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Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Thanksgiving Memories, Food, and Requirements

Growing up we used to spend Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house. She doesn’t live in a fancy house in a great part of town, my uncle is a chain smoker and my cousins were sometimes less than friendly.  However, I always seemed to have a good time. My aunt would cook the turkey, stuffing, and various sides while we would bring rolls, dessert and another side.  My grandparents would bring chow-mein and sekihan (a sweet rice that is cooked with adzuki beans).  Sure it was different, but I loved it.  Of course, once we returned home we’d all strip and throw our clothes in the wash.

At some point our tradition ended.  Now our thanksgivings are much more simple and usually involve fewer people, except for this year.  This year we are spending it with about 11 members of my husband’s family and more will join us for dessert. His family is much more traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving, but they all love dessert and lots of it, which I can certainly get behind.  However, when it comes to Thanksgiving I have two requirements.

1.  There must be jello.  The first time I had Thanksgiving at his parent’s house his aunt made this jello that was so delicious I became addicted to it.  It is strawberry jello with chunks of fruit throughout and a layer of sour cream in the middle. I know it sounds strange, and I’m not sure why I love it so much except that it reminds me of something my mom used to make when I was a kid.

2.  I must have apple pie and preferably my grandmother’s apple pie.  Most people use tart apples, usually granny smiths, but my grandma always used a sweet apple, usually golden delicious.  I think it has much more of an apple flavor and you don’t have to add as much sugar.  As much as I love chocolate, those desserts can wait until Christmas. What I want for Thanksgiving is warm apple pie.  Since we’re traveling this year I have only the crust made. The filling and baking will be done when we get there., but I am still dreaming about that first bite.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Orange Scones

I love the holiday season. I love the smells, the food, even the air seems different. At any rate, this year we are driving down to California for our Thanksgiving. Lunches and dinners for the most part will be taken care of, but what to do about breakfast? We are staying in a house so we will have a full kitchen, but I thought some festive scones would make a great breakfast treat. They are easy to make and freeze very well. My favorite recipe so far has been from our trusty America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.



2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbs. sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp. salt

5 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled

½ tsp. orange zest

¾ cup dried cranberries (I used one cup of fresh cranberries and upped the sugar to 3 ½ Tbs sugar)

1 cup heavy cream


    1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450°. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a food processor. Add the orange zest. Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. [Note: I don’t happen to have a food processor so I just mix everything together with a spatula and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter. I then put chill the mixture for about 5 minutes just to keep everything cold].
    2. Add the cranberries and mix. Stir in the cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form.
    3. Turn the dough and any floury bits out onto a floured counter and knead until it forms a rough, slightly sticky ball.
    4. Press the dough into a 9-in cake pan. Unmold the dough and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an un-greased baking sheet
    5. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Right now the house smells delicious!


I remember when I was in college that I ate those pre-packaged ramen noodles pretty often because they were cheap and quick to make. Have you ever looked at the sodium content in those packages though? Yikes! After going to Japan and eating real ramen noodles I realized that I too could make ramen that was healthier.

So… here is it! It does take more prep work, but it really isn’t that much more difficult to make and can be done on a tight budget.



4 pkgs. Dried Chunka Soba noodles (Guess what…I buy the pre-packaged ramen from the store for about $0.20 and toss the powder packet.)

1 piece garlic (minced)

½ lb. pork or 2 pieces of chicken breast. (Cut pork in thin ½ x 1 inch slices. Cut chicken in thin bite size pieces).

1 carrot cut in thin circles

1 bamboo shoot cut diagonally in thin slices (I omit this ingredient, but you can buy canned bamboo if you can’t find it in the store or if you don’t feel like cutting up a bamboo shoot)

3 dried mushrooms cut in quarters after soaking in water to make soft (I just buy fresh shiitake)

Green beans or spinach—cut green beans in ¼ inch diagonal pieces and par-boil. If using spinach, par-boil and cut into 1 inch length.

½ kamaboko cut into 1/8 inch thick slices

Hard boiled eggs sliced in circles

Cooking oil

6 cups cooking soup stock or water


Soy Sauce


Aji-no-moto (they make some without MSG)


Place oil in pan. Add garlic and pork. Cook until Pork browns. Add 1 Tbs. of salt and cook for another minute. Then add 6 cups of water or soup stock, carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and continue cooking until carrots are cooked. Season to taste by adding additional salt (If you use soup stock this isn’t necessary), mirin, soy sauce, and aji-no-moto.

While above is cooking, boil dried noodles in a pan of boiling water, drain and divide equally in 6 bowls. Pour soup over.

Garnish with green beans or spinach, kamaboko and slices of hard-boiled egg.

Eat hot and don’t be afraid to slurp!

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