After we wrapped up at the restaurant, a bunch of us headed over to sarahbellem and zoccolaro's new house to get a sneak preview of how awesome it's going to be when the work is finished and they can move in. There was much discussion and exclaiming over cool things that were part of the original house and it was totally neat. By the time I dropped Cin back home and got myself home, I was really, really glad that I had already made my mincemeat.
Yesterday, Thanksgiving morning dawned not as bright and early as I had intended, so getting my pie crust made, the pie baked, and myself showered and dressed and to my folks' church on time was a bit of an adventure. For years, my family has been attending the huge Thanksgiving potluck dinner that is put on by the church, and it's always fun. The lovely thing about a big potluck like this is that everyone only has to bring one dish, and it's usually a specialty of theirs, so all the food is great. My dad makes awesome pies and I learned the art of pie-baking from him. I was gratified that my mincemeat pie was well-received, and one person told me it was the best they'd ever had. Yay! Also, it's a great time for me to see a bunch of folks who watched me grow up in the church, and my mom, social butterfly that she is, was only at our table long enough to eat before she was off socializing with everyone. I enjoyed the group at our table (each table seats about 8) and made small side trips to visit at a couple of other tables.
I was especially thrilled to see our friend Fred, who is in his 80s and very recently had a miraculous recovery from a nasty cancer that everyone, including himself and his doctors, thought was going to finish him off. I had gone to say goodbye and spend some time with him about a month and a half ago, when we weren't sure he would last out the week, but his body rallied, the treatment took, and he is up and walking on his own, albeit with a cane. Happy Thanksgiving for him, indeed, and for all of us who love him.
Mincemeat Pie, now with actual meat!
I decided to do mincemeat pie from scratch, just because I could. I like knowing exactly what's in my pie and having control and the freedom to experiment. This pie was kind of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants blend of three different recipes and it came out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. For general quantities and order of operations, the Mock Mincemeat Pie from the 75 Anniversary Joy of Cooking; for ingredient list proportion guidelines, the Mincemeat from the canning section of the Joy; and for a couple of ingredient additions and general "it's called minceMEAT" inspiration, the 15th-century English Hattes filling. (I'll note here that I only used ground beef because I was running late and the local grocery store with the good butcher counter was closed, so I had to go to Safeway and the only thing they had that was under a pound was one pack of ground beef. Meh, it worked ok.)
~1/4 lb ground beef
3 medium-large tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped in small pieces
~3/4 c raisins, chopped in small pieces
~3/4 c date pieces, chopped in small pieces
1 can sour cherries, cut in pieces, with their juice
~1/2 c apple juice or cider (I used juice)
1/2 c lemon juice or orange juice (I used orange)
1 large spoonful bitter Seville orange marmalade (or use candied orange and lemon peel)
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and mace
1/8 tsp each fresh-grated nutmeg and fresh-ground black pepper
3 Tbsp commercial breadcrumbs (or more, if needed)
Brown the beef in a large pot, then add fruit, juice, and marmalade. Simmer until apples are soft. Stir in sugar, spices, and breadcrumbs, continuing to simmer, until well blended.
At this point, either pour the filling into a waiting pie crust, cover with pierced crust or lattice, and bake (450 for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 for another 20), or let cool for a bit, transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate (should keep for at least a couple of days).
Have at, if you like! Let me know how it comes out and what changes, if any, you made.