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Oh, thank you, Bunny! It is pretty darned good. I'm ashamed to say I've actually made enough to eat enough of it so that by the time dinner was ready, I wasn't hungry anymore. Stuffing is definitely the fun part for me!

I love the carrot "fries" featured on that 101 cookbooks page, though--those purple heirloom variety carrots are gorgeous, and just pretty enough to make anyone rethink the idea of eating roasted carrots as an appetizer. If I can find some of those, I'll be making some for a pre-Christmas dinner party I want to have.
definitely going to attempt chacha's stuffing: do you substitute the same weight of cranberries and apricots to the weight of cherries?

I'm also going to make florentines (using Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess recipe unless someone else has a better one?) and pumpkin pie/tart.
MMMMMmmmmm. Florentines and hot chocolate, laced with frangelico or bailey's....

I have to snap out of these food day dreams.

Let's see--I usually put in a cup or so of fresh cranberries, which you don't have to soak (the tart, dried cherries are unbelievably good, but they're also unbelievably expensive. Also, people don't seem to like them much!!) and I'll chop up a few dried apricots to taste, another 1/2 c. or so. I also let the sage crispen in the melted butter before adding the fruit--just because I love the way the sage flavours the butter.

But I'm very "whatever works at the moment". Sometimes I can find larger bags of the fresh cranberries at the market so whatever I don't use to make a cranberry dressing gets used for the stuffing. And I always adjust things to my liking (put more butter in if I have to, etc.). The basic measurements in that stuffing make enough to feed about 8 people if they all eat a lot of it. I never seem to end up with leftovers of stuffing, though, so you may want to add to the amounts of the ingredients if you're serving a larger number.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope you all have a wonderful time cooking and eating with people who turn out to be surprisingly wonderful.
Or maybe half the measurements as I'm feeding four (although leftovers don't bother me!)

thanks again and for an excuse for me to buy some Bailey's (not that I need any!)
I'm going nuts with the holiday baking. Sweet potato pies, a fresh peach/blackberry cobbler, & a pumpkin ginger cheesecake with a sour cream/bourbon topping.
So many wonderful foods! I am positively drooling!

Have any of you tried salting a turkey instead of brining it? I read about the technique on a different forum. They refered to a story in the LA Times ("The Great Turkey Smackdown" Nov 15, 2006) in which they cooked turkeys in various ways and the salted method won hands-down. But the technique they listed takes about 4 days!
I've "salted" fish before--it does look spectacular coming out of the oven and it is really good. But it is work, even with little fishies. I can imagine doing this with a turkey would be an herculean effort.

Does sound good though. Sounds even better if you can get someone else to do it for you!

I've "salted" fish before--it does look spectacular coming out of the oven and it is really good. But it is work, even with little fishies. I can imagine doing this with a turkey would be an herculean effort.

Does sound good though. Sounds even better if you can get someone else to do it for you!
AP, that cheesecake has me drooling.

Hey, have any of you ever frozen a batch of squash? It's butternut squash, just cooked and mashed up and mildly spiced (so theoretically I could use it for baking, which is really not what I'd ideally want to do with it). I have a whole bunch of it (too much!) and I'm wondering if it's a bad idea to freeze it in individual-sized portions. To defrost, I'm thinking I'd reheat it in the oven in a little ceramic-type dish. Bad idea? I wonder if the texture would get all gross/watery/something else from the freezing.

I just don't want it to go to waste, but it's taking up precious space in the fridge & it's way too much to look at right now.
I don't think it would harm the squash to be frozen. It may be a bit more watery when you thaw it, but that's nothing that can't be fixed with a little re-heating. You could use it to make ravioli stuffing, or use it to make a soup, and freeze the finished product instead (and I'm sure those would keep really well--but you're probably tired of marathon cooking at this point).
raisin, to be certain that it won't end up inedible you could freeze a small portion today and thaw it tomorrow. you'd know without a doubt the end result of your squash that way.

of course canadian thanksgiving was last month but it's still not far enough away for me to miss any of that food yet. how do you in the US do it in november and then again for x-mas? that's just way too much turkey way to close together for me. my aunt always makes a pig for one of them (ugh, i can't make myself eat that) too keep from turkey burn out, what's your solution?
raisin - I freeze squash all the time - it works out just fine! Ideally, when you're defrosting, do it in the fridge or on the counter - it gets a little more watery when you defrost in the micro - but like chacha said, you can fix that by reheating too.

