Three words for you.
And I die! Gah! How lucky am I that one of my blog readers thought enough of me and my love of all things bacon that she sent me this recipe? Talk about giving thanks!
I have had bacon on the brain lately, too. I just heard this comic, Jim Gaffigan, do this bit about bacon that had me weak. According to him, bacon is a super food. “How do we make food taste better?” he asks his audience. “We wrap it in bacon! If it weren’t for bacon, we wouldn’t even know what a water chestnut is!”. Too true, Mr. Gaffigan, too true.
I have to admit, I wasn’t always a fan of the scone. In my experience, scones have been hard, dry, and something that necessitated a cup of Earl Gray tea in order to wash it down your throat. Then, several years ago, at a baby shower for a friend of mine, I tried Bacon Cheddar Scones. Now, as you know, me and the cheese have an on again-off again relationship. It’s mostly off, but I will deign to eat a few varieties. Okay, I really only eat mozzerella, but I’m trying. I mean, baked brie with kahlua and pecans is still baked brie, right? Anyway, these Bacon Cheddar Scones were ridiculously good. I had a mug full of baby shower punch nearby, I figured I’d be alright if the first bite was a cheese overload. They weren’t too cheesy. It was almost as if someone had just waved a hunk of sharp cheddar over the batter before baking them. As far as texture went, they were crumbly, but a hard crumble, like one of those Stella D’Oro breakfast cookies. You know what I mean. These things:
So, the stew. Two words: Ham Hocks. Or is that one word? Whatever. The recipe called for 3.5 lbs of hock of ham, which seemed like quite a bit. I mean, while my knowledge of cuts of pork is spotty at best, I did know that a ham hock is, technically, the butt. Not to be confused with pork butt, though. That’s a whole ‘nother animal. Anyway, in my head, close to 4 lbs. of pig butt was way more than I wanted to undertake. When I got to the meat department though, I was pleasantly surprised to see the ham hocks came in prepackaged portions, like little butt steaks. It said right on the package “butt slices” *hee, hee*.
At home, I soaked my beans, picked out the cruddy looking ones (of which there were quite a few), and peeled the veggies. I felt very “Strega Nona” as my pot bubbled, my knife flashed over root vegetables and my hocks did their job flavoring the broth. My mom, who had been visiting with my dad, came in to survey my work mentioned that she was looking forward to trying out this soup.
“What’s this?” she asked, stirring up the bean covered hocks. “Is that pork?”
Now, my mom had this on again/off again relationship with pork. The idea that they are bottom feeders, and kind of filthy sometimes saps her appetite for bacon, ribs, and pork chops. A few months ago, she was watching this show (probably on A&E while she waited for Hoarders to come on) and she learned that pigs, in their quest for satiety, will each just about anything. Including snakes.
Here’s how my mom feels about snakes:
Penne with Tomatoes, Capers and Olives
1. A set of directions with a list of ingredients for making or preparing something, especially food.
2. A formula for or means to a desired end: a recipe for success.
3. A medical prescription.
This is a recipe that I was introduced to from my friend Tavya at one of our oenophilic book clubs. Over the course of our bookclubs’ existence, it has morphed from a few snacks shared over poignant discussion about the latest selection to a more Bacchanalian type revelry where the only thing we end up reading is the label on the wine bottle. Ahhh, literature.
But I digress. Last fall, Tavya graciously opened her home (and her wine bottles) to us, complete with a homemade Asian repast. She and another friend had taken some Asian cooking classes at one of the local schools and decided to share their knowledge with us. Enter the Asian Turkey Meatballs.
Now, I’m strictly a chicken and beef kind of girl. Turkey, pork, lamb — eh, I’ll eat it, but give me a steak or a chicken breast first and then another one later to wash out the taste. I think my aversion to using turkey when beef is clearly indicated stems from my mother’s attempts to “put one over” on us as kids. Back before Jessica Seinfield was slipping pureed cauliflower into brownies, my own mother was subbing ground turkey for ground beef and telling us, “Really! These are the same tacos I made last week.” I’m not saying my tastebuds are Eric Ripert sophisticated, but even I know the difference between mushed up meat, Old El Paso seasoning or not.
I like my turkey (when I deign to eat it, that is), either cut off the bird or sliced off a log emblazoned with the Boar’s Head logo on it. Ground turkey? Eh. There’s something about the bubble gum pink waves of meat laying in the styrofoam tray that makes my stomach do several half-gainers. Then, when you cook it? It’s not an odor, not an aroma, which implies something pleasant. It just gives off this whiff of poultry, just too much poultry. I’ve been over-poultried; I can’t season it up fast enough.
So, Tavya presented the meatballs with several dipping sauces, describing how she made them and promptly lost me when she said, “ground turkey”. Not one to be a bad guest, however, I loaded one on my plate with the other goodies and decided to give it at least a courtesy bite.
Between animated discussion not centered around the book (yeah, I can’t remember what it was), we drank and ate and ate and drank. After a while, I realized, my meatball was gone and I had been steadily spearing others from the serving tray. They were delicious! And I’m even going to go as far as to say they were kinda healthy because it was. . .. turkey!
