I dialed my Thanksgiving cooking ambitions all the way back this year, not feeling any desire to cook turkey in any form and not the least bit sorry about that. I mean, it’s a fine bird and all, but it has never been my favorite poultry. So I can add to my list of things to be thankful for that I don’t have to eat it if I don’t want to! I also am grateful that I don’t have to travel anywhere this weekend. Our icy winter weather of earlier this month has cleared up to almost unseasonable warmth, but that doesn’t motivate me to hit the road on the worst travel weekend of the year.
Instead, it was me and the dogs here at home as usual, and a small dinner that was all about great flavors rather than great quantity.
First, I marinated overnight a whole cut-up chicken in Finger-Licking Marinade from KitchMe, which I modified as follows:
1/2 c avocado oil
1/2 c Super Tonic (apple cider vinegar can substitute)
2 Tbs mayonnaise
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs salt, to taste
1 Tbs black pepper
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs dried tarragon
1 Tbs garlic powder
I baked the chicken for 45 minutes at 350°F, and it was amazing!
My side dish was a variation on colcannon, using fennel instead of cabbage. Also very good, even made with slightly less butter than the recipe calls for.
I didn’t get around to making a dessert today, but I got it started for tomorrow. I received a bag of fresh cranberries in my Bountiful Basket this week, so I ran those through the juicer along with an orange and an apple, strained the juice thoroughly, then simmered it with sugar, orange zest and a few cloves into a simple syrup. Tomorrow I plan to bake a from-scratch yellow cake and drizzle this syrup over it, then share it with my neighbors. I have made a couple of cakes this month with standard buttercream frosting (also shared with the neighbors) and have decided that frosting is just overkill. This syrup will add some fat-free sweetness, along with moisture and holiday flavor. I’m eager to see how it comes out.
Speaking of cakes, my first one was made from a boxed mix that had been sitting in the back of my cupboard for more than year, and it was just okay. It had a nice light texture, if a tad dry. After looking at the ingredients list on the box, I decided it was absurd to pay Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker to put this together for me when I have all the ingredients on hand. It’s only flour, sugar and baking powder, after all, plus artificial colors and flavors and all the chemicals they have to add to stabilize it on the shelf, which can hardly do a body good. Mixing up the same ingredients from the pantry takes about one minute longer than dumping out a box, but it makes all the difference in the final product. My second cake was an order of magnitude better than the first!
I don’t recall which site I snagged this recipe from, but here is the one I used. Give it a try, and if you’re at all like me, you’ll never make cake from a box again. (This recipe replaces a standard 18.25 oz boxed mix.)
2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 c sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
3/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour cake pan(s).
Sift the flour into a bowl and thoroughly whisk the dry ingredients together before adding the wet ingredients.
Combine with an electric mixer at low speed for 1 minute, then beat at medium-high speed for 4 more minutes.
Pour batter into cake pans. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Err on the side of undercooking to avoid drying out the cake.)
8″ or 9″ cake rounds — 20-25 minutes
13″ x 9″ pan — 35-40 minutes
Cupcakes — 12-15 minutes
Tube/bundt pan — 45-50 minutes
Today and every day, I am grateful for good food and the tools, time and knowledge to prepare great meals at home. Also, I’m grateful for my family, friends and neighbors, and of course, my dogs. Happy Thanksgiving, from our house to yours!