In My Kitchen – December 2020

Well, here we are in lockdown again. Cases are not so bad here on the North Coast of Mendocino County in California, but more inland they are booming. It hasn’t been a good month for optimism and frankly, I am tired of cooking every night. Not to mention tired of Covid all together. We have been within our own small social bubble for too many months now. I appreciate all the articles on food and cooking in the newspaper, but they are wearing thin. Maybe I’ll just settle for a grilled cheese sandwich and a margarita, or a baked sweet potato and roast vegetables, or a pizza…yes a takeout pizza sounds just fine. With a glass of Anderson Valley red wine of course.

On the other hand, I am grateful that we have food on the table, many don’t at this point.

So, it’s without much enthusiasm I tell you about what’s In My Kitchen.

I did make a quart container of brandied fruit for the holidays. My intention was to make fruitcake, however fruitcake for just the three of us was not appealing. Next year. The brandied fruit would be a wonderful holiday dessert spooned over pound cake with vanilla ice cream.

Brandied Dried Fruit

Brandied Dried Fruit

I am not fond of the candied fruit in fruitcake, this one has none of that. It’s a simple recipe that is endlessly adaptable.

Brandied Dried Fruitmakes 1 quart 

  • 4 oz of currents or raisins or a combination
  • 4 oz of dried cranberries
  • 2 oz of dried cherries or figs
  • 1 oz of dried apricots or prunes
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly and chopped
  • 1 T of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 tablespoon of freshly grated black peper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamon
  • 1/2 cup of brandy or other spirit (I used B & B)

Method:

  1. Chop the fruit into raisin sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the chopped dried fruit, the zest of the orange, and the the chopped lemon and spices. Mix well.
  3. Pour them into a quart jar, add the juice of the orange and the brandy.
  4. Cover. Turn several times to mix. Place in a cool place.
  5. Turn the jar over every day to mix the fruit with the brandy.
  6. After about a week; place in the refrigerator. Allow to cure for about 3 weeks before using. ‘

The type of dried fruit is quite forgiving. I knew I purchased cherries but couldn’t find them in the pantry so used dried figs instead. Use your favorites. Ditto with the spirits, I think bourbon would be just fine.

Also in my kitchen are sausage rolls. These are definitely a nostalgia item as I remember my English grandmother making them. These are quite different; using lamb, currents, jarred red peppers and chopped almonds. They were quite delicious served warm with a glass of pinot noir.

Lamb Sausage Rolls

Lamb Sausage Rolls

And really, that is about all that is interesting in my kitchen right now.

We had a small and very lovely Thanksgiving holiday with sous vide turkey thighs and our favorite stuffing (a sausage and cornbread one). It is likely Christmas dinner will be very similar.

And are any of you experiencing the same run on Christmas trees as we are here on the coast? We don’t usually put up our tree until the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday but all the nurseries have been sold out!!!! Is this the same as the toilet paper run? We are going to have to drive 2 hours to Santa Rosa to pick up a tree this weekend! I think folks are ready to close out 2020 as soon as possible and have something positive in their lives.

This post is part of a regular “In My Kitchen” blogging party. Let your fingers lead you over to Sherrys Pickings for the December In My Kitchen, a collection of posts from kitchens around the world.

Have a wonderful holiday, stay safe and well.

 

24 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – December 2020

  1. thanks muchly for the mention Liz. Yes i think we are all very very keen for 2021! I wanna go travelling, i wanna go see other people, i wanna hug people — whaaaaa! I don’t think I will ever go into a cinema again tho. I sit there feeling so claustrophobic (I only ever go to a cinema a couple of times a year anyway) and now i feel worried about covid and crazed terrorists … nope no more cinemas for me OOps off topic … Sausage rolls are the best aren’t they? so comforting. and love your brandied fruit. no heavy fruitcakes here as it is a hot and humid summer. it’s all about the fruit filled pavlovas, and fruit salad and prawns and salads and cold drinks… that’s Xmas for us here in australia.

    • I know Sherry, I feel exactly the same way. The only good think about being in lock down is that no tourists are allowed in the local hotels, so it’s very quiet.

      I lived in Florida for many years as a youth, Christmas was the same way there. It always felt odd.

  2. We are having the same claustrophobic thoughts as you are, made even worse by the darkening cold days and nights and threat of worsening weather. So I’m totally sympathetic, and on the same page as you — sick of my cooking (despite efforts to change it up), afraid to go to restaurants, but aware of my privilege knowing that so many people are in much worse shape and experiencing hunger and want. Your brandied fruit looks good, and your sausage roll reminds me of the recently released Great British Baking Show Christmas special.

    be safe… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Surprisingly I had never made them before but will do so again. My grandmother used to work in a British butcher’s shop/deli where she was the queen of sausage rolls. I wish I had her recipe.

      Mine were great heated up for lunch the next day, with ketchup.

      It’s wonderful to know I am not alone with these feelings…I am totally uninspired.

  3. Liz, thought I should let you know I had a bit of a time finding you here! When someone who has a blog comments on my blog, I like to reciprocate. But when I clicked on the link in your name, it took me to your Blogger profile and from there to your old blog. Had to hunt around to find your new one. Anyway …

    I like your brandied fruit. I’m with you, I don’t care at all for candied fruit and always make my fruitcake with dried fruit. And I love making sausage rolls. I’m ready for a break from my own cooking. Never in history have I gone this long, 9 months, without going to a restaurant!

    But back to your old blog—I would love to know how you did with the gophers!

