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Tuesday, November 27 2007
What did you do with your Holiday Leftovers? Although we were invited to my sisters house for Thanksgiving, we always cook a meal for the home. The usual turkey, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, string bean casserole, mashed potatoes, greens and all of the extra touches.
So you are wondering why we would be writing such a web page and why wasn't it written before Thanksgiving. Well all good ideas don't always come at the right time. We were thinking of all the TLC (Tender Loving Care) that was put into the variety of dishes and then the light bulb went on.
Now you know as Food Storage advocates, we took some leftovers on Friday and put them in air tight freezer storage containers for a delicious meal on a later date.
Some leftovers are put into containers and placed into the refrigerator. But there still is just to much food leftover. Eventually some food will have to be thrown away (something I hate to even talk about).
For Every Food Storage Problem there is a Solution
The solution and my new Holiday Leftover resolution is to take these day old leftovers, reheat them and make a minimum of 10 plates (paper) put them into an insulated cooler and take a ride.
You ask a ride to where? Well I live in Philadelphia,PA and I would ride to Center City (downtown) where there are a number of homeless and less fortunate people who would enjoy and need a good meal.
We personally don't have a lot but why let good food go to waste if it can be shared. We always talk about how we can help others, it's easy to make a payroll deduction to a charity by filling out a form at the job. It's harder to get your butt out of the recliner or comfy sofa and make an effort to bring a smile on the face of others. So....
Make a difference in someones life
Remember be Thankful,Be Grateful, and be a Blessing to someone Less Fortunate.
It's Better to Give than to Receive.
Join us in this new Holiday Leftover Event
Tuesday, November 27 2007
Different cuts of meat require different methods of cooking. Some should be cooked in liquid while others should not. How tender the finished product is depends on how it is cooked. A less tender cut of meat such as round steak is covered and cooked with liquid for longer than you would fry or grill a t-bone steak. I tend to get really perturbed when someone ruins an expensive cut of meat by not knowing how to cook it.
Take the prime rib dinner I was invited to one time. Now this person tried hard to make a good impression. The entrees were good and everything smelled delicious, so I was expecting a juicy prime rib to be served. When it was time to bring on the meat I was horrified to see a crock pot being brought to the dinner table. There it was, a beautiful prime rib roast swimming in a pot of fat. I may have audibly groaned. Now there is nothing wrong with using a crock pot. I use one myself, just not for prime rib.
I usually purchase a boneless rib roast. I make certain the cap of fat is left on. That is needed if the roast is to be tasty. I marinade my prime rib overnight in dark German beer and fresh garlic cloves. I prefer the imported beer over domestic. It gives a better flavor. I place the meat on a rack in a baking pan after it has marinated. making sure to have the fat side up. I use a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat. DO NOT COVER! The fat cap on the meat will melt and baste the roast. The fat will be collected in the bottom of the roasting pan. The meat will be fork tender and not greasy.
I turn the oven to 400-degrees and roast the meat for 20-minutes, then the oven is turned down to 250-degrees. When the temperature reaches 150-degrees on the thermometer, I take the meat out of the oven. It will continue cooking and reach 160-degrees after it rests for at least 10-minutes. If the meat is cut too soon after roasting, all the juices will run out and the result will be dry meat. ALWAYS LET YOUR MEAT REST BEFORE CARVING.
Everything I write about is from personal observation and life experiences. I love to cook and prepare foods in different ways. I like sharing my experiences about food and cooking.
Monday, November 26 2007
Christmas is a time of year when different families around the world will get together and observe traditions that are the same for them year after year and yet vastly different from those that other families share around the block. There are very few universal Christmas traditions any more and there is nothing wrong with that. In America however, there are some items that many people consider traditional holiday cooking and there is little that will be done to dissuade these opinions. The truth is that many of these traditional holiday foods are largely traditional in specific regions rather than the United States having one nations wide traditional Christmas dinner.
Turkey or ham? For some families the answer is both while others answer quite quickly that it is neither. One of the best all-American Christmas cooking ideas I've ever seen was lasagna. It was a Christmas Eve tradition but a delicious tradition just the same. There are no right or wrong traditions only those traditions that work well for you and your family. If you feel the need to change a long-standing tradition for a large extended family by all means discuss it with everyone involved. Otherwise it is your tradition and you should feel free to make it your own.
