Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey lungs? Wow! Who knew?

I was checking out one of my favorite blogs today, Chris Cosentino's Offal Good and I saw that he had a post on cooking Turkey Lungs. Now talk about using the whole animal. No waste there. I also learned that the U.S. doesn't allow the sale of turkey lungs for some unknown reason. Yet another food item being taken away from us by the government out of fear. We're so silly here in the U.S. with our bizarre fear of foods. Anyway, check out Chris's Turkey Lungs. It's pretty cool.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

They're Here!!!!

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious this year. It's the first Thanksgiving I've had the pleasure of cooking in some time, and I was actually looking forward to slaving away in the kitchen. I started a couple days early by making the cranberry sauce you see below. This is a recipe I found several years ago on the Epicurious site. I love the combination of tart cranberries, chocolaty dried figs, savory rosemary and sweet port. It's easy to make and it can be done a week ahead and it's so much better than that canned jelly stuff.
On Thanksgiving morning I got up at 6 am and put these beauties together. I'm not good at any type of yeast bread normally, but with some patience and the nice warm fire my husband built these are probably some of the best rolls I've ever made. I found the recipe for these in the November 2008 Sunset magazine. I love when I can make something and pull most of the herbs I need (parsley, chives, and rosemary, the only thing store bought was the dill) right out of my garden.
After I finished the rolls I threw a couple of pies together. I was lazy and used store bought crusts, but I did use fresh pumpkin. My youngest came home with a sugar pumpkin from our local pumpkin patch for Halloween, so I roasted it and pured it the same day I made the cranberry sauce. Then I used a classic pumpkin pie recipe that I found at several years ago. It turned out good enough that my husband even enjoyed it, and he hates pumpkin pie. It was topped with whipping cream (not from a can) of course.
This pie is apple huckleberry pie. The apples came from our tree and the huckleberries were picked next to our property. It was a banner berry year this year. The girls loved this pie.Instead of stuffing our turkey this year, and instead of a traditional dressing I decided to get a little off the wall and make oyster dressing. It made sense to have some type of seafood sense we live within view of the ocean. I found a fantastic Oyster Dressing Recipe in Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisianna Kitchen cookbook. If you ever cook anything out of this cookbook, plan on it being over the top. And don't plan on any type of diet food in this book. It's all about the fat. But man was this dressing good.

Then there was the "smashed" potatoes, that my oldest daughter adapted from the November 2001 Martha Stewarts Living Magazine. This involved steamed celery root and yukon gold potatoes that my daughter insisted on leaving the skins on and instead of running through a food mill or processor she aggressively attacked with my mom's old potato masher. They were lumpy creamy goodness.

Then to my husbands dismay I made these sweetly delicious maple glazed yams with pecan topping from my December 1998 Bon Appetite magazine. He's not one for candied yams, and can't tolerate the ones with marshmallow's on top, so I compromised and topped them with maple syrup and pecans. And he liked them, I heard him mumble so. And because we can't have a meal without some type of green (and orange) vegetables I threw together these steamed green beans and baby carrots and topped them with a tarragon butter.

And now for the piece de resistance...........

Drum roll please..............

The turkey!

First I brined this 12 pound beauty for 24 hours in my own homemade apple juice, which I made from our apples and the leftover peals from all the applesauce and apple chutney I've been making and canning over the past few weeks. The brine also included brown sugar, kosher salt, fresh ginger, bay leaves, cloves, and 3 quartered oranges. Then I handed it over to my husband to smoke on our Webber bar b que. He socked hickory chips in water and placed them on top of mesquite coals and smoked the bird for 3 hours.
I basted this tastiness with olive oil while it was cooking.
Once it reached 175 it was good to go!
I can smell the smoke flavor just looking at this picture.

After 11 hours of straight cooking, finally I get to eat.......

Oh yeah, all of this is topped with my giblit gravy. I made giblit broth the day before, toasted the flour in the morning and whisked that together with the broth and smoky flavored meat juices from the turkey and added back in the chopped giblits. No waste here.

Then it was nap time, even for the dog.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tryptophan Haze

Well, it's been a while since I posted. I've been a bit busy with a sick child. She was so bad we had her in ER last week. She's better now, but then I headed into the big Turkey Day Cook Off. I decided to focus on getting my house back in order and cooking my brains out. Which I did. My husband and I cooked up the best turkey ever! Unfortunately I'm in such a bloated tryptophaned state that I just don't have it in me today to post the pictures of our beautiful bird, or to post the recipes. So stay tuned, that will be coming soon. After a good nights sleep, a few chores rapped up and an afternoon picnic with leftovers and friends at the beach, I hope to be back into writing mode.

Just wait until you see the pictures of our toasty tasty turkey. You'll be able to imagine it's smokey smell and it's toasty deliciousness from the photos to the point of salivation.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Minerva Awards

On October 22nd,2008 in Long Beach California 5 women were awarded the Minerva Award by First Lady Maria Schriver. The Minerva Awards were created in 2004 and are awarded to women who have made extraordinary contributions to California in the arts, health and sciences, community activism, business and technology, motherhood, innovation, education and lifetime achievement. Why do I write about this on my food blog? Well, because this year, one of the extraordinary women to win this award is from our neck of the woods, Eureka CA. And she earned this award by helping to feed the homeless for the last 20 years. Her name is Betty Chin and she's a pretty remarkable woman. She started out by spending what she earned at a part time job at a school to go out and feed the needy. She rises every morning at 2 am to pray and meditate. At 2:45 she goes to her kitchen to see what she has to feed hundreds of homeless and she proceeds to prepare the meals. At 6 am she picks up homeless children to make sure they have showers before school starts and gets them clean clothes, school supplies and visits to the doctor if needed. By 8 am she loads up her truck and heads to Saint Vincent DePaul parking lot and serves 200 donuts and coffee. Then she heads home and prepares dinners of sandwiches and what ever else she can find in her cabinets, or that people have donated. By 11 she goes to her part time job then after work she loads up her truck and heads back down to Saint Vincent DePaul to offer meals, care baskets and clothes to families in need. She goes home by 7 to start the whole process over again.

