Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day 2010 marked my first Thanksgiving in New England and my first major holiday away from home. Despite the distance from family, I was looking forward to spending a relaxing day with friends and a fellow Iowan. King Arthur Flour gives each employee-owner a free-range Vermont turkey so, my fellow Iowan and I decided to tackle baking our first turkey together. I drove over to her house Thursday morning and we began our food preparation. Our menu was relatively plain, but traditional.

As we were getting started in the kitchen, her husband ran to the nearby dairy farm to pick-up some fresh egg-nog for substance. Super thick delicious egg-nog.

We prepped the turkey very simply. We stuffed the cavity with thyme, onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Then we smeared butter all over the skin.

During the afternoon we snacked on a variety of cheeses, crackers and stuffed mushrooms.

After 4 hours the our 17 lb beast reached 165 degrees and was declared finished. Not too shabby for a first time, eh?

Turkey and gravy...

Freshly baked white-whole wheat rolls.

Spiced mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with cumin, honey, salt, pepper and butter.

Carrots with Dijon mustard sauce and parsley.

And, of course, pumpkin pie. None of us like whipped cream, so we ate slices with vanilla ice cream instead. It was amazing.

My first Thanksgiving in Vermont was a day well spent with good friends and good food. I have many things to be thankful this year including graduating college, getting a job at King Arthur, my lovely family, my terrific old friends, my new friends and entering a new stage in life. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saving the Sourdough Starter

A couple nights ago I was experiencing some difficulty falling asleep. I needed to awake up earlier the next morning, so that thought fueled my what-if-I-sleep-through-my-alarm-clock-never-wake-up-and-must-show-up-shamefully-late-to-work paranoia . I find the earlier I am required to wake up, the more reluctant I am to fall asleep.

Anyway, at about 1 o'clock in the morning I decided enough was enough. Time to do something more productive than lay curled up in a ball in my bed counting to 100 over and over. Feeding the sourdough starter I'd been holding ransom in my refrigerator for approximately two months was the first activity that crossed my mind. Twas time to set the captive free...

This is the tiny sourdough starter guy that I acquired from KAF quite some time ago. It's 200 years old and very stubborn.

Flour for feeding!

Flour + water + starter = win

After fermenting overnight.

I fed the starter several times to get the culture's juices flowing. Then I made some sourdough banana bread with the "unfed" starter discard. I followed the formula from here with a few minor alterations. The resulting loaf was beautiful, but not my favorite. The sourdough flavor was very mild but somewhat muffled the banana aroma and flavor. The texture was stiffer than traditional banana bread, yielding a very sturdy loaf. Not bad, but not overwhelmingly great either.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I've got a 17 lb turkey to bake! Huzzah!