At the same time, there is something comforting and reminiscent of home to have those traditions to come home to year after year. I can't help but think of the movie Christmas with the Kranks. The entire movie was spent in an attempt to break with the traditional Christmas trappings and trimmings only to make a mad dash to return to them in the end. That is often the way things go when attempting to break with tradition. If you are considering this for the first time this Christmas be sure to hang on to some of your old traditions in case you find that it just doesn't feel like Christmas without them. You certainly don't want it to be too late and miss out on the spirit of Christmas in your home.
Other great traditional favorites for many Americans as far as Christmas cooking goes are: sweet potato casseroles, devilled eggs, dressing or stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, mince meat pie, and pecan pie. Of course there are regional favorites that are often highly dependent upon where you live such as key lime pie, lemon icebox pie, oyster dressing, deep fried turkey. If one of these is a Christmas tradition for you, no matter where you are in the world you will think of home or Christmas whenever you come across them. It's really amazing how that happens and quite nice too when family and friends seem far away to have something as simple as a dish of food make them seem that much closer.
That, of course, is the great, and almost perfect things about Christmas traditions. We pass them along to our children who one day will find that they are a little less alone because someone in an airport is eating a slice of key lime pie or having a dish or macaroni and cheese. If you don't have Christmas traditions it is time to develop a few just so that you can share something special and almost sacred with your friends and family.
Friday, November 23 2007
Men are often found saying it's very hard to choose a gift for a woman because there are so many things to choose from. What they don't know is that it's equally difficult to find a gift for a man, even more so. You keep thinking if I bought him a book, chances are it will never be taken out from the cupboard, let alone finish it. If I bought him a sweater, he might argue over the colors or the print, being either too childish or too girlish. Indeed it's very hard to satisfy a man!
Let's find out some ways you can surprise him this Christmas. We all know men love sports. You can buy some DVD's of his favorite game or a sports show. You can even get him a signed photograph of his most favorite player and have it framed. You can invite his friends over for dinner and tune some sports channel afterwards to let the guys have some quality time together.
A dinner for two is always the best gift anyone can ever get. If the man is your boss, you can buy him a couple of theatre passes or some other sports event that might be taking place nearby. A personalized Christmas card is a sweet gift for anyone. If he likes to read, you can buy him his favorite sports magazine. If he's not that much into sports, you can buy him his all-time favorite movies and watch a couple of them together on a romantic surprise dinner planned by you. Another idea is to have his room renovated the way he always wanted. Have it white-washed or bring in some new stuff for him to enjoy.
Christmas is happy time for all people, but for children it's the happiest time of the year. They get to receive gifts from everyone and they're jubilant. But before Christmas arrives, you often find yourself wondering what you should be buying this year for your children. There can be many ideas. The traditional toy-gifts are also an option, but children are so imaginative that they want to have something different each year. Why not surprise them with something new this Christmas?
You can take them out for a surprise dinner, go for a Christmas play somewhere, or take them ice skating. Plan a Christmas party, include games they have never played before and give them some hand-made beautiful items as winning gifts. You can also take out some old baby toys from the attic and renovate them to turn into decoration pieces for your child's room. They will be thrilled to have received such an item with which their childhood memories are associated.
Children like to dress up differently and perform an act they like the most. Buy them some cool outfit in which they can show their talents off to their friends. Watch some good movies together, and play some quiet family games in which small presents are awarded at each step to the winner. You can wrap them up in funky glittery wrapping papers. Include some learning games as well, for example trivia or some other computer game. The children are going to love them. Invite their friends over and give them some time to party around they way they like. This winter give your children the best time they have ever had so that they will never forget it!
See, it's not that hard to plan Christmas gifts for men and children. Just use your creative skills and buy them wonderful gifts this year!
Thursday, November 22 2007
Where to Get Help Re-creating a
Seventeenth-Century Style Harvest Feast
"The First Thanksgiving"
Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims seem to go together, just like Christmas and Santa Claus--but the truth is, the Pilgrims never held an autumnal Thanksgiving feast. Before you cancel the turkey, take a look at the origin of that particular myth. In some ways, the truth is even more intriguing.
The Pilgrims did have a feast in 1621, after their first harvest, and it is this feast which people often refer to as "The First Thanksgiving". This feast was never repeated, though, so it can't be called the beginning of a tradition, nor was it termed by the colonists or "Pilgrims" a Thanksgiving Feast. In fact, to these devoutly religious people, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting, and would have been held any time that they felt an extra day of thanks was called for. Nevertheless, the 1621 feast has become a model that we think of for our own Thanksgiving celebration and we do know something of the truth about it.
