Last minute this-n-thats

December 19, 2016

Slicing the frozen cracker loaf. How thin can you get?

Slicing the frozen cracker loaf. How thin can you get?

Well, goodie basket stuff is done, and now it’s time to start thinking about Christmas dinner, which, this year, is two days early, so Child B and family can actually get back home and have Christmas morning in their own house for a change.

The final toll, along with what you’ve read about already, included 10 four-ounce jars of chicken liver pate’; eight dozen pseudo-Rain Coast Crisp crackers; and more of that damn eggnog, because I was trying to use up the last of the SECOND bottle of Everclear I bought when I decided I wanted to make more eggnog.

We will be some eggnog-drinking folks up here in this house, I am here to tell you.

The chicken liver pate’ is an old standby. When my kids were little, we made the acquaintance of a gentleman up in Northwest Arkansas who was a retired maitre’d from the MGM Grand in Vegas, and an accomplished cook. We would from time to time go to dinner at his house, and one evening, he served us a pate as an appetizer. You have never seen an elementary-age girl and a toddler chow down on some liver like Children A and B did that night. (I think that was pre-Child-C, or she was still in the formula stage.

Chicken liver pate, an oldie but goodie basket component.

Chicken liver pate, an oldie but goodie basket component.

This recipe is the closest I’ve ever tasted to his. I’m not a liver fan, but I’ll eat this. And it’s dead easy to make, so I do so every couple of years. This was a pate’ year.

Then I finished up these crackers. I had baked the loaves a few days earlier, let them cool, and stuck them in the freezer in plastic bags. Then I got them out and commenced slicing and re-baking the slices.

DO, by all means, allow time to freeze, rather than just cooling, these loaves. And return them to the freezer if you’re going to slice a while, do something else, and go back to slicing. Having them completely frozen, instead of partially, means the difference (at least to me) in slicing them a quarter-inch thick and slicing them 1/8 inch thick. And you want the 1/8 inch, and if your bread is partially thawed, it’ll crumble at the edges.

These babies are good. I added a half-cup of sunflower seeds, just for the heck of it, and used a combo of black and white sesame seeds just for visual interest’s sake. I will also note that I used a teaspoon of dried rosemary as opposed to a tablespoon of fresh, and they were, I thought, maybe a tad-bit more rosemary-ish than would be optimal. Oh, and I used Craisins instead of raisins, because I very nearly also do this.

Baked up the second time, and ready to bag.

Baked up the second time, and ready to bag.

The recipe made two loaves in my 8 x 4 loaf pans, which translated into about four dozen crackers that are about 2 x 4 inches each. After I taste-tested the first batch and pronounced them good, I made another one, thus about eight dozen (maybe more; I disremember how many I put in a bag) crackers.

Now. It’s time to turn my attention to feeding my family Christmas dinner on the 23rd. I have the basics of the meal in my head — ribs and ham, which are already acquired; cranberry salad and sweet potato casserole, for which I also have the makings; mac and cheese, for which I also have the makings. Must pick up asparagus for the green thing. May make some potato salad simply because there’s ham and there’s ribs, both of which seem to call for it; may make some baked beans because, ditto.

And I have to roast a turkey, which will be going not on my table, but to a community holiday effort that I just find a pretty cool undertaking. Along with collecting food for the No Kid Hungry program in Arkansas, and personal care items for residents of a local shelter, a group that includes the regional Civil Liberties coalition, a local Episcopal church, and the local Islamic Center is putting together a holiday meal for residents of that same shelter. Now, I ask you, is there a better example of the spirit of Christmas than three groups as disparate as that coming together to make sure some of the less fortunate have at least a little cheer for their holiday?

So I said, before I knew I was cooking Christmas dinner the same day, that, sure, I’d cook and deliver a turkey over there on Friday the 23rd. Oh, well, wouldn’t be Christmas if it weren’t interesting like that.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em would like to participate in this little Christmas extravaganza, there’s a link here to the event’s Facebook page. In the event posting, down toward the bottom, there are links to a couple of crowdfunding sites that are set up for anyone who wants to donate.


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