Category Archives: Food

Take my turkey leg torch already

The Turkey Is Done

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Christmas dining 2011 has now been put to bed, and I singlehandedly reinforced the great lengths a mother will go to for her children.  I will stop at nothing to preserve my offspring’s feelings of self-esteem and confidence. So, now that my children are getting some of their own culinary experience and interest, I simply didn’t want to dazzle them tooooo much with my amazing kitchen and cooking skills, and run the risk of leaving them feeling like they could never measure up.  I don’t want them to feel intimidated when the official Christmas duty kitchen torch is passed and they are responsible for preparing all the special festive fixins.  Consequently for our holiday dining I did things like this:

  1. Put out a last minute call to daughter Christmas Eve to pick up water chestnuts for Spinach Dip.  Replied confidently and firmly in the negative to her inquiry as to whether or not we needed anything else.  All was good until we went to make said Spinach dip and I had no — nor had it even once occurred to me to think about getting …. Spinach.
  2. Pre-made the sweet roll dough on Christmas Eve for our Christmas breakfast sticky buns, and instead of “lukewarm” as instructed, added milk cold enough to evidently deactivate the yeast, consequently waking Christmas morning to completely flat plasticene like dough instead of gently risen puffy beginnings of deliciousness.
  3. Undaunted I started over, remaking the dough and forming the little individual buns.  Also pulled out a little known “expert” trick of placing the buns in their greased pan on top of another pan filled with warm water, so that buns would rise faster.  They rose quickly and efficiently and doubled in size, at which point I knocked the pan sideways so that all the gently risen buns slid into the warm water, and bobbed around like cinnamon buoys in a lake.
  4. Cleverly bought a much bigger turkey than in past years, and put it into the oven later in the day than ever before.  As we played a board game and smelled the delicious turkey cooking, we then heard a small explosion in the oven.  We were baffled upon examination – there were thin shards of glass on the turkey breast, but none of the glass casserole dishes appeared to have broken.  In an obvious attempt to make me look like I’m losing my mind (possibly brought on in part to the fact that I lost one of his presents that I bought him 2 DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS and hid, and at the time of this writing has still not been located); hubby asked if I might have inadvertently inserted a wine glass into the turkey, because that’s what the glass pieces resembled.  I was justifiably outraged, but just then with tensions rising, the mystery was solved.  It was the meat thermometer that exploded.  Picked shards of glass off the turkey skin and after much arm twisting I reluctantly agreed not to use any of the drippings for gravy, for fear of glass shavings.  My arguments in favour of roughage fell on deaf ears.

Spontaneous Combustioning Thermometer

5. Then inserted the new meat thermometer that I had received in my stocking.  It’s digital and very high tech, and we anxiously waited for it to announce that the required internal temperature had been achieved. This much anticipated declaration was not made until approximately 10:00pm.  As happy hour extended well into the early evening, I slurredly protested periodically that the turkey was going to look like the National Lampoon one, but dammit, I’m goal oriented and metrics driven, and we had committed to this new piece of technology and we were going to see it through to a 180° reading, come hell or high water.  I was not far from wrong, National Lampoon wise, but on the upside, if you make people wait long enough for dinner they are still extremely complimentary and effusive with praise about the meal.

Now, everything has gone according to plan and the bar is set quite low, and in future years when one of the kids hosts,  even if they invite us over  and have us pick up Swiss Chalet on the way, as long as they spring for the festive meal special, they will have one upped me and can feel like the winner of one of those reality cooking shows.

I also let them win at board games.

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Food for Thought

I was reflecting on how our eating habits have evolved over the past 30+ years of marriage. When we were first married, I didn’t know how to cook.  Somebody took pity on me (or actually probably on my malnourished hubby) and bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook at some point, after having attended a “special occasion” dinner party at my house, which consisted of Shake & Bake pork chops, boil-in- a- bag broccoli WITH cheese sauce if you please, frozen French fries, topped off with a nice Mrs. Smiths frozen apple pie.  You put that with a nice bottle of Baby Duck and BAM you had yourself a 1980 gourmet meal.

