Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THANKSGIVING: Just a Thought

I know how hard it is to work at a real job, take care of your family and still make it look effortless to have prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.

As you go about your tasks, keep this in mind and remind the children:

"CUTTING STALKS AT NOONTIME.

PERSPIRATION DRIPS TO THE EARTH.

KNOW YOU THAT YOUR BOWL OF RICE EACH GRAIN FROM HARDSHIP COMES."

~Chang Chan-Pao

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FOXIE'S SCALLOPED OYSTERS

“I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead…not sick…not wounded…dead.” ~Woody Allen

Why oysters you ask. You know you’re going to get another story.

Many of my ancestors came in the Great Migration to Dorchester Colony, Massachusetts from England in 1630 on the ship called the Mary and John. Others followed in 1635. All came from England.  I have a theory that “my people” let “Peter’s people” come first to see if they survived. Sour grapes? I’m still looking for my Mayflower ancestor.

Our ancestors survived and so did the following tradition.

In an Ideals Thanksgiving book I read many years ago, there was a short story (historical fiction) called “The First Feast” by Jane G. Austin:

“It seems that the morning of the first Thanksgiving, some Indians brought large baskets of delicious oysters to the Pilgrims. Priscilla Mullins remembered a tradition of compounding the oysters with biscuit-crumbs and spices and wine and baking them.

“While she was looking for an iron pan to bake them in, Elizabeth Tilley brought some great clam and scallop shells that John Howland had presented to her as a gift for the love of his lady.

“ ‘Wouldn’t it do to fill these with thy oyster compote, and so set them in the ashes to roast?’ she asked. ‘Being many, they can be laid at every man’s place at table.’

“Priscilla liked the idea. John (Alden) agreed. The oysters in their scallop shells were a singular success.”

Note: Priscilla Mullins and her husband John Alden are Peter’s 9th Great Grandparents.

It was a tradition in my family to have scalloped oysters with Thanksgiving dinner. I never knew that “scalloped” in the recipe’s name meant scallop shells. It makes sense that they would put a fresh oyster, some crumbs and some wine on each shell and roast them. That’s what we’re doing only in a casserole dish.

Mother had a special casserole for her Scalloped Oysters. It fit inside a silver holder with a silver lid. That casserole held a place of honor at the Thanksgiving table. So many family members liked them that she had a recipe for them that served twelve people. The recipe here will serve four.

The children would never try the oysters at our table. Brave food “junkie” that I am, one memorable Thanksgiving I ventured into feared territory. I ate only the crackers that were cooked with the oysters. They were delicious. The flavors were unusual and rich.

After learning to eat oysters on the “half shell” in beach restaurants in Mexico, I have loved this traditional Thanksgiving oyster casserole.

Peter and I invited all of the children and grandchildren to Thanksgiving dinner last year (2010) and debated whether or not we would have Scalloped Oysters. We love them and so we decided to go ahead and fix them. Traditions must live on. Maybe someone would try them and like them. One very polite daughter-in-law did. Bless her. Of course, her favorite food is sushi.

When I took them out of the oven, someone said, “What’s that?”

I went into the family tradition thing about the oysters.

One of our quick-witted sons piped up in a General Patton-like tone, “Let the tradition die here!”

He must share Woody Allen’s sentiments.

The recipe goes like this.

Foxie’s SCALLOPED OYSTERS

Ingredients:

1-pint fresh medium-size oysters (two 8oz jars); this year the oysters look like they’re on steroids. If they’re too big, cut them in half.
You will find them in the fresh meat section where the fish is or ask the butcher.
3+ cups medium-coarse cracker pieces. Put saltines in a plastic bag and slightly break them into pieces with your fist.
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup butter, cold and cut in small pieces to dot the top of the casserole
1 cup Half & Half
1/3-cup oyster liquor (this is the gooey stuff in the jar that the oysters are sitting in).
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper

The process:

·        Drain oysters, reserving 1/3-cup liquor.
·        Toss cracker crumbs and melted butter in a large bowl until crackers are coated with butter.
·        Spread 1/3 of crackers in the bottom of a greased 8” square glass dish.
·        Cover with half the oysters.
·        Sprinkle with pepper.
·        Using another third of the crackers spread a second layer;
·        Cover with the remaining oysters.
·        Sprinkle with pepper.
·        Combine cream, oyster liquor, Worcestershire, and salt.
·        Pour over oysters. (The liquid needs to come a little more than halfway up the casserole.) Add some Half & Half to get the liquid to where it should be. This will assure that the casserole is moist.
·        Top with last third of crumbs.
·        Dot the top layer with butter.
·        Bake in moderate oven (350) about 45 minutes or until golden on top and bubbly.
·        Makes 4 servings.

Hustle the oysters to the table so folks can eat them hot, at their very best.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THANKSGIVING:TRADITIONAL MENU & RECIPES

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child.” ~Lin Yutang

Recipes already posted:

Turkey

Stuffing
Gravy
*********************************************************
Honeybaked Ham: Order in advance! If you are having a buffet and need more meat order this online or buy one at a Honeybaked Ham store. I only roast a 14-pound turkey if I decide to have ham too.

Ambrosia: Make Ahead!
Mix in a large bowl:
One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks drained
One 11-ounce can mandarin oranges drained
One bunch of fresh, green seedless grapes
2-cups of mini-marshmallows
1-cup Baker’s Angel Flake sweetened coconut (optional)
Mix with enough sour cream to coat the ingredients.
Transfer to a nice serving bowl.
Put a few Maraschino cherries on top for serving. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.

Green Bean Casserole: Buy French’s French Fried Onions. They are in the canned vegetable section by the green beans. The recipe is on the back of the container. Do not double this recipe unless you are having more than 25 people to dinner.

Before green bean casserole was invented I was forced to endure Steamed French-Style Green Beans Almondine. Thank you French’s.

Mashed Potatoes: One 5-pound bag of potatoes. Peel, cube, rinse, and boil for at least 30 minutes. Drain. Put back in pot on medium-low heat and mash with potato masher, adding warm milk (or cream or Half& Half) as you keep mashing until they are beautiful, white and fluffy. When they are perfect, put a chunk of butter on top, put a lid on the pot and set on a warmer. Move them to a serving bowl when ready to serve and put another chunk of butter on top. Don’t add the butter as you are mashing as it turns the potatoes yellow.

Cranberry Sauce: Make ahead!
One 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, found in the produce section.
Recipe is on the back of the package.

Sammi's Favorite Spoonbread

If you double this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, you won’t have any trouble getting rid of it. Everyone loves it!

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce package corn muffin mix
1 8-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 8-ounce can cream style corn
1-cup cottage cheese (eliminate when cooking over a fire)
½ cup melted butter
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 small can diced green chile
One bag of shredded cheddar cheese

Process:
Mix together in a bowl. Transfer to a greased square (rectangular if double recipe) glass-baking dish
Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.
If it “jiggles” in the middle it isn’t quite done. Leave it in the oven just a little bit longer.

This can be cooked over a campfire. Put all ingredients into a covered cast iron skillet.

Scalloped Oysters: This is so important it gets its own post.

Yams: I don’t make a yams or sweet potato casserole anymore. There are too many other good things to eat and it wasn’t popular.

Potato Rolls and Butter: These are soft and fresh and do not have to be baked in the oven that is already busy enough. This is a good thing to have someone else bring to contribute. I know someone who offered to bring “buns” to Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago and she brought hamburger buns. No one said anything. They are good too.

Pumpkin Pie: Make ahead! I make two pies using a 29-ounce can of Libby’s Pumpkin and the recipe on the back of the can. You can buy frozen piecrusts already in a pie pan to fill. If you want to make them look more homemade, get a box of Pillsbury Pie Crusts (2 per box) in the refrigerated dairy section. Line two glass pie pans with the crust and crimp the edges. Don’t try this if someone offers to bring a pumpkin pie. You have enough to do.

Pecan Pie: I’ve never made one but the ones you can buy are very good. This is a good thing to ask someone to bring as a contribution.