We can assume, for example, that the harvest feast was eaten outside based on the fact that the Colonists didn't have a building large enough to accommodate all the people who came. Native People were definately among the invited guests, and it's possible. even probable, that turkey (roasted but not stuffed) and pumpkin in some form, found their way to the table. And it gets better. This is the way the feast was described in a first-hand account presumably by a leader of the colony, Edward Winslow, as it appears in Mourt's Relation:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
From this we know that the feast went on for three days , included ninety "Indians", and food was plentiful. In addition, to the vensison provided by the Indians, there was enough wild fowl to supply the village for a week. The fowl would have included ducks, geese, turkeys and even swans.
Much of the information we have about the feast, and this period in the lives of these people, is the result of research conducted by the staff at Plimoth Plantation, the living museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that re-creates the lives of the Pilgrims with Mayflower II, the 1627 Pilgrim Village, and a native homesite. From this research we know about the foods and recipes that would have been available to them, and from two first hand accounts(the second was written by William Bradford, Governor of the colony for 33 years, and can be read in Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647), we have a good idea of how the village looked, what the colonists wore, how they spoke, what animals they owned and how they lived. We even know what games they played, what their views may have been on everything from their new home to religion and politics. And with all this knowledge, we piece together what foods would have been served at the feast, how the table looked, how the setting looked, even perhaps what the conversation was like.
For anyone who wants to re-create this feast for themselves, Plimoth Plantation, offers the Thanksgiving Primer. From it, we offer the following recipe as an addition to your own feast on Thanksgiving Day.
(A wheat pudding on the order of an Indian Pudding)
Saturday, November 17 2007
The holidays are approaching which means enjoying a family meal with loved-ones. Noshing on cookies, drinking alcohol and eating high fat foods all can hurt your waistline. Most Americans gain an average of 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Years. This is over 50% of the total weight gain of the average American for an entire year. In addition, the average American consumes 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat just on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving does not have to come with extra pounds. You do not have deprive yourself or sacrifice taste in order to enjoy your holiday meal. Maintaining your weight during the holidays is probably more sensible than trying to lose. Just try a couple of these simple tips:
• Portion Control - Portion control is one of the most important components in maintaining your weight during the holidays. This allows you to eat all the enjoyable foods but within moderation. Use a smaller plate and do not go up for second servings. If you want to enjoy dessert, cut a very small piece of cake or pie and eat very slowly. Try to savor each mouthful.
• Substitutions- Substitute high fat ingredients with low fat ingredients. For instance, when making mashed potatoes use low fat milk instead of cream.
• Turkey - Turkey has little fat. However, using white meat without the skin is your best choice. Try to use more seasonings for a more flavorful turkey.
• Gravy - Skim the fat from the top or use low fat broth
• Stuffing - Use whole wheat bread and use more vegetables in the stuffing. In addition, cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to prevent soaking extra from the turkey.
• Cooking Habits - Refrain from taste testing while cooking and don't leave food on the counter. The temptation before your guests arrive might be hard to resist.
• Salad - Fill up on salad with low calorie dressing before you start with the main course. You will eat less during dinner. Make sure the salad consists of raw vegetables and refrain from high calorie toppings
• Drink lots of water
• Vegetables - Steaming vegetables and serving a crudite with low fat dip is a great way to save calories.
• Exercise - Try to do 35 minutes of cardio the day before and the day of Thanksgiving. Enjoying a game of football on the day of Thanksgiving with your family is better than sitting and watching TV.
Enjoying your Thanksgiving with family and friends does not mean depriving yourself of a great meal. You can eat sensibly without gaining pounds.
Chef Bruce Miller is owner and Executive Chef of Cafe Serene in Livingston, NJ. Chef Bruce is known for his eclectic American Cuisine. Bruce uses the fresh ingredients and pays close to attention to nutrition. In addition to his restaurant and catering services, Chef Bruce provides Personal Chef Services to clients that need customized attention to special dietary needs. Bruce has been a featured Chef in "Cooking Smart Magazine" and has been been an editorial contributer for local newspapers. In addition, he has his own cooking show "Cooking with B2" which airs in over 75 cities.
