Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Grrr

Not sure why none of the pictures are working...I'll try to look into it tonight. And maybe even post a recipe. But first I have to survive a recruiting reception!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Stuffed

I was sixteen the first time I attended a Thanksgiving meal outside my own home. For reasons I can't really remember, my high school sweetie and I decided we'd attempt to get through two versions of the feast -- lunch at his house, dinner at mine. Everything went fine, actually, but I'll never forget the horror that broke over me at the first bite of his mother's stuffing. It was light, flaky, nearly ethereal. It tasted of fresh bread, raw parsley, and sharp onions, and when spooned onto my plate, it fell easily into individual bits and pieces.

To me, it was all wrong. My dad's stuffing is a thing of beauty and wonder. It's a dense, almost sticky mixture, rich with sausage, apples, and sage, and the only ingredients an observer can immediately identify by sight are the chopped celery and whole olives. I mean, I assume there's bread in there, but I certainly can't point you to it. And this stuffing, which Dad mixes with intense concentration and both hands in an enormous aluminum roasting pan, is the absolute best part of Thanksgiving. Turkey is an afterthought at our house. The real glory of the feast is a stuffing sandwich, smeared with cranberry sauce and eaten surrepetiously in the den so as to avoid accusations of illicit stuffing pilfering.

I'm not going home for Thanksgiving this year -- too expensive, sadly. And I think the Parental Units and Devorit are going to go hiking instead anyway. So I'm venturing into the kitchen to cook my very first Thanksgiving meal, for just me and Dimples. When I was planning the menu, I had a hard time choosing a stuffing recipe. There was no question of trying to recreate Dad's; he doesn't really use a recipe, and I didn't want to make an attempt that fell depressingly short. It's like Mom's spaghetti sauce -- I can come close, but close just isn't good enough. So I have an all-new (to me) recipe, which I'm tentatively excited about. And gravy! That's a first for me too. (We never have gravy at my parents' house. I don't really know why. I don't miss it at all, but Dimples stared at me in appalled consternation when I suggested leaving it off our menu.)

I have high hopes for this recipe. But my secret plan is to ask Dad if we can mix up a batch of his stuffing, sans bird, at Christmas time. Because no year should end without it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gingerly


I work near Chinatown and Little Italy, so there's an endless array of choices at lunchtime. Sad to say, in our three months so far, the Patient Co-Worker and I haven't ventured too far from the office yet. But we've resolved to overcome this pitiful laziness, and so yesterday we tried a new-to-us Vietnamese place. Delicious lemongrass chicken, with plenty of rice to soak up the creamy, spicy sauce. And, yes, I did reach for the sriracha...no surprise there.

Now, I usually have a very sturdy stomach, particularly with spicy foods. I mean, I abuse it regularly without complaint. But, alas, something about this lunch was met with disfavor. Not food poisoning, by any means, but I was not feeling my best.

When I arrived home, I headed straight for the anodyne in the refrigerator: ginger syrup. Mixed with sparkling water and fistfuls of ice, the dark syrup is transformed into a soothing draught that smoothed away my tummy's discontent within the hour. Perhaps it's psychosomatic; to be honest, I don't mind either way.

Don't save this for medicinal use alone -- it's also fantastic for hedonistic purposes. Such as drizzling over vanilla ice cream.

Ginger Syrup
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

1 c. brown sugar (I prefer dark, but light will do fine)
1/4 lb. fresh ginger root
1 cinnamon stick
2 pinches cayenne pepper (reduce if you prefer a less spicy syrup)

Slice the ginger root into thin coins. Place the slices, sugar, and cinnamon stick into a saucepan and pour in the water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for about five minutes, then turn off the heat. Add the cayenne and stir. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Once it's cool, strain the liquid and refrigerate it, covered.

To make ginger ale, mix 1/4 c. syrup with 3/4 c. sparkling water, and pour over ice. (I personally insist on a straw, to make it last longer.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I've been sideswiped by a brutal cold, so since I haven't been able to taste anything for almost two weeks, I haven't been doing much cooking. But I'm on the mend, and off to Vegas for a college friend's wedding this weekend -- and next week, back into the kitchen. And just in time! I need to plan my first Thanksgiving dinner!