November is a month that isn’t any one season, at least around here. It is a blend of fall and winter and spring.
The start of the month had spectacular autumn colors, but the winds and rains have been steadily denuding the trees. We have had some quite chilly days with the north wind blowing and also some nice balmy weather, enough to trick several plants into thinking it’s spring.
This year it feels like everyone is jumping the gun on Christmas…Encouraged by the advertising complex. I am more than a little cynical about that. Sometimes I refer to Christmas as “consumer-fest”. It really is not a religious holiday for most. I like to take things slower and celebrate advent, trying to find something less like jolly and more like joy.
With no kids in our lives the pressure is off…but the dark days seem to cry out for something special, something hopeful and a little bit sparkly and fun.
It seems fitting that my last NanoPoblano post would be also a Changing Seasons post. Posting every day for a month is a real challenge for me. You’d think that with just dogs to walk and household things to do I’d find it easier.
It’s been great fun to read and explore the many different posts of all the cheer peppers, thank you all for enriching my month and to Rarasaur for the very cheerful and encouraging hosting of this event.
Wishing you all a joyous Christmas, or whatever mid-winter (or summer for those in the south) fest you prefer.
If we were having coffee I’d offer you some cranberry upside down cake. It’s a hybrid of two recipes: one I copied out of a magazine years and years ago that became a family favorite, the other is a scaled down one from a Baking for Two magazine I got a few years ago, not long after our son flew off to make his own nest.
It’s kind of fussy to make but worth it.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
The recipe makes a 6″ round cake, just right for two.
For the topping (bottom?)
2 tsp (or up to 1 tbsp) of melted butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans and/or walnuts work well)
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Oil the 6″ round cake pan. Pour the melted butter into the pan and spread it out. sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter as evenly as reasonable. Heat in the oven for 2 minutes, then add the nuts and cranberries. Set aside.
For the cake
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk (I tend to use Trader Joe’s Almond Beverage)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus one large yolk
pinch cream of tartar
Whisk together the flower, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Whisk the milk and vanilla together in a separate bowl.
Beat butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low then add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk mixture in two additions, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Beat the egg white and cream of tartar to soft peaks.
Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining. Pour over the topping layer in the pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a serving plate.
Another cranberry idea from this week
I don’t have a recipe for this, because I made it up on the fly.
I used the crusts I cut off of the bread I used to make dressing for Thanksgiving to make a cranberry apple bread pudding.
I cut about three cups of the crusts up, tossed them with a sliced up apple and a cup or so of cranberries. then put the mixture into 6 muffin cups and a mini loaf pan (grease the pans well). Whisked together a bunch of eggs, about 6, some milk, about 1 cup (I use Trader Joe’s Almond Beverage), some sugar, about 1/4 cup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Pour the egg-y mix over the bread and let it soak for a while, then bake at 350 deg F until a knife comes out clean. This makes a nice breakfast, with a drizzle of maple syrup, or just a sweet, but not too sweet, snack.
Thanksgiving was fine for us
We went to my Dad’s (we officially designated him part of our household for pandemic purposes months ago) it was just the three of us plus one close friend of the family…plus the three dogs…and our cat.
We had all the usual suspects: turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce, with pumpkin pie after. Needless to say there were significant amounts of left overs.
It rained a bit, but didn’t pour, so we were able to walk on the beach when the tide was out. The dogs love that.
All-in-all it was a relaxed time, more so than the last couple of years, which included my grandmother’s last Thanksgiving in 2018 and our first without her in 2019.
How was your week? If you celebrate USA Thanksgiving how did it go?
I don’t shoot in black and white, but I took these photos on a walk yesterday planning to process them in Black and White for Hey Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge #47: photograph nature in Black and White and experiment with high and low key effects.
If we were having coffee I would share this cranberry coffee cake.
I impulsively bought a 2 lb bag of cranberries, an awful lot for just the two of us. So this will be a very cranberry holiday season. My first adventure was to make this cranberry sauce: the recipe intrigued me because it contained apricot jam and almonds.
It goes like this:
1/2 cup honey
1 cup water
2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup apricot or peach preserves
1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds
Boil the water and honey for 8 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for about 4 minutes (until they are popping). Remove from the heat and stir in the jam and almonds.
I used the sauce in place of the fruit filling in a coffee cake recipe. It seems to work pretty well.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays this week. We did our shopping on Monday, because Tuesday Dad had a doctor consult about his heart test results (via Zoom), so we took the food over there (where we have Thanksgiving*). That shopping trip was when I grabbed the cranberries.
Finding ways to have a bit of cheer and a break up of routine without doing anything much seems to be how I’m approaching this year. I made six bright holiday print masks from bits of fabric left from projects gone by.
How about you? Do you have any fun cranberry recipes? How about ideas to be merry and bright during the dark days of winter (obviously I am northern hemisphere).
*I feel like I have to explain, so you don’t think we are cheating, that for pandemic purposes we define our “household” as including both our house and my dad’s. Since he is in his 80s, lives alone and I often need to take him to medical appointments.