I know everybody has their favorite recipes for Christmas and here are two of mine. The first one is for pumpkin bread – not to dis pumpkin pie but I’ve been hooked on this stuff since I was a kid and it’s super easy to make and tastes great hot, cold, ala mode or au naturelle. Try it, you’ll love it. And my favorite dressing for roast turkey. The sweet and savory blends quite nicely, especially if you have something like garlic mashed potatoes to go along with. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Bread – (from Fanny Farmer’s cookbook)
1.5 cups flour (1/2 white 1/2whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (1/2 white 1/2 brown)
1 tsp baking soda
1cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil (1/2 veg oil 1/2 applesauce)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, water and spices. Then combine with the dry ingredients but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Pour into a well-buttered loaf pan (9x5x3). Bake 50-60 minutes until straw comes out clean. Turn out of pan and let cool on rack. For muffins, baking time is about 40-45 minutes. You can easily double this recipe and give the extra one away as a gift.
Apple & Raisin Cornbread Stuffing
1 Box (12 ounce) of Mrs. Cubbison’s Cornbread Stuffin’ (I always use this brand but you can use another if you prefer it)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tart green apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup raisins
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup melted butter
Melt butter in heavy bottomed fry pan over medium heat, add onions, celery, garlic and apples – cook until slightly soft, add chicken stock, bring to a boil.
Pour dry stuffing mix into large bowl, add chicken stock mixture to and toss – moisten with orange juice as needed and desired – making it as moist or dry a dressing as you prefer. Stuff your bird and truss her up. If there is any leftover stuffing, turn into buttered loaf pan or casserole dish, moisten with orange juice and bake in over for last 40 minutes of turkey roast time. When removing dressing from turkey cavities mix with baked stuffing to get a nice not too wet, not too dry dressing. Trust me.
Tips and tricks:
First of all, for those of you making your first turkey this year or for those of you who have always had a hard time turning out a good turkey, I highly recommend following the instructions in the Fanny Farmer cookbook. The book is a goldmine of good solid American recipes with very clear and easy to understand instructions.
If on the other hand you are an old hand at roasting turkeys – try this for the juiciest turkey you’ve ever had. For the first 1/2 hour of cook time, set oven at 500 degrees (or highest temp on dial) this quick sears the skin and seals in all the juices as well as evenly browning the turkey. You will have the prettiest turkey in town, I promise. After 1/2 hour turn the temp down to normal cooking instructions and cook based on weight which is generally 15-20 minutes per pound.
My own special basting sauce recipe:
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter
Melt butter in heavy bottomed sauce pan, add white wine, chicken stock and orange juice and cook until heated through. Baste turkey every 45 minutes, keeping basting sauce warm on stovetop on low temp.
Making gravy is practically effortless, just add water, thickening agent of your choice, a dash of coffee and about 1/2 cup of milk or cream to drippings and scrapings from roasting pan – best if made in the roasting pan itself – whisk until thickened – salt and pepper to taste.
Personally, with this meal I don’t really bother with salads or veggies, since it’s really about the starches and meats for me. So I usually bake both white and sweet potatoes, rather than bother with mashed or casseroles, get some great cranberry sauce at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and we’re good to go.
Those are my favorites, what are yours?
So, last night I was having my bi-weekly dinner with Zelda – actually we weren’t supposed to have dinner but she’d called and said she wanted help moving two of her vehicles – which were both at her rental property, blah blah and could I help her out? Sure, I said. Expecting her to be by in five or ten minutes…two hours later she finally shows up and I’m starving cuz I put off eating cuz she was coming right over. Right? No, Zelda has no sense of time. Anyway…I was pretty much gnawing on my own ankle by the time she arrived, so we went to dinner.
Apparently, there was not enough bread, soup and crackers in the joint since I hoovered everything brought to the table the moment it hit my radar. Zelda looked on in apparent horror – what had happened to her friend and who was this pod person sucking up all food in sight? “Blood sugar” I mumbled around a mouthful of something or other. Oh yeah, when I’m in this state I also eat really fast, and Zelda nearly lost two fingers when she reached for the last piece of bread.