Why? This is Betty's passion. As a child in China she was homeless for 4 years. The Chinese Cultural Revolution tore her family apart. Her father fled the country and her mother was imprisoned, leaving her and her siblings on the streets. She knows what it's like to be hungry and alone. She walked 1600 miles across China and eventually found her way to America and to the town of Eureka. She was able to get on her feet in America and rather than be bitter for what she went through as a child, she has chosen to give back to the needy people of the country that has given her so much.

Betty struggles everyday to keep going. She works part time and her husband is a retired professor. When asked by a reporter "what can we do to help" her response is, "give me peanut butter". She makes 400 sandwiches every day and she relies heavily on community donations. So, in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I felt it would be appropriate to honor this wonderful woman here, and in doing so, possibly inspire some desire out there to help this woman with her passion to serve the needy.

What can you do? You can donate money or supplies through the Humboldt Area Foundation or through the
Betty's Blue Angel's site
So, while you sit down to that wonderful meal at Thanksgiving, think to help out those who are less fortunate then you and give thanks for people like Betty Chinn who make our world a better place to live.

For more information on the Minerva Awards go here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No more bake sales in California schools?

“I don’t think all celebrations need to be around food,” said Ann Cooper, the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley school district. “We need to get past the mentality of food used for punishment or praise.”

This is from a New York Times Article, Bake Sales Fall Victim to Push For Healthier Foods

Ok, yes I agree to some extent. But how far do we take this? To the point of no more bakes sales to raise money for school programs? I think soda machines and candy vending machines have no place in schools, nor do hostess cupcakes and the likes. I'd like to see all meals actually cooked, not nuked out of a box in our schools, and I'd love to see all schools with gardens and the return of home ec. But how far do we take this? To the point that we can never ever bring a homemade goodie to school, just because the fat content doesn't fit the government mandate? We can eat good wholesome food that is occasionally a bit on the high side in fat or sugar, as long as we learn to slow down and eat, not gobble. As long as we savor and enjoy and stop eating when we're full instead of ramming as much tasteless cardboard burgers down our throats as fast as we can. If we learn to slow down and enjoy our food (read real food not fast food) and quit worrying about the fat and sugar content, as long as it's real and natural fat and sugar, we lose our urge to over indulge. And, we need to get our kids away from the computers, tv,s, cell phones and all of the rest of the menagerie of tech items that keep them from getting up and exercising, playing, and interacting with each other. We don't need a nanny state going over board and feeding us nothing but sprouts and hummus. We need to educate our kids about nutrition and exercise, about a healthy lifestyle. You can enjoy good savory food cooked in butter. Look at the French. It has flavor, and they sit down and eat together and make an event out of it. Who said food isn't a celebration? That's just bunk. If we made it more of a celebration and less of a competition we wouldn't have the problems we do now. At least that's how I see it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So what to do?

So... What to do with a 1 lb chicken breast and one potato for dinner for four? I was tired today, I've been tired all week now that the days are shorter. I haven't been thinking well and I'm out of whack with having Tuesday off for Veteran's Day (God bless them all). This week has been a two Monday week for me. I couldn't get my brain in gear to come up with a thing, so I got on the internet on my break at work and found a chicken chowder recipe from Cooking Light. You can find it here . I'm cooking it right now, so I'll have to let you know how it turns out. What I liked about it, besides the fact I had all the ingredients I needed at home, I wouldn't have to stop at the store, and there would be enough to feed all 4 of us, is that, even though it's a Cooking Light recipe, it called for bacon. I like that we're losing our uptightness about fats. I remember back when, when Cooking Light would have called for margerine (YIKES!) or olive oil only. But bacon fat has so much flavor! You don't need all that much, and a little really can't hurt you, unless you have some serious health issues. This recipe calls for you to fry just two strips of bacon, which I'm lucky enough to have from a locally butchered pig. You then remove the bacon to later crumble on top of the soup and fry the chicken and veggies in the bacon fat and voila' you have minimal fat usage and very flavorful veggies and chicken. I can tell you right now, it's smelling super nummy! I'll let you know how it turns out.
Bon Appetite!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Post Halloween Post - The Brain!

I carved myself a spare brain for Halloween. You like it? This is my melon brain. I carved it for our office Halloween potluck. I also carved one for my daughter's birthday party. She's lucky enough to be a Halloween baby. I'll tell you what. The kids had no qualms about eating it, unlike the adults at work.

I surrounded my brain with severed monster fingers, which were quite tasty. The adults had no qualms about eating those.

I served up the brain and monster fingers with some severed and bandaged goblin toes with blood (ketchup) and bile (Larrapins mustard) to dip them in. These went even faster than the fingers.
It was a deliciously vile Halloween. I just hope those nasty birds don't come back....