Posts filed in: November 2009

Mom's Turkey Tetrazzini

comments: 33


My favorite Thanksgiving food is actually one that I make the day after Thanksgiving: my mom's turkey tetrazzini. I've never had turkey tetrazzini anywhere else so I don't know how this compares, but if, after Thanksgiving dinner, you are still in need of comfort food, this one's for you!

My Mom's Turkey Tetrazzini

1 lb. button or crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 c. milk
10 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 c. flour
1 c. turkey gravy (or however much you have left over, if less than that)
1 to 2 c. leftover turkey meat, shredded into bite-sized chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan and saute mushrooms until soft and slightly browned. Set aside. Make bechamel sauce: Over medium heat, melt remaining butter in large saucepan, add flour, and whisk over medium heat for several minutes. Whisk milk into butter/flour mixture gradually until all milk is incorporated. Simmer sauce until it is thickened slightly and very velvety. Add turkey gravy and mushrooms and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until a minute or two before al dente. Drain and return to pot. Mix in half of sauce and stir to coat. Pour spaghetti into 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until top is bubbling and delicious-looking. Add turkey pieces to sauce and serve over slices of spaghetti casserole. Enjoy thoroughly.

Thank you for all of your sweet comments over the holiday, and to everyone who left me nice comments about making my apple pie for Thanksgiving: Thank you! I am completely psyched that you and your families liked it!!!

Happy Holiday

comments: 94


Good morning, dear sweet friends. It's a beautiful morning here, the day before Thanksgiving. I am feeling grateful for so much in my life, very much including this little blog and all of you who hang out with me here day after day, through it all. I am grateful for this place of peace, and Andy and I sincerely wish you a truly happy holiday weekend and a really, really wonderful start to the season. 

Love always,
Alicia & Co.

Chicken Mole Poblano

comments: 50


I have always really liked to cook. I cooked a little bit when I lived at home with my parents, and a little bit when I was in college and lived with my girlfriends off-campus. But I really started cooking with joy when Andy and I moved to Missoula and I got my own apartment (he had his own apartment but he was rarely there). Mine was a studio apartment, and the kitchen was really small. We painted the whole room wedding-cake white — bright, bright white, from walls to trim to shelves. It was pretty cute. The Orange Street Food Farm (our grocery store) was just a block down the alley. We had absolutely no money then. We worked ALL the time. But we started cooking together during those two years we lived in our little studio, and it was a blast. Dinner parties and special events were my favorites.


But cooking regularly was and still is challenging for me. I don't like going to the grocery store that much. I have a hard time figuring out what to make. I seem to have no memory of anything I've ever made when it comes time to figure out what to make today. Before I started blogging four years ago, I would say that cooking had become something I didn't even notice anymore, and just tried to get through when necessary, somehow. But the blog renewed my enthusiasm. Taking pictures of roasting spices is just FUN. Talking about what happened in the kitchen is fun. Finding something to make for the blog is fun. Real food blogs just totally blow my mind they are so cool. Watching cooking TV to get ideas is super fun and majorly relaxing. I love cooking shows. Perfect Day is my favorite one (though their web site is crashing my computer, so I'm not going to link it), and I love America's Test Kitchen, and you know I love the Barefoot Contessa, and I still TiVo Tyler's Ultimate and watch about once a week or so, depending on what he's got going on.


I don't blog everything I cook, by any means. But the blog has given me a renewed interest in the process of cooking. It forces me to slow down in all aspects — from shopping to preparing — and do things with more consideration and appreciation. Sharing what we've made virtually still feels like a kind of sharing, and thanks-giving. Today I'll pack my bags to donate. And plan the menu for Thursday. And do a little shopping. We'll have seven adults and two kids for dinner.


