Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Gobble Gabbing

Well, here it is Thanksgiving eve, and I hope you have everything in place, your menu settled, wines selected, and prepped anything you can.   We are kind of scaling back this year, and are hosting some dear friends, who have had a tough year, so we both leaned on each other during various medical stuff which we won’t dwell on.   That’s one of the things that we will be thankful for.

So in order to avoid the customary carnival of cooking, I am trying something different (“and now for something completely different’).  In years past we’ve done most of the myriad ways to change a fowl into something more than, well, just another turkey.  Turn it every which way in the oven with temps up, temps down, foil on, foil off, bagged, deconstructed, and so on.  Two techniques we have never attempted: deep frying , or spatchcocked.  You can knock yourself out and well, for the most part you get turkey (I’m sure some will have varying opinions).

As most people know, I get many, many food magazines, of course at Thanksgiving the poor editors are faced with producing something “different” than the last decade’s worth.  Most are devoid of anything really new. 

Same with the newspapers who have to run a Food Section devoted to the holiday.  In the Washington post edition, there was an interesting article about the stupid Turducken concept written by a butcher who begrudgingly prepares a few.

Anyway (yes we will talk about food!) somehow I get an inordinate amount of food catalogues, Dean and Deluca, various steak houses, and so forth.  One that kind of caught my eye was one from New Braunfels Smokehouse in Texas.  They featured several versions of (smoked) fowl for the day, of course Turkey, but also Pheasant, Quail, Chicken, Game Hens and so on.   Being smoked the are completely cooked which was attractive to me.   Of course, I wondered about (sorry) sodium content and send them a “contact us” email.  I almost immediately got a reply from Susan, answering my questions which resulted in a nice e-conversation.  Anyway, I thought “well, why not”?  And so our Thanksgiving entrée arrived last week

And with a bit of effort, found a home nestled in the freezer drawer

Showing somebody your freezer drawer is kind of like revealing your underwear drawer. Revealing things like Ben and Jerry’s; a hamburger bun(?); some foil wrapped items that have probably been there for years of which I have no idea what they contain; some frozen peas of unknown vintage (which are probably furry); and joined by Mr. Turkey!  

The smokehouse folks say it can be served as is at room temp or warmed in the oven (wrapped in foil).  Other sides include guest supplied mashed potatoes, and a salad.  Conscious of my dietary regimen, she found a recipe for mashed potatoes that uses “Nutritional Yeast” which the feeder never heard of.  Although it sounded yucky, a quick google search revealed:  

 "Nutritional yeast is sold as flakes, granules or powder and can be found in the spice section or bulk bins of health food stores. Nutritional yeast is a versatile food that works with nearly any type of diet or eating style. ... Summary Nutritional yeast is a vegan food product with a cheesy, nutty or savory flavor"

Be interesting to see how it turns out.  For my small part (besides the smoked bird) I am contributing an appetizer offering of my favorite Pimento Cheese spread recipe

I show this not so much so you can duplicate it, more to remind you to make notes every time you make it, as shown on my ragged copy.   This year I cut back some of the cayenne, used more cheese and less Duke’s and I think it looked better than last year.  We’ll see
MFO is making Mince and Pumpkin (the ONLY good use of the thing) pies. 

The Fun pages:

If any of you STL natives still see this, does this mean anything to you?

When we still lived in Clayton (MO), every Saturday I would make a short trek down Clayton Road to Lake Forest Bakery, and purchase one of those delicacies.  At that time, they were famous for the dish...Was kind of a neighborhood gathering, pretty much the same people, and all the ladies behind the counter mostly knew you by name.  Although Lake Forest is long gone, it's nice to see the tradition carries on
Nice to see STL in a national food publication for something besides Baby Back Ribs

What’s wrong with this picture?

People serious about food and wine should pick it out right away. These folks are amateurs.  Food and Wine magazine should know better..

The Editorial Page

On a whim, I looked back at my Thanksgiving posting from 2011.  Nothing changes!  Excerpts:

Preparations varied from hacking up the bird (Julia Child’s Turkey – Updated), to the flipping this side and that, hot oven, cold oven, grilling, and yes, deep frying (along with a string of warnings) , brining, rubbings, marinating, this and that.  And as I always work in someplace, you can do what you want to a turkey, the end product is, yes, still a turkey.  And to be fair (as I always am..) there are also suggestions for ham, standing rib roasts, lamb, and pork (we’re having a loin – from WAG meats)

Sides of course can rescue the bland protein, and there are a million recipes.. how about Triple Cheese Curried Cauliflower Gratin?  Straight from the pilgrims..

Wines are all over the place, once again driving me to the old DWTHYL theory, if you like a particular wine, drink it for goodness sake. 