    • Hi Jean, i am so happy you were able to finally get to the blog. I have tried to alter the blogger profile but they don’t like my current format. I started out on blogger in the beginning but found them too difficult to work with. I intend to make mine with all dried fruit next year as well.

      And I know, we usually visit a restaurant at least once a week, sometimes twice.

      Oh yes, the gophers. We eradicated them after taking a class with the ‘gopher whisperer’ here on the coast. We use cinch traps, place them into the tunnel and leave the tunnel open. The creature comes to close and protect his domain and gets trapped (and killed). We feed the gophers to the ravens. We don’t have as much luck with moles but they don’t eat plant roots so I am not so concerned.

  4. Liz, I had to laugh and then felt a bit sad reading your in my kitchen post as I’ve been feeling the same way. We have a freezer full of great protein, a pantry that bursting at it’s seams and no desire to cook. But this to shall pass.
    Your Lamb Sausage Rolls look good, reminds me of eating at pubs in the UK. We’re not doing a tree this year as it’s just the two of us for the holidays, but we plan to make up for it next year…

    • Next year will certainly be different and we will all be incredibly thankful for it, and appreciative.

      Our freezer and pantry is also bursting, I share the same pain.

      Have a good holiday, such as it is. I am thankful that I get along so well with my partner, others have been having big problems with all this ‘togetherness’.

  5. Hi Liz – I’m just the opposite. I am cooking all the time whether it’s new recipes for the blog or just to eat. It is starting to show in my waistline so I need to slow down a bit and get more active. Hard to do – if I had your big garden things would be different I’m sure. Take care of yourself – the vaccine is getting closer to a reality. Have a nice holiday 🙂

    • Almost everyone I know has an expanding waistline after the last few months, garden or not. For us it’s too much comfort food, not enough exercise, and that glass of wine every night.

      • I meant your garden keeps you active (exercise) and I wish I had that activity which would definitely help with my waistline 🙂 I have 4 machines, tapes, weights, etc. but I still need more exercise. Of course lots of comfort food and a glass or two of wine every night doesn’t help!

  6. Both recipes look so festive—the brandied fruit and the sausage rolls. Let’s all toast 2021 and hope it’s at least marginally better! 🙁 Happy Holidays!

    • I think at least the last half of 2021 will be better. We are not big dessert eaters in this house but we will have pound cake with brandied fruit and vanilla ice cream on Christmas. Have a good holiday.

  7. Liz, I’m so thankful you shared your thoughts & feelings about Covid there. All we ever hear about California on the news here (in Oklahoma) is another lockdown is imminent, or one just started or ended. They never tell “what it’s really like.” You did. Yes, we’ve seen photos & videos of the crowded hospitals and overworked staff there (God bless them all!) or sometimes an interview with a frantic restaurant owner on the verge of closing their doors for good, but your post shows the toll it’s taking on people living there, or trying to. I’d join you for a grilled cheese and a Margarita if I could!

    Folks here have no idea of the emotional & physical hardships you’ve endured. In fact, they’re rather cavalier about Covid, with many still roaming around mask-less like nothing’s changed. (I’m grateful my hubby ‘n’ I live in a remote area “far from the madding crowd.”) On a positive note, your brandied fruit and sausage roll look wonderful! Thanks again for sharing “real” life and your holiday recipe, too. Virtual hugs… xo.

    • Hi Kim, thank you. California is a huge state and the virus is much worse in Southern California (LA area) and the Eastern part of the state where mask wearing and any regulations on personal freedom provoked protests. Here in our little corner we are definitely claustrophobic, but there are only 3 folks in intensive care in the entire county (which admittedly is not hugely populated). We are lucky to have several hospitals including a small one here on the coast. I think the situation is much worse in the Dakotas where hospitals are scarce or in parts of Texas. Have a good holiday, hopefully 2021 will be better.

  8. My mother used to make brandied fruit and I hated it. I can’t believed she served it to my sister and I. It was seriously alcoholic! A few years ago I made mincemeat, which is very similar to this recipe, but included apples. I folded it into vanilla ice cream and served it on pumpkin pie. Amazing. You could maybe do the same with the brandied fruit?! the sausage rolls look divine. Yes, toilet paper has become scarce here. It’s so crazy. I’m one of the guilty ones who put up my tree two weeks BEFORE thanksgiving, but, it’s a fake tree! So I’m not to blame for the lack of trees! What a shame, though.

    • That’s a great idea Mimi. Yes, this is very similar to mincemeat which I adore. We haven’t taken the fake tree road yet although I always threaten it after putting on the lights. My husband and I have an agreement (one of those marital compromises), I put on the lights and he takes them down. It’s the smell that I would miss with an artificial one.

  9. It’s quite hard trying to remain positive during a long lockdown. Pizza, grilled cheese and a glass of something is how it goes. I can relate to this Liz. I hope things open up soon as the vaccine is taken up across the country.
    Your recipe for brandied dried fruit mix is great, and a handy idea to keep for a rainy day down the track.

    • Thank you Francesca…those meals work for me these days. There will be a giant reckoning sometime in 2021 when my pants no longer fit though. Have a good holiday.

  10. Grilled cheese and drinks sound a treat. What a year, I know we all will be happy to see the back of it. I’m in Florida and covid is definitely being handled poorly so we just stay at home except for necessities. Lovely fruitcake. I’ve never seen it prepaed this way bit I’d love it. Big fruitcake fan, me.

    • Well, we are still eating the last of it this week. If refrigerated it will last a few months…just add a bit more brandy. When we had it the first time my family thought it could have used a little more sugar, I added a couple of tablespoons as well a slug of brandy.

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