Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Season of Excess

I don't get notes from readers...ever.

A few days ago I received my first, a note from a reader from,  of all places, Mumbai, India. Apparently he ran across my post on Turkey Gravy and contacted me after reading my family profile regarding a Medical Mission trip to his country.There is a task force called Global Initiatives that operates a clinic in Mumbai slum areas.

That does give one pause. A Turkey Gravy recipe while his country struggles with clean water and vaccinations. I am embarrassed I am who I am after that, being wrapped up in a preparation of excess with so much want everywhere in the world.

Logistically it sounds impossible, the cost, the time off, the convincing my family. How much can you possibly accomplish in a few weeks in a struggling 3rd world country? It makes you feel so insignificant and gluttonous at the same time. Realistically, I haven't even tried to calculate the logistics of it all but I am sure once I started I could manage it somehow.

We were out to dinner with folks that are pretty well off and the discussion turned to a group of young people from church looking for funding for a mission in Guatemala. The group referred to the sub structure of Omaha and how talents should be redirected and applied to our own community. As with most everything, it ends in talk and not action and lacks support for either mission.  It is a good point though and Omaha is so much closer in a dire need of similar support. Why are we so apathetic?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving has never been so...well, confusing

As I browse through buckets of information and recipes for the dinner of the year, I am overwhelmed bu the multitude of choices and the information contrary to what I held to be sacred. I am in a conundrum about what to make.

Potatoes? Always Yukon Golds but, what...Russets? Steamed? In the skins? Best option now?

No sweet potatoes this year? Not one member of my family is a fan.

Yes, I am still going to brine the turkey. I have too, or actually I am afraid not to. It makes such a huge difference in taste and especially texture. 

Dressing? Of course but how, which one? Sausage, cornbread?

Ben wants Gene's Potatoes with the Swiss cream sauce. Canned potatoes for Thanksgiving. NO. He asked me just to make the sauce. Really?  Use it like a gravy?

No Green Bean casserole this year. Never cared for it but I found a fresh recipe instead of canned soup. Still no. Okay,  just fresh green beans.

Corn Casserole. Standard of the house. That will get made of course. Kind of a starchy, gloppy mix of corn and Velveeta with broken spaghetti. I find it hard to improve the recipe but it definitely needs updating (Don't tell my Mother-in-law).

It's just us kids this year. My Mom is coming over (a surprise to us) and the kids will be in and out depending on their work schedule. Some are bringing others, whatever. There is always more than enough food. But what?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turkey Gravy

I saw turkey wings at the market. They were huge and perfect for the beginning of Thanksgiving cookery. The turkey stock for the gravy. As you know, I use Tyler Florence's Ultimate Turkey Gravy with no regrets.


Basically I roast the wings, an onion, carrots and garlic till the wings are a dark brown and fragrant. I set them in a large pot after the roast with fresh thyme (from my garden, it still good!) celery and simmered away for several hours, adding a bit of salt and pepper along the way. The strained product is no the perfect base for gravy or stuffing and it shall be.

Thanks Tyler. You are the man.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Broth to Remember, Take Stock

Ok so I am no poet but I have a huge stash of chicken wing tips and trimmings from whole birds. Our friend Lori's mom, Annette,  had surgery and I wanted to bring something over so I made a batch of Chicken stock for a base for some soup or something. Annette is recouping at Lori's house. I cannot imagine a more comfortable place to recover or a more gracious hostess.

So...on to the Stock, so easy but really delish.

I went out and picked a bunch of thyme from the herb pot and threw it in a large Marmite (stockpot). To this I added a whole unpeeled onion, halved, 3 cloves of garlic crushed, 3 large carrots washed and chopped, the top of Brenda's celery with leaves attached, about 10 peppercorns and all my wings (about 3 pounds). I filled the pot to an inch of the top and set it to simmer.

After it came to a good strong simmer, I skimmed it and added some salt and a scant teaspoon of turmeric. Instantly the already fragrant stock had a nice chicken golden color. It needed a bit of bouillon (about 2 good tablespoons) before I added any more salt  but the end result was chicken heaven. About 6 quarts or so.

So now...what to do with all?

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Busy and Lazy Weekend

We hit the ground running on Friday with a church meeting after work followed by dinner at a local eatery called "Hiro 88".  We had a grand time with our good church friends, John and Debbie Birge as well as some other aquaintances from church.