But the real message is as true today as it was seven years ago (and before that):

And before you go, I have to remind you that it is not the food that is the objective, it is the gathering of your family and loved ones, friends, and people that mean something to you.  Whether here or far from home doing things that keep us safe, or those that have gone before are here in spirit and memory.  THAT is the meaning of special days.  Food of course can make it so enjoyable, but the love that is shared is more important.  To borrow a phrase from my other column:  It isn’t the drumstick that is important it is who is holding it…

DFD is nice, but for God’s sake:

Monday, November 12, 2018

Getting back aboard...

Well, hello there!.. this may break the longest streak of “no feeders” ever.  Life,  Oyster festivals, dog trials, that kind of stuff, somehow always get in the way, plus I try to adhere to Thumper’s admonishment of: “If you can’t say something {Interesting}. Don’t say nuthin’ at all”.  Some might say I have violated that for years.  

While I try to keep my health stuff out of these columns, it does impact my feeder duties, for instance, going to a restaurant is physically difficult, and when I get there, I have to eat what I should (sodium), rather than what I want..

As a result, I spend more time sitting and pondering life…. here’s a few things that might be of interest.  

Bean Counters
As you know, I have a jones for Jelly Beans.  So the last time I opened a bag, I thought:  How do they fill these things with all the varying colors? So I made an investigation.

Yellow: 11; White: 8; Red: 12; Black: 16; Purple: 4; Green: 16; Pink: 15; Orange: 16   

Obviously not random.  Can a machine do that?  Does some poor soul sit there “one, two, three”..  by my count there were a total of 98 beans… Black, Green, Orange, with the most (16); down to only four little Purple.  What’s it all mean?  Is there a hidden message?  Some secret code for the Illuminati? Oh, well, munch, munch.  Data collection will continue with the next bag..

Caffeine Fix anybody?
We all know about 5 Hour Energy as we get bludgeoned by those commercials about how you can “stay sharp” all day with just one hit.  Apparently chemical enthusiasm has spread.  We now have another option for that..

Didn’t know you could measure “energy” in milligrams.  I personally have never tried any of those products, afraid I would just sit and vibrate.

Cheesy Education
One of the things we enjoy occasionally during the cocktail hour is Boursin Cheese.  Keeps pretty well, spreads easily, and is available in various “flavors”. MFO brought some home the other day, of the Basil and Chive variety. 

Great.  Well in replenishing the serving portion the other day, I happened to look more closely at the box….. Wait a darned minute!!   What’s that????  Take a look at the label on the bottom

Is that “mistake” intentional?  Did we get a knock off?   What’s the deal?  Well, the feeder is never too old (or infirm – which may be debatable) to learn.  I went to the company’s website and every box is labelled that way (GourNay).  So I dug a little deeper…Here’s the story:

The story of the now famous Boursin Cheese started with one man, François Boursin. In 1957, this young Normandy cheesemaker opened a cheese factory in Croisy-sur-Eure, which is a small commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region in north-western France.
François worked quietly for years trying to perfect his signature cheese. However, in 1961 a French newspaper mistakenly reported the launch of Boursin infused with garlic, and the public loved the idea. The problem was that François had no such recipe in the works, but he quickly got to work to meet the public’s demand. For two years, he worked on his own original recipe inspired by fromage frais, a traditional party dish blended that blends garlic, fresh cream, soft cheese, herbs, salt and pepper.
Finally, in 1963, François was satisfied with his authentic Gournay cheese and garlic creation, and he introduced it to the world. Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese was served at celebrations and gatherings throughout France, and it quickly became a household name.

Go figure… who knew?

Other aggravations:
Besides my ongoing dislike of the “love car” ads, I’ve added a couple more..

Insuring Stupidity
Progressive insurance company (a rival of Geico and the Gecko) has a series of ads featuring “Flo” a well-meaning but misguided soul in various stupid situations, earnestly idiotic.  Lately they have taken on a campaign of “Don’t become your parents/mother/father”, where some male or female doofus mimics the dotty parent while the spouse looks on disconsolately.  Making fun of the earlier generation seems a bit much.  I, for one, would be proud to “Become my Father”. Wouldn’t buy their product, I’ll vote with the little green guy (who has great commercials)

Hey Alexa!
Okay, I know technology marches on, but it’s getting ridiculous.  There used to be a phrase “the dumbing of America”, well, Amazon, Google, Apple,  seem hell bent on furthering that cause!   No need for education!  Somebody standing with a shriveled brown plant in a pot:   “Hey Alexa!  What does a healthy succulent look like?”   what’s next?  “Hey Google! How do I boil water?”  No need to learn anything, just ask the little device on your counter.

I had another subject of words that should be banned in culinary discussions (adding to the “Y” word and all it’s derivations), but we’ll wait till next time.

I hope you remember you should
DFD and request NMMJ for your table.