Butter season

December 11, 2018

“Christmas crack.” Two sticks of butter.

That’s how a friend once referred to the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and extending through the New Year.

Is it any wonder gyms are full,  come Jan. 2? We have all indulged ourselves beyond all measures of reasonableness, and we have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, thankyouverymuch. What is the onset of winter for, anyway, if not a last gasp of excess leading us into a long, slim season of cold, unpleasant weather and limited food options?

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Bad photo. My apologies. It tasted much better.

I did this pot roast t’other day. And of course, I had leftovers. I did not want soup, my go-to for leftover pot roast, because I didn’t eat all the soup I made with the last batch. What to do, what to do?

Well, you do what you always do when you start out to do something savory and you’re not certain exactly what. You slice and saute an onion. You throw into that a carton of sliced mushrooms. You pull out the roast container, separate the meat and jus from the potatoes, carrots and onions, and you chop/shred it all up, and you dump it on top of the onions and mushrooms.

From here you can go in a number of ways. You can add some water or beef stock, make some gravy, and make hot roast beef sandwiches (over mashed potatoes and sliced white bread). Or you can add some milk and some sour cream and make beef stroganoff. Or you can just drain it, put it on some halved baguettes, thin down the jus a little and make French dip sandwiches

A leftover pot roast is a useful thing.

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A new loaf

January 23, 2019

Breadbaking yesterday featured something new — pain de mie, or “soft bread,” which is what you’d get a sandwich on in France if it wasn’t on a croissant.

(Note: I do not know if the French make sandwiches with croissants or not, or if that is an Americanization of France’s national bread. Worth looking up. Be right back.)

(Note 2: “A savory ham and cheese sandwich on a croissant is nearly unheard of in France.” And other kinds, too, one presumes. Now you know, and I do too.)

So, if you get your ham and cheese sandwich in France, be it a Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame, you’re gonna get it on pain de mie.

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Hey there! Haven’t seen y’all since last year? Where ya been?

Oh. You’ve been…here? Err. Emmm. Well, I … have not.

When we last spoke, I was about to deliver AGCs 1 and 3 to the other grandparents for transport back to their parents, and I was about to go into recovery mode, which I promptly did. I cooked the obligatory black-eyed peas and greens on Jan. 1, of which I ate one bite to appease the Gods of Greens, and then I did not cook for, oh, a week and a half. And haven’t cooked a lot since.

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Starting out 2019

December 30, 2018

How do you cook your blackeyed peas? And what kind of greens do you have to fulfill your New Year’s Day luck requirements?

To take the second item first, I often make slaw, figuring that’s cabbage, and cabbage is a green. But last year, I actually cooked some mustard greens that were edible. Not good enough I wanted any more the rest of the year, but edible.

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Recycling leftovers

December 26, 2018

Let there be quiche on the day after Christmas!

When one has leftover asparagus from Christmas dinner, along with leftover turkey…one makes quiche!

Quiche is leftovers’ best friend, along with fried rice. I made a big one yesterday, because my usually big-on-asparagus crew didn’t eat as much yesterday and I had a bunch left. Plus, I was planning on going to visit a friend today, a plan that got cancelled, and I was going to take it to her. As it is, I guess we’ll eat quiche for a while here.

I took a couple of pie crusts and cut them to line a rectangular foil pan, about 7 1/2 by 11 or so, because I wanted it in a disposable pan and that was the size I had. Geometry, I might note, was never my strong suit, but I made it work. I lined the asparagus up over that, covered that with grated Gruyere cheese. Chopped up some turkey and scattered over that and then whizzed up four eggs, a cup and a half of whole milk, and a cup of half and half, along with some salt, pepper and paprika, in the blender and poured that over it evenly. (This, I might note, after I had set said pan on a cookie sheet, a move I highly recommend for ease of taking in and out of the oven and spill containment.) Grated the last of the Gruyere on top, and baked it in a 325 oven for an hour or so, until it barely jiggled in the center.