I've got my very first turkey in the oven roasting right now! And I've made some yummy sauerkraut - my fave holiday side! And I made a homeade cranberry-apple jello with ginger, lemon peel and cinnamon as flavoring...I cooked it all up on the stove, threw it in the blender, and then added gelatin to the puree. I think I may have added too much gelatin, but we'll see. Its really tasty, so even if its more like finger jello, I don't care! Turbomann's in charge of mashed taters, since I don't care for them, and I've got some left over balsamic-herb-molasses roasted sweet potatoes that I made for yesterday, so I'll eat those.

I'll let ya'll know how the feast turns out!
Aural, did you get that cheesecake recipe from Gourmet? I almost made that one!

I made the pumpkin chiffon pie that I posted about below. It turned out okay, except that one side of it collapsed after I took the springform ring off. It seemed like it was set, but it wasn't quite as firm as it should have been. Should I decrease a liquid ingredient next time? How do I make it set right?
I can't remember if it was last year or the year before, but I made a pumpkin cheesecake that ROCKED and now I don't know where I got the recipe. But since I'm likethis with pumpkin, I figure I can find something else that works if I want to do it again.

Did my old standby pumpkin bread this weekend. Still good, but a) not enough cinnamon, cool.gif too much flour (tastewise), and c) a way-too-fast-on-low-speed electric hand mixer kept it from perfection. The good news is that I used four 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans for the first time, and got great-looking loaves out of each. AND: I used disposable aluminum. Only the double-walled Williams-Sonoma loaf pan has provided better results.

I'd be all for sharing heritage recipes if I had any. On the one hand, I do have a collection of GameMom's recipes that her cooking-group friends assembled for me when she passed, but none of them had a "secret" quality about them, and she created a lot of them herself. Not that this makes them any less special - just not exactly legendary.

Additionally, none of the legendary cooks of my ancestry left any of their secrets. My dad's not ready to share his BBQ sauce recipe; my mom's a great cook, but she sticks to the basics and doesn't bake; and it doesn't seem either of them gathered recipes from their mothers - both of whom were also about the essentials. My mom says that her grandmother (mother's mother) was a renowned pie baker, but her skill skipped two generations and no recipes are left from there either.

What does make me happy is that my reputation as a cook and baker is spreading through my friends and family. I think I'll be able to leave behind my own legacy, whether it's with my own (future) children or someone else's. And I'm always grateful for anyone else who is willing to share.

Well! In the interest of really talking consumables, I'll share that my first "shot" (heh) at infused vodka has gone exceptionally well. I covered 10 oz of frozen blackberries (including the package juice) with about 3 1/2 cups of vodka, sealed it all into a glass jar, and shook once or twice a day for five days. Today, I strained it through cheesecloth, poured a small serving, and added a little sugar.

The result: TO DIE FOR. I added sugar to the rest and replaced it in a clean jar; it's awaiting smaller bottles for gifting. In the meantime, I've had another infusion with fresh cranberries going for several days. This one is a bit slower, and I wonder if dried cranberries might have worked better, but they're giving up color and I think it will turn out nicely.

Next up: infusions of raspberry and cinnamon (not together), and the beginnings of homemade vanilla extract. smile.gif
*runs over to tx's house for cocktails*

Those infused likkers sound fabulous!! I'm especially curious about the cinnamon one you're gonna cook up next....I bet that would be great for spiced holiday cocktails!

I'm no help in the baking dept. however...I had a similar issue, in that I know I made a wicked vegan, wheat-free, sugar free pumpkin faux-cheesecake with a date/almond crust, and even my dairy loving family chose it over gramma's pumpkin pie....but I neglected to write the recipe down. d'oh!
Turbo to the rescue! Thanks so much. I knew someone here had to have firsthand experience with it, so away in the freezer it's gone.

