Monday, November 23, 2015

November Third Sunday Dinner Repoirt 2015

    November Third Sunday Dinner is always my favorite one of the year.  So much work, yet so fun and satisfying.  This year it did take me by surprise.  Usually it falls on the Sunday right before Thanksgiving.  Wow, was I surprised when it was a week early.  Mentally I had it all arranged for the  22nd of the month.  I had it all planned out in my mind, the day by day preparation.  Wow did it take me by surprise when it was a week early this year.  
    What do you do?  Dig in and make it work.  That is just what I did.  I dug in and went to work.  Turkeys to be done, dressing, dessert, and so much fun.  
     This was a great one.  It was raining outside all morning, not just raining, pouring.  As I looked out the window at the pouring rain I just said a prayer in my heart that the clouds would part.  I knew I was on the Lord's errand and I needed clear sky's.  Calls to move to the church were appreciated, but declined,  the rain would clear.
     At 3:00 the clouds cleared,  I built fires in the fire pit and chiminea to warm the feeling in the air and I continued cooking.  It didn't rain until after dinner and everyone was gone.  It was an amazing evening.  The food was great and the group was amazing in every way.  What a great way to start the holiday season.  
     Below is a picture adventure of the evening.  I hope your food adventures bring you as much fun and enjoyment as mine do me and my family.  
Enjoy the adventure,  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy 

For all your holiday recipes you can go to   There are video's and recipes for all your holiday needs.  

The turkeys are in to brine  

Brinned and ready to smoke.  I smoke them for 12 hours on the smoke setting.  

The turkeys are done.  Wow.  I love smoked turkeys.  

Pumpkin Bundt Cakes with a Cranberry Glaze.  Recipe below.  

Robert is amazing.  He came early and worked so hard to help me get it all together.

The two young Turkey Carvers. 

The spread.  Cheesy Grits,  Brown Butter Barley, Dressing, and Cream Corn.
That's a lot of mashed potatoes.

Kamut Fruit salad and dinner rolls

Happy Guests 

Surprised by two dear friends.  Look up and saw them standing there and could not have been happier.  Thank you for
honoring me by coming to dinner.  Love you guys.  

My wife and a long time family friend who was in town and decided to come to dinner.  Thank you, we were so happy
that you would come by with your family.  We love and miss your family.  

Nothing like a fire to warm up the air. 

Look at these two boys.  I love the missionaries.  So full of life.  

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Bundt cakes never go out of fashion, no matter what your told.  They are always loved and this one is a great one for any time of the year.  Just change up the glaze.  

3 cups WonderFlour or fresh ground flour of your choice
2 cups sugar,  coconut or agave can be used
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking spice or pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup oil or melted butter
1 fifteen ounce can solid packed pumpkin
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and shift.  In  mixer place all wet ingredients and mix well.  Add wet ingredients and mix well.  Pour into sprayed bundt cake pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Remove from oven, let cool slightly and remove from pan. Let cool completely and glaze.  

Glaze Recipe 
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
Dash vanilla
Powdered Sugar 

Place cranberries and oil in blender and blend well.  Add powdered sugar and blend.  Pour over cake.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Pie Season~Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk pie, with coconut sugar instead of white sugar.  Amazing.  

November is pie baking month,  at least for me.  I love a good pie and put a lot of effort into making sure my pies are good.  I cannot buy the “club” pies after tasting the joy of a fresh baked pie at home.  And the reason I say joy, is that is the flavor I get from a pie.  Pure joy when I take a bite and feel the texture of the crust and the taste of the filling.  

My great grandmother, and grandmother were master pie makers.  They had it down.  My sweetest memory is of my great grandmother “Mamie” baking pies.  Everyday after school we would go down to her little house and she would have baked us tarts.  Tarts were just pie dough cut with a biscuit cutter topped with jam and baked.  Oh how I loved those tarts and to this day I can still taste them and feel the flaky crust in my mouth.  She baked her last pie when she was 99 years old.  

This is how I was told the story.  

My Aunt Mom, Jean Flake, went to visit her one day and took her a jar of Tide laundry soap.  She set it on the counter.  A day later she returned to check on Mamie.  She walked into the kitchen and noticed a wonderful cherry pie on the counter.  She also noticed that there was soap missing out of the jar of Tide. 

She thought, “Oh no, she didn’t”.  Aunt Mom lifted up a knife and poked it into the pie and tasted it.  Sure enough it tasted just like soap.  

She asked Mamie what had happened. 

Mamie responded, “Oh my,  I wondered why it bubbled so when I added the sugar”.   

That was the last pie she made.  But she left a legacy of pie making in my heart and I have tried to pass it on.  Now I do have to say that over the years I have gotten flack about using lard in my pie dough.  I place the blame on Mamie.  That is what she used and that flavor is what made her pies so amazing.  I don’t use it often now, but I love it when I do.   Sometimes we want the memory, but try to fix it by changing the ingredients.  It does not work.  Our taste buds and finely tuned brains know the difference.   So if you want the memory do it like they did and the memory will be intact.  It would be like taking a picture of someone and cutting off the head and trying to remember what they looked like,   it just does not work.  

I have learned a few tricks over the years.  Lard seems to work really well in making pie crust flakey.  It’s the way the lard interacts with the flour,  it is amazing.  Crisco also works well, but I for the most part try to avoid them,  certainly Crisco.  But I do use lard once in a while.  But as I have tried to make a better healthier crust I have tried many things and some with success, but it’s was not alway a good thing.  

