Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Again

My favorite time of the year is here, the run from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  This year we're having the big meal at my sister's house, so we'll head down there tomorrow morning.  In spite of the weather guys calling for all sorts of ugly driving for today and tomorrow, it looks like it won't be as bad as they originally anticipated.  That makes me happy, since part of our drive is over a notoriously treacherous stretch of highway through large hills.

 Molly, bird-watching from the back window after our first real snowfall last week.

Yesterday I made cranberry-orange bread, and today I'm making pumpkin bread.  If I'm really ambitious, I might make some biscotti, just for fun, later tonight.  I got the Christmas lights put up last week, ready to be turned on this weekend, and we'll get our Christmas tree on Sunday or Monday.  I don't go bonkers with decorating, but we have our own traditions.  We have special ornaments for the tree, and I do the lights simply because I find them to be pretty and festive - simple red and white lights on a few bushes by the porch this year, since I don't have the energy to want to deal with lighting the cherry tree.  We each have stockings, and I make certain goodies throughout the season.
The Princess, who was NOT enthused about the first snow or the cold temps.  
She's wearing long PJs, soccer socks, a fur-lined hoodie, 
and wrapped up in a double-layer fleece blanket.
After this photo, she also put on a scarf and gloves.

I enjoy sharing and giving through this season, and I try my best to not get caught up in the insane consumerism that surrounds us.  I'm doing some homemade gifts for many family members this year, which has been both fun and relaxing.  Some things I purchase will be from local stores.  A few gift cards will also be given, since it's hard sometimes to find what is just right for someone who really would enjoy picking out their own gift from a favorite store.

Christmas cookies, bourbon pecan cake, fudge - it's a good season for eating, that's for sure.  I'll try to share a few recipes before Christmas, in case you want to try one of my family's favorite goodies.  Here's one to start off with: 

Pumpkin Walnut Bread

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups light brown sugar

Combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar, and mix well.  Then add:

3 cups flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix until all ingredients are blended.  Stir in 2 cups of chopped walnuts.  (Optional:  this recipe is equally good with miniature chocolate chips, or both chips and walnuts, or with cinnamon chips.)

Scoop batter into three medium foil loaf pans, which have been given a light coating of vegetable oil/oil spray/greased and floured.  Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (The bread will crack lengthwise along the top as it bakes.)  Let cool for 10 minutes, turn out of pans, cool to room temp, wrap, and store.  It freezes very well.  You can also make this in mini loaf pans (6 mini pans, 350F, 40-45 minutes).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Enjoy the day as much as you can, hopefully with your families and good friends.  If you have to work, I hope you stay safe and get to see your family before or after your shift.