Chacha, ravioli stuffing?! Yeah, I'll get around to doing that just as soon as I'm done churning the butter and drawing water from the well in the backyard.
Whew, raisingirl, no need to panic. I did mention I thought you might be tired of holiday cooking tasks--and either suggestion was just in case you didn't want your thawed pumpkin to be watery.

Could someone repost that Nutella recipe please? I actually gave mine to my mom and she's misplaced it.

Polly, that chiffon pie had gelatin in it, didn't it? It's possible the gelatin just didn't set properly. I think you're right--maybe a little less liquid might help it to come out firmer.

Did it taste good? I bet it did.

I remembered a really great, one ingredient recipe that makes a kind of quick florentine crisp/cookie (not really, though, but they're still amazing). Here it is: you take an Eat More bar (hope you can find those, they are a like a chewy toffee bar with nuts) and you cut the bar in one inch squares.
Heat your oven to about 200 degrees or so--not too high. Lay the squares out on a pan, place them in the oven for about 45 seconds (check on them then) or so and take them out when they have flattened out into discs. This happens quickly! So it's best to watch them if you can.

Pull them out of the oven, allow to cool, and they make these beautiful, thin, crispy/chewy cookies that are really good with ice cream. Or Bailey's. You can make these and store them in an airtight container (keep them in a cool spot, with not a lot of light).
can you say span ikopita ?

ha ha, my chefy friend came over and we made some up.
red onion, feta, spignatchio, mmmm. my oven runs so hot though, we almost burned them!
but they turned out great.
Well, I'm jealous.

I'm hoping M.ChaCha brings home tasties from the Colombian/Lebanese restaurant that is not too far away. I don't wanna cook tonight at all.
Yes, it did have gelatin, but here's what interesting about the gelatin- the very first direction in the recipe is to sprinkle the gelatin over the brandy or bourbon (I used brandy) and "let soften for one minute." Then the directions go into mixing up the pumpkin and stuff and cooking it until it reaches 160 degrees, then put it in the ice bath, blah, blah, blah....well, by that time, the gelatin & brandy have been sitting for waaaay more than a minute, and it's like this gummy brandy thing (not as good as it sounds), not knowing any better, did it this way, and I had to mix it with the pumkin mixture a lot more to break up this gummy brandy thing to dissolve a little. So, I'm thinking maybe this had something to do with the landslide effect on my pie. I already edited the recipe (I type out my recipes when they're somewhat complex) so that you mix the gelatin and brandy when the pumpkin mixture is close to its target temperature, so it really only sits for a minute.

Do you think I should reduce some liquid anyway, and if so, which one and by how much?
ok, yam pie. my oven's working over time today.

and we put up the tree! whee, what fun!
I wondered if it was an ice bath for the gelatin or whether you were required to add ice temporarily to chill the gelatin mix (which was often a recommendation for making quick jello, back in the day). If you add ice to the mix to chill it you could cut the liquid levels down by just letting the gelatin and pumpkin mixture cool naturally, or in the fridge. It would add time to your preparation, but it leaves a little bit of extra liquid out.

If it was a bath, then I think you're right about the timing of the gelatin making. I'm sure the pumpkin/brandy/gelatin mixture would set well together if they could all be combined before the setting process actually started.

Was it still edible? Did it taste good? I'd try it again and see if it worked out better with your modifications. Sometimes I find the recipes on the epicurious site are excellent but there are these slight inaccuracies about quantities or methods that keep you from getting perfect results--so people work those things out (which is why the comments sections are always full of people who change up the recipe, followed by comments by people who can't stand people who change the recipe!)

Good luck with it this time around, if you do attempt it again. It sounds like it would taste incredible, and Christmas would be a good reason to eat it.

