Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preempting your Thanksgiving L.O. problem

Yummola-gamola!! Hope you all are having a good winter day & if you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I'm sure a gratitude attitude will certainly make you feel more toasty than thinking about your ofuro drain hair clogging problem. Grossanization!

So, as I've said before I never really "did" Thanksgiving mainly because it seemed like another feast so close to Christmas -- which inevitably turns out to be the one that gets the biggest turn out. But this year I had the opportunity to wing one in style Simple friendly & kind for the friendly "man friends" of ours who brought forth a 13 lb (6 kg) turkey. And for anyone who's interested (.....or not) Here's what I did for our simple standard Thanksgiving dinner:

- Brined Turkey in apple/brown sugar/clove brine
- Baked the stuffed turkey (not my fav but don't have enough room in the oven for seperate stuffing)
- Cranberry sauce (by a miracle, tx Mark, and ONE'S MALL, for anyone who lives in Chiba)
- Gravy
- Mega cream potatoes (1 c of cream & 1 of butter, ewww but delish)
- Salad with nuts galore
- Whiskey caramelized carrots
- cornbread (last minute in the oven while the turkey set for 20 min)
- For desert Big Bill's Carrot cake and blueberry ice-cream (the biggest cheat of the day, mixing mashed frozen blueberries with storebought ice-cream. (I'm lazy --- sue me!)

Now as for left overs. I of course made a good gallon or so of turkey stock. And if you don't make even the simplest of stock with your left over turkey or chicken you deserve a spanking of spankings & for me to then confiscate your bones....that is to say -- the bones of your bird! MAKE YE STOCK!!

Anyway, I turned 1/2 of that stock into a simple turkey & kidney bean soup for the next night. The other 1/2 is stashed away in my freezer for later.

But I decided to try to make something yummy with the left over mashed potatoes. I don't know about you but I grow pretty fickle of mashed potatoes roughly 1 hr after they're mashed. (I know, I'm cold) So to make it short I found this recipe for Potato Biscuits on All recipes and slapped them together easily for lunch. (even spared 2 rashers of bacon for good measure)

Too lazy to shape them I just spooned them on the tray & baked. They were light, fluffy & crisp on the outside. Should've added some cheese but didn't think to. Next time. I do recommend these if you're stuck on what to do with the L.O. potatoes.

Next you'll think I'm coo-coo but I took what was left off the bone of the turkey giblet & neck bone (what is that called?) and shredded it up.

Then I threw together a fritatta of :

- 6 eggs, whipped with 1/2 c of milk
- 1 cup or so of stuffing & left over cornbread broken up
- a handful or so of cheese.
- sprigs of parsley

Fried up the stuffing & turkey, poured the egg & sprinkled the cheese & parsley along with salt & pepper. Covered & cooked for about 15 min or till pretty firm looking then flipped it over onto a plate. And this is it! Wasn't bad at all. Though the occasional dried cranberry was a little disconcertingly sweet. More on fritattas & Tortas another time. But as it so happens I gotta go to beddy bye! Lemmie know what you made for Thanksgiving!

Contemplating cookies & getting out Bruce the manly mixer for possible cookie giveaways!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boys will be.....

Apparently swings are just not interesting enough if you were to merely swing on them. A more manly approach....

pretending to fall off swing
Crashing into the other guy till he falls off swing
Pretending to surf/skateboard/snowboard/be a jedi on swing
Have as little body contact with swing as possible
Join the circus because of cultivated swing styles

Boys will be....and that's why I love them

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alas alas......

Hi there friendly friends!

I desperately wish I had something yummy & funky to post but as you can see I'm feeling a little under the weather as far as cooking goes. Now I know I shouldn't be getting all dramatic but I'm just feeling a little bit like Napoleon, looking at the little bit of culinary world that I have conquered & now I'm sitting on my heels drinking cheap box wine weeping bitter tears that there are NO new worlds & alas I must despair and die with my cooking laurel hanging off my left foot.

I dislike people saying I cook well, or that they are intimidated by my cooking. If I cook for you will you watch me doing it the wrong way & not say anything? Will you show me a faster way or yummier way?

There are so many things I don't know how to do I feel like I'm doing a mediocre job of imitating a cook. I made a thanksgiving dinner on the request of some hungry dude friends who supplied the turkey & with all it's good fun at the end of the long day of cooking, I found that it was all too smooth & without incident. There wasn't the least bit of thrill to be had in putting together all the components & as spoiled as it sounds I really did wish that each year's Holiday dinner called for a different theme or country's cuisine.

Am I being a doofus? Probably. I've been listening to podcasts about French cooking basics, which as all good things go, it seems the French set the standard for excelence. Through all the good things I'm learning I'm also getting an itch to try so many things I can't for lack of ingrdiants and kitchen ware.

I foresee the winter foodies coming upon me and all the usual goodies & goodness & the thing that I realized I'm not looking forward to is the fact that everyone wants to be rocked in the gentle arms of nastogia eating their favorites! And I end up making the same thing I've made every year. People don't want something new on their holidays, they want MEMORIES!!

Sigh, Oh that there was a whole goose, duck, pheasant (hint hint!!), or side of ham to stress about & discover.

Anyone have any good ideas for holiday goodness? I know how silly it is to insist I've done it all. Maybe I should solicit recipes and vow to try as many as I can. I'm esp. interested in soups, Christmas drinks, cookies, main meat courses, etc...

More cheerful days ahead. With 6 ltrs of chicken & turkey stock in my freezer, how can I go wrong?

PS. If it gets too cold drop by & we'll hunkerdown on the couch with some good chicken soup or mulled wine! Doors always open a crack!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

I promise to not do any more caramel after this but I had to give you this recipe in time for you Thanksgiving cooks.

This pie has a great way of making caramel that I think you "classroom scientific" type cooks will find fun. It involves smoking sugar in a pan & other such questionable behavior. But all in all quite interesting. Remember when they'd tell you that white sugar was brown sugar burnt? Well, caramel, apparently is white sugar burnt....and, gosh darn it.....somehow it's brown again. So, we're all good!

And the result is of course fantastic. The caramel will give your pie a really rich dark color (if you make your caramel right). And served at room temp with ice-cream. It was fantissimo! I'd say it's probably for a more grown up audience, esp if you let the caramel darken enough. I served it to my grandparents & was slightly embarrassed when Miss 2# announced, "Is that Rum? I knew I recognized the taste". heh!!

I've left the recipe in it's entirety as it's something you want to read through before you start.

You can also find my pie crust recipe here. Have fun!! And lemmie know what you're making for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to my unique Thanksgiving & contemplating what to make that won't involve baking anything other than the turkey in the last 4 hours before dinner. Any ideas?

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

1 9 inch single pie crust Partially baked & cooled

1 c sugar
3/4 c heavy cream
2 tbsp dark rum or cognac
2 tbsp unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
1 c pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg and allspice
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Getting ready:
Center rack in oven & preheat the oven to 350 f (175 c)

Sprinkley 1/2 c sugar evenly over the bottom of a large nonstick skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat & staying close cook until the sugar melts & starts to color. Once you see a little color gently swirl till it turns deep amber -- almost mahogany. The sugar will bubble up & foam & start to smoke. It's very dramatic & might make you think you've gone too far, but you want a dark (though not burned black) color; the darker the sugar the fuller the flavor. When the bubble s have gone from foamy to big & fat, you will probably have reached the right color. To check, drop a bit of the caramelized sugar on a white plate.

Lower the heat to medium, stand back & pour the cream into the skillet. The sugar will bubble & hiss &, if the cream was cold may even clump. Just continue to cook, stirring, and it will even out. Add the rum & butter & cook just until the caramel is smooth. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl or pitcher & cool for about 15 min.

Working with a whisk in a large bowl, beat the pumpkin to break it up & smooth it. Add the remaining 1/2 c of sugar & beat to blend. Whisk in the spices, salt, vanilla & eggs. beating until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the caramel. Rap the bowl against the counter a few times to de-bubble the filling then pour into the crust.

Bake for 45-50 min, or until the filling is puffed and set -- tap the pan gently and the filling won't giggle. A think knife inserted into the center of the pie will come out clean. It will also leave a gash in the filling but you'll be covering it with whipped cream.

Trasfer the pie to a rack & cool to room temp, or cool & refrigereate. When you are ready to serve. Spread the lightly whipped cream over the top of the pie.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GG & Papa's Visit

Sorry it's been so long. I did not indeed drown in a vat of my own caramel sauce as you may have suspected. Instead I've been busy with Birthday & visiting season. My Grandparents came from Arizona & somehow survived flying in during Typhoon 20 whereupon 3 passengers on their plane were hospitalized due to injuries sustained on the way into Narita. We watched it on the news not realizing it was their flight.

We had the pleasure of having them visit us and the kids just loved having their GG (Great-Grandma) and Papa (Great-Grandpa) come & stay.

Highlights for me would be:

- My Grandma complimenting me on my gravy. You have NO idea how good of a compliment. I am audacious enough to tell other people (like a preening idiot) "My grandma said I make good gravy", I can't help it! She also saw me slip in some of my very own home made "consume". I swear it's the secret ingr.

- Watching my kids play games and hang out with my very easy going & fantastic G'parents

- The hilarity of my Grandma telling my dad when it was time to go, "Let's blow this joint!" Classic!

Here are a few pics I pulled. Enjoy

GG & Ashley with her birthday present. She was dying to show off her unicycle skills.

The blue eyes of the family

Sorry Chala, this was classic. Ready to eat. Dinner was: cream of celery & cauliflower soup, rosemary roast chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, salad with creamy Gorgonzola/pesto dressing & caramel pumpkin pie with ice cream. (recipe forthcoming)
Boys working on their psychedelic masterpiece. Can you guess what 70's influenced Grandpa helped them conceive of this art form?

GG playing with the little guys. Hunter loved her dearly!

Here are the 4 generations. Ban would not be persuaded to take off my sunglasses.

That's it for now, more ACTUAL cooking soon. But with the prospect of my oldest 3 soon starting school next week things are busier than normal. (Is it possible? YES!!)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Try this for your carrots.....

I looooove to peel potatoes & carrots. It's odd but true I would probably be content to be the guy on KP peeling a bag of spuds.

Mind you I like to use a Japanese veggie peeler cuz' those US ones are very bizarre & should be banished forever from kitchens.

So, basically what I sometimes do is just peel the entire carrots down to the nib & have a whole bowlful of shavings to add to the salad. Of course I think it'll initially freak some people out into thinking you're making a compost salad but personally I think it's purty & easier to eat than grated carrots. So there ya go!

PS. My kids love help peeling carrots this way since they end up doing it anyway.