Chef Bruce Miller graduated at the top of his class from the New York Restaurant School, and trained under the illustrious Jean-Georges Vongerichten at JoJo Restaurant in Manhattan. Bruce, the former Executive Chef at the Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, was Chef at Girafe Restaurant and Executive Chef at Tre Vigne in Basking Ridge.
Bruce is involved in his community. He donates his time and food to several charitable organizations.
Friday, November 16 2007
Tired of the same old traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners that you've had each year since you could walk? It's time to break tradition and do a little something different this year! For your holiday dinner, spice up the feast; smoke a turkey and surprise the crowd!! The folks over for dinner will love it and you'll receive a round of applause for cooking such a scrumptious dish. Once you've heard applause from an overwhelmed audience cheering your smoked turkey, you'll never go back to sticking the bird in the oven again!
For me the task of smoking a turkey begins the day before the big event. Since Thanksgiving is in the fall, there is usually a foot of leaves on my back deck where I cook the bird. With a charcoal smoker, it's not a good idea to strike a match close to an abundance of leaves. It's a wise thing to use your leaf blower and clean up the deck before you begin.
In some areas of the country, instead of bushels of leaves on the deck, you'll have tons of snow. You really don't have to do any porch cleaning. Just brush the snow off of the top of the smoker, throw out the old ashes from last summer and you're ready to go. It is nice to have a little walking around room, so I would clear a suitable area for the grill. Some of you would like to try out the new snow blower I know, but it's really not necessary.
I use one of the tall water smokers; the kind that have two trays. One tray is for charcoal and the other is for water, which helps keep the turkey moist as heat pushes the vapors upward. There are different kinds of smokers, but if you don't have one, you can use a grill by putting the charcoal on one side and directing the smoke toward the other side where you have the turkey. If you use this indirect method of cooking be sure to put a container of water near the coals.
Fire in the hole! Now it's time to light the charcoal, pour the water in the pan, secure the grill tops in place and start cooking. Wait until the coals have a dusting of white ash before you put on the turkey. If you use a liquid charcoal starter, and the coals have not burned down sufficiently, you'll probably get a taste of lighter fluid in your turkey. Don't be impatient!
Smaller turkeys seem to taste better when smoked than larger ones. Smaller ones are more tender. On a safety note, I don't use large turkeys for smoking because they take much longer to reach the proper internal heat of 175 to 180 degrees. Smaller turkeys cook better, faster.
After placing the turkey on the grill, then apply seasoning. Some folks soak their turkey in a brine solution the night before while others coat the inside of the turkey with about one tablespoon of salt. The reason for this is that an unsalted smoked turkey tastes terrible. Yecch! Apply any seasoning you prefer. I use a heavy dusting of lemon pepper, mixing the citrus flavoring with the smoke.
That special aroma of wood smoke is something that is specific to the person smoking the meat. Some folks use hickory, pecan, or fruitwoods in their smokers. Others pour wine in the water pan so that the fumes from the wine will mingle with the smoke, thereby making the turkey more delicious! Try it some time!
I'm partial to hickory, myself. Soak the hickory chips or chunks for at least 30 minutes before you toss them onto the coals. You can even pour the water that you soaked the chips in, in the water bowl to give the smoke an even better aroma of hickory smoke.
To many, cooking on a smoker is a vague and mysterious proposition. Instead of being difficult, it really is quite simple. Noted chefs and smoking experts say to cook the turkey about 30 minutes per pound in the winter when it's cold and about 25 minutes per pound when it's warm. This rule of smoking works if all conditions are perfect; no wind, not rain or no snow. This rule also applies to adding charcoal at the precise time for optimum heat, making sure the water in the pan has not evaporated. These are good instructions, but they have never really worked for me.
To be more accurate, when a meat thermometer placed under the inner thigh reaches 180 degrees, the bird is done. With a 12-14 pound turkey, the average cooking time for me is around 12 hours. I add charcoal every 1-2 hours if I remember to do it at a certain time. I rarely take the meat thermometer out of its holster under 12 hours. When it registers, 180 degrees under the wing, it's ready. Make sure you don't touch the bone with the thermometer, because the bone will be hotter.
Resist the temptation to check on the turkey every hour. Every time you open the top, you lose some of the heat. It doesn't take a genius to smoke a turkey and do it well. Have a little patience and you'll smoke like a champion!