The menu at Hiro is about sushi but they also offered some common Asian dishes. One in particular that is near to my heart is 'Walnut Shrimp'. I  split a large portion with Brenda. John was intrigued and ordered it also. It was great and the Birges were happy with the choice. My attempt to make it at home is on the blog under 'Seafood'.

 We also had the squid salad which Debbie also ordered on our recommend and was very happy with it. One of very favorites we could eat by the bucket. It lacked the veggies that we find in other establishments but I found it very tasty in spite. It's all about the dressing really which, when finished,  I poured over a bit of rice. Delish.

Saturday morning was a work morning for our neglected lawn. We mowed and picked up leaves and bagged them. After a few hours of that we rewarded ourselves with a shopping trip and a lunch treat at 'Freddies' for a burger and split a few fries. That night for dinner I had taken out 2 fillets that I had previously cut and wrapped with bacon then froze. With a nice perfectly grilled medium and a side of broccoli it was a feast for just the two of us.

Sunday was church followed by the annual meeting, a brief report from the Auditing committee, a presentation of the Pentecost icon I painted to Fr. Nick Klodnicki and then off to home to relax. We skipped lunch after the church served fruit and yogurt with a delightful granola that I just couldn't stop eating.

I had taken a few chicken breasts out earlier in the day and I used 2 of them to make some fajitas and the rest I will grill or somehow prepare tonight for the rest of the week.  The 'Nativity Fast' begins this Friday and Brenda and I are trying to determine our level of participation. In the past, the former priest pretty much ignored these 'ancillary' fasts claiming erroneously that they were Monastic and not for the parish. We knew that to be untrue but went with it but now we are back on track with the real meaning of the season. It's a tough fast to follow in our American food obsessed society and it covers Thanksgiving which makes it really hard to be outside the family tradition, hence trying to determine our level of participation. 

Mackenzie stopped by for a late visit after work since she is leaving today to take of Christian after his sinus surgery in Sacramento tomorrow. Wow. That will be a relationship test for sure. We hope he has a smooth recovery and a patient caregiver. I am sure all will go well and we keep them in our prayers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Apple Pie with a minor addition

We had a few bags of caramels we bought on clearance so I tucked a few in with the apples and melted a few on top. How bad could that be? I wish I would have chopped them a bit on the inside but I am not a big pie maker. Recipe was posted a few days ago. The crust is really flakey.  I hope it tastes OK. It's for the in-laws dessert tomorrow.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Husker Virgin

So for all the years I have lived in Nebraska, I have never attended a Husker Football game. It just never came up I guess. My Dad was a huge fan but rarely attended actual games.  I know all kinds of zealots and fans and season ticket holders but no one has ever asked us to go till last week. Our friends Bob and Kim Kropp we have known for 35 years or so. We shared an apartment complex with them in the early days before we were married and have been friends ever since although we rarely see them as much as we like, they are a very busy couple.
Bob and Kim Kropp and us.

When the opportunity arose to take advantage of some extra tickets and a drive to Memorial Stadium with them as well as spend a great few hours with them, we jumped at the chance. Mackenzie and Nicholas were also included so we made it a family affair. We brought a boatload of snacks and fluids.

Since I am a Husker Virgin, I had a few surprises and realizations in store for me. The crowd was amazing and dense. It was literally a sea of red with the occasional Northwestern purple thrown in. It was really loud, really loud, I shut my hearing aids off.  There is a lot, A LOT, of excitement in Lincoln for these games and it's infectious. Season ticket holders have almost permanent "neighbors" love 'em or hate 'em. The seats are really uncomfortable, not much you can add to that but I would think twice about attending games when I could lay on my couch and have excellent snacks at home.

The concessions were cheap. Really cheap. I was expecting some grand stadium prices but got instead, High School football prices, $3 for a dog, really? I'll have two.

Missing Benny who had other plans today.

The game was awesome and one of a kind that we just happened to be there at the right time, did not leave early as some did, and caught an amazing Hail Mary play that cinched the game. The crowd was deafening, excited, laughing, crying and generally amazed. Our hosts were lovely as they always are and it makes us wistful that we don't see them more but we had a great time, a great ride and a day of fun and excitement that you could not have predicted. Thanks again guys. We love you!


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