Pepper!! I love that photo of the pie, complete with tree and presenting hand. I'm hungry now.
I have a question for you all about making fudge: sometimes you see instructions to beat the warm fudge until it no longer shines. What does that do for your fudge? And why? I made a batch a couple days ago and didn't beat the shine out of it, mainly because my arm wouldn't hold out, so I just let it set the way it was.
Did it set, after all?
anyBUSTie have any easy yet kickass holiday type cookie recipes?? we've been invited to our first nieghborhood holiday cookie swap on the 9th and we're all supposed to bring some cookies and a recipe.

i have a feeling there will be more than your average chocolate chip or sugar cookie here.

any ideas come to mind? i would like to do something out of the ordinary (maybe including ginger?) but again, easy is sort of important as i also have a wedding to attend that day and won't have tons of time the day before either...

any help will be appreciated!!!

fj dear, i make meringues every christmas and they are a HUGE hit. they're super easy, but a hassle cos you have to let them dry in the oven for so long. i use the fannie farmer recipe:

2 egg whites
8 tblspns white granulated sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract

beat the eggswhites and vanilla with an electric mixer, gradually adding the sugar, until the whites form stiff, white peaks.
pipe or spoon the mixture onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees.
after one hour, turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven for 6 hours.

the trick is to not even open the oven until the 6 hours are up so they dry out properly and don't get sticky/chewy inside (though i actually don't mind a little sticky/chewiness). i usually make them at night and then take them out the next morning. they're also easy to color festively with a few drops of food coloring in the mix and sprinkle colored sugar on top.

they're effing delicious.

and i bet you could experiment with adding some ginger! wow, that would taste awesome. i might have to try that actually.
I have 2 really good cookie recipes, fj- I'm just waiting for my mom to email then to me, which should be later this evening.

Oh, I need some ideas people- I'm having some friends over on Saturday for a late fall/pre-Christmas brunch (I'm making pumpkin pancakes and Christmas-ifying the house in the next 2 days)....I need some other ideas on what to make. I'm going to try to get a hold of some Irish bacon but I was thinking of making some kind of egg and/or fruit thing (not eggs and fruit together, just don't know if I'll do one or the other or both.) Any suggestions?
ChaCha, I haven't checked yet, but it looks okay on the top. It's not that big a deal if it doesn't set completely since it's going to be used as centers for truffles, although what I really wanted to do was dip cubes of fudge in chocolate instead of using the molds. I'm looking for a nice, neat cube shape that I can dress up like little gift boxes with green chocolate and sprinkles. I get kind of crazy on the cute chocolate-making.
Hey, Polly, I was looking over your pumpkin chiffon conundrum... Letting the gelatine sit for a long time & the amount you work it after adding it to the base won't affect its setting at all, so that's likely not the problem. I'm thinking this:

The instructions have you folding in the cream while the base is still liquidy &, I suspect, still pretty warm. The warm & runny base likely deflated your whipped cream a little, making the whole mixture a bit runnier than was ideal. The air in the mixture is pretty vital in getting it to set up right. So I'd cool the base to room temp or even cooler, til it's definitely starting to thicken but isn't set, IYKWIM. Make sure the cream is whipped pretty firm - not stiff peaks, but not sloppy. Fold quickly & gently (I use the whip attachment from my KitchenAid to start things off, & just finish with a rubber spatula), & get it in the shell & in the fridge quick. I'd let it set up at least 4 hours, if not more.

For what its worth, you don't really need a thermometer for the base - all they're looking for is that the eggs are good & hot but not scrambling. Hot to the touch is enough to dissolve the sugar & keep everyone safe.

Diva, the beating at a certain temperature makes the fudge mixture crystallise with tiny, fine grains, so it sets, but isn't gritty or sandy. How did yours turn out?

/cooking school lessons

FJ, I second meringues - you could fold in some finely chopped crystallised ginger at the very end... Cooks Illustrated's sablees are great, too - slice & bake dough you can make ahead of time & chill or freeze til you need it. I make mine with ground cardamon & they are big winners.

Aaaaand Polly, what about coddled eggs? I've done them sans potatoes, but with a bit of jarred adobo/chipotle instead, topped with chihuahua/Jack... mmmmm.

