The Beginnings of the Yuletide

November 27  –  This is the weekend that we always begin our preparations for the winter holiday season.  I wish we could have a real evergreen, but we have issues with skin and respiratory allergies so we make due.  We have lots of decorations that we’re collected over the years and the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments make it smell lovely.

The rest of the house gets cozied up too with candles and trees, lights and ornaments. 

The feather tree has a collection of little mice and clock ornaments (hickory dickory dock – the mouse ran up the clock) along with some antique metal twists that I picked up at a barn sale.  It’s settled into an old crock and anchored with hazelnuts (filberts) that were raised at a friend’s farm.

Each of the windows holds an electric candle, this one is attached to an antique thread spool that I found in an antique store in town years ago. It helps give it a little more height. This years we’ve decided to cut back on the outdoor lighting. A few years ago, the house was strung with icicle lights and fifteen deer were scattered throughout the pastures. One by one, the lights failed on the deer, we tried to replace them, but time eventually got the best of us and we realized it was a battle we could not win. Soon after, the icicle lights started to also go out. We tried to be environmentally responsible and purchase led as replacements. They lasted less then one year, so we tried another brand the next year. We’re ending up wasting more resources then we’re saving so we decided to try something completely different.  I’ll post that when we finish……..

By the way, Percy is enjoying her first Yuletide with a fireplace and has found a comfy spot on the sofa back – Darwin’s old spot.


Cinnamon and Applesauce Ornaments

The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & other spice always reminds me of Yule.  These ornaments, made of ground cinnamon and applesauce fill our house with the scent of an old fashioned holiday.  They make up all feel cozy.

To make these ornaments you will need:

Equal parts of cinnamon & applesauce – I started with 1 cup each.

Combine  in a bowl and work mixture with your hands until it forms a ball. If mixture is too dry, add a bit more applesauce, add more cinnamon if it is too moist.

Roll it the mixture on using a rolling pin on a surface dusted with cinnamon. Cut shapes using cookie cutters, or you could cut them by hand.  I use a drinking straw to cut out the circle that you will use to hang the ornament.  Put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and air dry for 24 to 48 hours – turning several times. You can also place the cookie sheet in a very low oven (around 200 degrees), which will help them dry much faster.

A Day of Thanksgiving

9:00 am – The pies are in the oven and the sweet potatoes are in the crock pot (please let these work).

Apple Pie – bake 425° for 45 minutes

  • 8 apples: peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 3 T flour
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice

Pumpkin Pie – bake  425° for 15 minutes then 350° for 30-40 minutes

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 stick cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1/4 t nutmeg

10:00 am – The pies are done and the stuffing ingredients are ready to start. The sweet potatoes are turned down to low in the crock pot

Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pound sweet potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 t  grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • Combine the liquid ingredients in the crock pot and heat until the honey melts
  • Add the potatoes and cook 6-8 hours on low

11:00 am – The stuffing is in the crock pot


  • 16 oz bread – cubed and dried overnight
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 pound Crimini mushrooms – sliced
  • 2 bunches green onions – chopped
  • 2 stalks celery – chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh Italian parsley – chopped
  • 1 T fresh oregano – chopped
  • 1 T fresh sage – chopped
  • 1 T fresh thyme – chopped
  • 1.5 t kosher salt
  • 3/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 c chicken broth
  • 1 egg – beaten
    • Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet add the mushrooms and cook about 8 minutes or until soft.
    • Add the green onions, celery, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute about 10 minutes.
    • Add the mixture, broth and egg to the bread and combine.
    • Cook in a crock pot for 45 minutes on high followed by 4-8 hours on low

1:30  The turkey’s in the oven.  I just put onion, herbs, carrots and celery into the cavity of the turkey and roasting it with butter, salt and pepper.  It should be done in about 3 hours.

The turducken is up at the in-law’s house roasting away as well.  I sent Noah up to get a quick picture.  It’s been roasting for six hours – and should have 3 to go.  OOPS, My Mother-in-law just called and the turducken is done; three hours early.  Luckily her oven has a “keep warm” feature so it will just take a little nap until we’re ready.

2:30  –   Now I’m just basting the turkey and finishing the table.  I peeled seven pounds of potatoes for the mashed potatoes and have them soaking in some water.  Next I think I’ll prep the broccoli and make the turducken gravy after Joe brings the pan back from his mom’s house.

3:00  –  The first batch of gravy is made (turducken) and the potatoes and broccoli are just hanging out.

4:00 to 10;30 pm  –  First guests arrived…. Everything went well.  Great company, good food, the dishes are done; all-in-all, a lovely holiday.

Planning the Feast

11/23:    Today we are getting the house ready of the Thanksgiving feast.  We have been battling the invasion of the ants for days.  They came in to attack the fermenting hard cider.  Today, my husband set out the bait and cleaned all of their trials.  Hopefully that will do it.

