Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry Sauce (with vanilla bean and cardamom)

Cranberry Sauce

So I know the Thanksgiving meal is probably set in stone at this point, but we need to talk. This is about more than Thanksgiving. It's about cranberry sauce.

I feel bad for cranberry sauce. It's like the ugly stepchild of Thanksgiving foods, shoved into a can then plopped into a bowl at the holidays only to be neglected in favor of gravy and butter.

It's just that it doesn't have to be this way. Fresh cranberry sauce is a thing of beauty!

Cranberry Sauce

Part of what I love about the holidays is that everyone has self-designated specialties. Dad handles most meat cookings and sauces. Mom handles stuffing and taters. Dale's got the brussels. Over the years, mine has become dessert (surprise, surprise). And at Thanksgiving, that means pumpkin pie and pecan pie and, well, pie. But what that also means, I've decided, is homemade cranberry sauce. Mainly because I just freaking love it. On every part of the holiday meal. It gives everything the perfect tang and sweetness, which, let's be honest, is often missing from things like turkey and stuffing.

This cranberry sauce is sorta something to call home about. There's a whole dang vanilla bean in there y'all! And fresh orange juice! And a heaping spoonful of cardamom! (Cardamom is never a bad thing. Never.) This cranberry sauce is deserving of year-round praise. Although it is especially appropriate at these times what with the season and all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash Muffins

Butternut Squash Muffins

Last week, Dale was in Nicaragua doing super cool coffee things. Because he's cool and talented and interesting like that. While he was gone, I remembered a few things that I'd forgotten since having Dale around all the time:

1. Sometimes, I forget to eat dinner.

2. I'm pretty sure that my cat loves laying next to me on the couch more than anything in the entire world.

3. I need someone around to talk to at home, otherwise, I descend into nonsensical one-sided conversations with my cat. It's pretty normal.

4. I get really cold at night. Like really.

Butternut Squash Muffins

So, while Dale was off doing adventurous, awesome things, I was here working on a paper, which I presented at a conference on Saturday, and I was working on a contract. Totally thrilling, right? Then, I roasted a butternut squash, stirred in some sugar and spices and things, sprinkled with streusel, and ate these muffins.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pear, Sage, & Toasted Vanilla Hand Pies

Pear Hand Pies

It's crazy how motivated I get to do anything but study when I have nothing but studying that needs to be done. Nothing gets me in a cleaning, purging, organizing mode quite like having a million pages to write/read/cryover.

Thus, in the past two weeks, I have done some updating, reorganizing, and contemplating. I got a new TV stand (it's mint green, tall, and dashing). New soap dispensers (because it's the little things that make a difference, right?) and the European sham of my dreams. Dale got some geeky things--a vintage Chemex and baby blue coffee mugs. And I have been scouring the webs and stores and places for seating, preferably sofa-sectional-chaise style. That will be a bit of investment however, so these are only cushioned daydreams currently.

Pear Hand Pies
Pear Hand Pies

I guess this began with a mission to revamp my spaces. Space makes such a difference in mood and motivation and other such things. It's about light and situation. It's about wishing I could paint things and frame them and hang them and love them. It's about bookmarking DIYs. It's about plans of furniture building, starting with a rustic coffee table, ending hopefully with a substantial dining table (which I currently lack, even in insubstantial form).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spiced Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Buttermilk Bundt Cake

So now that fall is in full swing, how have you been spending it? Watching leaves changing? Buying new boots (yes!)? Yearning for food-filled holidays?

Or have you been drowning in pumpkin? I have seen so much pumpkin out there on the webs. Too much pumpkin I think. Don't get me wrong. I like pumpkin, especially in pie form. It's just that I'm feeling a bit overloaded with pumpkin recipes. Plus, there are some places that pumpkin (or its flavor counterparts) is not meant to be, such as in coffee. No more homemade pumpkin spice lattes please. Just stop. Please. I'm begging you.

Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Besides, there are so many other delicious, warm, beautiful fall flavors! Like pear and apple, which I've clearly been obsessed with recently. And spice!

Yes, I rang in fall with spices tossed in buttermilk cake. Mini bundt ones of course, because that's how I do. There's just something about allspice, clove, nutmeg, and the like that make everything feel and smell and taste like fall.