Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Pie and some shameless begging (for a good cause)

 I think it must be Priscilla's sister leaving comments and begging me for pumpkin pie recipes. She must not realize that I am SO busy filling the larder that I barely have time to make a decent pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday night meal for my own family let alone post recipes for her! BUT, since she is the sister of my closest friend in the entire world, I'm going to do it. Besides, if I didn't Priscilla might hurt me. Or refuse to bring me and my husband gas when HE runs out because he can't manage to leave early enough to get me to my eye surgery appointment on time AND stop for gas. At 1:00 in the afternoon. But Prissie made it all better. There is nothing like having a friend that will do that for you, who you can insult in the same trip and she will just smile at you and give it back as good as she got. I love her. Truly.

But, if you want my pumpkin pie recipe, you'll have to read to the end and let me guilt you into doing something that will make you feel great in the end. You can make a difference. (Oh, geez, that sounds trite.) Ok, I'm ordering you to make a difference. Just do it. Like all things, because I said so. What do I want you to do, you ask? Go read this post, and give the woman some money. It doesn't have to be a lot. Anything will help. See, the thing is, there are some soldiers in Afghanistan who are cold. Yes, I said COLD. Do you like to be cold? I don't and as I always say, why should I should be cold when we have the technology to prevent it.  These soldiers are living out in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan, far from a FOB, (forward operating base). They don't have the right stuff. It is almost Christmas. You are here, in America, safe and warm. See where I am going with this? Go. Give ten bucks. Or more if you can. What's ten bucks? To the soldiers who are risking their lives in service to our country, it is the difference between being cold and warm. So do it. Please.


So now that I have berated you, I will give you my pumpkin pie recipe. Happy Thanksgiving.

Pie Crust
Super Simple pie crust:

2 Cups cold flour (I use pastry flour when I can get it. I store the bag in the freezer so it is ready to go when I am)
1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
1 tsp vinegar
2-3 T ice water

Pumpkin pie filling

Cook a small sugar or pie pumpkin in the oven until tender. Just put it in whole. It takes about an hour. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and then the pulp. You'll need about two cups.

Mix 2 Cups pumpkin with 
1 1/2 cups cream 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs

Pour into a pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 450 and then lower the heat to 350 and bake about 45 mins more until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream,

Now, couple of notes: (after all, i wouldn't be me if I didn't tell you what to do, would I?) If you can't get a pie pumpkin you can use canned. Your pie just won't be as good as mine. You can use canned evaporated milk instead of cream, again,  your pie will suck. You can use pumpkin pie spice, if you're stupid and like to waste money. Pumpkin pie spice is the spices I listed in the recipe in those proportions, mixed together. You should have all of those spices in your pantry right now, so go ahead and buy pumpkin pie spice if you have money to burn. Or send Hope the money you have to burn and just get out your measuring spoon instead. Peace.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Salad

Last night I attended an impromptu pizza and beer party. We had a long day at a Lego Robotics competition, and some of the parents invited everyone over to decompress and for the boys to celebrate their hard work.

I threw this salad together quickly. Everyone loved it. Of course. It is based on a recipe that I found about twenty years ago in some cookbook for kids. The book contained recipes for "authentic" Pilgrim dishes. I don't know if they actually were authentic, but this one at least was good. This "Sallet" does make a lovely first course for your Thanksgiving table. I don't remember the name of the book, or any of the actual proportions of the ingredients in the salad. But does it really matter? Salad is one of those great things that is pretty hard to ruin, unless you douse it in so much dressing that you have a plate of soup left after all the greens are eaten. And believe me, I have had plenty of salad with WAY too much dressing on it. The point is, you want to put just enough to coat the lettuce nicely, but not have it puddle in the bottom of the salad bowl.  Try adding dressing a bit at a time and tossing, then adding more if it seems too dry. You'll thank me. You always do.

Pilgrim Sallet
Fill your salad bowl with equal parts spinach or baby salad greens, some sturdy lettuce, like romaine, and cabbage. Yes, cabbage. Just do it. Did I mention that you should TEAR the lettuce first? Do I have to tell you people everything? The one I made last night had about twelve cups of greens, enough for probably eight to ten people, or six who really like salad.

Next, add a half of an English cucumber, sliced. (Don't buy those horrible spongy things that pass as cucumbers in most supermarkets, you know, they call then "cucumbers". No flavor whatsoever. Add some sliced red or green onion, half a red or about three green, and 1/4 cup or so of almonds, pecans, and walnuts. It is better if you toast them first, they have more flavor, but since I was too lazy to toast them yesterday, I will give you a pass, this time. Also add a couple tablespoons of each of chopped sage, parsley, and mint. You have a choice of adding fresh raspberries, pomegranate seeds, currants, or golden raisins. Pick two and add about 1/2 cup total.

