I've gotten some reading done in the past few, though. Which is not unusual for me. It's the best way to take my mind off of stuff. I'm cooking, too. Again not unusual, but I'm trying to make better use of fridge items rather than hit the store very often. And I'm sort of trying to act as a test kitchen for mom, finding some dishes that she can easily make with little effort for the whole family. I had hoped to be able to try out Thanksgiving recipes in preparation for a holiday feast, but not sure that'll work out.
So far my kitchen exploits have been as follows (and all successful, I might add): Chicken with Orange Butter, Beets, and Greens (beet greens that is. I don't usually use them, but they worked out really well in this recipe so I'll be saving them from now on.), traditional English beef roast with roasted veggies, gravy, and Yorkshire puddings -- those were semi-successful since I had them on the top rack of the oven and the puffed up so big that they were sticking to the top oven coils. Disaster was averted, but only half of them cooked up correctly. The other half were still good, just not as pretty.
Leftover roast became a really great beef stew that I did in the slow cooker. Topped it off with some horseradish sour cream and watched some Dexter. For tonight, I've got Vegetable Lentil Soup started in the slow cooker -- that thing's super easy to use when you don't actually have to be anywhere!
I also have a ton of pecans that I'm trying to find creative ways to use, so if you have some pecan recipes, send them along. Last weekend, I baked Pecan Sandies while watching Australia (great flick, btw, and the first Baz Luhrmann film without any real musical scenes).
Book post coming, but if you want to try out the sandies recipe, I'm including it here. I actually combined two recipes -- one ages old and from my grandmother, and the other from I'm not sure where. They turned out great, though.
1 cup pecans
2 cups a-p flour
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Raw sugar for dusting
Toast the pecans at 350 for about 10 minutes (watch them to make sure they don't burn). Cool.
Grind the nuts together with 1/4 cup of the flour to make a fine sandy texture.
In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar (until creamy). Add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the sugar mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the pecan/flour mixture, just until combined. Press the dough into a ball, cover, and chill.*
Preheat oven to 325 F. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press the cookies with the back of a spoon to flatten a bit. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake, about 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool a bit on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks.
*My instructions, both recipes, say to chill at least 3 hours. I found the dough to be very hard after that amount of time. In fact, I HAD to roll them in my hands order to get the dough loose enough to form into balls. One set of instructions actually said to roll out with a rolling pin, but the dough was way to hard so I reverted to the other recipes' instructions. I would suggest letting the dough chill at least 30 minutes, possibly an hour. You'll want the dough firm enough to form into cookies, but not so hard that you hurt your hands rolling them!
The raw sugar was my other variation. It gave it a nice little crunchy bite on the tops of the cookies. You can actually roll the cookies in powdered sugar if you prefer, as that's what they did with my grandmother's recipe.
So, enjoy! I still have two boxes of pecans left, so I'm sure I'll be making these again soon.