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I Mememto’d myself

You remember Memento. It’s the movie told in reverse about a guy with amnesia who tattoos important clues on his body so he’ll remember them. .

Well, I Memento’d myself.

ImageI wanted to cook something for a family Super Bowl party. I was flipping through a cookbook, and I found a recipe something called chicken, sausage and rice skillet that sounded really good and really easy, but then I noticed that I’d written a note to myself in the margins:

“NO.”

It was definitely my handwriting, and I’d underlined it for emphasis.

Apparently, I’d made it once before and thought it was so bad that I wanted to remind myself to never make it again, but I don’t ever making it, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t have liked it.

Chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, peppers, a can of chopped tomatoes, chicken broth, chick peas and spices, including turmeric, which is the only “unusual” ingredient on the list.

On paper, it sounded like something I’d like, although the kids probably wouldn’t eat it, because it didn’t contain either macaroni or cheese. I’m not crazy about chick peas, but I don’t hate them, and I could leave them out of the recipe entirely, but, no, that wasn’t good enough, apparently.

I’m taking my own advice — if I can’t trust me, who can I trust? — but it’s kind of scary to think I did something (stone-cold sober, I might add) that I don’t remember and that turned out so badly that I decided to warn myself not to try it again.

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culture, family, food, life, random thoughts, recipes

Your family deserves better than cranberry sauce from a can

Some people genuinely like it, people I know and whose opinions I otherwise respect, but I believe gelatinous logs of cranberry sauce shaped like tin cans are just wrong.

Do you know how they get canned cranberry sauce to hold its shape? Me neither, but I do know this: Cranberry sauce shouldn’t quiver like Jello. You should see some cranberries.

Usually, I make cranberry chutney for Thanksgiving and Christmas from a recipe I found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, which was my textbook when I took gourmet cooking in college. I know, it doesn’t sound like a gourmet cookbook, even by the 1980s standards, but my instructor said gourmet simply means good food prepared well and served attractively, so there.

If you’re too intimidated (or lazy) to make chutney, try this. It’s a recipe I saw in the paper over the weekend:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slice 6-8 Granny Smith apples. Place the apples in a casserole dish along with a bag of fresh cranberries and 1 cup of sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

That’s it: baked cranberries and apples.

I’d add one-half teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg, one-quarter teaspoon of ground cloves, one-half cup of chopped walnuts and maybe 3 tablespoons of floor and one-half cup of milk, but still, you’d have something a lot more interesting and possibly a lot healthier than the stuff that comes from a can.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving: The best sweet potato casserole recipe on the planet

Before you head out this weekend to get what you need for Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted you to see this. It’s from Maura, who used to blog at 36×37.

Maura gave herself 365 days to do 36 things she’d never done, all before my 37th birthday. No. 1 was start a blog. Once she’d accomplished Nos. 35 and 36 — planting a tree and death by chocolate – she retired. I wish she hadn’t, because she’s a good writer, and I miss reading her.

I was honored to serve as a guest blogger for Maura once, and she’s agreed to return the favor by letting me reprint her post about lucking into the best sweet potato casserole recipe on the planet

Seriously, you have to try this.

~*~

For the past four or so years, I’ve served the absolute best sweet potato casserole at holiday gatherings. It’s not an heirloom recipe like all the others in my rotation. And I didn’t cull it from the pages of a glossy gourmet cookbook. Instead, I kind of lucked into it in a way that almost makes me feel guilty (but not guilty enough to stop using it).

GB and I were enjoying our first evening out sans baby. To celebrate the occasion, we made reservations at a famous, rather upscale local restaurant. We’d visited this particular place once before for our annual Christmas dinner with GB’s boss. I wanted to go back because I remembered the potatoes.

Dear God, the potatoes.

Baked, buttery orange goodness topped with a thick pecan crust. Served so hot the server warned me to not touch the plate. As delectable and candy coated as pecan pie itself.

Not to get all Man Vs. Food on you, but oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

Our server was a young guy. He was very serious, and when people are too serious, I get nervous. I really just wanted him to loosen up, so I struck up a conversation.

“These sweet potatoes, I swear. They’re like candy. I would absolutely kill for this recipe.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed them,” he said gravely, then added, “I’ll see what I can do.”

As he marched back toward the kitchen, I looked at GB. “Did he just say he’d see what he could do?”

“I wonder what that means,” GB answered.

Five minutes later, the server returned with his grim face and a small slip of paper in his hand.

~*~

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Mixture:

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 stick of butter

Crust Mixture:

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 stick of butter, melted

Process:

  1. Combine crust mixture in mixing bowl, then set aside.
  2. Combine sweet potato mixture into a mixing bowl in the order listed. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

~*~

“Here you go, Miss,” he said. “The recipe you wanted.”

I stumbled through my shock enough to manage a quick, “Oh! Thanks!” I wanted to add, “Is there a charge for this? This isn’t like the Neiman-Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe story is it?” But really, I didn’t want to be gauche.

We’ve been back to this restaurant every December since then. And we’re going back next weekend. It makes me wonder what would happen if I publicly doted on the garlic herb cheese-stuffed chicken breast…or the lyonnaise…or the crème brulee…

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