Yeah, hungry now.
Hmm, those coddled eggs do look good, tart, but I don't have any ramekins. About the closest I have are small Corelle bowls and individual-sized springform pans. If we could mix the ceramic-ness of the bowls and the shape of the springforms, then I'd have something. I bet there's some other egg recipe out there I can make...what about mini-breakfast quiches in the springforms? Hmm, with the Irish bacon, perhaps?

Yeah, the temperature and texture thing in that recipe is kinda weird. After you take the mixture off the stove, and put it in the water bath, you're supposed to let it sit until it "has the texture of raw egg whites" WTF???? It cooled, but it didn't change texture too much- pretty much stayed a canned pumpkin-y texture, a little more gloppy because of the egg yolks, but nowhere near what raw egg whites would have been like. So you think I should have let the pumpkin mixture get colder before I mixed in the whipped egg whites and whipped cream? ((Sigh)) I like cooking better than baking- too much science involved. And unfortunately, I am Kitchen Aid-less. Someday....why else would I get married? tongue.gif

ETA: Ok, I had an epiphany- I'm going to make Irish breakfast mini-quiches, with the bacon, diced potatoes, Dubliner cheese and a tomato slice on top. Yum!
You could even use sturdy teacups, Polly, but those miniquiches sound fucking delish!

So the actual recipe used the whites, too? Hrm. Then we may have an issue with the amount of gelatine, as well... can you post your recipe sometime, and I'll take a look? (Yeah, the food dork gene's kicking in again, look out!)

So hey, I'm doing a holiday sweets demo out in the Chicago 'burbs on Sunday, if anyone wants to swing by for free food & a chance to see me in my fancy white chefs jacket... I'm "on" at 1 & 3, doing pistachio brittle & pear mincemeat in phyllo.
Here's the online version from I used the Gourmet Cook Book, and it's the same recipe, except the book calls it "Pumpkin Chiffon Pie" and the website calls it "Pumpkin Chiffon Mousse".


Active time: 1 hr Start to finish: 5 hr

For crust
20 (2-inch) gingersnap cookies, finely ground
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from two 1 1/2-oz envelopes)
1/4 cup bourbon or brandy
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups solid-pack canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

Garnish: chopped crystallized ginger and whipped cream
Special equipment: a 9 1/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together gingersnap crumbs and butter in a bowl until crumbs are evenly moistened, then press onto bottom of buttered springform pan. Bake in middle of oven until edge is golden brown, about 8 minutes (watch carefully toward end of baking; crust burns easily). Cool in pan on a rack.

Make filling:
Sprinkle gelatin over bourbon in a small bowl and let soften.

Beat together yolks and brown sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to moderate and mix in pumpkin, spices, and salt.

Transfer pumpkin mixture to a 4-quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it registers160°F on a candy or instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and immediately add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved. Transfer to a large metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool, stirring occasionally, until the consistency of raw egg whites, about 15 minutes.

Beat egg whites with cleaned beaters at high speed until frothy, then gradually add granulated sugar, beating until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly.

Beat cream in another bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly. Pour filling into springform pan, smoothing top, and chill, uncovered, 1 hour. Cover and chill until set, at least 3 hours.

Before serving, run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side.

Cooks' note:
• The egg whites in this recipe are not cooked. If salmonella is a problem in your area, you can use reconstituted powdered egg whites such as Just Whites.

Makes 10 servings.

BTW, the food you're making for the demo sounds so tasty. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it on Sunday sad.gif But let us know any other time you're doing demos there!
fudge. have you ever made marshmallow finger toffee? basically you smash up the marshmallow between your index fingers and thumbs adding more and more marshmallows until you've got quite a bit, mash mash mash until it Becomes shiny. the shiny stage indicates a taste and texture change that's really distinct. it's smooth, homogenized, amazing. i think the fudge in the same thing, texture, homogeny. it probably makes a big difference if you're eating the fudge as fudge, as a filling i think it won't really matter.
mmm, fudge.
couldn't you beat it with an electric beater?
Oooh, Ms Tart!! Hurray for the answers to the dilemma of the chiffon pie. Now that I'm thinking about the fact that egg whites may have had to have been folded into the mix, could another possibility be that they were overbeaten? There seem to be so many ways for that recipe to falter--and not a lot of explanation about O(the unknown) necessary steps in the recipe. (I am grateful for your food dork gene, however, so I'd love it if you posted your thoughts on that chiffon pie recipe cause I wanna try it).