I got the recipe several days later and stocked up on the ingredients to try it out on Mo and Co. When I got to the meat department at the store, I couldn’t go all in with the ground turkey (old habits die hard), so I split the difference with some ground pork. That was actually a good call because I was able to make enough meatballs for dinner that evening and freeze a whole bunch for dinners down the road. What was that?! Menu planning?! I know, I’m just as surprised as you are.
So, the meatballs were browned and cooking in the oven. I had some basmati rice with shaved carrots on the stove. I made of the Trader Joe Cilantro Chicken Wontons, which if you don’t know, you must educated yourself immediately. I called the girls to dinner and hyped up the whole meal as “better than Chinese food” (dangerous, yes, but I was pretty proud of my culinary skills). With a flourish, I handed them some kiddie chopsticks because if you’re going to sell it, sell it all the way.
Talk about clean plate club.
Asian Turkey (and Pork) Meatballs? You’re a welcome guest any time.
Fall has fallen and with it so too has my resolve to eat more healthily. I have been steadfast in drinking my 8 glasses of water a day and incorporating my 6 servings of fruit and veggies, too. I am about to turn into a stalk of broccoli. However, when the leaves turn and then leap off of the trees, all of that goes out the window. Seriously, the weather turns a little cooler, I turn into Betty Crocker.
Oh, I can’t wait to start baking.
I was cleaning out the pantry, looking for cans of forgotten veggies and fruits to donate to the local food bank when I found a 16oz can of pureed pumpkin. Awwww, yeah! I can’t believe I had forgotten about this! And once October rolls around, you can’t turn a corner without tripping over an orange gourd! I love pumpkin – pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin flavored coffee-drinks, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin and bacon sandwiches (kidding, kidding).
I decided Mo, Co, and I were going to make some pumpkin walnut glazed cookies. Mo had no school on Friday, so I took her for some quality mommy-and-me time at our local Starbucks/Target combo to pass our morning. Miss Mo was easily placated with a kiddie cocoa and a vanilla scone. She’s very much into Fancy Nancy, so when I told her a scone is a fancy breakfast treat, she all but Hooverized it. For me, I kicked off the fall season with a pumpkin frappuccino. I have to say though, I was left wanting. It was as if they just took some pumpkin essence and waved it over the top of the coffee. I think I could have gotten more pumpkin flavor dropping in a handful of mellow-cream pumpkins!
After we picked up C0, we headed home to fire up the oven. I was so excited to bake with the girls, the night before, I got all Martha Stewart-y and pre-measured the dry ingredients, set aside the wet ingredients so that all we had to do was pour, stir, roll and bake. So much easier, so much more fun. The girls were excited and 3 dozen cookies later, we were in pumpkin bliss.
My neighbors have come to realize they are going to be lucky
guinea pigs recipients of this baking bounty and were only too glad to give me requests for more baked goodies. Last year, I made some rum balls that gave my one neighbor a two-day hangover (I am totally making those again!). That 16oz can of pumpkin puree enabled me to make 3 dozen cookies on Friday, make an additional pound of cookie dough for freezing, AND allowed me to make some pumpkin walnut pancakes for breakfast this morning. Incidentally, pumpkin walnut pancakes also make for an excellent brinner! For someone who is a notoriously finicky eater, once I get a hold of a recipe, I am ready to challenge Tom Colicchio to an Iron Chef match.
And let’s not even talk about Halloween – okay, well for just a minute.
Every year I tell myself to buy the candy that I don’t like – Almond Joy, Skittles, Starbursts that kind of stuff. Every year, I buy Snickers, Reese’s Cups, and Kit Kats. Last year, I bought Reese’s Fast Breaks and holy mother of pearl, I was eating those things like Tic Tacs. This year, DH had gotten some World’s Finest chocolate bars to give out, but, as I gently reminded him, we live in a kid heavy area and Halloween is K.O.B.D – kind of a big deal. So, off to the Rite Aid I went, with every intention of coming back with Sweet Tarts, Dum Dums, and Tootsie Pops. Well, we all know what happened. I think if I sneeze, a Reese’s cup will fly out of my nose,
I got my Thanksgiving issue of Real Simple in the mail the other day and had paryoxms of glee at all the recipes I can try. I made this one recipe of ravioli, spinach and bacon (cue “My Favorite Things”) and by the time I was done, the recipe page was smudged, splattered, dog-eared, and greasy – telltale marks of a cook hard at work. For as much as I enjoy cooking, though, I doubt I will ever tackle a Thanksgiving turkey. I prefer my turkey from the deli, thank you very much. Besides, I much prefer the side dishes (green bean casserole, anyone?) to the main event. My family eats Chinese food for Christmas dinner; it’s highly unlikely a turkey is going to get introduced to our oven any time soon.
Even with all of the impending holiday eating that is bound to occur between now and New Year’s Eve, I am still mindful that while my pants hang low on my hips now, they can easily succumb to the crazy phenomenon that shrinks my clothes every time I leave them unattended in the closet. Seriously, one size goes on the hanger and a smaller size comes off the hanger. I think it has something to do with the my carbon footprint or something, but that’s another topic for another day.