This is Danny cutting down the Magic Tree (I love this picture!).
Here's me and Danny in front of the tree. Not sure why the white balance is so off...but we're clearly doing our best Cullins impersonations here. And yes. Danny's getting a haircut soon. Until then, he's rocking the surfer look.
This is our Magic Tree in our mostly tidy, recently vacummed living room. Why is the tree magic?
1.) The needles are soft and pliable, and don't pull off in your hand.
2.) The tree drinks water.
3.) The tree gives off a strong evergreen scent.
4.) The needles have not clogged our vacuum.
5.) The branches are evenly spaced.
6.) Essentially, it's not DOA.
Granted, the trunk is shaped a bit like a banana. But, it is from nature. It's supposed to be irregular. And from the front, you can't tell at all.
I feel like I've learned more about tree buying this year. We really checked out the needles, including the ones along the trunk, before settling on this one. I don't think we did last year, because our previous tree pretty much flatlined the second it set trunk in our home.
In other news, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our families. Danny's parents came down to Eugene from Lincoln City, and we all enjoyed the holiday together. My baking came together well - after admiring the recipes for tarts in my favorite dessert cookbook, I finally bought a tart pan and made a pear tart with almond cream, and a brown butter tart studded with cranberries. Both turned out very well; in the future, I think I'll add lemon zest to the pear tart and more cranberries for the brown butter tart.
The brown butter tart is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I'm a fan of recipes that are deceptively simple, versatile, and can be made ahead! The original recipe calls for raspberries.
~ Cranberry Brown Butter Tart ~
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I use Pepperage Farms), thawed
11 tb. salted butter
1 c. sugar
3 1/2 tb. flour
1 1/2 tb. vanilla
1/4 - 1/3 c. cranberries, or 1 c. fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar for dusting.
1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Roll out dough a bit on a floured pastry cloth (anything else is an exercise in frustration). Fit dough into a 9-inch tart pan, trim off at the top. Refrigerate.
3. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until golden brown.
4. Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour together.
5. Whisk in butter and vanilla, slowly.
6. If you're using raspberries, put the raspberries in the tart crust and pour the batter over the top. If you're using cranberries, pour the batter in and add the cranberries (otherwise, they'll just roll to the edges. You may want to be fancy and put the berries in some sort of pattern.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes. The tart will probably crack across the top, and that's okay.
8. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Dust with powdered sugar.
Tip: to remove the tart rim, I stick the tart over a slightly smaller pot or bowl, then gently work the rim off, pressing down. This tart is kind of rustic looking, so don't worry too much if you biff an edge. Try very hard not to let the batter go over the puff pastry crust when you pour it, though, or the rim will be harder to remove.
Adapted from the original recipe in Mary Englebreit's Sweet Treats book.
P.S. We saw The Blind Side on Friday night, and enjoyed it very much. Perfect family viewing for the holidays. The sequence in the Big & Tall store shows that in her own way, Sandra Bullock's LeAnn Tuohy is very much a kindred spirit, despite her Beth Moore-esque hair. Looking forward to The Fantastic Mr. Fox and An Education next.