The meringue cookies posted here are the kind of thing I grew up with in my family, and my mom and aunts made them whenever there was a big party or holiday. We called them "Cookie Bianchi!" because they were so addictive. My mom and aunts would actually put slivered almonds in them and they would be a just a little bit chewy on the inside, but I think the ginger would work perfectly with that explosive/chewy texture. Sounds delicious.

Divala I think your cube-truffles sound delicious and I bet they will look beautiful.

Okay, here are some lavender recipes I've collected from 2 friends:

Lavender Shortbread

1 1/2 cups (3/4 pound) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons very finely chopped lavender florets (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cover bottoms of two baking sheets with parchment or brown paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, lavender, and mint with an electric mixer.
Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add flour, cornstarch, and salt and beat until incorporated.
Divide dough in half. Flatten into squares and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm.

On a floured board, roll or pat out each square to a thickness of 1/2 inch.
Cut the dough into 1 1/2 -inch squares or rounds.
Transfer to baking sheets, spacing cookies about 1 inch apart.
Prick each cookie several times with a fork.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until pale golden (do not brown).

Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack.

If you would like to sprinkle them with lavender powdered sugar, you can make this in advance by using a small bunch of lavender sprigs placed pushed into a jar of powdered sugar. Seal the jar and let this sit for a day or so before using the sugar to garnish your shortbreads.

This makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on how you wish to size them.

Lemon, Lavender, and Blueberry scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whoIe-wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
1 tbsp. dried Iavender blossoms
Grated zest of one lemon
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2⁄3 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup sugar (or substitute maple syrup or maple sugar)
1 egg
1 cup fresh blueberries (the little ones--"Wild" but not really--are the best with this recipe)

Blend dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle lavender
over the mixture.

In another bowl, mix lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk, sugar and egg. Pour over dry ingredients.
Stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Add blueberries and mix briefly with hands just until dough
clings together. Turn onto a floured surface.

Form dough into 2 balls, then flatten with hands into circles, each about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each circle
into 8 wedges.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Makes 16 scones.

I've never made these myself but a friend of mine runs a cafe in St. Catharines where she makes these fresh every morning. Whenever I go there I have one with a cup of really good coffee--they are amazing. They are a perfect food to serve at breakfast.
i am soooo going to make ginger meringues. i wish i could test them out before i go visit family but i don't have a working oven. my aunt will yell at me if i don't bring them to our annual xmas day reunion at her house, so i usually make them at my parents' xmas eve.

i wonder if it would work to maybe press a tiny piece of candied ginger into each one before baking?


i'm curious about those lavendar-flavored treat, chacha--i'd worry they'd taste like soap. but that's me. and i hate earl grey tea for the same reason. sad.gif
Hmm. I know about the "tastes like soap" fear.

How about if I striate the tops of those shortbread cookies with some rich, dark, organic chocolate? Would that lessen the soap similarity, do you think?

The scones absolutely do not taste like soap. Something about the lavender seems to intensify the blueberry flavour; it's like the herb brings out the floral aspects of the fruit. The combination is really extraordinary.
M. ChaCha is the one who really has the issue with soap tasting foods, and he shies away from them when he can, but he also really loves these scones.

And anyway, you can douse any suspicions with clotted cream, jam, and butter if its a problem.
hehehe i think it would just make me think of christmas chocolates sitting in a stocking next to some lavender soap for too long tongue.gif

but i've never tried your scones, and if the mister is scared the way i am yet still likes them, they've gotta have something!
OK, Falljackets, here's a couple of my favorite cookie recipes- they're both really easy to make and totally addictive:

Irish Lace Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla; stir in flour, milk, and rolled oats.

Drop batter by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets; allow room for cookies to spread to about 3 inches in diameter. Each baking sheet will hold about 6 cookies.

