Do you know how to make rich, dark brown gravy the natural way? Without the store-bought box or package of gravy? No package of seasonings or dyes ever touches my gravy. I learned this trick from my mother years ago. Before you put the turkey in the roasting pan, slice up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bottom of the pan. As the turkey cooks, the onions and garlic will brown up, colouring and flavouring the juices, creating wonderful dark brown gravy.
You can puree the onions and garlic with the gravy if you like your gravy smooth and lump-free, or leave it chunky. This trick works for roast beef or pork as well.
A few other holiday dinner tricks:
Gluten-free brown gravy thickener: reserve (approximately) 1 cup of the water you boiled your potatoes in before you drain them. That water contains lots of potato starch, which is naturally gluten-free. Add the reserved water to your gravy, let it simmer for 10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Works like a charm, without the use of a roux made of wheat flour.
Decorating your dinner table: I like to use whatever is colourful in my garden at the time. In spring it is tulips or other bulbs. In fall I use leaves, ornamental grass spikes, and decorative gourds. Place the collected items in a vase, display on a cake pedestal, or lay them right on the table cloth (leaves work well flat)
Getting the creases out of your table cloth: Do you ever forget to take your table cloth out early enough to remove the folds/crease? Or change your mind on which table cloth you want to use at the last minute, and then cringe at the creases? Remove wrinkles and creases, without the use of an iron, from table cloths or your clothing with a wrinkle remover in a spray bottle. Keep some in your laundry room and bedroom for a quick fix.
I hope these tips come in handy when you are preparing your next holiday meal. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, so I plan to use them all.
It occurred to me this past weekend that I am a bit of a risk taker. At least when we are talking recipes. Oh, and anything related to gardens or flowers.
I very rarely follow written recipes completely, modifying them with favorite, gluten-free, or on-hand ingredients. For family dinners I usually try out at least one new recipe, and this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.
I made the perennially favourite pumpkin pie as well as cherry and butter tarts, but instead of apple pie or crisp, I tried a strawberry rhubarb crisp. My brother had commented on Facebook a while back that he was craving strawberry rhubarb pie and no one would make one for him, so as he was hosting dinner this past Sunday I took the bait. One of my clients donated the rhubarb and I had frozen strawberries on hand. The recipe called for fresh strawberries, so I just let mine thaw on the counter before using them. I do believe the dessert was a favourite at the table; the bit that was left in the pan was scooped up by my nephew to take home for later.
Tired of the popular vegetable dishes this time of year too, I decided to try roasted zucchini as my vegetable contribution. It too turned out delicious; I will definitely make it again. I simply sliced 3 yellow and 3 green zucchini lengthwise into about 6 spears each (you could slice them into coins instead) placed them on a greased cookies sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a mixture of parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, and dried basil, and baked then broiled them to perfection. Yummy!
Someone asked me after I volunteered to make my daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquets if I wasn’t nervous they wouldn’t turn out. My new daughter-in-law is wonderfully laid back, so I knew if the bouquets weren’t exactly perfect, she would not stress over it, otherwise, I might have been more nervous and (probably) would not have offered my services. All five were different and definitely unique creations…
I consider cooking or baking and gardening to be artistic adventures, and I think most will agree that artists of any kind have to take some risks to be unique. I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants (as I call it) or like to take (some) risks, but it is (almost) always worth it!
It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. We celebrate the second Monday in October, while other countries celebrate in November. I believe the reason for that is the fact that our winters arrive sooner here, so our harvests are earlier. After all, Thanksgiving did originate as a celebration after harvest was complete.
Regardless of when you celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure to remember all the things you are grateful for. This previous postlisted the things I was grateful for two years ago. All of these still apply, with the wonderful addition of my sons’ significant others and two (with a third one on the way) grandchildren.
With the arrival of grandchildren comes a new addition to my dining room furniture, just in time for Thanksgiving…
As Thanksgiving approaches here in Canada (and in the USA in the near future) we should take a moment in our busy lives to contemplate what we are thankful for. Here is my list:
I am thankful for my three wonderful sons, each one with different goals, dreams, skills and personalities. I am thankful they are all still working and living close by and thoughtful enough to share their lives with me!
I am thankful for my husband of thirty one years, for his love and support, not to mention providing me with and helping me raise the above mentioned three sons.
I am thankful for my good health as well as the good health of those dear to me.
I am thankful for this wonderful country called Canada that we live in and the particular neighbourhood here in Kanata, Ontario that I live in.
I am thankful for the job I have where people pay me to play in their gardens.
I am thankful for the materialistic things in my life too, such as a warm and safe home, clothes on my back, food on my table, family vacations etc.
When you sit down for your Thanksgiving dinner, or before then, be sure to list the things you are most thankful for in your life. Then remind yourself often of your good fortune, especially the non-materialistic things!
Why did these wild turkeys cross the road? To get to the other side? Perhaps they are going into hiding so they do not end up on someone’s dinner table. Afterall, Thanksgiving is coming soon here in Canada.
Of course, there is always one straggler that takes their time crossing, holding up traffic…
My sister Vickie’s 20 year old son suffered a stroke two weeks ago in Corpus Christi Texas and must now undergo extensive therapy to recuperate.We are very thankful he survived the ordeal and very hopeful he will eventually recover to 100%. After a three week hospital stay, he was able to go home for the holidays; truly a thanksgiving miracle.
As you can probably imagine, the expense of his therapy is staggering. Most of our family lives here in Canada, but my sister, her three children and her three grandchildren live in Texas. Bank accounts have been set up, one in Canada at Scotiabank and one in the USA at Bank of America, to collect donations to help with the cost of his medical bills.
If you wish to donate please contact me. Please share this message through facebook, email, or by the old fashioned “word of mouth” with anyone you think can help. Thank you in advance for your support, it is greatly appreciated!