Now that Thanksgiving has past, I can take a breath. Woo... it is such a busy time of year for everyone! There is always lots of cooking, eating and visiting around here, and its important to take some time for the things that matters. I took a few days off from sewing this year and did a lot of cooking and baking. Along with sewing, I LOVE to cook! I started cooking when I was young, my Mom and Grandma were both excellent cooks, so I learned a lot without even realizing it. I must confess though, I love to cook, because I LOVE to eat even more! Thanksgiving is my very favorite meal to cook. I spent two full days doing nothing but prepping and cooking. The Wednesday before the big day, I get up early have coffee, and I stay in my pajamas most of the day, because it's pie day! The desert menu changes a bit from year to year, depending on my mood, but this year I was feeling extra festive, so I made more from scratch!
I use a very simple crust recipe:
1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
Combine flour and salt, cut in COLD butter until looks like crumbs, then stir in VERY cold water. Sometimes I add a small cup of water to the freezer beforehand, so there are even a few ice crystals beginning to form, the key is to keep it cold, and not handle it too much. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a few hours.
Then roll out dough to fit 9 inch pie pan and press dough into bottom and sides.
(Double recipe depending how many pies you plan to make)
Once you have your dough ready, the fun begins! This year I made a pumpkin pie, a cherry cheesecake, and a peach/cherry pie. They all turned out wonderful! I use the standard pumpkin pie recipe that comes on the can of pumpkin pie. I usually cook a fresh pumpkin and puree it for my pies, but this year I didn't buy cooking pumpkins, so the can works just fine. I do pour a little sweetened condensed milk over top sometimes too, if I have extra from the cherry/peach pie. See below for more details. Cook pumplin 15 min on 425, then lower to 350 cook for another 40 min. I cook them one at a time for best results.
Next, my very favorite is peach/cherry pie. It is super simple. I usually keep a bag of frozen peaches from the Texas summer harvest time, I save and freeze them specifically for this holiday. Then, I cook them down on the stove top with some sugar, a splash of citrus, and cinnamon, once it's cooked down, dump it in the prepared pie crust, then top with one can of tart cherries. Then pour over the top some sweetened condensed milk, just to cover the fruit. I dont usually use the entire can. Then I cut some crust strips and lay them on top of the fruit. Once its all ready I brush some egg wash over the top of the pie dough, this makes the pie shiny and you can't have a dull pie! Cook 350 for about 40 minutes. You can cover the crust with parchment paper if it is starting to get too golden around the edges.
(Here are my raw pies)
Then last but not least, I make cheesecake according to the Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe, then pour into a spring form pan with crust that I mixed butter, tablespoon of sugar and crumbled organic graham crackers. Cook as directed, let it cool and pour a can of cherry or strawberry topping over the top. I always refrigerate my cheesecakes overnight, they taste yummier that way!
I also ALWAYS make cranberry sauce. This is also very simple. Throw the entire bag into a pan, add an orange (half squeezed and have just left whole) add half cup sugar, 1/4 cup of whatever juice you have. I used some OJ, and I also use some fresh mint from my garden. Cook it on med/low and still occasionally. I usually let mine cook about an hour or so until it looks like mush. Then I take my Cuisinart stick hand blender and blend it until it looks smooth like jelly. Stick it in the frig overnight and enjoy with your turkey dinner.
I make Quilts. For a long time, quilts were the only thing I could make! That's not to say I didn't try other things, because I absolutely spent a stupid amount of money on wasted chopped up fabric, and patterns that I still have sitting in a bottom drawer in my sewing room. I will never forget the evening I made my husband a pair of shorts! He loves the Oakland Raiders, so I decided I was going to buy some cotton Raiders fabric to make him some drawstring pants to wear around the house. Notice I said pants AND shorts, well that's because I didn't get nearly enough fabric to make long pants for a grown man, so I was already off to a bad start!
I got a cheap pattern from Walmart, and I was so excited. I started to unfold this thin pattern paper and quickly realized it was huge, and it was all over the floor, and I had no idea how to read it, or what it all meant. So shorts it is! Because in my mind of logic they were smaller, and surely better. I cut, and I struggled, and I struggled some more. I re-read the pattern 50 times, and I ended up with a pair of shorts that would fit a Sumo wrestler. They were enormous! My husband modeled them in the dining room and we laughed until we cried, and then I put them in a box.
I didn't think of that pair of funny shorts again until a few years ago when I needed a little girl birthday gift, in a hurry. I went to that same bottom drawer full of patterns, and I found three super cute little girl dress patterns! Yes! I could do this! They were small, and they didn't have very many pieces, and I had grown a lot over the years. The instructions actually made sense, and before long I had a few little dresses, all different colors and sizes, and I loved them! I wrapped up one little dress, along with some other little girl things and headed to a birthday party. The dress was a big hit, and I felt good! Sure enough, someone asked me while at this birthday party if I could make a stuffed animal, an elephant I think she wanted, and I quickly said NO! This lady has no idea what I went through to get to this point, she's lost her mind asking for stuffed animals, right? Well.... you guessed it. I found my party going behind in the Hobby Lobby a few hours later digging through the pattern drawers. I got frogs, and dogs, and teddy bears, and elephants and all kinds of stuffed animals! I got the stuffing, I got some cute flannel fabric and I was pumped! I was going to have a regular farm in the sewing room! WRONG! I hated every single pattern I bought! The frog legs were so long and skinny I gave up, the teddy bear had way too many pieces and after hours of struggling his head didn't fit his body quite right. It was a complete disaster.
So I locked myself in my sewing room until I could make sense of something!
The only thing that made sense was to make a simple pattern myself that I liked, based around all of these that I didn't like. That day was the birth of my custom Teddy Bears. I started making them with quilting cotton and my very simple pattern and they looked crisp and clean, and I love making them! Each one is a little different, and they are all adorable. Sometimes I make them for kids, and sometimes I make them for adults and they almost always have a name or a quote embroidered on their belly. They make great new friends and they just make people smile. But, sometimes I make them and they are full of memories and tears, with love and meanings, because I use clothes, instead of fabric from the store. Memory Teddy Bears make a beautiful unique gift that fill a room with love. But, no matter the occasion, everyone loves a teddy bear.
Hey Y'all, I'm Gina Tell! I live on Lake Travis just North of Austin Texas. I'm a full time long arm quilter and lover of all this art and outdoors!!