Bake until cookies flatten and look dry (10 minutes). Let cookies cool for 4 to 5 minutes on baking sheets. Lift from baking sheet with a metal spatula and cool completely before serving.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Hint: If making this Irish cookie recipe ahead of time, store airtight after baking. Re-crisp by warming on a baking sheet in a 350° oven 5 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


Carl Reiner's Cream Cheese Cookies
"The Best Cookies in the World"

4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 pound butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Lightly spray and smear cookie sheets to cover evenly.

Cream the softened butter and cream cheese; add sugar and chopped walnuts and fold in flour.

Drop by teaspoon; flatten using wet finger in a circular motion till about 1/8 " thick.

Bake 10 minutes or till light brown around edges.
Mmm...polly, i'm going to steal those recipes. They sound awesome.
Mouse, you think Earl Grey tea tastes like soap? To me, it tastes like Fruit Loops. biggrin.gif

Polly, I will definitely be putting those recipes in my book. Gotta love classic recipes with so few ingredients.

I have some questions for all of you & I really hope you can help! We are having a small dinner party this weekend (6 people total). Sheff wants us to have Shepherd's Pie, which sounds fine by me. But do I need to make side dishes? Our version of shepherd's pie contains minced beef, onion, peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes on top. Sounds like a complete meal, but it feels weird to not offer anything on the side. What do you think? Am I worrying about nothing? Or do you have some suggestions? Eep!

I'm also trying to figure out what to serve for dessert. I'm thinking about making apple streudel because it's one of Sheff's favorites & I haven't made it for him in years. But I'm seriously tempted to throw together a bundt cake or something else that isn't so time consuming!
Rose, I think if you served some appetizers before dinner or a salad that would be enough. If you don't want to do the strudel, I like a marble bundt cake (yellow and chocolate cake) with a glaze icing on top is good. Or maybe some pound cake with fruit.
rose, i do! my mother drinks english breakfast with milk and sugar the way other people drink diet coke--i.e., all the time--and always has, and to me that is what black tea NEEDS to smell like. when i smell earl grey tea, it smells like there's something wrong with english breakfast, like someone left the english breakfast teabag in a christmas stocking next to some soap for too long.

can you tell i've had a lot of christmas chocolates ruined that way over the years? tongue.gif i don't really find it to be an unpleasant smell, just something i have no desire to ingest.

re: shepherd's pie--i think a nice fresh green salad would balance it out well. shepherd's pie is awfully dense (though delicious--my mouth is watering right now) and salad is very light and doesn't take up much room in one's stomach, yet provides the feeling of a MEAL instead of just a dish. also, a really nice loaf of bread (if you have time even make it yourself) would work well. simple, but great.

man, i miss having an oven soooo much. i want to make all these things NOW. and i want to bake bread. a couple of winters ago i was living by myself in the middle of nowhere, i didn't know anyone, and i just occupied myself by making a ton of bread. it was so delicious...
mouse, i'll bet you Anything that you can find a bread maker second hand. i got one at a yard sale and found the manual online and can not Wait to start making my own bread (after the holiday crazies). it cost me about 5 bucks and is nearly new. i think a lot of people get them and never use them so they can be easy to find. check it out!

i love earl grey, other tea tastes flat and ucky to me. i like bergamot so much i even wear the essential oil sometimes. it's super pretty and yum.
Mmmmm, lavender - thanks, Chacha! I sometimes make lemon curd, & throw a spoonful of lavender buds in with the lemon juice to infuse... Fear not, mouse, it doesn't taste anything like soap - it just adds this faintly spicy, mysterious oomph. I will agree with your mum, though - a cup of tea should smell like tea, dammit, not lingerie wash. And how do you not have an oven?! Isn't that a requirement of the Geneva Convention?

Now you've got me craving shepherd's pie, Rose, the real stuff with ground lamb... shame I'm the meatless wonder. It's just not the same with tofu/seitan/portabellos...