Whipped Cream: Make your own if you must. I buy Reddi Wip because it is real cream.

“In general, mankind, since the improvement in cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires” ~Benjamin Franklin

Touché


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THANKSGIVING TURKEY GRAVY

The Thanksgiving angel just whispered in my ear that I need to emphasize how important it is to ask for help in the overall process. There is no glory in doing this all by yourself. You will be in a bad mood and you won’t have fun.

If you have a husband that is handy in the kitchen, have him carve the turkey. Call on friends, invited guests, siblings, children, and grandchildren to pitch in.

 When someone asks, “Can I help?” Respond with an emphatic, “YES!”

“Can I bring something?” Answer, “YES!” again...and be specific about what they want to bring so there are no duplications.

I do hope you haven’t given up and made reservations somewhere. You are doing just fine. Keep your sense of humor.

You can make the basic gravy a day or two ahead. Keep it in the refrigerator, in a covered container, until the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving Day.

What you will need:

(Important: Don’t buy all of the equipment that I mention here or in any of these recipes…borrow it.)

·        8 tablespoons unsalted butter (of course)
·        8 tablespoons flour (or 2- 0.87OZ packages McCormick Turkey Gravy mix from the small packaged mix section at the grocery store. I buy this brand because it doesn’t have MSG.)
·        4 cups chicken/turkey broth (you might have some saved up from cooking the NTPS)
·        Wondra, quick mixing flour you will find in the flour/baking section of the grocery store
·        4-cup glass measuring cup
·        Strainer that fits over measuring cup
·        Wooden spoon
·        Wire whisk
·        Large skillet or Dutch oven. This should be a pan that will eventually be big enough to hold the gravy when it needs to be finished with the turkey juices. Also, be sure that it is a pan that you can use metal utensils in. You don’t want to scrape off the black coating on the pan into the gravy…or ruin a perfectly good pan that you use for other things.

With these measurements you’ll end up with approximately 5-6 cups of gravy. If you think you’ll need more, double the recipe. You can never have too much gravy. You’ll need it for leftovers and it freezes well. Better to have too much than not enough.

Making the gravy:

Melt unsalted butter in the pan. When it sizzles and before it starts to turn brown, add the flour or gravy mix to the melted butter gradually as you blend it thoroughly with the wire whisk.

This is a very important step. Let the flour and butter “cook” in the butter on low to medium heat until it’s crumbly.

Don’t let it get too brown or burn. Gravy fixins’ would be ruined at this point and you would have to start over.
If it doesn’t cook enough then your gravy will taste like flour.

When it looks like it is dry and the butter has been absorbed, start adding broth a little at a time and keep stirring with the wire whisk until it is a smooth gravy.

There is no rule on how much liquid to add. You will add more later as it is needed to make the gravy the right consistency.

At this point, after it cools, pour this into a covered container and put it in the refrigerator until Thanksgiving Day when the turkey comes out of the oven.

OK…it’s Thanksgiving Day.

The turkey has been removed from the roasting pan and placed on a cookie sheet to rest. Take the rack out and have someone wash it (the rack).

Pour and strain the drippings from the roasting pan into your glass-measuring cup.

Don’t clean the roasting pan. Leave it nearby.

Put the contents of the strainer back into the roasting pan.

Put the measuring cup into the freezer. Yes, the freezer. The fat will rise to the top as it cools.

Take the gravy that you previously made from the refrigerator and place it in the pan you made it in. Heat it and stir it until it reaches the right consistency, adding liquid as needed. Turn the heat to low.

Put the roasting pan across two burners on medium heat. As it heats up add a little (1 cup) water (or white wine) to deglaze the pan. You want to capture all those tasty little bits of “good stuff” off the bottom of the roasting pan. This will make your somewhat store-bought gravy taste like the “nectar of the gods”.

Get the measuring cup with the turkey drippings from the freezer. The fat will have settled on the top. Skim the fat off and put it in a cup to throw away later.

Pour this (the turkey drippings, not the fat) into the simmering and deglazed roasting pan and stir with the wire whisk.

