Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving-Related Musings


Oh. Oh, no. Guys, you're never going to believe this. Sandra Lee, who is on TV as I type, has sunk to an all-time low, from the depths of crapitude to the Level Three Nuclear-Attack-Proof Sub-Basement of Crapitude. She is making "Thanksgiving leftover empanadas." Out of pre-rolled pie crust, leftover mashed potatoes and leftover green bean casserole, seasoned with packaged taco seasoning. TACO SEASONING!

Here's my T-day menu:

Turkey. (um... duh...)
Dressing. I'm a plain bread dressing kind of gal. I like cornbread dressing (and Carrie's chicken and dressing), but the dressing of my childhood is just white bread, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, and broth.
Mashed potatoes. Simple. No herbs, no roasted garlic, just mashed potatoes, milk, butter, and cream cheese, my secret ingredient.
Homemade egg noodles.
Gravy. Gallons of it.
Cranberry sherbet. My mom's family recipe. It's light, tart, sweet, crystalline, refreshing... basically everything that the rest of T-day dinner is not.
Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie

Did you know that there are people who don't like Thanksgiving leftovers? Those people are NUTS. What, I ask you, is not to like about having a fridge full of the best dang food of the whole dang year that you can re-invent into all sorts of delectable treats? Turkey pot pie! Potato cakes! Turkey noodle soup! White turkey chili! Not to mention the sheer joy of cold turkey sandwiches and hot fried dressing. COME ON.

Mmmm... I can't wait until next Thursday...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Food. Again. But Not Really Food Blogging, As Such. Just Read It, OK?

Here's my latest revelation about my eating habits. Do I have the right to cheap food? I was standing in front of the meat counter at Whole Foods the other day, mentally grousing about the prices, when that question popped into my head, followed quickly by, define cheap.

Does "cheap" simply mean the price per pound? Or does cheap mean that the animals were raised, pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, on a factory farm, at whatever cost to the environment and to the health of the livestock itself, then inhumanely slaughtered by poorly-trained and -supervised hourly workers in a massive plant?

It's been something for me to ponder -- as a Christian, how does my God-given responsibility to live with an eternal, Kingdom perspective even now effect how I think about the welfare of creation?

I read a fantastic article a while back, by a woman who buys her meat directly from the "growers" whenever possible, even visiting the operations herself. She wrote about coming to terms with being an omnivore -- recognizing that, every time I bite into a hamburger, I am putting into my body something that was once alive. Ultimately, she's OK with that, and so am I. But the least I can do, she says, is to "look my food in the eye," so to speak -- to know where it comes from, how it was raised and slaughtered, and not simply purchase it in "nuggets" at the drive-through. That really resonated with me.

Any other thoughts?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Food Blogging!!

My friend Kristen came over for dinner tonight, and I made this gorgeous recipe from "A Twist of the Wrist," courtesy of Food and Wine's new website, but discovered (by me) on the lovely Claudia's food blog: Nancy Silverton's lamb meatballs with chickpeas and piquillo peppers.

The original recipe called for lamb, obviously, but being unable to buy good lamb for less than the price of raising a child through college, I opted for ground beef. The verdict? Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Seriously, it was so flavorful and complex and delicious, and the textures of the chickpeas and the meatballs together -- mmmmmmm... A very big thank you to Claudia for providing the inspiration.

I did make a few subs and additions (duh) since I can't leave well enough alone. I used dry thyme instead of fresh, and added a big heaping tablespoon of lemon zest to the ground meat. I think I also added enough garlic to repel an army of vampires. But it's ok. No handsome men were present at tonight's meal, so we're all good. Actually, no men. At all. I'm not bitter.

A main course this delicious called for a simple but equally delicious dessert. I've been looking for a good way to use up the currants I bought to make hot cross buns, and came across a few recipes for barm brack or tea brack -- fruit-studded Irish sweet breads -- and they were the inspiration for what I eventually came up with: Spiced currant cake. With freshly whipped cream. And a little nutmeg on top. Seriously, somebody stop me before I take over the world with my awesomeness. Did I mention I made up this dadgum recipe?? Because I did.

Oh, you'd like to know how I made it? I thought you'd never ask.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
3 eggs
1 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. milk
1 T. lemon zest

2 cups flour
4 t. baking powder
1 scant t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt

1 c. dried currants

Cream together butter and sugar until very fluffy. Add eggs and beat until frothy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Add milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Sift together flour and baking powder and stir in nutmeg and salt. Toss currants in flour mixture. Add to wet ingredients and mix just until moistened, about 30 seconds.

Pour into an 8 x 8 baking pan and bake for 45-55 minutes in a 350 oven, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean but not dry. Serve with freshly whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg. Devour. Repeat.

Aren't you glad we don't have to graze like cattle? I sure am. Yay food!