Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Well, happy day after Thanksgiving!  I had every intention of blogging yesterday, but I ended up being busier than I thought between football games, family, helping with dinner and spending time with the S family, too.  So, anyway, happy belated Thanksgiving.  I hope you had a wonderful day of thankfulness.

In honor of yesterday as a day of giving thanks, I am thankful for . . .

 . . . my wonderful fiance.

 . . . my parents and all their support and love.

. . . my family.

 . . . my friends -- to those of you who have called me and left me a message, I promise I'm not ignoring you.  I am just a little busy now.  I know I'm bad at keeping in touch.  I am very sorry.

 . . . grad school.  As crazy as that sounds, I know that through each test and homework assignment, I am working towards my goal and I am glad that I can.   I am also thankful for this unique stage in my life when I am basically being paid to learn.

And there are so many other things I could list, but I can't go on forever (which I could if there was time and space!).

So, Thanksgiving is probably one of the craziest cooking days of the year.  I somehow always evade it though, since I usually go to the football game in the morning.  Yesterday was no exception.  So, usually my role follows more of a set-the-table-and-make-sure-things-get-there type role.  Often, I am in charge of at least one pie.  I still have fond memories of searching for sugar pumpkins last year.  This year, Auntie was in charge of both pies.   Which was good, but left me wondering what to make this year.  Mom suggested rolls.  And I wholeheartedly agreed.

After I got home on Wednesday, it took most of the afternoon to put together the rolls and let them rise.  I had an awesome lunch though: bugs on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins), crackers with peanut butter and an apple.  That's a very "me" lunch.  And I even had some time to read!

My inspiration was the Big Sky Bread company orange-cranberry rolls.  Mmmmm.  PM and MS sometimes bring them for family meals on Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I found this recipe for cranberry-orange bread.  After determining that bread recipes can easily be changed to rolls, I determined that they would work.

I'm usually not a huge fan of nuts in my bread, but the pecans totally worked here.  I just chopped them very small.

And, I loved the fresh cranberry flavor.  Mmmm.  In New England, at Thanksgiving, dried cranberries just aren't even on the radar.

I didn't have the bread improver, nor the orange oil, so I skipped them.  I don't even know what bread improver is, and I don't think that it negatively impacted my rolls.  So, I think I'll skip it for good.

However, without the orange oil, the rolls kind of lost any hint of orange flavor.  Oops.  Next time, I think I'd try adding orange zest, if for no other reason than the zest contains the oil, and might add to the orange flavor.  I would like actual orange flavor in the cranberry-ORANGE rolls.  I mean, not that they weren't good with out, but still.  It's a little disappointing.

Anyway, I love having the mixer to make the dough.  I don't know if I would have the patience to knead it by hand.

However, I did have to knead all the cranberries and pecans in by hand.  Even the recipe said not to be discouraged by how much fruit and nuts have to go into the dough . . . which made me think it might be, well, hard.  Because, if people who make bread all the time think that, my amateur bread making skills might put me at a disadvantage.

However, after lots of elbow grease and the frustration of having what seemed like just as much as I had just folded in pop back out each time, I finally got it all in there.

I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, since it seems like there were pockets of nuts and cranberries in it, but it did.  Phew.  My arms were sore.

Then, rather than shape it into a loaf, I just made 12 little balls and let them rise for the two hours.

And instead of baking it for 45-50 minutes, I only baked them for about 22.  I just kind of guessed when they were done, and thankfully they were.

Yay, rolls!  My first attempt at rolls, for that matter.

SM, MM, Gram and BH all came for the day, and SM made some fun turkey napkins for each of us.

The table looked wonderful.  And the food was just as good as it looked.

And I had to do the fun pie thing: try a little of each.  Mmmm.

And don't forget the whipped cream!

And now begins the Christmas season.  Hooray!  I have had a Christmas CD (The King's College of Cambridge Choir) that I have been waiting to listen to since April.  I finally can!  I might have gotten up and put it in the CD player right away this morning . . .

And the even more amazing thing (another thing I am thankful for) is that this week was so light on homework, that I was able to get enough done, and don't have to do any this weekend.  Contrast that to last year when I was frantically writing lesson plans, and barely had time to put up my little tree.  Maybe grad school isn't all bad after all.  And now I get to watch my traditional day-after-Thanksgiving Christmas movie.  Hooray!

I wish you all a blessed beginning to your Christmas season!


  1. We are always thankful for you and now for your fiance as well!!! Such an exciting year for us. Mom and Dad


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