Being the odd night that it was, the odd dining behavior and so forth we started talking about how picky an eater I was (while I was literally eating everything in sight) – we argued about what sushi really was and apparently according to Zelda since spicy tuna rolls have mostly rice they aren’t really sushi. Well I thought that was too bad since I call it sushi and I happen to eat it but none of that ‘real’ sushi. Gag me with a spoon. I told her about the time that a date had taken me to a sushi bar and force-fed me a piece of raw, okay, now I’m saying it was raw yellow fin. The minute it hit my mouth it was like a great gob of death, it smelled like old gym shoes and tasted like what I imagined ripe road kill to taste like. So, here I am with this gob of bacterial black plague in my mouth and the date chatting away and smiling cuz he sees the tears in my eyes and thinks I’m so happy to be eating this nuclear waste product – and I’m trying to not actually have my mouth touch it or definitely not taste it. So I somehow manage to excuse myself to the ladies room and as soon as the door closes I Heimlich Manuever that puppy right the hell out. And then of course spent the rest of the evening dying to go home so I could actually eat some real food.
After Zelda got over this story, and composed herself, ensuring she hadn’t actually wet her pants we started talking about other gobs of death that have no business in anyone’s mouth. Pickled Pigs Feet. Have you ever seen these things? They look like the leftovers from a bad operation. And my dear father, God rest his soul, loved these. Whenever he ate them, I refused to go near him for at least two days – I just couldn’t get the image out of my head. The next on the list is anything Roomie makes. He figures as long as he throws olive oil in everything he eats he’s on the life-extending Mederterrainian diet. Okay, are you ready? Fried eggs on top of rice with some fish thrown in for good measure and doused with olive oil. It’s like a hong-kong surprise dock breakfast or something. Oh yeah a bit of raw garlic too. Yummy. Barf. Okra – do I have to explain this? It already looks like something dead and rapidly accumulating a secret disease and then people eat it. I can’t even smell the stuff without thinking of a funeral.
Then there are minor items like:
Anchovies – mmm fury fish – yep I’ll have a double order of those.
Calamari – breaded and deep fried rubber bands – yummy!
Vegemite – sorry my Aussie friends but it tastes like yeast flavored glue.
Powdered cream – why not just go to your local hazardous waste station and scoop some of that into your coffee?
Tripe, chitlins, whole fishes, tongue & haggis – I may have guts but I can’t eat them, nor anything that can look at me or talk to me.
So, those are my great gobs of death, what are yours?
Well, I don’t know about you guys, but my answer to that question is, ah..yeah!
I’m afraid we all just try to cram to much joy into too few days this time of year. I actually was quite careful not to eat too much. But when you go to all the parties, plus dig into all the gifts of cookies and treats, via your friendly postman, I guess you’re kidding yourself about watching what you eat.
Not only did I eat, but man did I cook. Yesterday, while preparing the final (hopefully) holiday feat I realized I was dog-tired and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized I’d been cooking for a week. First, was all the baking for the postman, my mechanics, the neighbors and so on. Then I made a huge pan of sweet pertater scuffle for Erin’s Christmas party, then the vat of beef veggie soup for Zelda’s Christmas Eve party, which takes two days because you have to do the roast first and since the pot was essentially the size of my sink, I couldn’t cook it up the night before, so up at the crack of dawn. The hilarious thing was trying to fit it into my car in a position that wouldn’t slosh it all over the leather seats on my way to Zelda’s. The next challenge was getting it out of the car and carrying it to Zelda’s front door without throwing my back out. Soup is heavy. Who knew?
Then, once I gained entrance into Zelda’s house, I had the terrible realization that since Zelda doesn’t cook, I had slicing, dicing, chopping and plating to do, which was another hour or so. And finally, on Christmas day, the traditional ham dinner with pie and scalloped potatoes and biscuits and, and, and… Cripes, no wonder I was ready for a nap by noon.
In fact, I’m still in my jammies, sucking down coffee and thinking that I’ll spend the day in bed, reading, unless that’s too exhausting then I’ll just stay in bed.