For the dressing, I used 1/2 cup of sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, then I added 1/4 cup of walnut oil and about 3/4 of a cup of olive oil. I seasoned the vinegrette with about a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. The original recipe calls for plain vinegar and vegetable oil, go ahead and use them if you want, but your salad won't be as good as mine. The cider vinegar is a nice match for the sweetness of the fruit, the walnut oil adds that nice nutty quality, obviously, and I just like olive oil. But hey, you do whatever you want. I'm feeling generous and uncharactistically unbossy. Must be because I love Thanksgiving so much. Or I'm just thankful I don't have to go to another Lego competition for at least a year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Troop Widget

I just placed a widget at the bottom of the page (cause that is the only place it would fit where you could still the whole thing.) It is link to Xerox's Let's Say thanks webpage. They will print and send a card that you personalize to troops stationed overseas. Cool. Hubby works for Xerox, so I might as well give them a plug, especially cause they are doing something this cool. Take a minute. Do it, before I hurt you. And while you're at it, you might consider sending a package to someone fighting for our country. You can find names at AnyMarine.com. Or you can go over to the Hope Radio blog that found from reading a different mil blog called Castra Praetoria. Both are great. Hope sends packages to deployed Marines all the time, I know she could hook you up to send a package to someone. Just don't send a package to Any Soldier. It won't get there.

Christmas is coming, and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are seperated from their families. They willingly do this, to fight terrorism and defend our country. You can buy good stuff to send at the dollar store. Beef jerky, tuna and chicken packets, condiment packets from fast food places, and SOCKS. Lots of SOCKS. Have you ever thought about not taking a shower or washing your clothes for a month? Can you even imagine? Infantrymen do this all the time. The Marine foodie slept in a hole in the ground and only made it back occasionally to a FOB (forward operating base) to get a shower, hot meal that didn't come from a box, and to get his clothes cleaned. He and his company were out, interdicting suicide bomber vests and weapons caches to actually save people's lives. He is safely home now, happily eating my cooking (who wouldn't happily eat my cooking?) but, there are still plenty of people serving our country who deserve our support. Although my son was in Iraq, he requests that if I am going to send stuff, I send it to Afghanistan.

Look at this picture and see if you think you shouldn't send stuff:

That is  a picture of the 5th Marines in Helmand province last July. It is cold now and they are still doing this. Send something. You can get a free box at the post office and it will only cost $11 to mail it. You can find lists of what to send online. Just do it. Please. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Beef

I think I forgot to tell you that the beef is good. Really good. It is probably the best beef I have ever eaten.

It is a Beltie. Belted Galloway, that is. It comes from a local farm, about twenty miles away, called Green Arpent Farm. They don't have a website. I don't even have their email address. Actually, Deb is the only one who has their contact info. I better be really nice to her and not insult her cooking, even though she did recently use a pie crust from a box, because if I piss her off she might not give me th contact info!  Oh, Deb, it really is okay if you use pie crust from a box. Really. I don't think any less of you. I still respect you. (Is that believable enough?)

And clearly, next year, I am going to need more beltie beef. A lot more. Like I might possibly get the entire half a cow. OK, I know it is a steer, but I like saying cow. Sue me.

So far, I have barbequed some steaks, made beef stroganoff with some of the sirloin, sloppy joes for the kiddies (okay, that is pretty lame, but hey, they're kids, they like them.) and pan seared another steak, finishing it with a simple garlic butter. Yum um um Y.

This is grass-fed, no antibiotic, no hormone beef. I didn't think it could make that big of a difference, but wowwee, did it. And the price worked out to around $4.00 a pound, so it is very affordable. I only got an 1/8 of a share this time, but next time, like I said, the freezer is getting packed. If you can buy one, do, If not, beg me for an invitation. I like to watch people beg.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turkey Leftovers

I thought I would get a jump on the after Thanksgiving what-to-do-with-all-those-damn-leftovers dilemma for all of you whiners who constantly harass me. "June, what do YOU do with turkey leftovers?"

As part of my pre-blogging research, I asked Priscilla what she thought was the best way to deal with the leftovers. Here are HER top answers
  • I hate turkey
  • Throw them out
  • Make sure you only make enough turkey for Thanksgiving dinner so you don't have leftovers.
  • Turkey soup is rude. Make it, and then throw it out before you have to eat it.
Now, you have to understand that Priscilla is a great cook, but a very picky eater. She pretty much hates everything that isn't chocolate or a vegetable. And a few things that are vegetables. I mean, this is a woman who was able to easily live in a communist country for five years with no access to butter. I mean really.

So, if you are like Priscilla and really don't like turkey, just make enough for your dinner. How much is that? 3/4 to 1 lb per person. That's for turkey with bones. If you buy a boneless turkey breast for Thanksgiving, or worse, a tofurkey, you are un-American and don't deserve to live in our country. Go move someplace else.

Last year, I wrote a post about how to cook a turkey. You can find it here.

So, after you have cooked the turkey and are facing a huge pile of leftovers, what to do? Well, here's what I do.

