Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall and Cranberries and Fail

The weather here has been amazing. Today's high? Mid 70's. I've never had fall like this before. We're getting *weeks* of it instead of the typical Tennessee two week run.

Even piggie snuggled up for the 2nd shot.

For the first time in their lives the kids are *begging* to go outside to play. It's so strange. For years I've had to beg them to just go outside and burn off some energy. I remember in TN we would even set a timer and let them know they had to be outside at least 10 minutes. I had a sandbox and yard toys waiting on them. Still they hated outside.

Here I've given them nothing except a hammock and a small hang shovel and they'll stay out there as long as they can stand it. The mornings are quite cool now and they're still begging. The TV stays off for hours and hours at a time and we've only got one main living space in this house so it's never very far away. 

That doesn't mean we're not home sick. G had a weepy moment and brought me a handwritten list of what he misses about our old house.

"I mise ore howes list:

I mise how ther wus lots ov spase.
I mis that the downsters wasint skere.
I mis wen we cud woc netfix.
I mis that we cud play downsters.
I mis our nebers.
I mis how tere wus mor bedrooms."

The house was bigger, almost twice as big as the one we're renting. The downstairs here isn't so terrible  (I've been in some nightmare inducing spaces) but to a child concrete and plywood walls on concrete flooring is a far cry from a basement with carpet and windows and finished walls. Netflix constantly comes up in conversation for all of us. I was surprised about the neighbors being mentioned because most of our neighbors were 75+. He told me his misses Mrs. Shrum, the sweet 83 year old next door who would come out and say hello. I can see missing her. She was the same age as the kids great grandparents (my paternal grandparents) and from the same area as them so she had the same accent.

I told him he could keep adding to the list and when we went house shopping we would look at all our list and try to find a home that best met everyones likes and dislikes. He doesn't realize it but after lunch I'm going to ask him to see if he can figure out anything he likes more about this house (jacuzzi tub in the bathroom he and Fi share?) to add to our list too. 

While the kids have been running in and out of the house and jumping in leaves I've been cooking. I'm trying local recipes and seeing what I can figure out. I don't want to be that "woman who moved here from TN 30 years ago but still cooks like a southerner". I mean, there's some dishes that I'm going to make no matter what. Sorry Wisconsin. But there are local foods I want to understand and incorporate into my cooking. So far it's not going well.

Attempt #1 was cranberry muffins. I thought surely the kids would go for that! They each ate one bit and declared them inedible. Although G did have fun using the food processor. 

Attempt #2 was the Autumn Harvest Cranberry Pumpkin Soup which you can read about in my previous post. It did not go well either. My husband, ever wary of criticizing my cooking (and for good reason) said, "Both recipes had good bones but just weren't that great." See? Isn't he smart? There's no photo of it because even while serving it I was going, "What is *wrong* with this stuff and why does it look like curry made out of baby food?!?" 

Attempt #3 was cranberry sauce which turned out ok. I mean it's edible but no one in my family like cranberry sauce and the chunks kinda threw them off. In this photo it looks more like cranberry jam. I made it so I could make the next recipe and so I could hear the berries pop. I'd never experienced that before.

In the midst of all this I decided I needed to make something I was pretty sure would work, so I baked 4 loaves of whole wheat bread. They turned out quite dense but chewy and awesome. My husband and I ate much too much of it the first night.

With that success under my belt I returned to my cranberry ways. Attempt #4 was called Frozen Tundra Cranberry Frost but it taste just like something my mom makes only she uses cherries I believe. 

My camera failed me on the color of this. Imagine the most obnoxious pink you can think of and then bump up the saturation a little. I'm pretty sure my cranberry sauce could be used to dye fabric though so it's no wonder that a little of it turned the whole dish a crazy pink. 

Attempt #4 went over a little better. Fi refused to eat it because it's chunky and pink but G gave it a try and fell in love with it. Of course it's loaded with dairy so he can only sample it every few days or run the risk of having serious stomach trouble.

Ironically the kids have declared Tuesday night to be Taco Tuesday so to mix things up I tried an enchilada recipe on them that I haven't made in years. It has very little to do with real mexican style enchiladas and more to do with what I use to cook when hubby and I were poor college kids. Both kids fell in love with it and I served the pink stuff on the side. Sounds horrible, but the cold (this dish is frozen before serving) mixed with the spicy turned out nice. Go figure.

In a fit of desperation I sent out an email to the woman who organizes our home schooling group asking if she would contact other moms and get local kid approved cranberry recipes. She did and my inbox is overflowing with ideas. I'm so excited I might go super southern and write each of those ladies a hand written thank you note on scented stationary. Or at least consider how cool that'd be as I type them each an email response.

I've still got quite a bit of cranberries left and while I know I could freeze them I really want to see exactly how many dishes I can get out of 3 lbs of cranberries. Tonight I think I'll attempt the Cranberry Almond Biscotti for me and a kid dish from the emails. 


Derek said...

write your thank-you notes on hand-made paper, dyed with cranberries.

Kellye said...

bahahahah! funny derek! maybe you could dye clothes with your berries and take them to the festival next year....just saying. i thought of you last night. i was going through my recipe book and stumbled across some cranberry something! keep trying!

Anonymous said...

One of my faves... if you still have any cranberries left, or got some more, try this one out...

Cranberry Acorn Squash

1 c fresh cranberries, chopped
1 c coarsely chopped apple, unpeeled
1/2 tsp freshly grated orange peel
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted

3 or 4 small fresh acorn squash

Preheat oven to 350. Mix first six ingredients and set aside. Cut squash lengthwise, discard seeds. Place halves cut-side down in a 13x9x2 baking pan (I had to use two pans). Bake 35 min. Turn squash cut-side up. Fill each half with a little cranberry mixture and continue to bake for another 25 min or until tender.

:) Tim's wife

NEDP said...

Kate ~ Thanks for the recipe! That sounds nom nom. I keep finding acorn squash on super discount at Aldi's so I'll have to try that! I think my family is getting sick of them with butter and brown sugar only.