When this is mixed together thoroughly, add it slowly to the gravy in the gravy pan. Heat it thoroughly on medium heat.

This is when you ask for stirring help. Instruct the stirrer to add more broth/water as it gets thicker so that it maintains the right consistency at all times. If it is too runny, sprinkle some Wondra on top of it and whisk it in. If the stirrer is insecure, you may help.

Remember, with gravy you must find someone to stir it, constantly and slowly, while you are doing other things. Grandson Dillon is very talented in this department. Also, he is a superb waffle maker and an award-winning salsa maker. Is he a chef (food engineer) in the making?

When dinner is ready, the very last thing to do is pour the gravy, piping hot, into a gravy boat or pitcher. If you are having a buffet, have some gravy on the buffet table and still put some on the tables where people are eating. This is one condiment that people usually need more of as they are eating. Use a cream pitcher if you don’t have enough gravy servers/boats.

Food for thought:

We all like gravy and know how to eat gravy. Therefore, we know what gravy is supposed to look like. You’ll get the hang of it.

Good Luck!

Next: My traditional Thanksgiving menu

Monday, November 14, 2011

THANKSGIVING RECIPE: The Stuffing

 A three-year-old gave this reaction to her Thanksgiving dinner:

“I don’t like the turkey but I like the bread he ate.”

Shopping List: 
You will have to decide which stuffing you are going to make and make a shopping list of the ingredients for that particular one. With either one, you will always need the following:

·        Mrs. Cubbison’s Classic Seasoned Dressing
·        Knorr Chicken Bouillon cubes. They are in a small yellow, green and red box in the soup section of your grocery store.
·        Celery
·        Onion
·        Unsalted butter

I always called this sumptuous dish “dressing”, but calling it “stuffing” makes more sense. Here are the only two recipes that I make.

As you get ready to make the stuffing, retrieve the “negative turkey parts” (NTPs) and the turkey from the refrigerator.

Let the turkey set out on the kitchen counter until you get ready to stuff it. It helps it cook better if the chill wears off before you put it in the oven. The butter that you rubbed all over it will also soften a little.

Put all of the NTPs in a saucepan and cover with water, add a little salt and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until you need the broth for the stuffing.
Mix the ingredients for your stuffing. When you are ready for the broth/liquid, put your strainer over the glass measuring cup or a bowl. Drain the NTPs into the strainer, saving the broth to moisten the stuffing you are going to make. Put the Knorr bouillon cubes in the broth in the measuring cup and let it dissolve. This will make the stuffing richer. Add to your stuffing and mix well.

Note: One Knorr chicken bouillon cube per two cups water. Make plenty. It doesn’t matter how much water you put in the pot to cook the NTPs. It’s better to have too much. Depending on which stuffing recipe you are making you could have some left over. Save it in the refrigerator to put in the gravy later.

Do whatever you want with the NTPs.

I always eat the liver and give the rest to the dogs. It’s their first hint that this is going to be a big food event for them too.

No dogs, then wrap it up in a newspaper, put it in a plastic bag, tie a knot in it, and put it in the freezer. Otherwise, your garbage will smell to high heaven. Also, it won’t attract the bears. I do this with meat remnants often. The trick is to remember what is in the plastic bag in the freezer and to take it out on garbage pick-up day.

 Mrs. Cubbison’s Classic Seasoned Dressing.

This is in a box and the recipe is on the back of the box. It tells you what you need and how much of each thing you need for the size of turkey you are preparing.

There are other varieties of Mrs. Cubbison’s products but this one is the best. All it really has in the box is the bread that has been seasoned.

If you want to get fancy and have your guests rave about the stuffing, try this one.

Sausage-Apple Dressing


This recipe is for one 10-14 pound turkey. Double this recipe for a bigger bird.

Ingredients:
        ½ pound bulk pork sausage
        ½ cup chopped onion
        ½ cup chopped celery
        8 cups (about 14 ounces) Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing mix
        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
        2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
        1-teaspoon salt
        ¼ teaspoon pepper
        ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
        2 cups chopped peeled apples
        2/3-cup raisins
        2 cups turkey/chicken broth (This is the broth you have from cooking the NTPs.)