And the food, oh the food, was just so yummy, I had to ‘try’ a little bit of everything. From sweet potater scuffle to the homemade fudge Debbie sent me, to chocolate covered Macadamia’s, tea cookies, brownies, turkey, ham, roast beef. I even managed a couple of gulps of wine.
Can you pass the carb blockers, please? Oh and I’ll have a double alka-seltzer while you’re at it. This morning I woke up and felt positively hungover. No lie.
Of course, I’ll vow never to do it again, only to repeat it next year.
But, it’s hard to complain. Lots of food, lots of friends and just a really good time. From all the presents given and recieved, phone calls and Instant Messaging with friends I don’t get to talk to enough to classic movies watched by the light of Christmas trees and fireplaces. It was all good. All good.
Hope you all had a great time too.
Michael of Smoke & Mirrors has tagged me on a food meme. Imagine that, me and food – who’d a thunk? The deal is that I am supposed to list five of my fav eateries here in my neck of the woods, then I tag five more bloggers to do the same. So here goes:
Pink’s Hotdogs: Pink’s has been around forever in a day. Once you see the place, you definitely envision starlets and wannabe’s of the 1930′s & 1940′s standing around eating their dogs and sipping their creme soda. It’s clearly a Hollywood favorite, as evidenced by all the signed 8×10 glossies of Hollywood luminaries, that cover the walls inside the tiny dining area. But oh, my, God…they have the best chili dogs on the planet. And there is nothing quite so fun as running down there at midnight to stand on line to get a couple of these greasy, ooey, gooey, chili, onions,cheese dogs. 100% kosher beef dogs, on perfect squishy white buns, served by zophtic maidens. Get a Dr. Bonner’s Creme Soda to go with and you are set.
Barney’s: Barney’s is a fixture in Pasadena’s Old Town and has been there for quite a while. It’s a morph of an old-time saloon and a yuppie cafe. The food is good, hearty and reasonably priced, especially for its locale. My all time favorite dish is their toast-taco-salad. An enormous dish of fresh greens, topped with taco meat, shredded cheese, onions, sour creme and freshly made corn chips. Enough to feed three people unless you’re feeling really piggy. It’s served with a boatload of fresh salsa and vinegarette. Their potato salad is perfect. Burgers, great. Also have a mean kielbasa samich served with sourkraut on a big bakery bun. Have it with a diet coke, coffee or any one of the millions of brands of beers they serve. Afterwards, go for a stroll through Old Town, look in the shops, stop at the movies or just mill with the rest of the crowd.
Al Read’s: Al Read’s is a little hole in the wall place a mere 1/4 mile from my house. It sits on a corner across from a liquor store and a grocery store. Nothing remarkable about the little white building it is housed in but wait til you go inside. The decor is early 1970′s with white walls and red vinyl booths. To your right a tiny bar that is always rocking and to your left the dining room. You slide into one of the booths, and are given a giant red menu to peruse. Steak, seafood and ribs. Man oh man, the ribs. The sauce is to die for and I’ve yet to wheedle the recipe out of any of them. My two favorite dishes: Fried clams – can’t get enough of them. And the prime rib – unbelievably huge (covers most of the plate) served with twice baked potatoes and hot cheesebread – for under $20. A-yup, that’s what I said. You can go in your sweats or your fancy duds, makes no difference to them. The food is to die for and the service is friendly, casual and you never feel like they are just waiting for you to leave. It’s like going to your Aunt Edna’s for dinner but the service is better and so is the food.
Da Franco’s: Da Franco’s is the classic neighborhood Italian restaurant. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid there were always the family style neighborhood Eye-talian places that we would go to and gorge until we couldn’t move – and still have tons of leftovers to take home. That’s this place. Alfredo that is light, creamy, perfect. Marinara, home-made and garden fresh. They also have this chicken dish that is layer with cheese, ham and eggplant that is amazing and in ‘pink sauce’ – no idea what that is, but it melts in your mouth. Again, another casual, easy going place that serves the hell out of you. Oh and the cannolis can’t be beat. One other thing that I love, is that they serve you a basket of fresh soft bread sticks with marinara on the side, the minute your fanny hits the seat.