On Saturday, I was back in the kitchen after a bit of a take-out-Thai-soup hiatus. I spent most of the afternoon making Tyler's Turkey Mole Poblano (except I used boneless/skinless chicken breasts). I really love Tyler's recipes (though I do wish he would give exact measurements for salt and pepper the way that Ina does; it wasn't until I started cooking with her that I realized I was way under-salting and under-peppering everything that I made, and correcting that has made a huge difference in my cooking, I must say). But Tyler's recipes are perfectly, Saturday-afternoonly complex, at least in my opinion. You usually have to get pretty busy in the kitchen, creating sauces that have several processes, and sophisticated layers of flavor, but they work. I've made many of his recipes over the years and they work out really well for me (though now that I think about it I was that one time disappointed).


The Mole Poblano was terrific. Our friend Trevor was here for dinner and he graciously agreed. We served it with fresh avocado and a blob of sour cream and, yeah. It's deffo going into the recipe binder. Really good for a cold-and-rainy November Saturday night dinner.


Seeeeeeeriously messy kitchen when you're done, though. This doesn't even begin.

Seven Pictures of Cereal

comments: 43


I am feeling much better, but don't seem to very motivated this morning. I took seven pictures of my cereal and that felt like a good day's work, frankly. Thank you for all the good wishes! You guys are so darn nice. I love you.


I was also on the internet this morning thinking about pies. I ran into these totally adorable little pies in jars, with the cutest tags by Lollychops. And a really cute turkey tag for Thanksgiving. And I was also thinking about getting these little leaf pie-dough cutters. But then I went back to these apple cider doughnuts. Which led me to these apple cider doughnuts. Which brought me to the creamed spinach (yum). All of which made me pretty excited about chowing down next week. Thanksgiving dinner's at our house.


comments: 74


Fighting my sore throat and stuffy nose with cold meds, take-out Tom Yum with tofu (very hot, very sour, very good), and the plaid hankie I bought for Andy in Victoria, B.C. Good thing I have a laceweight scarf to make and some London movies to watch. . . .

A Meringue Scarf

comments: 46

Alpine-Frost-Scarf-1 I ran into this gorgeous photo on-line yesterday while looking to make a frothy, laceweight scarf. This is the Alpine Frost Scarf  from the Interweave Crochet Winter 2008 issue. It's crocheted, and designed by the talented Amy O'Neill Houck. I ordered the back issue of the magazine, but was too impatient to wait for it to come, so I kept looking on-line for something that felt like this. Eventually I stumbled upon the cuddly Claudia Scarf from Rebecca at  A Little Slice of Life. Heavier, but still: deliciousness. While there, I also saw the beautiful Winterberry Warmer with its three perfectly rustic buttons and I went right to my shelf and got the special little glass-topped tin of three fancy buttons that my friend Shelly brought back from France for me a few years ago. Yes, that was it: I wanted to capture the feeling of those buttons in my scarf. So I thought: a flourish of cashmere, delicate and frothy, but still soft and warm.


I was remembering the cream-colored cashmere I had seen the other day at our very lovely new LYS, Happy Knits. So I put my shoes on, headed down there, and instead wound up with Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino (in #63 Natural). It's sooooo soft and light you can barely feel it — 470 yards in 50 grams (or not even two ounces) of yarn! But it still has a lovely matte sort of texture, and definitely looks like wool, which is what keeps it all from being too precious or, worse, shiny-fussy. This is the lightest weight yarn I have ever worked with — my first laceweight anything, actually. It feels like something a field mouse would spin into a warm little nest for herself. A confection. A wool meringue.

Funny how things are inspired by and connected to other things, then almost unavoidably change as you go along. With a B hook, the Claudia pattern, and some peppermint tea, I settled into the sofa and set to work, thinking that I really shouldn't be keeping this for myself, with Christmas coming and all. But I may not be able to give it up. (And to those who asked about my coy crochet from last week, that is definitely a present for a special person, so more details on that to come.)

Coy Crochet

comments: 93


I feel a lot better about everything after yesterday. I hit the ground running and . . . am almost completely done with all of my Christmas shopping.

I'll just give you a minute to picture yourself bopping me in the nose.