Wednesday, November 14 2007
Being in love with a profession starts from the basic thing that comprises it. The same principle goes with being a chef. Loving the way a chef picks the best ingredients, cooks food, and even how he presents the food are the important simple elements how a person can become a chef. Everyday learning through experiences and regular training of the newest trend in cooking are also part of a chef's responsibilities, surviving in the real world.
If you are a person who wants to become a chef, where do you think you should start? What type of education should you take with you until you become a chef for real restaurants and customers? A person who has big dreams isn't a problem at all. There is no issue to that; but wouldn't it be great if you start your way to the bottom and give the best of what you have to offer?
Start from your home kitchen. It may not be much and you may think that the people who will be eating whatever it is that you have prepared are probably not going to give you an honest judgment since they are your family and friends. But know this, the steps that matter to becoming a successful chef later on is that you get a good understanding of how strenuous a chef's job can be. From this point, learn how to stand on your two feet (literally) for hours. Clean the ingredients with your own two hands; grind, chop, slice or mince them all. And don't forget to clean your area as you progress with your cooking. This is what all professional chefs do in the kitchen. All these things are a chef's responsibility and it is a lot better to train yourself the hard way in the very own comfort of your home kitchen.
You wont regret it. Once you have decided to take on the profession for good, enter a good culinary school. You will find out that the basic training that you have done at home are the same tasks that you will be doing in school; only that, there are more practical tests that you have to pass. But sure, go ahead and start small for you will never know which big dreams it could bring to you.
Tuesday, November 13 2007
I am one of those people who anticipate with glee the clear crisp autumn mornings. Give me gloomy gray clouds with a slight rainy mist moving over the blooms of spring and two things will immediately happen: the closet will resemble an end-of-summer department store clearance rack as the fall wardrobe takes over, and the stove top will brim with comfort food. And of all the politically incorrect comfort dishes bursting from my flour-dusted and grease-stained mid-1950’s edition Betty Crocker cookbook, my favorite fall cuisine would have to be soup.
Soup (the creamier, the better!) transports me to my grade school days, wearing my little red jumper dress, where upon twisting the plastic cap on my Partridge Family thermos I am rewarded with a whiff of mom’s Slumgullion soup. To this day I’d lay bets that the smell of that soup wafting on a stiff fall afternoon breeze brought my test scores up at least twenty percent.
Once a week mom would magically create a soup our huge pot she jokingly called “the cauldron.” and the resulting aroma that would seep into every corner and crevice of our home wasn’t of this world. Like the cartoons of the day, I could imagine my feet being lifted off the ground, nose sniffing the air, as I floated toward the simmering taste of heaven coming from the kitchen.
Mom had many names for her consommé concoctions; Italian Delight, Everything but the Kitchen Sink, or my favorite: Slumgullion Soup. And I loved every slurp, despite the outrageous names. When I grew older, and asked mom for the recipes to her incredible soups, she let me in on The Big Secret: every one of her soups was made from leftovers. They weren’t exactly recipes, she stammered, a little embarrassed at the thought. How could she not have recipes for her incredible gourmet soups?
I couldn’t fathom that these bowls of bliss which I so closely connected with my wonder years weren’t going to be passed down for future generations. I was almost incensed until I realized that while they may not have been pulled from the pages of a gourmet magazine or from hand-scrawled notes long-stored in great grandma’s recipe trunk, these soups were put together out of a combination of financial necessity and love. I know that now.
Just last night I peeked in the fridge and pawed through the cupboards pulling out the left over ground beef, some broth, an assortment of canned vegetables, and the ubiquitous jar of spaghetti sauce. I made my (mom’s, really) Minestrone Mumbo for my husband, my parents, and my daughters. It tasted just like those old school days. Mom smiled, “You got this out of great grandma’s secret recipe trunk, didn’t you?”
“Sure did Mom, just like you did.”
Minestrone Mumbo (Serves six)
1 lb. ground beef
4 potatoes (diced)
1 can of corn with liquid
1 can of green beans drained
½ to ¾ bag of shell noodles (any noodle will do)
1 cup of fresh vegetables (zucchini is what I prefer)
6 tsps, or cubes of beef bouillon
1 jar of red spaghetti sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Brown the ground beef in pan and drain out fat. Salt and pepper the meat.
Boil the potatoes in water until soft. Once potatoes are soft, drain out enough water so that the potatoes are just covered.
Adjust stove temperature to medium and add drained ground beef. Make sure the water is at a small boil and add your dry noodles. Cook until noodles are tender.
