the blueberries saved us

the blueberries saved us

Summer has swept past me in a blur. But fortunately I have some of its sweeter moments frozen in time thanks to my trusty camera (which is much more reliable and accurate than my brain). This year, we took the … Continue reading

another skating Christmas

Last Christmas, we ventured up to NH to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family. The most memorable part was the incredible ice skating with the family. Not to be outdone, Christmas 2010 with my husband’s family also included three days of beautiful skating in a different part of NH. And in true New England style, we had more than a foot of snow the day after Christmas.

Geared up for skating

 

Ready for the cold

 

The big girls help their southern cousin around the ice.

And some food, of course. We ate. And ate. You name it, we ate it. Prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, leg of lamb with broccoli and Hollandaise sauce, a whole ham with egg casserole for brunch. Shall I go on? Sticky buns, a gingerbread house, lemon tart, freshly baked pizelles

stickies and stew

We are home after almost a week of feasting with family in New Hampshire, and I’m happy to report that this was one of the best Christmases in recent memory.  Here’s why:

A whole lake of freshly frozen black ice.  It beckoned us to drive the 45 minutes to the nearest skate rental store so we could enjoy a classic New England Christmas.  And it was so worth it.  In my many years of traveling north for the holidays, I only remember one other year when we had these perfect conditions for smooth skating at Christmas.  Usually the lake isn’t frozen or if it is, there has been snow or sleet, which completely ruins the icy surface, making for some bumpy skating.  The ice was so clear, the kids even spied a frozen leaf a couple of inches down.

The second best part of our fabulous family festivities was the food.  I didn’t take many photos of the meals – with 16 people in and around the kitchen, it was enough just to get dinner served.  But here are two of our Christmas favorites:  Sticky Buns and Brunswick Stew.  I made both of these ahead of time so they just needed to be heated and served.  I don’t really follow a recipe for the stew – I try to recall how my mother used to make it and alter it according to taste.  However, recipe #4 on this website seems pretty close.  Don’t be alarmed if you Google Brunswick Stew and see “squirrel” or “rabbit” in the recipe; I opted for the suburbanite’s version and used chicken.  It’s fantastic with some country ham and cornbread or hush puppies.

The stickies are a tradition and I’ve learned to make them with the help of my bread machine.  I use the “Sweet Dough” setting on my bread maker, but I’m not sure of the equivalent on others.  The dough would also turn out well made by hand by softening the yeast in the water before adding the other ingredients, kneading, and rising until about double in size.

Sticky Buns

from foodie plus 4’s really old recipe book

[print recipe]

Note: Ceramic or glass 9 x 13 pans work best.  I used a metal pan this year and burned the bottoms of the stickies. The buns in the ceramic dish were fine and tasty!

Dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening [I use butter-flavored Crisco]
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons yeast

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened [I like salted butter, but either works fine]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional) [I do one tray with and one without]

Stickiness:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  1. Place all “dough” ingredients in the bread machine pot in the order listed. Use the “Sweet Dough” setting or your machine’s dough setting.
  2. Mix together filling ingredients, except the nuts.
  3. When cycle is complete, turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to roughly 16 x 24 inches.
  4. Spread filling mixture over the rectangle of dough and sprinkle on nuts, if using.
  5. Roll the long side away from you, pressing firmly and evening out the roll as you go.  Let rest while you make the sticky sauce.
  6. Melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. Stir until mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for one minute without stirring and remove from heat.  Divide between two 9- x 13-inch pans.
  7. Slice roll into 1-inch pieces and lay in the pans on top of the sauce.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F, and bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  9. If not serving immediately, refrigerate then reheat at 300°F for 15–20 minutes.
  10. Makes 24 or more sticky buns.

alfresco dining

Candle-lit dinner for two—doesn’t that sound romantic? Now throw in about 10 more people (plus two dogs) and you’ve got this:

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My brother and sister-in-law started this tradition of setting up folding tables on the dock, dressing them up, and voilà! Perfect alfresco evening. We had dinner outside both nights my cousins were with us in NH. The weather was outstanding and too beautiful to be indoors.

lobster

mair“And you thought the live lobsters were feisty?”

dessert

After a night of merriment, we awoke to my cousin cooking up a storm. Egg casserole, hot biscuits, and cheesy grits. What more could this half-southern girl ask for…except to eat this plate of goodness in my pajamas. Outside. Looking at the lake.

breakfast

breakfast2

Boiled Lobsters

I cannot believe how websites vary in how to cook a lobster! This link will tell you how to boil, steam, or grill lobster, and it’s the closest one to normal I could find. Really, it’s not a big deal. I’ve been witnessing it since I was born and actually tossing the lobsters in the pot since I was old/brave enough to try (probably around 12). I even pulled live lobsters from the traps one summer working on Martha’s Vineyard (this was NOT enjoyable—lobsters don’t spring from the sea with bands on their claws). However, I still squirm when I take these leggy guys out of the bag and plunge them to their death. But my hesitation disappears the second I see the shells turn that enticing bright red…yum!

  • Boil water in a large pot with a lid (you may add salt if you like).
  • Melt the butter and slice lemon wedges. Set up butter bowls and a large bowl (the “Body Bowl”) on the table to hold shells.
  • Submerge lobsters into boiling water head first (keep the bands on the claws).
  • Boil for about 12 minutes.
  • Drain and serve. (Make sure your plates are large and rimmed because of the water that will come out of the lobsters.)
  • If you want to make it easier for your guests and minimize the amount of liquid that pours onto the plates when the lobsters are cracked, take a heavy knife and crack the claws without detaching them, then hold the lobster by the tail over the sink to drain before serving. You may also want to slit the underside of the tail lengthwise so the meat is easier to access.

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

from foodie plus four

  • 1 quart of fresh wild blueberries, washed
  • 4-6 fresh large peaches, peeled, sliced, and pitted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. Mix the fruit with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, and cornstarch.  Spoon into prepared dish.
  4. In a bowl, mix the Bisquick, milk, sugar, and melted butter until just combined.
  5. Drop spoonfuls on top of the fruit.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscuit topping is cooked through.

Sausage and Egg Casserole

from foodie cousin

  • 2 lbs. Jimmy Dean sausage (one mild, one hot)
  • 8 oz.(1/2 lb.) Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 6 slices white bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Brown and crumble the sausage in a frying pan. Drain the grease, and set aside.
  3. Butter, toast, and cube the bread.
  4. Mix together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  5. Butter a 9 x 13 dish.
  6. Layer bread, cheese, sausage, and egg mixture.
  7. Bake 45-50 minutes or until eggs are set.