Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Either Late or Early

It's right smack-dab in the middle of the North American Thanksgiving "season" right now - our Canadian celebrations (along with my grandfather's birthday) are long since past, and the USA has yet to haul out their birds and pumpkin pie. It's always been the same sort of thing on our table during the holiday season, both at Thanksgiving and Christmas: roasted turkey (though dad did deep fry the thing a few years ago), mashed potatoes, a couple veggies of some kind (usually broccoli and Brussels sprouts at mom's, more often than not some sort of mashed squash thing at dad's), cranberry sauce, and... stuffing.

Oh, stuffing. the bane of my existence. I have never liked the whole idea of that dish... everything from the fact that it's scraps of otherwise inedible bread to the fact that it's shoved up a turkey carcass' butt and left to soak up all the fat and salmonella-y juices to the fact that it's like eating crusty mush is just not right.


However, I am in the clear minority camp in the family. To my mom, a Thanksgiving turkey without stuffing is missing some sort of integral flavour, not to mention the table looks a little bare without that stoneware tureen sitting out, it's contents awaiting decimation. My grandparents like stuffing enough, thought perhaps not quite as much as mom does - but they do eat it. In recent years, everyone has been cutting back on the indulgence a bit, since my grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes and both my grandmother and mom hopped back on the weight-loss bandwagon. Without fail, though, the stuffing is always the first of the leftovers to go. Gosh knows why... but they're welcome to the bird-juiced, stale-bread-ness.

Of course, there is that little bit of a latent period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's such an awkward phase... call it the "teenage years" of the calendar if you will. It's not exactly like we're out of the holiday festivities all that much - what with Hallowe'en first and Christmas preparations thereafter - but at the same time you never really get into the holiday season "properly" until a week or so before the good ol' 12/25. But once you get that taste of holiday fun and festivities, you don't really want to relinquish it, do you? I know that while I definitely fall into the huge minority of those who either / or / and hate / don't celebrate the holidays (more than likely since I still feel awkward eating totally "off the wall" fare and generally "being different" than my family), the arrival of Thanksgiving is more or less the kickoff point for weeks and weeks of sporadic family and friend gatherings that people look forward to.

There is one thing missing from those middle weeks though. The food. Well, yes - it is both a blessing and a curse, since we can't very well eat like gluttonous pigs for the better part of three months. But why not have a wee bit of a taste in between... just enough so that you remember what it is you're hauling along for as you wait in the two-hour-long line ups at mall checkout counters, coddle feverish, runny-nosed kids (not that I am one or anything...) at the doctor's office waiting for a flu shot and watching Frosty the Snowman (oh how I hate that special!) for the ten-thousandth time in a row.

So, I set about making this bread for mom this week by heavily modifying a King Arthur recipe for "stuffing bread". I made my version with raisins, just like her traditional recipe, and some veggie broth for flavour. Simply because I had a glut of the stuff, I chucked in a handful of fresh thyme from my garden - how can you go wrong with that, I ask? While it didn't turn out to be her "favourite bread of all" (that honour is still reserved for the 12 - Grain Raisin Bread with Double - Cinnamon Swirl), she did like it. And she ate it all, even commenting on the "stuffing-y" taste it had. I figure that constitutes a fair win - and at the very least is worthy of sending along to YeastSpotting at Susan's blog Wild Yeast this week.

So, what camp are you in when it comes to Thanksgiving sides, particularly stuffing / dressing? Are you all about the bread? Or are you more like me - "gimme the potatoes and broccoli!".
 
"Just Like Mom's Stuffing" Bread
Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp instant yeast
3 tbsp non-fat dry milk
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup warm, low sodium vegetable broth
2/3 cup warm 1% milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup non fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cornmeal, yeast, dry milk, poultry seasoning, thyme, and cinnamon.
  2. Pour in broth and milk, then add brown sugar and yogurt. Begin mixing to form a dough.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Knead in raisins, then re-cover and allow to rest 20 minutes.
  5. Shape into a loaf and place into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Bake the bread 40 minutes, then turn out immediately and cool on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 125.0
Total Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.8 mg
Sodium: 55.2 mg
Total Carbs: 26.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 4.7 g

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

oh i so hear you about the stuffing. and for some reason people sometimes think a vegetarian would still want to eat it after being cooked in the bird - afterall there is no meat actually in it. go figure?

you wouldn't know what was in "poultry seasoning" would you? sage & some other herbs? for some reason i'm getting hung-up on the name ....

jacquieastemborski AT comcast DOT net