Add can of corn with juice, can of green beans drained, any other vegetable you would like, and 6 tsps or cubes of beef bouillon, then simmer. Taste to make sure there is enough beef flavor from the bouillon. (Sometimes it can need more or less bouillon; it just depends on the day, so make sure to taste.
At this point, pour in the jar of spaghetti and bring the pot back up to a simmer. (This soup can also be made with chicken and chicken broth instead of beef broth, and Alfredo sauce in place of red sauce. It’s great with a little bit of Parmesan cheese and cornbread, or French rolls. You’ll probably even have leftovers to pour into the school Thermos, as well.
Monday, November 12 2007
Thanksgiving Dinner - Begin to set your table by placing a freshly ironed white table cloth. If you wish to use service plates (extra large plates used mostly for decoration and catching spills) place those first around the table, equally spaced. On top of those place the Thanksgiving dinner plates, and if you are having a soup course, place the soup dish on top of that.
The general rule for silverware is you put the ones you will use first on the outside of each setting, and you work your way in. To the right of each plate, first place the dinner knife with the blade facing the plate. On its right, place the teaspoon, and further to the right place the soup spoon. Optionally a dessert spoon may be placed horizontally above the plate, pointing to the left.
On the left, place the dessert fork nearest the plate (if there is to be one), then the dinner fork and finally, the salad fork to the left of that. The bottoms of each piece of silverware should line up with the bottom of the dinner plate.
The bread and butter plate is placed directly above the forks, with a butter spreader placed horizontally across the top of the plate, with the tip pointing to the left.
Above the plate and slightly to the right you place the water glass, with a red wine glass to the right of that and a white wine glass to the right of all.
Napkins traditionally are folded and placed to the left of the forks, but alternately you may wish to fold it and place it in the soup bowl or the water glass.
Thursday, November 08 2007
There is a special je ne sais quoi feeling when one sees gourmet food presented with visual appeal and attention to all details. The memories of the taste and the presentation linger long after the actual event. It is this x factor that raises the bar and makes good food get elevated to the great category. Chef directs northeast is a sterling example of superb food of your personal choice served in an atmosphere of top class professionalism.
A classic situation that most of us have encountered in our lives is when we enthusiastically invite people over for a party and then realize belatedly that the huge amount of cooking has to be done either personally or to be ordered in. The cooking plans will be enough to guarantee you bed rest for a week after the event and food sourced randomly from outside is usually bland and tasteless. It makes perfect sense to opt for a catering service with established credentials like Chef direct northeast to step in at this juncture. Whether it is a barbeque, a formal get together, an office party, or even just a romantic tryst for two, the food is the piece de resistance and what makes the event memorable.
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Wednesday, November 07 2007
People enjoy watching television, some have fun listening to music, some are very satisfied in life with their reading habits and many go great guns in life tapping their feet to the tunes of all the available tracks in the market. But have you ever realized that there is another set of human beings who are very satisfied with their eating habits and plan to make it their hobby. It’s an old saying “Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince and Dinner like a pauper” but these food lovers do not plan to spare even their dinners. And when it comes to a thanksgiving dinner...their happiness knows no bounds.
I still remember one of the parties thrown by a friend of mine who could be added into the list of synonyms for a foodie. The venue was although a little far from my house but I could not resist myself from going. I was there at the venue at the exact time, with an intention of not missing out on a single bit of fun. More than the party it was the dinner table that stole the show. It was all so amazing. The menu had in it some:
Cornbreads: This was quite a favorite with the English and the Native Americans. Bread was an integral part of the English meal and corn was their favorite, so a combination of both was a perfect menu for thanksgiving.
English Cheese Pie: The English dining table was incomplete without cheese on it, so cheese for them calls for a lot of importance and cheese pie has always been their favorite.
Venison: History stands witness to the Native Americans being great hunters and they had brought five deers to the First Thanksgiving. Thus goes this yummy recipe of Venison in preparing which, onions and butter play a big role, the common ingredients known to the Puritans.
Garlic and Onions: This was highly used in New England as it was very easy to grow here. Due to its wide growth, it formed a major part of the diet of the English people. Its preparations included stick butter, cloves garlic (minced), small onions (halved and peeled) and dill (chopped). The making is also simple:
The butter has to be melted first to which we add garlic and cook gently for a minute or two. We then arrange the onions in a baking dish and pour 3/4 of the garlic butter over the onions. We then bake it until tender. Reheating the remaining garlic butter is advisable. Finally add the dill and pour over the onions.