Some of the leftover ham went into deviled ham spread. I love the Garden and Gun recipe for this, here. And it’s easy enough, using stuff you generally have on hand anyway, and lasts a week or so in the fridge. Makes a ton, though, so you might want to think about putting it in two containers and giving some away. The ham bone will go into a pot of beans sometime this week or weekend, and I’ll probably take some with me when I take the AGC’s back to Nashville on New Year’s Eve to await their parents’ return from a trip to Italy on New Year’s Day.

Looks good, anyway. I’ll cut into it later today.

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Is that pretty, or what? Fancy Bundt pant helps.

Because sometimes you need a kick-ass dessert, that doesn’t take an Act of Congress to accomplish.

Plus, this is the reason you should always have a box of butter-recipe cake mix in your pantry. I have now used mine. Must buy another, next grocery trip.

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Let there be peace

December 24, 2018

Child B, and Child ‘Cs arm, immortalized in Christmas memories.

And leftovers.

It was a fine Christmas dinner at Chez Brockwell. There was about five times more to eat than we needed or wanted, there was much joy, fun and chaos as gifts were opened. There were tons of laughs, and a tear or two.

In other words, it was just about a perfect Christmas, never mind it was a couple of days early.

I went to bed last night with the kitchen semi-clean, and with the avowed intention of doing no more than was needful to sustain life today. I have fulfilled that. I have put about six dishes into the mostly-full dishwasher, and run it (I have not emptied it, thankyouverymuch), and I have fixed potato skins for Child A, and I have eaten copious amounts of Christmas leftovers and am working on my second glass of good Scotch.

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Now, who’s been naughty and who’s been nice?

Whoo, Lawd. Treat baskets are done, three of them delivered, two more getting picked up tonight, and a few extra small food gifts on hand for for whoever may show up.

Now, I’ve got to contemplate the logistics of cooking Christmas dinner while finishing housecleaning, tomorrow.

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Baking memories

December 18, 2018

Margaret’s Hebrew cookies. Also known as butter pecan cookies, or pecan meltaways

There are a lot of things I love about making Christmas treat gifts. I love the way it makes the house smell. I love the sense of accomplishment of seeing a big tray or basket of holiday goodies all festively packaged. I love the pleasure the recipients seem to get from them.

And I love the things they make me remember. 

This year, there are some new things in the repertoire (I try to add new things every year, though that means some old favorites will have to drop out). Some don’t remind me of anyone, but are just recipes I thought I wanted to try. But one addition to the lexicon has had me smiling at happy memories all afternoon.

When I make the chocolate oatmeal stove-top cookies, I think of Mama, who made those for me a lot. When I make the pralines, I think of Mrs. Eunice Cole, the former county clerk, who made them for the county potluck one year, and gave me the recipe. When I make the fudge, I think of the years when my kids were little and I first learned to make this, and how I had to make two batches of peanut butter fudge because that was their favorite and they didn’t want me to give it away.

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Ack! It’s here!

December 16, 2018

And all my Christmas stuff is not, yet, but I’m counting on UPS, USPS and FedEx to pull me through. A quick dash out for stocking stuffers, and I’ll be good to go (crossing all fingers and toes).

Of more concern, at this moment, is Christmas dinner, which is actually two days BEFORE Christmas, on Sunday.  And treatmaking that needs to be finished. I think I will declare all next week “kitchen week,” with the exception of Monday, when I have to go to Sikeston, Mo., a 2 1/2 hour drive, for a meeting.

I’m about to get a menu hammered out.  Roast beef, ham and turkey for sliders on homemade rolls. Cranberry salad. Potato salad. Mac and cheese. Marinated broccoli and cauliflower and carrots.  A fruit salad. Cheeses and assorted crackers and crostini. Deviled eggs. Pickle-y things. And just to make it festive, some caviar. I have a jar squirreled away in the pantry. Dessert is either a pecan pie cheesecake or banana pudding.

Treats are a different animal. I need to make two more applesauce cakes. I need to make more chocolate oatmeal cookies and some macaroons, and I’ll also make a couple of other kinds — maybe Italian horn cookies, probably pecan meltaways. Maybe some oatmeal cookies with candied fruit in them, as I have some of that I won’t use in the applesauce cakes.  A couple of loaves of banana bread, being that I have bananas going south.

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