Preparations (and #whisky cake)

image
Home and hearth.

The rest of the house sleeps, but the early hours–the hours before the sun breaks over the ridge–are the hours that allow my thoughts  to percolate…and my preparations for the things that lies ahead.  The  morning moments, before the bustle of breakfast or the scurry of the workday, grant me peace; I accept the offering and try not to squander it.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  The amazing abundance that makes it the table is a labor of love.  I tend to plan my meal months in advance.  Some of the dishes will be found at tables across America, and others are simply family favorites.

Last night I brined the turkey.  Last year was our first year to brine the holiday bird, and it was such a success that it was quickly decreed that All Birds Henceforth Shall Be Brined.

Today will be filled with All Things Cranberry: the traditional Cranberry Relish, our beloved Neil Gaiman Cranberry Sauce, and Sugared Cranberries.  (Seriously, there is nothing more precious than hearing a small child say, in his best Holiday Manners, “More Neil Gamain Cranberry Sauce, please?”)

Desserts will also fill the oven today.  Whisky cake*, pumpkin pie, and pecan tassies.  The sugar  cookie and Pfeffernüsse dough were made over the last weekend and are ready to be baked on Thanksgiving night as we drag all of the Christmas decorations down from the attic.

Today I’ll make fudge (pumpkin, and peppermint, and chocolate), peanut brittle, and rum sauce.   Candy dishes will be filled and refilled as little hands sneak “just a taste” when I turn to stir a pot or peek in the oven.

Tomorrow is for side dishes and things-that-go-on-trays.  Pickle trays, cheese trays, olive trays, veggie trays…  Heaping piles of side dishes will be prepared: mashed potatoes, praline sweet potatoes, salads, quinoa and wild rice with cranberries and carmalized onions.

Tomorrow is for last-minute vacuuming by over-eager children with energy to burn (likely from the rush of stolen sugary-things).

Tomorrow is for trying to fill the table with all the foods that represent home, and family, and tradition; for wishes of a winter filled with Enough…enough food, enough warmth, enough family and friends, enough Love to make it through the years Dark Days.

As you go about your last minute preparations, I wish you Enough.

 

* If you will be having family over for the holdays, or going to visit family, I HIGHLY recommend making a whisky cake.  My version is very, erm, “bracing.”  Just the thing for a lovely day with the in-laws. 💕

Just the thing for some Holiday “Spirit”

Today was the Thanksgiving “muncheon” at work.  Ever the rebel, I decided that I would liven up the festivities with a nice Glenmorangie cake.  I placed the cake in the break room at 8:30 a.m.  It was completely devoured within the hour.  Although, admittedly, I did eat one piece myself.

The holidays mean relatives descending upon your sanctuary.  They come from far and wide and, even if they aren’t staying for longer than it takes to eat The Meal, they still bring a lot of baggage with them.  Slights, resentments, and betrayals unknown or unrecalled are all stirred up.

In order to prepare for the inevitable drama, it is best to have plenty of strong tea on hand (or coffee, if that is your thing).  Perhaps some eggnog–well fortified–will help, too.  But, at my house, I go with a very special cake to help get me in the holiday *ahem* spirit.  This Glenmorangie cake is just the thing to fill my stomach, settle my nerves, and help those passive aggressive remarks slide by unnoticed.

Cake1

Glenmorangie Cake

Cake:
1 c. softened butter (no substitutes)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
3 c. self-rising flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. Glenmorangie
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour one 12-cup Bundt pan AND one 6-count cupcake pan OR one eight inch round pan.  (This makes more than just the one Bundt cake, and I tend to snack on the “extra” cake and keep the “fancy cake” for The Meal.)

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter.  Slowly add the flour mixture.  Then add milk, vanilla, and whisky.

Divided the batter 2/3 in the Bundy pan and the remainder in the cupcake pan or eight inch round.

Cook until golden brown.  (The Bundt cake will take longer than the others, so keep an eye on it.  It will take about 1520minutes for the cupcakes and about 35-45 minutes for the Bundt, depending on your oven.

When the cakes are done, remove from the oven and let them cool.  While the cake is still warm, brush it with the Glenmorangie Glaze.

GlenmorangieGlenmorangie Glaze

1/2 c. butter (no substitutes)
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. Glenmorangie

Melt the butter in a sauce pan.  Stir in water and sugar.  Boil 5 minutes, stirring continuously.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  While warm, gently pour in the Glenmorangie.  Spool/brush onto warm cake.  Let cool.  Store in air tight container.

Serve with coffee, tea, eggnog, or more Glenmorangie.  Let the festivities begin!