I know, I've grossed even myself out with this blatant display of organization, foresight, and self-satisfaction. But I can highly recommend it. The stores were so empty that at one point I had all three employees at P______'s cheerfully fussing over packaging my presents for me. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. I stuck to my budget. There were no lines and no hassles. Perhaps this is more a reflection of the state of our economy than it is on Christmas shopping on a Thursday afternoon in mid-November, but still: I like to think we were all genuinely having a good time out there!

Because I do love Christmas shopping. I always have. Every year on Christmas Eve day I'd go with my dad to North Riverside to SERVICE MERCHANDISE (anyone remember this awesome place? It just popped into my head and I haven't thought about it in years — my dad totally loved that store) or the Oak Park mall (which used to be a pedestrian mall but is now just downtown Oak Park). He'd buy his presents for my mom and a special present for each of us girls then. That's when there was still a Kroch's & Brentano's and a Marshall Fields downtown. We'd stop at Cozy Corner for lunch, which was like one of those traditional hamburger/club-sandwich/tuna-salad restaurants. Monte-cristo/coffee-in-a-scratched-white-mug/sixty-year-old waitress-in-a-half-apron restaurants. And then when we got home he'd send me upstairs to wrap everything, even my own present. (Classic.) But I miss buying presents for my dad. And I really miss getting presents from him, because shopping was something he only did on that one day a year, and I knew he looked forward to it, and there was something rare and special about getting something that he had picked out just for me. The green horse statue. The Lapis Lazuli necklace with the gold butterfly. The blue heart-shaped earring dish. The Pavlova perfume. I still have all of those things, given to me decades ago.

This year I am going to (coyly) make just a few special presents by hand. Not too many, though. That would not be in keeping with the New Non-psycho Alicia.


comments: 35


There's a mouse in the kitchen! Isn't he cute? He's a potholder I bought at the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest this fall. I think he's so sweet. Cute idea, too. Last night I made a sour cream apple pie, except that when I went to get the sour cream out of the fridge, there was about a tablespoon of sour cream left (and I needed 1 1/3 cups). So I used whole-milk honey yogurt (which, oddly, we had a gigantic container of). And it worked just fine! Yes, it's true, something that I baked actually came out. Miracle!!!

Thank you so much for all of the ideas you offered in the comments yesterday on ways to support troops and military families, especially at the holidays. I am definitely going to take some time this week to get organized in my thinking about the upcoming holidays so that I can do all of the things I want to do, make the things I want to make, send all of the gifts I want to send, spend time with the people I love, and generally try to make a plan to help me stay balanced. In our two fairly small families, we also have six birthdays (including mine) between mid-November and mid-January. Mid-November seems to trigger this relentless forward march through those three months, and it always sneaks up on me a bit, and makes me start wiggin. This year — this year — I want to be better prepared, and also build in some empty time for myself, as well. Yep. It's gonna be different this year [she said with determination and resolve].

Wintry Light

comments: 50


I was out wandering around town yesterday, needing a few things: I picked up my Christmas cards, got some new socks, and found this pretty antler candle holder. I took this photo last night without a tripod. It reminded me of what I wrote on Monday. I think I am going to start shooting more still lifes without the tripod and see what happens. Life on the edge here at Paulson Place.

I'm thinking today with sincere gratitude about all of the men and women who serve and protect our country so selflessly. I would love to hear your ideas for ways to support troops who are overseas and far from home at the holidays.

Chicken Saltimbocca

comments: 41


Thank you so much for all of the movie recommendations over the weekend!!!!! A fantastic list I will be working my way through this winter. I did watch one several people suggested, Run Fatboy Run, on Friday night and I loved it. There are so many hilarious one-liners in that movie. Great movie. I'm going to take the list to the video store today and get a few of the ones I've never heard of before, like Jam & Jerusalem (which I think is a series, not a movie, but that's cool — more to love).

Butternut squash with brown sugar and butter; chicken with mushrooms, sage, and prosciutto. I used Ina's recipe for the squash and Mario's for the chicken. (Note: Be careful when you fry the sage, because it will really snap and crackle, and also I only used about 1/3 c. of olive oil instead of the called-for 2 cups.) Good grief, this was a good autumn Sunday dinner. We've made it twice this fall and it is a definite keeper.

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at