I prefer butter, but in saying that butter is hard to work with.  It melts quickly and makes the dough tuff if that happens.  A few years ago I tried freezing my butter and cutting it into chunks, with limited success.  Later I tried freezing my butter and using a food processor cheese grater to grate it frozen into the flour.  100% success every time.  So now that is what I do.   It works great with white flour, but I try to avoid white flour when I can so it was a challenge to use other flours.    Wheat for me did not work.  It was gritty, and dry and crumbly.  I tried other grains with limited success.  Finally the one I tried that I have had the greatest success with was Spelt.  I love that grain.  I grind the flour in my Wondermill on the finest setting.  It works great.  

If your looking for a whole grain Spelt is my choice.  It is not gluten free, but wheat free and many that have gluten allergies can use splet.  What do you do for gluten free.  Gluten free is simple.  Take any gluten free grain, three or more and grind them.  Add 1/2 potato starch to 3 cups of flour and shift.  Do the same process as you would with Spelt flour.  If the dough is tender, just press in into the pan.  

I really hope your holiday season is filled with amazing pies and even better pie crust.  This recipe in this blog is my very favorite,  it’s simple and yet so amazing. 
Happy Holiday to you.  Chef Brad~America’s Grain Guy  

Buttermilk Pie
Buttermilk Pie   This is a Southern Classic.  I love it.  For a completly different experience use coconut sugar instead of white sugar.
1 pastry for a 9 inch pie,  below
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon orange oil
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Place all ingredients into a powerful blender and blend for 3 minutes on high.  
3. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 40 minutes, or until the filling is firm and golden.
Note: I usually triple the recipe for two large pie pans., 10 inch deep ceramic style.   If your using the small tin pie pans this recipe works well.  
Top with fresh whipped cream flavored with citrus bliss essential oil.
Pie Pastry
This dough is flaky and tender.  Just like a dough should be.  

2 cubes, or sticks of butter frozen solid
3 cups fresh ground spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled

Place flour, salt, and sugar in your Mixer.  Grate frozen butter and gently mix with flour.  Using your dough hook, turn on mixer and drizzle heavy cream over mixture until a dough forms.   Remove and divide into two pieces.   You can chill until ready to use.  Will keep well for a couple of weeks.  Roll out on well floured surface and place in pie tin.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Survive the Holiday Season

It is once again the Holiday season, the best and worst time of the year.  The best because of the memories and fun and of course all the amazing and wonderful food we get to eat and prepare.   I love the holiday season and look forward to it all year long.  The reason I love the holiday’s is simple, the food.  Life is all about food and the holidays are a perfect example of how important food can be to us in our traditions and lives.  
With all the parties, activities, family events, concerts, church activities, the list goes on, how do we keep a balance in the mad food rush.  It becomes the worst time of the year because of all the stuff we eat and weight we seem to gain.  It is not uncommon to put on an extra 10 to 20 lbs during the holiday season.  The suffering begins in January as we all start out our new year’s resolutions with get back in shape goals, from eating less to joining the health club, only to fall short a few months later.  Oh now nice it would be to be able to drop the pounds as easy as it is to put them on.  
I have put much thought into the “holiday free for all eat it all and pay later” life we all live.  It really can be quite simple.  One of the things that really hurts us is that most of the year we practice low control over the foods we eat and then as we add it up on the holidays, we pay a higher price.   I have found that if we practice moderation and healthy eating habits all year long we can pass through the holidays with hardly any problems.  But if you haven’t been good all year I would like to share some practical helpful holiday hint to get you through the holiday without lots of weight gain and lets face it, the uncontrolled eating tends to put a damper on the fun.
#1  Eat lots of whole grains.  Starts the day out with a hot whole grain cereal, not just oat meal, dress it up by adding other grains, like amaranth, or teff.  (Available at the local health food store)  There is also some great nine grain or other whole grains cereals that will give you a head start at the beginning of the day.  
#2  Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Snack on them during the day.  Our bodies can handle sugar better if we are eating more of the right foods.  Fruits, vegetables, and grains keep us clean on the inside and they help the body flush bad fat.  
#3  Eat foods high in fiber during the day,  grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Healthy foods in the body will lessen the craving for foods high in sugar, and when we eat foods high in sugar it will help the body cleanse.
#4  Drink lots of water.  Water keeps the body in balance and really helps keep us clean.  When we eat lots of sugar it is hard on the organs in our bodies and we need to make sure we are drinking lots of water to keep things from clogging up.  Water is so important and especially since we are drinking lots of other things during the holidays it is even more important that we don’t forget the water.
#5  Practice the 80-20 principle.  Eat 80% healthy during the day and really enjoy the 20 percent of whatever you want.  The problem is we eat the other way, 80% or worse and then make a stab at eating something good, like an apple and think we are ok.  If we eat the majority of good, it is amazing how our bodies can handle some of the things we really love.
#6   Above all else, enjoy all the foods you eat.  We are so blessed to have so many choices and so much to choose from.  As we practice moderation in all things, including the foods we eat we will find greater joy and enjoyment in the foods we eat and those we share them with.
May you have a joyous food filled holiday and may your holiday season not be filled with regrets over the foods you should not have eaten.  As we practice some simple principles, we can have great joy during the holidays and all year long.  
The holiday season is all about food and family and we need to practice moderation and wisdom is the things we do so we can be around for a long time enjoying the holidays season.  Happy holiday to you and your families.

Chef Brad~America'a Grain Guy