are young and tender.  the company has a commitment to quality and offers a wonderful selection of many of the old time favorites.

this box is an assortment and can also be used as a tea caddy when serving at an informal gathering.  allowing guests to brew their own tea bags offers them the choice for light, medium or dark blending. the box shows the region where the tea was harvested and offers other information for tea lovers.

for more information or to order teaosophy, follow this link:  http://www.teaosophy.com/about/

breakfast grapefruit

on a recent visit to the grand hotel on mackinaw island, Michigan, i was served my breakfast grapefruit this way.  i photographed the serving plate, as i wanted to remember how lovely the grapefruit looked and tasted that morning by the water.

with the grapefruit sectioned, one corner of the plate offered a tablespoon of brown sugar, another corner had a few blueberries, and the third corner a few chopped strawberries with a mint leaf. just perfect.

fruit and cheese

not too long ago, i hosted a wine and cheese party.  i offered the guests several selections of fruit and cheese along with a variety of crackers, toasts, and other types of small breads.

here are a couple of serving ideas for mixing cheese and fruit.  this tray offered Havarti with dill and Jarlsberg cheese with grapes, blackberries, and seckle pears as tray accents.  the pears could be also sliced for serving.  these smaller pears are sweet and delicious. they are almost bite-sized and very juicy.

another platter had champagne cheddar and raspberries.  the combination of fruit and cheese has been a standard for many years, and of course, with the addition of wine, the parings are suburb.

here is a photo of one of the tables during the set up process.  this cheese offering features cheddar with melon and cranberry relish.  one of the cracker trays is also featured in this photograph.

another plate offered gouda with almonds, olives and nut bread. 
i have found that a successful wine and cheese party offers many choices, and if the cheeses are paired with other familiar fruits or savory tastes, guests enjoy combining the flavors and trying new selections.

molasses spice cookies

while i had my old recipe file out, i found this recipe from Southern Living, October 1996.  these are wonderful cookies which are also easy to make, and can be made to be just the perfect size to accompany ice cream.

combine 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and set aside.

in a stand mixer, place 1/2 cup brown sugar ( i used dark brown), 1/4 stick softened margarine, 2 tablespoons molasses, and 1 large egg white.  mix well in the mixer.  then, add the dry ingredients, one spoon at a time to blend. the cookies come together very nicely.

remove mixture from the bowl and press onto plastic wrap. i used a bit of flour to make certain it was not very sticky.  chill this at least 2 hours.  then, when ready to bake, remove from the fridge and shape the cookies into balls.  roll them in granulated sugar and place on a baking sheet.  i always prepare my sheets with spray canola oil to prevent sticking.  preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes. 

the tops of the cookies will have that classic crackle appearance.  this is a perfect fall cookie recipe, which is wonderful for halloween or thanksgiving.

one pan pumpkin bread

for thanksgiving this year, i found my very old recipe, supplied by Bisquick, in a magazine article featured in Southern Living over fifteen years ago.  this is an old standby recipe that is very tasty and moist.  i have made the recipe many times over the years and it always comes out wonderful.

all of the ingredients are mixed in one bowl and placed into a greased loaf pan.  i always use a ceramic Emile Henry pan and the loaf is perfect every time.  to begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

grease the loaf pan or spray with canola oil. stir together these ingredients: 1/3 cup vegetable oil (i use canola oil), 1 cup canned pumpkin, 2 1/3 cups Bisquick (i use the heart smart Bisquick), 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup raisins.  mix in the raisins after making certain all of the ingredients have come together. i use a hand held mixer for this recipe and it works just fine.

bake at least 50 to 55 minutes, testing to make certain the center is fully baked.  to do this, remove the bread from the oven, and use a dry wooden tester.  be certain to rotate the pan when returning to the oven.  when the bread is fully baked, allow to cool before attempting to slice.  remove from the pan after using a metal spatula to loosen the sides from the baking dish.

one pan pumpkin bread is easy and delicious.  guests will love the taste and the texture of this holiday bread.