Preparation:
·        In small skillet, brown pork sausage on medium heat with onion and celery; do not drain.
·        Combine seasoned stuffing mix, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and butter in a large bowl. Mix well.
·        Add apples, raisins, broth (you just made this), and sausage mixture with drippings. Mix well.
·        Spoon stuffing loosely into the neck and body cavities of the turkey. Do not pack it in tightly. Mix about ½ cup turkey/chicken broth (See above) with the remaining stuffing to moisten it and put it into a Crock Pot slow cooker.
·        Cover.
·        Cook on HIGH setting for 30 minutes. Check to make sure it isn’t too dry or sticking to the bottom of the pot. If so, add a little more broth (Hahaha) or water and toss lightly.
·        Reduce to LOW. Cook until serving time.
    Mix lightly before serving

Sunday, November 13, 2011

THANKSGIVING RECIPE: The Turkey

 Knowing how to buy and prepare the turkey are, no doubt, the reasons more people don’t offer to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The process is intimidating. It takes practice. If you mess it up, you’ve ruined the main course. You must have intestinal fortitude to take it on…and faith. Prayer helps.

Good advice doesn’t hurt either. For those reasons, I’m going to jump right in and give you my hints for the most difficult Thanksgiving recipe first.

Rule #1: if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner, take at least Wednesday off from work.

Supplies for cooking the turkey:

Turkey
Unsalted butter
Basting tool
Kosher salt
Large stockpot or clean bucket
Large glass measuring cup (at least 4-cups)
Metal fine strainer that fits over measuring cup
Medium saucepan with lid
Roasting pan with rack
Meat thermometer
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Vegetable cooking spray
Kitchen twine (available in the grocery store kitchen gadget section)
Paper towel
Disposable gloves for handling the raw turkey

I say buy the biggest turkey that will fit in your refrigerator and oven. Leftovers are one of the rewards of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Big turkeys don’t cook as evenly as smaller ones but it’s more of a hassle to cook more than one. Having said that, a 14-pound bird is ideal and easy to handle and will easily feed 12 people. A 24-pound turkey will feed 20 people with plenty of meat left over.

Before you buy the turkey, make sure you have cleaned out your refrigerator to make room for it.

Buying the turkey:

I usually buy Butterball brand, probably because it has “butter” in the name. I love butter and use it for everything. When you see butter as an ingredient in this cookbook, it means butter…UNSALTED BUTTER to be exact. I couldn’t find the unsalted butter one day long ago in our grocery store. I asked a clerk where the butter was. She said, “You want unsalted butter, right?” I answered, “Yes” with a questioning look. She replied that she thought I looked like the type that would want unsalted butter. I never found out what that meant and have always wondered.

“As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.” ~Joan Gussow

Any brand of turkey will work. I have also bought the one that has the red button that pops up when the turkey is done. I used to order a fresh turkey from the grocery store butcher or a butcher shop. It has never been frozen. This is the best choice. You don’t have to go through the defrosting process and you can trust that it is fresh. You pick it up a few days before the event and can proceed with the brining process.

I can hear you now. “What brining process?” I warned you that I would be giving you cooking secrets/hints. This is one of them. It is important.

First let’s thaw the bird if you bought a frozen one.
Allow the turkey to thaw in its packaging in the refrigerator (not on the back porch) from Saturday morning to Wednesday morning. Since Thanksgiving is always on Thursday, this will always apply. If you are cooking a turkey for another event, allow four days for thawing or allow one day for every 4 pounds of turkey.

My intent is not to insult your intelligence by being too simplistic. I think cookbooks assume too much and people are lazy in writing them. As a young, inexperienced cook who found boiling water to be challenging, there were never enough instructions. It was always the little details that would make me crazy…and would mean the difference between success and disaster.

Bear with me if this is too much information. I like to teach to the novice.

Wednesday morning (fourth day) the turkey is unwrapped from its packaging. SAVE THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PACKAGE FOR COOKING TIME AND TEMPERATURE.

Remove the negative turkey parts from the cavities on both ends of the bird. Rinse them under cold water and place them in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you get the turkey into the brine and into the refrigerator. These will be used in making gravy, which is a recipe for another day.
Rinse the turkey with cold water inside and out.
You will need a large stockpot or a clean bucket filled with 2 gallons cold water. Dissolve 4 cups kosher salt (preferred) or 2 cups table salt in the water in the container. This is called brine.
Add the turkey, cover, and put in the refrigerator or put in a very cold spot (about 40 degrees) for about 6 hours.

Why? If you “brine” the turkey, it cleans the turkey and takes out the impurities. The breast meat stays juicy. Also, the salt solution penetrates the meat and the meat is seasoned all the way through.

Thanksgiving Eve:
Put three sticks of butter on the counter to soften. Take the turkey out of the brine. Dispose of the brine in the sink.
Rinse the turkey again with cold water inside and out.
Pat the turkey dry with paper towel inside and out.
Rub softened butter all over the outside of the turkey.
Place the turkey on the roasting pan you will use to cook it. The aluminum disposable ones are good but a real roasting pan with a deep tray and a sturdy V-rack are best.

Lay a sheet of waxed paper or foil across the top of the bird and put it in the refrigerator for the night.

Thanksgiving morning:
30 minutes before you will put the turkey in the oven, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and prepare the stuffing.

Preheat the oven.  

After the turkey is stuffed, tie the bird up with twine.

Here’s how:
        Take a 5-foot length of twine.
        Using the center of the piece of twine, tie the legs together at the ankles.
        Run the twine around the thighs and under the wings on both sides of the bird and pull tightly.
        Keeping the twine pulled snug, tie a knot around the skin at the neck of the bird. Cut off the extra twine.

Roast the turkey according to the directions (you saved them, didn’t you?) for time and temperature. If there are no directions, use the guide provided here.

Oven roasting the turkey:

Insert the meat thermometer through the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone. I have always wondered why they say this. How are we supposed to know where the bone is?

The following times are for an unstuffed bird. A stuffed one may cook at the same rate as an unstuffed one; however, be prepared to allow 30-50 minutes longer.

10-13 pounds @ 350 degrees to internal temperature of 165, usually 1 ½ to 2 ¼ hours;

14-23 pounds @ 325 to internal temperature of 165, usually 2-3 hours;

24-27 pounds @325 to internal temperature of 165 for 3-3 ¾ hours;

Let the turkey roast for an hour before basting. Then baste the turkey with melted butter and pan juices every 30 minutes.
Keep the butter in a little pan on the stove with a basting brush or baster nearby.

If the turkey is getting too brown, loosely place a piece of foil on top.

Begin checking the meat thermometer during these basting sessions to check on the progress of the bird.

Estimate the time it will be done and allow enough time for the turkey “to rest” after it’s done. Transfer the turkey to a cookie sheet to rest and to be carved. 20 minutes for “resting” (the turkey, not you) is a good estimate.

The turkey will then have to be carved. Place the serving platter by the turkey. As the meat is carved, place it on the platter for serving. Keep it in a warm place and cover with foil if not serving right away.

Have a man carve the turkey. If Peter is available he is a master turkey carver and seems to enjoy doing it.

The tricky part is pulling everything together at the last minute.  Just relax and take a deep breath.
You can do it!

Acknowledgement:
I have little pieces of paper with lots of information stuck in a folder about this process. Much of the information came from just trying it, making mistakes, trying again, etc. Some information came from different cookbooks and magazines. A couple of my favorite magazines are Sunset and Cook’s Illustrated. I thank them for always having easy-to-follow directions for everything.








Saturday, November 12, 2011

MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is about food, after all. But more importantly, it is about family, traditions, reflecting on what we are thankful for, and counting our blessings one by one. There are so many.

It is also a holiday for everyone. It is not associated with a religion. People of all faiths can be thankful for living in the United States of America and for the luxurious freedoms and abundance we enjoy.