Pumpkin Pudding: Pumpkin Pudding was a recipe that the Native Americans enjoyed so much. Puddings were a standard meal with the English, but the Pumpkin Pie came into existence many decades later. Pumpkins were usually served in stews and puddings.
Well that was all for the menu and since garlic and onions were the show stealers I preferred to give you the procedure of preparing it, so that you could try it at home. Other than this the host of the party had arranged for some dance and music but there was nothing in comparison to the good food that he had arranged. The thanksgiving dinner received praises from all the guests present and everyone had a wish to have the same kind in fact a better one in the coming year.
Tuesday, November 06 2007
You have a decision to make this holiday season, are you going to eat nutritionally, keeping those calories in check or throw caution to the wind and have an extra piece of pumpkin pie?
I considered titling this article... “Uncle Bill and The Second Piece of Pumpkin Pie”, but he swore he’d disown me if I did. Settling on the tamer choice “Thanksgiving Dinner and The Green Bean Casserole”, I began to wonder if one could have a satisfying (for everyone involved) Thanksgiving dinner, while also making the meal nutritious.
These views may seem diametrically opposed, but with a bit of planning, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. Our plan is to prepare a meal that is both enjoyable to eat, and nutritional sound, something you are proud of, and your guests... well they’ll be asking for seconds.
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s no different on Thanksgiving. While turkey is the tradition, let’s build some variety into our meal. Not only will this provide your guests with a culinary delight, you’ll also be giving them a feast for their eyes. So what does that mean?
Well one of my favorites and standard Thanksgiving fare is the green bean casserole. The recipe is fairly standard; mushroom soup, 3 or 4 cups of green beans, a little pepper, milk and, to kick up the calories a notch, a brimming cup or more of French fried onions. Seasonings to taste could be garlic, onions, parsley, sprinkled with bread crumbs. Depending on how you personalize things, the calories per serving aren’t that bad, anywhere from 80 to 100. Seconds anyone?
While that sounds great (I’m getting hunger pangs) consider also a green bean salad. It fits with tradition, while giving your guests a choice of something different. Prep is a snap; green beans, boiling salt water (sea salt of course), a touch of vinegar, a little vegetable oil, onions (don’t let them catch you crying), some dill and a wee bit of sugar.
Having variety will encourage your guests to sample small portions (they simply have to taste those yams), instead of loading up on one high calorie yummy. Preparing your meal this way provides complex nutrients and scintillating flavors to please the discriminating palate.
Go slow. It always amuses me to listen as conversations go from animated to silence as the meal is served. Then pick up again as the plates are cleaned. Uncle Bill (name changed to protect my uncle’s ego) heads back for seconds, while the kids start eyeing the pumpkin pie and cool whip. Instead of rushing toward the second helping or desert, encourage some conversation, thus slowing things down. Why? It gives your brain time to catch up. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your brain to process the information that “you are full and satisfied”. If during those 15 minutes you have that second piece of pie, or heaping helping of dumplings, you’ll find yourself stuffed and uncomfortable.
While we’re all thankful for the food, take a moment to be thankful for your family and friends and the blessings we’ve received throughout the year. Family and friends are the true spice and variety of life.
When you have food, remember those who are hungry.
Monday, November 05 2007
Thanksgiving is always a busy time and of course you want your Thanksgiving Dinner to be perfect, but each year you seem to behind. Guests show up and dinner is not ready. Well, these five ways for a perfect Thanksgiving Dinner should help ease your stress, so you can also enjoy your meal.
We have compiled a PDF file packed with recipes and tips for the holidays. It's free to download at our site.
Saturday, November 03 2007
Thanksgiving is a time of year when different families around the world will get together and observe traditions that are the same for the year after year and yet vastly different from those that other families share around the block. There are very few universal Thanksgiving traditions anymore and there is nothing wrong with that. In America however, there are some items that many people consider traditional holiday cooking and there is little that will be done to dissuade these opinions. The truth is that many of these traditional holiday foods are largely traditional in specific regions rather than the United States having one nation’s wide traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey or ham? For some families the answer is both while others answer quite quickly that it is neither. One of the best all-American Thanksgiving cooking ideas I've ever seen was lasagna. It was a Thanksgiving Eve tradition but a delicious tradition just the same. There is no right or wrong traditions only those traditions that work well for you and your family. If you feel the need to change a long-standing tradition for a large extended family by all means discuss it with everyone involved. Otherwise it is your tradition and you should feel free to make it your own.