  • I don't make turkey soup. Grandma Foodie makes a really good one, but mine sucks. Well, it doesn't suck, but I can never get it as good as hers, so why bother?
  • Curried turkey salad. Here is the recipe, just substitute cooked turkey for chicken.
  • Turkey enchiladas.
    • Soften corn tortillas by quickly frying them on both sides in vegetable oil until soft. Fill the center with cooked turkey, chopped onions and about a tablespoon of cheddar cheese. Roll and place in a greased 13x 9 pan. Keep going until it is filled. Pour red chili sauce over all and top with more cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 
      • Red Chili Sauce: Heat 1 T oil in medium saucepan. Add 1 chopped onion and 1 clove of chopped garlic. Saute until softened. Add 5 dried New Mexico chilies, which you have soaked in hot water until soft. (About 10 minutes) remove the stems and seeds. Saute briefly and then add 3 cups of hot water. Simmer 20 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor. Or buy some at the supermarket.
  • Turkey Mole
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth
4 cups shredded turkey
Tapatio, Tabasco or other hot sauce

In large saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, almonds, chili powder, oregano, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves and cumin; stir well to combine. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in turkey and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes.
You can eat this as is, like a stew, served with flour tortillas and sour cream for garnish. Or make it into tacos or burritos.

And those are my ideas for leftover turkey. Maybe Priscilla would even eat one of them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Apple pie filling and the Great Beef Experiment

If you live in Western New York, like I do, each fall you go into an apple picking, apple eating, apple buying frenzy. It is a sickness, really. New York is the second largest apple producer in the country and damn proud of it. So in the fall, people tend to go a little crazy, apples are cheap, and beautiful, and delicious. We went out to a local apple farm last weekend to go on a  haunted hayride through the orchard. See? I can be a nice mommy every now and then. Unfortunately, when we got there the orchard was too muddy for the hayride. How to make it up to the kids? Easy, buy them fresh pressed cider, donuts, and apples. Of course, we got a little carried away with the apples. And then a friend told me she had gotten carried away with the apples and she was bringing some my way. Before I could protest, I had nearly half a peck of apples. (How much is a peck, anyway? It's a lot of apples.) So I am making lots of apple recipes, quite a few of which I have written about before. I decided today that I had so many apples I needed to preserve some of them. I had already made apple butter and home canned apple sauce tastes like baby food. So what to do? I remembered that the same friend who gave me the apples likes to cook her apple pie filling before she puts it in the pie. She says you get more appley goodness. I have been a little skeptical, but I thought, well, I've got all these apples and if I make it, then I can freeze it. So I looked up a recipe. It looked a little gruesome to me. Why the need for so much water and cornstarch? It seemed like a miserly amount of cinnamon to me. No nutmeg. So, I revised. First, instead of water, I used apple cider. I had a lot! But I only used about 4 cups of apple cider instead of the ten cups of water it called for. I also had only had the patience to peel and cut 16 cups of apples, so I went with that. I added only about 1/3 cup of cornstarch, tripled the cinnamon, added a half a tsp of nutmeg, and reduced the sugar to three cups. Here is a picture:

Now, don't get me wrong, it tastes good. Really good. But it does taste a little like canned apple pie filling. And that is where I think the online recipe person went wrong. She was trying to be thrifty and use fewer good ingredients and more filler. Hence, a cup of cornstarch and 10 cups of water. She was making thickened apple flavored water for her pie. Mine has to be thicker than hers or at least have more apples. Therefore, I win. As usual. Should you try it? Probably only if you have so many apples they're coming out your rear. Otherwise, stick to normal apple pie. I'm going to have to ask my friend to make me an apple pie so that I can judge her recipe. Shhh, don't tell her I have a blog.

On a completely different note, MY COW CAME TODAY! I split a 1/4 of a cow with a friend. Grass fed, no antibiotics, no hormones, local beef. Will it be any good? Don't know yet. I'll let you know. So far, my research tells me you need to be sure not to overcook it. Sear it, lower the heat, cook until barely warm in the middle. If you like your meat anywhere past medium rare, you're a heathen. you don't deserve my fabulous beltie beef. Tonight, I am going to pan-sear a t-bone. I don't usually buy t-bones, but several arrived and so I shall cook them. Why don't I cook t-bones, you ask? Because they are just like Porterhouse, ONLY WITHOUT THE FILET. Here are some pics of my booty. I'll let you know how it tastes.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


So this morning someone was searching for recipes using demi-glace and landed on my blog. The post they landed on described how I made demi-glace and then gave a recipe for English Muffins. A little convoluted, but I never promised you a well-thought out blog. These are just my random musings on food and how I know almost everything there is to know about it. And you don't. So, I do feel a little guilty that I never published any more recipes using the holy grail of brown sauces. So here is one more.

Serve as a topping to any kind of beef or lamb or as a side dish to whatever you feel needs some mushroomy goodness.

Sauteed mushrooms with demi-glace a la June.

1 Lb mixed mushrooms, (crimini, shiitake, hen of the woods, porcini (you can even use dried porcinis. Just soak them first)

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper
3 T red wine
1 T demi-glace
Fresh chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in saute pan. Add sliced mushroom and cook until mushrooms are soft and slightly brown and most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms from pan. Add wine to pan and reduce until about a tablespoon.  Add lemon juice, demi-glace, and parsley. Add mushrooms back to the pan.  Adjust seasoning.