Friday, December 03, 2010

Ah - All Those Potlucks and Other Collaborative Meals!


'Tis the season and all, and that means there are more and more occasions where we're all carting our particular contribution to a collective meal to a (possibly) distant location.
Don't you hate it when your crock pot dumps part of the food in the back of the car?  I know I do, and how!

Still, what's a cook to do?  How about one of these babies?  A slow cooker with a lid that actually clips on and stays sealed!  How much spiffier could one of these get without just being too out there?

Very cool.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What to Read Right Now


Sorry I'm late with this recommendation, but (in case you're like me and don't watch the calendar as well as you ought) it's December, and it's also Advent.

So, I want to recommend that you all go out and get a copy of The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder.  It's a wonderful book to read leading up to Christmas - we get to watch as Joachim opens his special Advent Calendar each day, and receives an update on the story of a little girl, a lamb, some angels, wise men, kings, oh, the whole nine yards and more.

It's a fun read with relatively short chapters for each day from December first right down through Christmas Eve.  Highly recommended.

To Bethlehem!  To Bethlehem!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sauce-age du Jour - 25 November 2010


Well, I've had some commentators tell me that the highlight of the meal from their side of the plate was the gravy.
Frankly, I can't disagree much, as gravy is always one of best parts of Thanksgiving dinner, and I generally make a mean gravy, if I do say so myself.
I think there are two keys to making good gravy, once one is beyond the pan drippings and any extra stock that's going in.
  • It takes more salt than you think, and
  • Never use flour, only use cornstarch.
If you follow those two simple tips, you'll have gravy success too.  Once the drippings / stock hits a boil and you've salted it pretty well, take a small glass with a couple good forks of cornstarch and stir in some cold water.
Stir in that slurry, and watch it thicken the gravy - without any lumps!  It may take a second dose, depending on how much liquid you're trying to thicken, but it's the stuff to use.

There, that's my secret.  That and tasting the gravy as it boils to see if it needs more salt (it probably does).


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegage du Jour - 25 November 2010


Yes, the turkey was great as usual (glazed with a mixture of maple syrup and Bourbon), but this year the cooking highlight was the green bean casserole! (At least it was for me, as it was a dairy- and gluten- free version we made up.)

The normal mushroom soup mode wasn't going to work, so what to do?  I had used a can of mushroom stems and pieces for something a while ago when we had run out of fresh (?!) shrooms, so that was in my head already.  Here's the way it went:
  • Take two cans of mushroom stems and pieces and bring them to a boil in a saucepan - with all that good juice that comes in the cans, nothing else.  OK, it actually took some salt and freshly ground pepper, but those don't really count, right Claire?
  • Now thicken that with a nice slurry of corn starch and cold water.
  • Once it's nice and thick - looking much like the stuff from the can - add in about 2/3 C of Tofutti "sour cream" and stir it all together.
  • That gets added to the drained cans of green beans and cooked for a long time in a crock pot.  (that was largely because we didn't have room in the oven thanks to turkey and dressings).
  • Stirring in some of the french-fried onions adds flavour and texture, and then you can top them with the rest of the can and put it in the oven once the turkey comes out.

That's it - very simple, very easy, very tasty, and good for everyone, not just the lactose-insurgent folks at the table.