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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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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A new favorite treat!

December 5, 2018

I think I may have found a new favorite holiday treat! 

The pic ain’t great, but these are M&M Dream Bars. Make them.

In scavenging through my pantry, including all the ingredients I got for last year’s treats that I never made, I found a bag of red and green M&Ms. So I said to myself, “Self? We need to do something for the treat baskets with these.” And Self, being a cooperative soul this morning, agreed that we did.

I didn’t want to make the basic M&M cookies, although those are excellent, because, well, people will eat a million of those this season. I wanted something different. So I went in search of recipes with M&Ms.

I commend to you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em, which I happened across a few years ago. It will search out recipes based on ingredients for you, so if you want something with M&Ms, you just put in M&Ms and it spits you out a bunch of recipes. And amongst them was a confection called M&M Dream Bars.

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It’s treat time!

December 3, 2018

I have been baking today, because — ‘Tis the season for Christmas treat baskets!

Cheese crisps. Some filled with bacon jam, some with sweet onion marmelade.

To date, we have made a loaf of maple date bread and a loaf of cranberry walnut bread (both in the freezer). Today we made four fruitcakes and five dozen cheese thumbprint wafers.

Self and me, we’re tired. And we have miles to go before treat baskets are filled.

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Turkey in pieces

November 24, 2018

A truncated Herbie, his legs and wings bagged in the background.

NOTE: I thought I had posted this early this week. Apparently I failed to do so. Well, I hate to waste a perfectly good post, so here ’tis.

Whew, Lawdy, y’all. It is significantly more work to break down an 18-pound turkey than it is a 4-pound chicken, I am here to tell you and y’mama ‘n ’em.

But I have (a) persevered, and (b) said turkey leg and thigh quarters and wings are lolling in the sous vide bath, to be smoked tomorrow; the breast is dry-brined and basking under foil in the fridge; and the backbone, neck, wing tips and giblets are roasting in the oven for drippings and stock-making. I would also note that (c) all the parts are recognizeable and none of them look like they were extras in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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Let there be turkey!

Yes, it’s a repetitious headline. It’s a repetitious holiday. Comes around every year, fourth Thursday in November.

Given my fondness for excess, it is little wonder Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the cooking, the eating (not so much the putting up and cleaning up), the traditional dishes. Of which I always make too much.

We had all the classics: Turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, cranberry salad, deviled eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli salad, grape salad, homemade rolls. Had dessert, too — two kinds of pie which no one ate. Have a vat of everything left, except for what I sent home with Child C.

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