Next I learned how to be a by-the- book -cook , and my repertoire expanded so that I was making us delicious little numbers like authentic Caesar salad, which the two of us would romantically eat together by candlelight, from the same large wooden bowl, while gazing into each other’s eyes.

Then the kids came along … and I morphed into some sort of Organic Power Ranger type.  I spent hours painstakingly making nutritious meals and snacks.  I made all my own baby food, and became a bit of a freelance in-your-face nutritionist, recoiling in horror when people tried to contaminate my offspring with the likes of hotdogs.    At one young and overly zealous point I joined forces with my close friend Meryl Streep in a letter writing campaign to government officials, demanding they immediately put a stop to pesticiding the hell out of veggies and fruit. I think we know how that turned out.  I blame Meryl.

Once the kids were in school, I mellowed somewhat, but still carefully prepared home cooked breakfasts, and sent ecoli- proof cooler packed lunches. Snacks were strictly home baked treats.  Of course I found out later, that these home baked treats got very old very fast, and were widely traded on the school market at a ratio of one of my chocolate chip cookies to two for Oreos and Chips Ahoy.  And as for the poisonous threat of hotdogs, I was fighting a losing battle.  The school itself declared an actual day in honor of them, and peer pressure and the fear of being shunned as “different” was stronger than the drive to avoid death by nitrates, so on a weekly basis I sent hotdog day money, constantly torn between my own maternal instinct to protect my children from avoidable toxins, and the more immediate and pressing need for me to have a day off from packing lunches.

As the kids got older, they became even pickier with the school lunches.  I was no longer allowed to send egg sandwiches because they stunk up their locker and the hall and the schoolbus, and, they were constantly being accused of having just farted, which was wreaking havoc with their social lives.  They were increasingly jealous of the cool lunches other kids had – loaded with various plastic delicacies posing as food, such as “cheese”  strings and fruit” roll ups.   Side note –  It didn’t help that my sister also had a teenager at the same time, and  enjoyed some fleeting fame as the coolest mom in the world when she, by accident, sent beer on her Grade 10 son’s lunch not once but twice.  The can looked the same and was located in the same area of the pantry as the pop, was the official explanation.   He was thrilled, both times, and his own cool factor at school reached Fonzie-esque heights. But I digress. ..

Nowadays, our offspring are out in the world and preparing their own meals, they seem to have a healthy appreciation for all the food groups, which I take total credit for. They read the nutritional information on the labels, and make wise food choices.

Meanwhile back at home though, mom and dad have taken a giant leap backward.  A lingering pre-dinner cocktail (but only on the days that end in “y”)  now means that dinner is either: A) non-existent or B) a bag of chips or C) cereal. Where I used to feel a need to cover all the food groups and make meat, veg and potatoes every single day, now I’m in the kitchen dumping snack bags into bowls, preparing a basic wine and cheezie tray, or  muttering about how potatoe chips are technically veggies, and too much meat isn’t good for you,  plus I’ve revised the threat level of pesticides up to red, so vegetables are obviously out.

Hubby and I do still on occasion huddle together sharing a Ceasar salad out of the same big old wooden bowl, but we have abandoned the candlelight in favour of Clapper controlled lighting, and we’re usually sitting side by side on the couch, each with a cat in our lap, yelling out incorrect Jeopardy answers to an ever- pompous Alex Trebec.

Vive la romance!

P.S.

As a partial homage to Betty Crocker,  here is my somewhat bastardized version of her  Ceasar Salad recipe, and a pic of my 32 year old  salad bowl.

1/3 cup oil (I use ½ canola, ½ Olive)

1 tsp worchestershire sauce

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp salt

Fresh Ground pepper

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Crush  1/2 large clove garlic and smash it all around inside bowl.    Add dressing to bowl (start with about ¼ cup) toss with washed and spun romaine lettuce pieces, adding more dressing as needed, just enough so leaves glisten but not so much that they get wet and gross.

Lastly,  toss with ¼ cup shredded parmesan or even better, those fancy parmesan “petals” and add croutons and crumbled crisp bacon (but not those gross fake bacon “bits”),  if desired.

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