Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quick update

I will just write a few things...but I have a lot more coming. 

We try to take full advantage of yellow, orange, and 
red bell peppers when they are on sale and they
were recently. We decided in order to fully appreciate the pepper we would make stuffed
bell peppers. I thawed some of our free-range ground venison (we figure hunted is pretty much free range) and sauteed it with onions and mushrooms, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. We added parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and stuffed the filling inside our peppers (which had been lightly salted and peppered). We baked those in the oven until the peppers were "squeezable" with tongs. Served with a nice, light salad we had a really great dinner. It was an easy meal and a great meal to fully enjoy those beautiful peppers.

The Sunday before Christmas, one of our good friends (Crystal) came over and we made cookies, mint fudge, and Chex puppy chow. We had a great time decorating both plain sugar and frosted sugar cookies and we are thinking about having a cookie decorating party next year, complete with a cookie decorating competition. 
Additionally, we had several great Christmas meals with family. My dad made a rack of lamb that had a delicious mustard, spice, and bread crumb crust. I like that my dad always makes a bit of a formal Christmas dinner. It has almost always been our tradition growing up to have a relaxed and casual meal Christmas Eve and a big, formal (straight out of Charles Dickens) Christmas meal. On a more personal note, Mattie and I had our very first Christmas morning all alone this year after being together for 7 years and married for almost 4 1/2 years. We had belgian waffles made in our regular waffle iron (the Krustaez mix works really well). We had leftover pear and cranberry pie from the night before so I scooped out all of the filling and heated it in a non stick pan with some maple flavored syrup to put over our waffles. It was very good and I highly recommend trying it with any of your leftover pie filling. 

Like I said, much more to come...we have vacation food pictures from Quebec!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Normally I will try to refrain from committing an entire post to a drink, especially one that comes in a bottle, but this is an exception. At a recent restaurant (will post on that later- still digesting 2 weeks later), Matt and I were told to try the new Shiner special release, Shiner Cheer. Mattie and I are always game for a Shiner, I do not think we have found a Shiner we don't like. Disappointed as I might be that I can find this release and not Dunkelweissen, I thought I would give it a whirl. We found the six pack in festive red and green packaging with promises of Texas peaches and roasted pecans. Matt and I really like Pyramid Apricot Weissen so the hints at peach flavor did not scare us off because often those flavors are more of an essence or breathy afterthought from your sip (or glug) of beer. We took the six pack home, placed them in the fridge and waited for dinner to try. When the designated hour came we took our beer upstairs (to watch Mongol-great movie by the way) and tasted what was promised to be a good brew. As we put the cold bottle to our lips, angels must have began singing. It at least tasted that good on our palates. The essence of peach was there and while Matt swears there is no pecan, I think it lends an extra toastiness to the drink (and I am reverently apologetic that I have to refer to this sweet and toasty nectar as a mere drink). It has an appropriate balance of wheat and toasted ale flavors much like the before mentioned Dunkelweissen. The initial flavor is more of a hoppy, toasty flavor, but mellows into the light, wheat flavor. Additionally, the peach essence is there without being inappropriately sweet and not overpoweringly pretentious at all. It is easily drinkable with a wide variety of foods (we have had mac and cheese, pizza, and burgers so far with plans to make beef pot roast- with the beer in the crock pot next week). If you like beer, and I do not necessarily qualify Bud anything as a beer (more along the lines of calorie laden water- it has it's purposes, but not when you want something to actually complement your meal), please go buy a 6 pack or case or whatever of Shiner Cheer. If you live outside of Texas, sorry, Mattie and I will drink your six pack for you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The sandwich

In the previous post there is a picture of a sandwich. Homemade bread, a THIN layer of miracle whip, cranberry sauce, hot turkey, and hot stuffing. Try it. We had it when we went to visit Martha, Ben, and Liam in Philly. It was amazing and can only be duplicated with good turkey and good bread. Do it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving and the aftermath

I have had some wonderful food adventures as of recent, but I must start with Thanksgiving before it is too late. First, I was recently told that no one "our" age actually knows how to make a turkey, thus it is a tradition that will eventually die out. I am afraid that this fact is becoming more and more true. Additionally, more and more people have told me that they do no like turkey. I feel compelled to argue that you, do in fact, like turkey...you just have not found the right turkey maker. No offense against your mother, grandmother, Aunt Mildred or whomever, but the fact remains (as has been argued by many chefs and foodie out there) that most of the turkeys you have experienced in your life have been dried out. So as the tradition is dying out, it is also a matter of drying out (he he). You should not be intimidated by the wonderfulness that is turkey. In fact, now is the best time to give turkey another shot. After all, the turkey was almost our national bird and granted todays supermarket turkeys have little resemblance to the original turkeys found on this great land mass of ours (whoop for American products in the Columbian exchange), this bird can be an efficient and delicious addition to your recipe catalog. Go buy a turkey. Now. Do not hesitate. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Go to your local supermarket and find a fresh turkey breast. The sooner you go, the cheaper it will be because they are all on sale RIGHT now. They have to get those suckers out of their coolers because they are not (and never have been) frozen. Go get one. Do you have one? Good. We will start with the basic turkey and once you have mastered that (hopefully in one shot...that is how confident I am that you will succeed) you can look for additional changes online. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Hopefully you have a roasting pan with rack. If not (go buy one) or find some way to elevate your turkey from the pan you will be cooking it in (try a cooling rack). Next, it is bath time. No, not for you, but for the bird. Yes, take the bird out of the packaging and give him (or her) a good rub down under cool water. No, do not use soap and your scrubby sponge- just good old high quality H2O. Nice and rinsed? Fabulous...by the way you are doing a great job. Forget about the rest of the stuff that came with the turkey...we are just worried with the bird. Pat your turkey down with a paper towel. Next time for a massage. No, not you again...the turkey. Pick your favorite oil (I prefer the ever popular extra virgin olive oil). Just give him a little and massage him a bit.
 Get to know your turkey...give him a name (it will feel less cheap that way...one year I had two turkeys- Buddy and Holly)...rub him down with that olive oil. Next give him a shimmy shake of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Make sure you do this on the outside as well as the inside (you may need to recruit your favorite shimmy shaking buddy for this). Don't worry- we are almost done. We then take two carrots halved(no, you do not have to peel them), two stalks of celery halved, a handful of parsley, and half a lemon. Shove them (or place them gently) in the turkey "cavity", they should stay ok, but if you need to tie the sucker up, feel free (but don't ask me how). Now we place the turkey in the roasting pan upside down...that is right ladies and gents (and gents out there?!?!?)...breast down. For those of you who do not know, gravity works in cooking too. If we cook our turkey (for a short time) breast side down, where do all of the juices go? Yes, that is right class the breast is the boob of the turkey (sorry, reverted to teaching for a minute). Yes, the the juices go down into the breast...juice equals lack of dryness. Last, but not least, we place half a can of chicken stock and the beer of your choice in the roasting pan. Cook for 35 minutes. Enjoy a bath or a massage, but don't relax too much. At 35 minutes reduce the heat to 375 degrees and very carefully pull the pan out of the oven. Flip the turkey over being careful (it will be hot and not cooked all the way). Go wash your hands. No, not after you put the turkey back in. NOW! After your hands are washed (not rinsed) put the turkey back in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. Your ideal internal temperature when you pull the turkey out would be about 160 degrees (it will carry over more than that). Let the turkey rest and enjoy. Trust me. The turkey is back and better than ever. Gobble, gobble.