So I think the only way to get the Truth About Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is for me to make it this weekend. (dramatic sigh, hand to forehead) Oh, the sacrifices I make for my Busties...
hahahah tart, you poor suffering soul tongue.gif

i *LOVE* lemon curd. and i haven't had any in ages! oh, you are all making me long for things.

re: oven. my landlord doesn't supply our appliances (not that unusual in LA, and i'm not terribly bothered by it since i'm pretty sure i have the best deal on a one-bedroom in this entire city); we're allowed to keep whatever is in the apartment but he's not responsible for fixing them if they break. so i've got a malfunctioning fridge (the fridge part is several degrees warmer than a normal fridge, whereas the freezer is just a few degrees colder....which i can deal with for the time being) and a stove with a working range top but a broken oven. but they're on my big "to-buy" list.....after plane tickets home for the holidays and presents.....etc.

i manage fine, though, and sometimes suprise myself with what i come up with.

pepper, how does a breadmaker work!?
you put in the stuff, you turn it on, it makes the bread. you can even put in the stuff, set the timer and wake up to bread in the morning!

o my, i just looked online for a pick for you but there were so many returns it was crazy. just do a search, try craig's list in your area. serious, so many ads "breadmaker, never used, $20" i must have read that about two dozen times!
Oh tart, I'm going to let you make that sacrifice. I promise that even if it doesn't work, it will taste good. I put the crystallized ginger on top- totally worth the trip to Trader Joe's!!
Lemon curd made with an infusion of lavender--I never would have thought of that but I know it would just make an amazing food even better. Tart!! Please write a book!!

And the thing about the bread makers--I used to go to all kinds of yard sales in my area, early Saturday mornings (it's amazing, people go out in packs to these things and they meet in local diners to eat breakfast early, where they map out the sales they'll hit) and I would always see breadmakers out for sale, all really new, with their boxes, recipe books, manuals included. There was a time when they were all the rage, and then people just stopped using them. I don't know why, because you can make all kinds of breads with them, not just plain old white bread (that you can get at any bakery, fresh). We always planned on getting one used, but then me and M. Cha Cha discovered that everytime we ate bread we got major heartburn. I'm still thinking I might go out and hunt one up now that you've mentioned it.

Mouse--I "broke" my oven a couple of years ago, and thought I'd have to replace the whole range. At the time, I had a house full of guests including 2 kids. Fortunately, one of my guests is extremely handy--he looked at the oven, asked me if I used the "self-cleaning" feature on it (I had just used it, cause guests were coming!) and then said--"Did you know you could replace those elements?" (and I ended up doing that--the element cost about 30 dollars and I got it at a local hardware store. Took only 5 minutes to replace). He also taught me how to check to see if the fuses were burnt out and needed to be replaced. I'm posting this because maybe that's all that might need to be repaired on your oven. When the cook top works but the oven doesn't, it may just be these little parts that need to be replaced for everything to work fine. Sure beats having to buy an entire range.
i made my dad's everything cookies this morning (with about half the sugar), yum! oats, raisins, chocolate chips, walnuts, mmm!

you can make all kinds of bread, whole wheat, spelt, corn, raisin cinnamon, mmm, bread makers ROCK!
"self-cleaning element"??? *rolling on the floor with incredulous laughter*

aw, chacha, i'm so flattered by your presumption of my having a decent oven..........AHAHAHA.....whew. i'm sorry, but my oven is broken in the sense that if you open the oven door, it falls off. only two of the burners work without having to light them manually (it's a gas stove) and one of them doesn't work at all, and i swear to god the thing is probably older than i am. i'm totally happy with where i am right now, i'm only 23, i live in a really-cheap-for-good-reason apartment, but i do not own anything of quality except a really nice wacom tablet and that's for work. i drive an '87 honda civic that cost me about a week's paycheck, i buy my clothes at goodwill and i drink cheap beer. SOMEDAY i will have an AWESOME oven! but that will not be today. i make a lot of stew-type things and rice and beans and lentils and pasta, and that suits me fine for now.

that said, i looked on la's craigslist and lo and behold, breadmakers! for $20! i'm looking into this.

at a craft-fair type thingy i went to last night someone was selling rosemary shortbread mix; i thought of your lavender shortbread. i know i like rosemary in food.
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