The Elephant Bar: The Elephant Bar is a cool kind of yuppy place in the heart of Burbank. The walls are painted in leopard print and zebra stripes, the waiters and waitresses likely all actors and actresses looking for their big break. They have a nice patio that faces the mountains and you can sip your iced tea or passion fruit iced tea as you watch the sun go down. Don’t worry about getting cold because they have those great big patio heaters that they will light on request. Everything on the menu is delicious. Everything. And the chef will alter dishes to your specs if you’re on a diet or want to swap one item out for another. They have everything from fried calamari, chinese chicken salad to pot roast. The portions are huge, you will be taking home leftovers. My favorite dish is the pot roast. Fork tender, in a perfect brown sauce that just melts in your mouth. Make sure to top it off with a huge slab of Chocolate Blackout Cake. And then call the paramedics, because you’ll have passed out by then.
And any time y’all want to come out to sunny California, I’d be pleased as punch to take you to any of these places.
Okay, that’s my five. Now, on with the tags…who shall it be??????
You know I was thinking…I know, it’s dangerous when my gray matter gets going…but I digress. This world is getting more and more politically correct. Things we thought were just plain normal a decade ago could possibly be against the law today. For instance, what if some yahoo junior Congressman decided that chocolate was a public danger? What if they made it against the law?
Now, you’re probably laughing and think, oh that’s just too ridiculous but hey transfats are against the law in New York now, right? Why not chocolate? It release endorphins, changes moods, contributes to body fat, cholesteral and makes otherwise sane people drive to the grocery store at three in the morning. Face it folks, chocolate creates altered states in we humans. Somebody could probably make the case that it should be added to the list of schedule one narcotics.
But oh for the humor of it, I wish it would happen. Imagine, we’d have chocolate police. Belguims would be considered risks to national security (unless they gave up their recipes and revealed the locations of their factories). People would start smuggling it in from Switzerland, black market racketeers would be producing car panels made of chocolate and some poor housewife would be busting in the dead of night by the chocoloate police, whilst munching on her front bumper.
There’s be chocolate labs tucked away in abandoned buildings, small apartments and little out of the way cafes across the country. People would be stopped to have their breaths sniffed by the chocolate brigade.
Valentine’s Day would be a thing of the past. Christmas, Mother’s Day, Birthdays, anniversaries would all be a little less fun and delicious. Cake would only come in vanilla and fruit flavors. Hagan Daas would go out of business. A whole section of Starbuck’s menu would be erased.
PMSing women everywhere would be roaming the streets looking for their fix – and beating up their spouses if they didn’t come through. Easter would be one big hard boiled egg.
Millions of people would be thrown out of work and have to earn their incomes working for shady folks who knew how to move the goods. It would be a veritable nightmare.
I can feel myself breaking into a sweat, my heart is racing and I’m starting to pant a little. Please, not the chocolate!!!!
Gotta go, there’s a 1 pound trader joe’s chocolate bar I have a date with. Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to plant some in my garden and see if anything grows. Hey, it couldn’t hoit.
I never tire of Monty Python and their hideously stupid humor.
Okay, well maybe it is a big deal and maybe not so much. But has anyone noticed I have actually gotten 30K plus hits on this blog since August?
I mean I don’t expect lotto tickets or even cake and ice cream – but maybe a modest congrats would be nice. I mean come on people, I slave over this blog, day in and day out. I sweat my brains out trying to think of something that will amuse, entertain or provoke deep, deep thought – the least you can do is say – “Hey way to go, WC. Not bad.”
Right? Not right? Is anybody there? Hello, is this thing on?
Okay, well it was worth a try. I know you all have lives and likely more of a life than I – so I guess I’ll just blow up a balloon, buy myself a slice of cheesecake and celebrate while watching Sex in the City reruns. I may even get some microwave popcorn for later. Yes indeed, I do lead the edgy life.
Sometimes some people get it just right. And here’s a special that really says special, doncha think? I laughed my ass off on this one.
Who knew all this time I was weighing myself the wrong way! Apparently, I only weight 17 lbs. For cripessakes I am practically anorexic! I need chocolate and ice cream immediately – it’s a matter of life and death. I guess the big fat ass is an optical illusion. It’s all a matter of perspective, doncha think?