Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,
Kate
kate_nepveu

Three Weeks in Review

Thursday three weeks ago, I filed a brief that literally had me up past 11 p.m. every night for a couple of weeks. Since something else had been delayed, I took Friday off to sleep.

It's a good thing I don't believe in karma, because I got a call at home asking me if I could take on a short-fuse project. And I didn't get to really sleep, either, because the Queen of Niskayuna was a horrible nudge in the way that only neglected-feeling dogs can be.

I forced a viewing of The Prestige into our schedule that weekend, anyway, as already reported. We also bought a new dining room set (not ready for Thanksgiving, but nothing suitable was) and looked at a bunch of cars.

Last weekend we went to Chad's parents for a surprise 70th birthday party for one of his uncles. The party was in fact a surprise, his uncle was very touched, and it was good to catch up with various family members and meet one of his sister's law school friends, even though there was very little acid-reflux-friendly food.

This week we hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. It went very well, even with some last-minute "Shit! The crescent rolls are burning!" and "Whoops, forgot about the squash and cranberry sauce." Menu with comments and recipes behind the cut for my own reference.

Menu:

  • Shrimp cocktail, brought by Chad's grandmother
  • Meat and accessories:
    • Twenty-pound happy fresh turkey, brined by Chad according to the Good Eats recipe, but scanting the ginger, and replacing the inside aromatics with leftover carrots and celery and some sage, because he doesn't like apples in meat and onions are bad for my acid reflux.

      The brine takes forever to cool, so next time it might not be a bad idea to cook it during the day rather than at night, though Chad's method of submerging ice in a zipped bag worked well.

    • Stuffing made by Chad from the recipe on the box of Bell's, with some breakfast sausage and maybe some other stuff (I don't like stuffing so I didn't pay much attention). Made the day before and baked for ~25-30 minutes at 350 on the day of serving.
    • Canned gravy. Yeah, we punted.
    • Meat pie, made the night before. See updated recipe below.

      This was not really necessary, but we've got a vote for its retention, so we'll see. If I can eat onions and garlic next year, it'll stay, since frankly I like it better than turkey, which has a bitter undertaste for me.

  • Starch:
    • "Bobbie's Gourmet Potatoes." See recipe below.
    • Slightly-burned crescent rolls.

      Note to self: even if it's traditional that they be slightly burned, set the damn timer.

    • Non-crescent-roll bread.

      Not necessary next time.

  • Vegetables:
    • Steamed green beans.

      A hit with Auntie. Set the timer for these too even if they came out really well, because that was just luck.

    • Frozen squash with butter (~2 tablespoons), cinnamon, and nutmeg mixed in.

      Tradition of my family. Next time remember to have some brown sugar thawed to add. Actually, next time remember to cook it before everything's on the table, period.

    • Cranberry sauces: the kind from a can (hey, I like it) and Dickinson's Premium Cranberry Relish, which was apparently very good.
    • Mashed sweet potatoes and mashed turnips, brought by Chad's parents.
  • Desserts:
    • Bacardi rum cake (thanks, Mom).
    • Chad's mother's apple pie.
    • Chad's mother's pumpkin pie (which only one person ate, but I think she knew that).

Yes, we have ridiculous amounts of leftovers. Chad made turkey soup yesterday, and is making lots of turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches, much to his joy.

Recipes:

Bobbie's Gourmet Potatoes

(I don't know who Bobbie is. We got this from Chad's mom who got it in a handwritten version from someone else. It is, as the handwritten notes indicate, a very forgiving recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 8 medium baking potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • at least 1 and up to 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sour cream [or a 16 oz. container which is reasonably close]
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • milk, ~1 cup?

Instructions

  1. Wash, peel, and boil potatoes until they fall apart when poked with a fork.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, finely mince onions and cook in 1 stick of butter. Remove from heat.

    The recipe says "saute slightly"; I don't like crunchy onions so I cooked until soft, and then tossed in another couple of tablespoons of butter to make up for the butter that cooked off.

  3. Mash potatoes in a really big mixing bowl with hand mixer, adding milk (about a cup?) and butter (a couple of tablespoons) until desired consistency.

    (If also making meat pie, scoop out 1/2 cup and set aside.)

  4. Put onions & butter back over low heat, add sour cream and cheese. Mix until cheese melts.
  5. Add cheese mixture to potatoes, mix together.
  6. Pour into casserole dish (4 qt / 15x10x2 Pyrex baking dish).
  7. (Refrigerate from Monday night until Thanksgiving morning.)
  8. Bake covered at 350 F for 20 minutes, or a little longer if starting cold (probably about 30 minutes, not more). Serves 8 with plenty of leftovers.

Meat pie, updated recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound ground beef (or veal, or more pork)
  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • ~1 1/3 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • very small amount ground cloves (still experimenting with this)
  • Pastry for a 2 crust pie

Instructions:

  1. Put meat, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and water in everyday pan and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce to simmer, add spices, simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix in mashed potatoes (heat a bit first to make mixing easier if they've been in fridge).
  4. Put mixture into pie crust, bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350. If serving immediately, bake for 30 minutes. If serving later, bake for 15 minutes, and then bake at 350 for 20 minutes day of serving.

Bonus Recipe: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a good recipe for holiday parties, because both kids and adults are willing to eat it, and because it travels well in an insulated container like this one. Adapted from Betty Crocker and papersky.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (see note below)
  • black pepper
  • bread crumbs

Note about cheese: if you're making 2 cups, none of the cheese may be low-fat. I use 2 cups of cheddar, or 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. If you scale the recipe up 50%, which I do frequently, then I use 2 cups of low-fat cheddar and 1 cup of Parmesan.

Instructions:

  1. Cook macaroni until al dente; drain; rinse in cold water.
  2. Make a roux and add the milk to make a sauce, or, if like me you can't make a roux,

    Put the butter, flour, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine, then stir constantly until butter is melted and sauce thickens and no longer tastes of raw flour (I think you can probably stir a little less constantly while the butter is still melting, but I haven't really dared try it).

    [Note 1/2/08: I can make a roux now, but I still prefer this method, because it lets me get the milk to cheese-melting temperatures without worrying that I'm overcooking the sauce.]

  3. Take the sauce off the heat and gradually add the cheese, stirring until melted. Grind over black pepper to taste.
  4. Add the macaroni, using whisk to coat thoroughly.
  5. Pour into baking dish (2 cups = 1 1/2 quart oval Corningware dish; 3 cups = 2 1/2 quart etc.).

    Optional: sprinkle top with bread crumbs (oh, ~1/2 cup?), or 50/50 bread crumbs and grated Parmesan.

  6. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Post-Thanksgiving, we've done a lot of lying around, a lot of laundry, and a lot of writing for the Internet. I've been reducing my backlog of LiveJournal (yesterday, today) and booklog posts. I'd like to get a little more done tonight, but things are still very busy at work, and I should work on a thing that I've been resolutely ignoring all weekend instead. Well, it was a good long break from law, at least.

Tags: [time] in review, food
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