Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preparing for a Day of Thanksgiving

Every day should be a day of thanks, shouldn't it?  My day goes so much better if I wake up thinking of all that I am grateful for in my life.  An occasional pity party is normal and cleans out the tear ducts, but gratitude is better on a daily basis.  Let me count a few of my blessings... I live in a free country, in the most beautiful of all the 50 states.  I am very healthy.  The occasional ache, pain or cold gets me down but not for long.  I am surrounded by my loving family and friends.  People who make me laugh or hold my hand when I cry.  Even if I am not physically surrounded by them, I feel their presence and know that they love me.  I have a job that I still enjoy that allows me to indulge my passion for French and France.  I even get paid to travel to France with my students.  No, not an extra salary, but I am on the payroll while I am there!  In 2012, I got to use my well-loved passport and cross the Atlantic three times.  At this very moment, our two boys are under our roof, upstairs playing video games together.  That doesn't happen very often for us anymore.
Son #1 is about to turn 25.  How the heck did that happen?  We brought him home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day.  A dear friend brought us dinner.  It was perhaps the best meal I've ever eaten!  Son #1 and I decided to play the lottery today.  He tends to be luckier than his mom so he did the buying and scratching, with a shiny 2012 penny, while I was measuring and stirring.

We didn't win $1000 a week for life or even $500, but we more than broke even so I guess it was a good day.  (We are holding what could be the winning Power Ball ticket that will be drawn tonight...I promise to continue to blog from my mas in Provence, dear readers.
I spent the morning in the kitchen mixing and baking.  We are off to the in-laws house early tomorrow morning and I am contributing pumpkin

and cranberry-orange breads.

Cranberries are just plain pretty.  Nice and round and red.

The spices for the pumpkin bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice, along with the "sugar in the raw" are such lovely shades of brown that I thought they were worthy of their own photo.

We were also asked to bring wine.  A Prosecco, a Côtes du Rhône, a Beaujolais Nouveau, and a Pinot Grigio are ready to go over the river (the Pamlico) and through the woods (lots of pine trees by the side of the highway).
My house smells like Thanksgiving.  At least the downstairs.  I can't vouch for the upstairs now that the boys are home...

My Sister Cindy's Pumpkin Bread
makes 3 loaves

4 c. all-purpose flour
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 c. nuts (walnuts or pecans), optional
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. pumpkin purée
1 c. cold water
4 eggs

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Make a well.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix oil, pumpkin, and water together. Add to the dry ingredients.  Stir just until mixed.  Beat eggs one at a time and add to mixture.  Do not overmix.  Pour into greased loaf pans and bake 50-60 minutes at 350˚.

Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread
makes one loaf
from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Special Edition, supporting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk (or substitute orange juice, if desired)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
1 c. coarsely chopped cranberries
3/4 cup toasted almonds slivers,  coarsely chopped

Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the orange peel and stir to coat.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg, milk (or orange juice), and oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Fold in cranberries and almonds.  Spoon into prepared pan.

Bake in a 350˚ preheated oven 50-55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.

Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

No comments: