Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The best kind of leftovers!

After Saturday's food fest, we had a fair amount of leftovers to get rid of.  While sandwiches may be the standard leftover fare, we had my favorite kind of leftovers on Sunday morning--Thanksgiving Ebelskivers! 

These little Danish filled pancakes can be made with a sweet batter or a savory batter.  On Sunday, I started with the savory batter recipe, then folded chopped leftover turkey and some leeks into the batter.  For the filling, I used leftover cranberry-orange relish.

These were delicious!  (and at 5 points for three, a touch heavy on the WW points, but not nearly as many as Saturday's feast racked up!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Library Built-ins

I'm back with another update on the library built-ins.  In case you're wondering what we're up to, this is a mock-up I did nearly five years ago when we first started talking about this project.  Shockingly, the finished product is going to look pretty much like this, too!

I showed you the bookshelf progress last week, but I realized at some point that finishing the bookshelves will do us no good if we don't have a counter top to place them on.  The counter top issue has been quite a problem.  First, the width of this room is basically 10'8".  Guess what 'standard' lengths generally stop at?  Ten feet. Argh.  Also, you'll notice that I put in a black top--thinking something like soapstone or black granite would look nice.  I still think it would look nice, but I've never been able to convince myself that we needed to spend $1000 on a counter top in this not-too-frequently-used room.
Having given up on a high end counter, I decided that we should just use oak, which would blend nicely with the rest of the built-ins.  Unfortunately, I've been picky and didn't want to have visible seams (so putting two or three planks together was out).  For a while I thought oak plywood would work (it's what we used for the window sill, after all and that looks nice).  It turns out that 12 foot long pieces of oak plywood are nigh on impossible for a regular person to get their hands on  and anything shorter would result in unseemly seams.  After months of trying to make that work in my head, I've given up.
This brings me to today's field trip, to a cabinet supply shop down in Nicholasville.  Remember my trip to the stone yard in Louisville when we were working on the main bath?  This is sort of the same, except that this facility has aisles of laminate!

I took in one of the cabinet doors we finished and held it up next to dozens of sheets of laminate.  I picked two to get samples of to bring home to J, and then I'll be having someone make a counter for me.
Option 1: a faux stone "HD" laminate

Option 2: more of a matte, leather-like finish
Is this exactly what I had in mind initially?  No, it isn't.  Am I okay with that?  Eh, I'm okay with a finished product and being happy enough to move on to something else.  Seriously, I think that it is going to be very serviceable, it's going to look better than something I could cobble together myself, there aren't going to be any visible seams, and we're not going to bankrupt ourselves using materials that aren't necessary in our neighborhood.  And did I mention that it's going to be done?
So what do you think?  Is laminate the way to go?  If so, which of these options would you choose?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday smells like...Thanksgiving Dinner

J and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving Thursday at home (aside from waking up early to serve breakfast at a place downtown, which was an awesome way to start the day). We postponed our Thanksgiving Dinner extravaganza to today (Saturday) to share with friends who had other plans on Thursday.
We are pretty much sticking to our typical menu (turkey roasted with herbed duck fat, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin ice cream) with a few additions (grilled asparagus and vanilla ice cream, too).  I'll be back throughout the day with pictures, because they'll say so much more than I could try to find the words for!
We'll start with my cranberry-orange relish, which is best when made a couple days early and allowed to sit in the refrigerator.  (By the way, this recipe is 2 points per 1/4 cup serving.)

Next up, y'all know that duck fat plays a big role in our Thanksgiving.  The herbed duck fat compound is used to bard the turkey (Basically, you squeeze this concoction between the skin and the meat of the turkey.  As the turkey cooks, the fat melts and drips down through the turkey.  Makes for an incredibly moist bird!).  You start with frozen duck fat:

So you cut off a chunk of duck fat and throw it in the KitchenAid stand mixer.  Then, you add a variety of chopped herbs and blend it all together.  When you scoop it out, the compound looks like this:

 Then, this is the cool part (I think)--you roll the duck fat compound up into a cling wrap tube of yummy goodness and toss it back in the refrigerator.  It stays like this until you're ready to pop your turkey in the oven!  (On it's own--though I don't know why you'd eat it on it's own--the herbed duck fat compound is about 5 WW points per 1 tbsp. serving)

Okay, as of 11:00 we've added the following:
See how the turkey is kind of green now?  That's all of the herbs in the duck fat compound, smoothed out under the skin!

The legs are in the oven, getting a head start on roasting, and the turkey breast/wings are chilling (literally) waiting for their turn to join the legs.

Since the ice cream base needs to set up a bit before actually turning it into ice cream, I went ahead and made the vanilla and pumpkin (below).  Both are cooling in our rapidly running out of room refrigerator!

Next up--prepping ingredients for the stuffing and asparagus, and boiling potatoes!

12:30 update:
The turkey legs smell and look amazing!

The breast is now in the oven, and I'm struggling not to compare it to a frog!  With its wings tucked back, they kind of look like legs.  To me, at least...

The pumpkin ice cream is made and hanging out in the freezer.

Next up...hmmm...same as last time--we still need to prep stuffing ingredients and boil those potatoes!

2:30 update!  Ready for more? We finally got started on our sides by putting the potatoes on to boil and browning the sausage for our stuffing.  J sliced the leeks earlier today, so that means all of the 'parts' are ready to combine for the stuffing.

He also prepped the asparagus, and since he cooked the bacon and sliced the onions earlier, that dish is ready to put together just before we eat, too!

I also made the vanilla ice cream, so it is setting up in the freezer with the pumpkin ice cream I made earlier.

What's next?  Chantilly cream for the pumpkin ice cream and mashed potatoes are the last of the 'make-ahead' items.  When the turkey comes out of the oven, we can put the stuffing in.  Then, we're just waiting until closer to meal time to make the gravy and the asparagus.  Oh, and I need to set the table...
Okay, I failed to get back with another cooking update before dinner, so this part of the post will probably be even heavier on pictures (and since it's nearly ten and I'm exhausted, lighter on words!).  The turkey breast came out:

...and the stuffing went in.

The Chantilly cream was whipped...
(but I forgot to take a picture)

...and the potatoes were mashed.

The stuffing baked...

...and the gravy was made.

And somehow, I forgot to take a picture of the food table (we did buffet style).  Believe me, though, everything tasted just as great as it smelled today!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A glimpse of the library built-ins progress

So last week I told you we're working on the library built-ins, and I thought I'd show a picture of the progress today!

This is just one of the shelves, and it needs to be poly'd before we can call it done, but I'm really pleased with it!  Forgive the blotchy look of it; I think that's the lighting, because it doesn't look like that at all in person.  Forgive, too, our messy laundry/work room!  Our new (to us!) washer is in the foreground taking up entirely too much space, and I'm realizing from looking at the picture that those bar stools really need to go, too. The tree will head upstairs next weekend and free up quite a bit of floor space for the next month!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Progress! Seriously!

I don't even know when I last mentioned the built-ins in the library (even as a one line mention on a to-do list), but needless to say, it's been a long while.  Well, this weekend we started making progress on that project!  The current (Make the MP Baby Friendly) to-do list runs something like this:

  • Finish the built-ins
  • Move all the books off the pool table onto the built-ins
  • Sell the pool table (sniff!)
  • Clear out the nursery-to-be
  • Paint the nursery-to-be
  • Buy nursery furniture
You'll notice that finishing the built-ins is key to the next few steps, so we finally seem to have the motivation necessary to cross this project off our list.  While I was out of town this weekend J bought all the supplies and started sanding the book shelves.  I did a finish sand today, and later this week J will spend an evening with smelly wood stain.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll actually finish this project before the need for a nursery actually arrives!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day!

I remember going to the polls with my folks long before I was old enough to vote myself, and I look forward to continuing the tradition with our little one!  Here we were yesterday just after voting: