Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey and Garlic

I am one of those folks who thinks that most anything can be sauteed in olive oil and garlic and thus rendered edible. The past few days that has been the turkey treatment here at the urban famrstead. Instead of merely plucking a gout of turkey flesh from its plastic fridge container, salting it liberally and munching on it as I write or work, I've been making a little more effort.

Okay, not much more. I start heating the olive oil in the cast iron pan, get the garlic from the fridge and toss in rather a lot. Then I chop the turkey--dark meat--into the hot oil, stir it up and get a bowl.

Turkey, garlic, oil.

Very good.

Tonight, I lobbed a couple of tablespoons of cooked sweet poes into the mix.

Also good.

We're near the end of the turkey leftovers, though I did freeze a lot of turkey. We'll bring that out for future meals and remember the juicy, orangeness of our Thanksgiving friend.

Now, I must decide if I am doing a dinner on the 25th. I have often done a big formal dinner, but this may be a relaxing year instead.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Open Fire the chestnuts were roasted in the oven. So much for romance.
But chestnuts are really yummy, especially roasted. You make little Xs on one plump side, so they don't explode in the oven. I roasted them at 425 for about 15 minutes. Because of the X, each succulent nut is easy to peel and the shell color is this rich warm brown.
They are good chopped and baked into dressing but we prefer to eat them out of hand. My husband's Italian family always has them after the big Thanksgiving meal, with wide slices of fresh fennel and assorted nuts-in-the-shell.
The turkey also spent time in the oven, being basted with olive oil and orange juice. Sweet and tender and very moist.
What did you have on your Thanksgiving table?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cakes, Pumpkin Cheesecake and...The Day of Much Food

It's a hedgehog cake--my sister-in-law made it a couple of days ago and I was called in to be Icing Woman. She has a lovely Kitchen Aid mixer (for which she just got the pasta-making attachments) and it made quick work of the frosting adventure. We also did a nice smooth two layer cake for my niece. So when it came time for this one, I picked it out with the icing spatula.
Tomorrow is that problematical American holiday, Thanksgiving. Problematical because we were raised on some peculiar mythological stories of pious Pilgrims and docile Natives that bore little resemblance to what really happened when Europeans came to this continent.
But many of us love those stories and the guilt we feel about the Empirical adventure that is America is often too much to bear. I want to suggest something to you.
Enjoy tomorrow. Enjoy the food, and the life we live here in America. Try to enjoy your family, try to be kind to those who aren't always kind to you.
Remember the people in your community who don't have enough to eat. Don't worry about the whole wide world--there are certainly lots of hungry folks everywhere. Focus instead on those in your town.
And, if you can afford it, buy some extra non-perishable food items and donate them. To your church or temple, to the food bank, to the homeless shelter.
You can't feed every hungry belly, but that can of tuna and that bag of dried beans will make a tummy in your town feel better. You can do that much. We can all do that much.
Ditch the guilt, be kind to your family and enjoy life for a change. And if you can do even a small thing to help another person, then do it.
Life is sweet and sometimes we forget that. Try to remember it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Charity Challenge for Thrifty Cooks Who DON"T Shop at Wal-Mart!

This blog is hosting a charity event challenge to try and prove people can feed their families healthy inexpensive meals without relying on pre-fab, unhealthy food at Wal-Mart. The blog refers to the commercials claiming that you can make a fresh meal for less than $2 per person, but the meals shown are full of unhealthy junk food like sugary pastries and frozen garlic bread. The challenge is to remind us all to support local businesses and buy fresh foods whenever possible.

I should preface this by saying I rarely shop at Wal-Mart; we go to the one in western NY near where we camp every July, mainly because we can get everything we need in one place and there aren't many options in that area. I have tried not to shop there if we can patronize a smaller business, however, and this year discovered an Amish-owned greenhouse I love that convinced me to never buy overpriced sad-looking annuals at that Wal-Mart ever again.