At the same time, there is something comforting and reminiscent of home to have those traditions to come home to year after year. I can't help but think of the movie Thanksgiving with the Kranks. The entire movie was spent in an attempt to break with the traditional Thanksgiving trappings and trimmings only to make a mad dash to return to them in the end. That is often the way things go when attempting to break with tradition. If you are considering this for the first time this Thanksgiving be sure to hang on to some of your old traditions in case you find that it just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without them. You certainly don't want it to be too late and miss out on the spirit of Thanksgiving in your home.
Other great traditional favorites for many Americans as far as Thanksgiving cooking goes are: sweet potato casseroles, devilled eggs, dressing or stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, mince meat pie, and pecan pie. Of course there are regional favorites that are often highly dependent upon where you live such as key lime pie, lemon icebox pie, oyster dressing, and deep fried turkey. If one of these is a Thanksgiving tradition for you, no matter where you are in the world you will think of home or Thanksgiving whenever you come across them. It's really amazing how that happens and quite nice too when family and friends seem far away to have something as simple as a dish of food make them seem that much closer.
That, of course, is the great and almost perfect things about Thanksgiving traditions. We pass them along to our children who one day will find that they are a little less alone because someone in an airport is eating a slice of key lime pie or having a dish or macaroni and cheese. If you don't have Thanksgiving traditions it is time to develop a few just so that you can share something special and almost sacred with your friends and family.
Thursday, November 01 2007
I think you would agree with me when I say, "some of the best dishes you have ever had are just good old home cooking". A lot of times we think of home cooking as almost a thing of the past. Because lets face it, our lives are different these days. Most of the time it is way easier to pick something up instead of doing some home cooking. But it really doesn't have to be that way. Some dishes that I consider to be home cooking can actually be done in about an hour or less. Which isn't bad if you consider the amount of time that you spend getting to the store or the take out place and then getting your food. This way you can go home pour yourself a glass of wine. Do some home cooking and everyone is better for it.
I have mentioned before I am a mother of 2 boys. Now my boys are 5 years apart. So a lot of times they can be on completely different schedule. One is in school the other isn't. My seven year old (Colton) comes home and he may have swimming, which I have to get him ready for. Then he can go swimming and I have a 2 year old (Keenan), who I must entertain because right now he is basically stuck to me (you got to love the mommy stage). So while Colt is at swimming I try to get supper ready, before he and daddy get home. It never seems to matter how much I prepare for this day of the week it always seems frantic. So I always do something simple and for some reason I always do some home cooking I don't know if it calms me or what. But I do know I do not want to be taking Keenan out at 5PM looking for dinner. Have you ever noticed that 2 year olds are not the same at 5pm as they are at 10 am? If you are a parent you definitely know what I am talking about.
So back to home cooking it doesn't have to take you all day like when our grandparents cooked. It can be easy, quick and delicious. Now the easy part will be instead of homemade chicken broth buy a good quality one and buy lots when you are grocery shopping. The quick part is when you can basically throw everything into a pot and let it cook away. The delicious part is using the right ingredients.
I am going to share a recipe with you for a Chicken Soup, but with Mexican Latin flair to it. This is also one of my cooking with wine recipes again. Do you see a trend happening here with my cooking with wine? I will say one thing again, please cook with wine that you will drink.
Now the thing with this recipe is it maybe soup but it is a meal and parents and kids love it.
One other thing I should mentioned is you need cooked chicken breast. Now what I do is I cook the chicken in the stock you use in the recipe. Chicken cooks real fast this way. Now you could do this the night before. Or if you had a chicken dinner the night before and you have leftovers use them. It doesn't have to be chicken breast it can be any part of the chicken.
Home Cooked Chicken Soup With A Crunch
2Tbsp Olive oil
1-cup onions chopped
3-4 cloves garlic chopped
½ 19oz can black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup white wine
1 heaping tsp cumin
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2tsp ancho chili powder (you could use regular chili powder) the ancho has a smokier flavor
1 can of tomato soup
1 1/4 cartons of chicken stock
Cook chicken breast in some of the stock. Just enough stock to cover the breast. While chicken is cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in a soup pot or Dutch oven, add the rest of the ingredients. When chicken is done shred it and add that and the stock to the Dutch oven. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.