Christmas was my favorite holiday as a child for all the wrong reasons. It is just too much! I treasure and honor the meaning of Christmas and the true spirit of the season. Unfortunately, in our world it has taken a dismal last place in the order of events.

It’s about presents, guilt for not buying presents, guilt for getting too many presents, guilt for getting presents from someone you didn’t buy one for, and guilt about not being with people who expect you to be with them.

Makes one just want to take a little trip to Maui for a couple of weeks.

I have always fantasized about having all of you here for Thanksgiving dinner, wherever “here” might be. Whether or not that ever happens, please know that you are always in my heart and my thoughts on this special day.

Stay tuned for memories, menus, recipes and family traditions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

THE FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST

“ I’ll bet what motivated the British to colonize so much of the world is that they were just looking for a decent meal.”
 ~Martha Harrison

Attention all children and grandchildren!!

After doing some genealogy research (quit yawning), it seems that my lineage is purely English, for at least the past 900 years with just a little bit of German thrown in.

Peter has discovered the same thing but with some Irish thrown in.

It seems that both the English and the Irish enjoy this breakfast.
You must honor this, as it is your ancestors’ fare. 

You don’t have to eat it or cook it, just honor it.

First, please use silver, china and fine linens. It is helpful if you have a cook to prepare the meal and a butler to serve it.

Here it is:

Serves 4

Ingredients:
        8 sausages
        8 rashers of bacon
        8 eggs
        4 tomatoes
        8 large mushrooms
        4 slices bread
        2 cans baked beans
        4 slices black pudding
        HP sauce (“google it”)
        Tomato ketchup
       
Method:

Preheat the oven (hob) to 120 C (250 F) and turn the grill to high. 

Place plates in the bottom of the oven as well as a dish to store cooked items.

Grill the sausages. Turning frequently for about 15 minutes, until they are brown. Take care not to cook the sausages too quickly as the outside can burn before the inside cooks.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half, season, and add to the grill with the mushrooms. Cover the mushrooms with a little oil.

Add the bacon and black pudding slices to the grill tray and grill for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The tomatoes and mushrooms should take about 5 minutes.

Transfer the baked beans to a saucepan and heat for 5 minutes. At the same time, begin the toast.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. 

Crack the eggs into the pan, ensuring that the yolks are not broken. Spoon some of the hot fat over the whites and yokes to ensure that they cook quickly. Fry for 3-5 minutes.

Serve immediately with HP sauce, tomato ketchup and a cup of tea. (As well as a tabloid newspaper!)

“To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.” ~W. Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AN ALL-AMERICAN BREAKFAST

I’ve included a few special recipes and hints that I am opinionated about. Otherwise, “google” specific recipes.

I think it's important to include all of the breakfast items in lists. Sometimes when I'm in a hurry or company drops by unexpectedly, without a list of possibilities, I may forget to serve something I have on hand.

BEVERAGES: Coffee, tea, juice, hot chocolate, milk

BREAD: Toast, English Muffins, other muffins, donuts, coffeecake, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, bagels
Cereal: Cold Cereal (Eat only in an emergency)

HOT CEREAL: Please buy Bob's Red Mill oats. They are the best I’ve found and cook quickly. Use a wooden spoon to stir. Top them with butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, cream, etc. Your body (and your children’s bodies) will thank you. This is part of the Full English Breakfast also. It is called porridge, like “The Three Bears” had.

CINNAMON ROLLS
Easy and Good
       
        1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
        3 tablespoons butter
        2 teaspoons cinnamon
        1/3 cup powered sugar

For frosting use powdered sugar. Recipe for frosting is on the box.
Open the crescent rolls. Don’t divide them into rolls, but open into a flat sheet of dough. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up the whole sheet of dough lengthwise and slice. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes. Coat with frosting while warm.

CINNAMON TOAST: Keep a glass bottle (a clear spice bottle or salt shaker) with holes in the top filled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top of buttered toast. The right mixture should be a light brown. Cinnamon is a very healthy spice.       

EGGS: fried, over-easy, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, omelet, Benedict, etc.

