Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Lots to be thankful for. Like Obama. And tree dahlias opening before the first frost. And family and friends. And food!

Before I embark on a new stuffing recipe (see below) that I'm bringing to my family's Thanksgiving dinner at 3:00 p.m. Lynch time (a rather nebulous concept of time), I wanted to share a few pics I just snapped in the yard.

Today is misty and overcast, with lots of dew. The moment you step out back, it feels like you're getting a fancy facial. Or, what I imagine a fancy facial to feel like should I ever get one.

I also wanted to share a link to Anne Lamott's Thanksgiving piece in Salon. I was wondering when we'd hear from her after this oh, so nerve-jangling election and was pleasantly surprised to come across this in my feed reader in box.

Way high up in the sky... my tree dahlia's beginning to bloom.

My cigar plant guarantees hummingbirds will visit my garden today. I feel better knowing they're well fed.

Valley oak leaves resting on an Acanthus leaf.

Oak leaves often pile up on my Cordyline plants this time of year.

Salvia leucantha and Tibouchina urvilleana going purple-crazy in my garden right now.

Where's the bird bath?

Oh, yeah... my stuffing recipe. Fine Cooking has this really fun, interactive Create Your Own Recipe feature where you pick your own ingredients.

Here's what I concocted:

Bread Stuffing, Just the Way You Like It

My Recipe: Sausage, Pine Nut and Sage Stuffing

Serves eight to ten


16 oz. French bread
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2-1/2 cups low-salt turkey or chicken broth (homemade or canned)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 tsp kosher salt; more as needed
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter (optional)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil or cooking spray, for baking dish


Tear or cut the bread into 3/4-inch pieces until you have 8 to 10 cups. If working a day ahead, lay the pieces out on a rack and leave them uncovered on the counter to dry overnight. Otherwise, spread the bread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 275° F oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until it is crisp and mostly dry; it will continue to dry a bit as it cools. Depending on how moist the bread is to begin with, oven-drying takes 15 to 45 minutes.

In a large skillet, cook sweet Italian sausage over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and fully cooked. Add the garlic, celery, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're slightly softened but still have some crunch. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in pine nuts.

Add the bread to the large mixing bowl, along with the sage, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon zest, and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour 1-1/2 cups of the broth, plus the wine, over the stuffing. If the liquid isn't immediately absorbed and pools at the bottom of the bowl, you have enough; just toss the mixture occasionally for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed. At first, the bread cubes may feel wet on the outside and still be dry on the inside, but they'll even out as the stuffing cooks. If the bread immediately sucks up the initial 2 cups of liquid, add another 1/2 cup of broth and taste the mixture. The bread should be moist but not soggy. Add up to another 1/2 cup of broth if necessary.

Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as needed. If the mixture doesn't taste as rich as you'd like, add enough melted unsalted butter to suit your taste. Once you're satisfied with the flavor of the mixture, stir in the beaten eggs.

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