Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

Do you ever wake up and say, "Ya know, I need to work on 'such-and-such'--I've neglected it for too long and need to get it working again..." The 'it' could be a garage, an auto, a weightloss program or in my case, a potential weight-gain program.
I'm talkin' 'bout some serious cooking! And what better time to get re-aquainted with our beloved pots and pans, our gadgets, and those trusted appliances than this week of Thanksgiving?
I'll match a tradtional, Thanksgiving food item with a gizmo that has been in a storage box or back of a cupboard, lonesome and forelorn.

Like ALL good kitchen excursions, this one starts with a story...it's 5 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, the first cup of coffee is down and I'm having a 'healthy' breakfast of Garam Masala Chicken with Coconut Milk in a cereal bowl as I write...

...the Quinn family FINALLY made the change of address from SW Portland to SE Portland; actually, we now reside in Milwaukie, a suburb. During that time of transition from one house to another, we stayed at a friend's house while ours was getting re-vamped. Yeah, VERY nice friend. Aye-yaye-yaye, was the new place a mess! Not sure what was worse, the three brimming cat-boxes that were left or the WWF hootchy-mama posters in the boy's basement bedroom.
When that blessed day of taking up residence arrived, we plopped down hastily assembled bedding, swept and mopped, then sat around and lapped up the intoxicating aroma of fresh latex paint in empty, resonant rooms.
"Hey, Mom, it doesn't smell like cat-crap anymore," proclaimed Liam.
"Liam!" said Dad.
"...POOP, it doesn't smell like cat POOP anymore..." he added, "Sorry, Mom."
Dad smiled.

We were in the new house but, had given away the '70s dining room set of Lisa's childhood. Not a lot of tears; we could never find the conquistadore paintings or club and mace set that went with the table and chairs originally. Darn.
"Mom, Dad, we need to have a meal at the table...together and on Sunday," Brendan informed us. Dang if he wasn't right! It was 6 weeks of commuter meals, dinner in a recliner on stylish Solo dishware. We were so busy with moving out of one home and getting into another that we forgot to sit down AS A FAMILY! Good God in Heaven, we neglected our mealtime together! This won't do, especially for the family that tries to make dining together a mainstay, an anchor for our lives.
Lisa found a beautiful antique table and chairs that fit snugly into our little dining area. She bought new placemats and matching napkins to go with her new interior color scheme.
She did a marvelous job on everything including our first dinner. We all sat down, parked the baby in her highchair on the corner and said our traditional blessing. There was a pause at the finish as we waited for an ad-lib:
"...and thank you God for our new house, our new table and chairs, that we may be forever grateful and that tonight is the first of many wonderful memories at this table.


Fresh Cranberry Relish (serves alot)
1lb. bag Cranberries, Oregon preferably
4 Oranges, juice and zest
1 cup Sugar, or to taste

Method: Buy a microplane or zester at the local, expensive kitchen shop. A microplane is worth it's weight in flawless diamonds, but, looks like a wood rasp. You will thank me. Remove the zest (outer peel) of the oranges by running along your microplane or zester and place in your food processor. Add cranberries and sugar. Cut your oranges in half and juice them. Add juice to the cranberries.
Blast away till a fine puree is accomplished; about 3 minutes. Place in a container and let rest overnight; the color will run and give you a brilliant, vibrant red on Thanksgiving Day.
Serve in a clear, crystal bowl to show off the aforementioned electric red!

The Best Turkey Gravy in the Whole, Wide World
This takes a commitment and is not for the 'instant chef.' If you want E-Z, open up some Knorr bouillion cubes or something, I dunno. If you want guests to pick up their plates and lick the gravy off, then, this is your recipe...

1 cup turkey giblets, diced
1/2 cup turkey fat, from your pan drippings
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 cup white wine, riesling or gewurtz, preferably
1 1/2 cups flour, AP
1 qt. turkey stock, made from bones
2 cups milk
to taste kosher salt

Method: Saute' diced gibs in the turkey fat and deglaze with the white wine once gibs are cooked. Add the Italian seasonings and reduce the wine by at least half. Add the flour to form a paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Add half of the stock (including the pan scrapings from the roasting pan!) and allow to thicken. Whisk in the remaining stock, allow to thicken and add the milk. Adjust texture with milk and saltiness with kosher salt.
Pour into a metal container and place in a water bath till service.
It is crucial that a stock is made with turkey bones, onions and celery and sprigs of fresh thyme. Stock is the palate upon which edible cooking becomes a simple work of art.

Enjoy your Holiday and remember...

"Food, Faith, Family and Friends--
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things."

God bless,
Chef BQ.

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