But yesterday my husband and I did stop there; it was on our way home, we wanted a new DVD, and needed two items for dinner. They didn't have the DVD we wanted (Season Four of Battlestar Galactica), but I got a different one (Season One of Hex). Also, we got much more food than we planned because we were hungry and the prices and selection were so tempting. Peppered slab bacon! Cracklin' Oat Bran! Raisin Bran! Hershey's Special Dark baking chips! Romaine lettuce hearts! Natural chicken wings! Corn dogs! (Okay, that was my husband)

We felt a bit sheepish, coming away with so much more than we meant to, but also knowing we rarely buy food there. But I could completely understand why people would want to shop there, given the excellent prices. They even carry plenty of organic stuff, now (as mentioned in the documentary Food, Inc., Wal-Mart now carries organic Stonyfield Farms yogurt products. As my husband put it, just because the company is evil, doesn't mean the store is. Good point.

But I know I would never start doing all my shopping there, even if we were forced to tighten our belts. I am already a thrifty cook and shopper and I absolutely support our farmers' markets and locally grown foods. Our neighborhood market ended last week but one grower who has a CSA plan is still meeting locals once a week for the next three weeks to sell them anything they want from his list of available produce. This week I'll get some kale, watercress and eggs from pasture raised chickens.

So, can I cook a great-tasting healthy meal using fresh ingredients for less than $2 a person? You bet I can! And so can you. I'm going to take on this challenge and provide some recipes, and the blogger is even donating $2 to a food pantry for every qualified link. This is a win-win!

Some recipes I plan to share: Pasta with white beans and spinach; Black bean quesadillas; Baked penne pasta with Italian sausage.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Here Comes the Season of...well, lots of food

I'm sure there was some hilarious and/or pithy title to come up with but I'd rather talk about food.

American Pagans, as you well know, often celebrate the American holiday Thanksgiving, though it doesn't appear on a standard Wheel of the Year diagram. In fact, many make the pilgrimage to the place of their birth and unto the house of their mothers. Often pretending they aren't Pagan at all, in order to keep the peace and enjoy the feast.

No matter. Hiding the glow of your connection to Earth and the fact that your "name" is now Lady Frostnipples ferch Yarrowroot, you sit at table with people who knew you when and still call you "Bucky".

But the food! Your mom always makes the best mashed poatatoes, just like you like them. And now you are in charge of the chestnut stuffing. What about those popovers? And the fresh cranberry sauce?

Pumpkin pie, Grandma's chocolate cake, Dad's Waldorf salad.

I hope that all of you will indulge in your favorite seasonal treats this week and will have a thought for those who are hungry. Maybe donate to a food pantry in your great-aunt's name--you know, the one who always had too much wine at dinner and slept through the evening.

And if you are hungry, please avail yourself of help that is in your community. Don't be too proud or to shy. Because nutrition is important and there are programs that can help. Even if you have to go to a church basement.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hard Cider Renaissance!

I wanted to share a recent blog post from my blog Orchards Forever, on the hard cider brewing renaissance.

Hard cider making seems a likely protege to the microbrew revolution. What about you? Do you like hard cider? Have you ever made it? Are you in love with the names of antique apple varieties used to make cider, like Cox Orange Pippin, Gold Rush, William's Pride, Wolf River, Campfield, or Muscat de Bernay? Let's hear your delicious thoughts.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Can It Be Planting Time...Again?

Yeppers, we're having some gorgeous warm weather and I intend to clean out the Italian garden tomorrow and plant some greens to winter over. I've done this for the last few years--there is nothing like picking fresh spinach in late February.

But this is the first year in the Italian garden. That little plot of land is near the back door and easy to access.Spinach, onions, kale, collards maybe.

And today, I was pondering the plot and saw a wee bit of lacey green peeking out from the comfrey in the corner. A carrot! Joy! I resisted the urge to simply wipe it off.

I washed it, shook the water off and ate it.

Sweet, crisp, alive.And I ate it.Bad girl.