On the menu for tomorrow are:

  • roast turkey
  • bread stuffing with mushrooms and scallions
  • turkey gravy
  • Northwest turducken from New Seasons – thanks Kevin
  • mashed potatoes with roast garlic
  • sweet potatoes with orange juice and cardamom
  • steamed broccoli
  • fresh fruit salad
  • cranberry relish
  • rolls
  • pumpkin pie
  • apple pie
  • vanilla ice cream

Tonight I need to figure out the timing for everything…….

  • 7:30 am  –  the turducken will go up to my in-laws house for the 9 hour roast
  • 9:00 am – the sweet potatoes into the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low                 apple and pumpkin pies getting ready for the oven
  • 11:00 am –  stuffing into the other crock pot: 45 min on high / 4-8 hours on low
  • 1:30 pm  –  the turkey goes into the oven (17 lb unstuffed – 3 to 3.5 hr)
  • 4:00 pm  –  put the water on for the steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes
  • 4:30 pm  –  make gravy
  • 5:00 pm  –  dinner is served?

Tomorrow we need to…….

  • move coats from the hall closet
  • clean the guest bath
  • set the tables
  • move chairs around
  • set up music for table

My Bread Cloche

November 13:

Today was a little bit of a lazy, blustery autumn day.

The cheese is out of the press and drying nicely

The cheese is Jack, made from a recipe from the New England Cheese company. It will dry, be waxed and age for a few weeks. It should be ready for Christmas.


This bread cloche from Sassafrass is listed for over $30.00 on line. We found it at the local thrift for only $7.99. Even better, I was able to use a store credit that I had from some jeans that i had returned earlier. It’s a little discolored, but I think that is just from use.

Another great thrift store find

This little butter dish was just too precious to pass on. I’ve started collecting hand-thrown jugs, bottles and dishes. They lend such a warm and cozy feel to our home and serve so many purposes.

The bread came out beautifully

The Kefir and Coconut Milk Bread is great, maybe a little big, but it tastes wonderful.

This goes into the bread machine

  • 350ml kefir milk
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 2 t salt
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 T butter

Followed by 750g of bread flour and 1 T dry yeast
I set the machine on dough and let it go before turning it out into a linen cloth in a basket to rise. I pre-heated the cloche to 450 degrees, turned the dough out into it, covered and baked for 15 minutes. I then lowered the temperature to 400 degrees for 25 minutes (covered) and 5 mintues (uncovered).

Whole orange muffins with candied citrus that I made Saturday

Jack Cheese and Hard Cider

November 11: Today was a lovely day at home.  It was foggy last night late will a full moon but the fog and clouds cleared through the night.  When I woke up at 2:30 in the morning it was bright and clear and cold; perfect for a soak in the hot tub.

I started a batch of jack cheese this afternoon:

I added a half teaspoon of calcium chloride to 2 gallons of milk and heated it to 88° before adding the mesophilic starter culture.  It sat at 90° for 30 minutes and I added the rennet (1 t liquid in 1/4 cup water).  I slowly brought the temperature to 100° and held it there for 40 minutes.  Then I drained and salted the curd before putting it into the press.  I pressed for 15 minutes at 1 lb and am scheduled to press for 12 hours at 2 lbs. but I can’t see getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning to brine my cheese so it will have to wait for a decent hour.

Caleb and the Oregon City High School Marching Band performed today at the Veterans’ Day Parade in New York City. Wednesday the performed at part of the 1500 piece Band of Pride Tribute to the First Responders of 9/11.

November 6:  I don’t know where the time flies to, but it sure seems to fly quickly.

This weekend we spent time tidying loose ends; yard work, housework, homework…. On Saturday, we picked all of the apples from the orchard, about 2 big wheelbarrows full.  We found out that it works best if we press at night to keep the yellow-jackets at bay.  We ended up with about 6 gallons of juice – I froze two quarts, used 5 gallons for hard cider, and the rest is in the refrigerator. I also put two batches into the dehydrator, Joe loves dried apples.

Hard cider:

5 gallons cider
5 pounds sugar
5 crushed campden tablets
5 teaspoons ascorbic acid
3 3/4 teaspoons  pectic enzyme

Saturday Night we mixed everything together.  Sunday Night I’ll pitch a package of Montrachet yeast before I go to bed.  It will stay in the primary fermenting bucket for a week.  Next weekend, we’ll move it to a carboy for three weeks, then into another carboy for another three weeks before adding 3 3/4 teaspoons of  Potassium Sorbate and bottling.

This afternoon I made some great kefir milk rolls using a recipe from Just Like my Nan Made – thanks NellyMary.  I also needed to make cookies for a High School band Bake-sale.  I was able to use the frozen cookie dough-balls that I made in the summer and, easy-as-pie, I had a dozen each of oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and chocolate chip.

Tonight we’re trying to get everything ready for Caleb’s trip to New York City.  They have a band concert on Monday night, a performance at school on Tuesday morning then board the bus for the airport.  We are also trying to help Noah reorganize all of his school work.  The transition to middle school has been a little overwhelming for him, but we’re working on it.