This recipe is great if you have company or just want to do something special on the weekend. Great with fruit and muffins or cinnamon rolls.


POOPSIE'S EGG CASSEROLE
Serves 8
                10 eggs
                1 teaspoon baking powder
                ½ teaspoon salt
                1 pound grated cheddar cheese
                1 pint cottage cheese
                ½ cup flour
                1 stick melted butter
                1 small can diced green chile

Mix well and pour into a 9X13 glass baking dish. Bake 25-35 minutes at 350 or until set. This can be made the night before and kept covered in the refrigerator. In the morning, take it out of the refrigerator and bake it. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

GREER LODGE FRENCH TOAST
          (Sadly, the “lodge” burned to the ground May, 2011. 
The recipe survives.) 

This is the recipe:
           2 slices of Texas Toast per person.
                2 tablespoons oil in skillet
                1 box of Post Toasties Corn Flakes
                2 cups of sliced almonds
                3 eggs
                1 quart of heavy cream
                ¼ teaspoon vanilla
                ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash nutmeg

Crush cereal and almonds in a plastic bag (like a vegetable bag from the produce department) with a wooden mallet and put in a pie plate.
Cut bread slices in half.
Mix cream, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla in another pie plate.
Dip bread slices in egg mixture, coating on both sides. Don’t leave them in too long or your toast will be soggy.
Coat both sides of bread in cereal/almond mixture.

Cook on griddle until lightly brown. Turn and brown the other side.

Lightly dust with powdered sugar. It is best to put the powdered sugar in a small strainer and shake it over the food.

Serve with warm syrup.

“ I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So, I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.” ~Steven Wright   

MEAT: Bacon, chicken fried steak, sausage, Canadian bacon, ham.

PANCAKES: Mixes are good. You can make your pancakes special by adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the mix before cooking them. DON’T turn them over until the tops are bubbling. Then check bottom so they don’t burn. I think an electric skillet works best for cooking pancakes and French Toast (and lots of other things) because the temperature can be set and stays constant.

POTATOES:

 Home fries: Cook 6 cubed potatoes, peeled or not, in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove from hot water immediately or they will be mushy when you fry them.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium-high heat
Add 1 coarsely chopped onion.
Add a few cloves chopped garlic, fresh or from the jar.
Cook together for a few minutes until the onions are transparent.
Add cooked and drained potatoes.
Stir to brown the potatoes and mix well with onions and garlic.

Hash Browns: Make hash browns according to package directions.
They are great with green chile (the stew) on top, sprinkled with cheese and placed under the broiler for a few minutes. The Safire in Springerville, AZ, would present an entire plate filled with this mouth-watering delicacy.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS AND SAUSAGE GRAVY:

Buy the biscuits in the refrigerated bread section.

        1 pound bulk ground pork sausage
4 tablespoons white flour
        2 cups whole milk
        Spices: Salt, black pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne powder, and Worcestershire sauce.

 If you have these, just use a little of each one. If you don’t have them, use garlic salt and black pepper to taste.

Brown sausage on low heat, stirring often.

Leaving fat from the meat in the skillet, use a slotted spoon to take the meat out of the skillet, pressing down on it with another spoon to get as much grease into the skillet as you can.

Put the meat in a bowl and set it aside until the gravy is made.

Put the flour and spices into the skillet in the grease on medium-low heat.

Stir with a wire whisk until it is completely incorporated into the grease. It should turn into crumbs. The flour must cook or the gravy will have a grainy texture. Don’t let this burn or get too brown. This takes patience.

Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly with the wire whisk. As it gets thick, add more milk. More milk than the recipe calls for may be necessary.

Turn up the heat and cook it for about ten minutes, stirring constantly.

Taste the gravy, adding whatever is needed to adjust the flavor.

Grandson DV does a good job of stirring the gravy.

Add the sausage back in and continue to stir on low heat.

“You can put your trust in gravy, the way it stretches out the sausage, the way it stretches out the dreams from payday ‘til tomorrow.” Wilma E. McDaniel from Gravy Tells A Lot