Straight Talk from a Comfort Foodie - The Gravy Train
In all fairness to my mother and the great homemaker that she is, our family did enjoy the fruits of her "from scratch" dishes. She made great tuna fish sandwiches, and her pancake batter never had any lumps. Pepper steak from the electric wok was one of my favorites; I didn't care for the peppers, or the onions for that matter, but the thin slices of beef that had been soaked through and through with salty teriyaki sauce was right on the money. Come to think of it, that may have been the only dish that mom made that had sauce. I just seem to remember most of my childhood meals being very dry. I don't think she liked gravy much, because we never got it; which was the case with a lot of seemingly traditional foods.
I was standing in line at the school cafeteria with a tray full of carbohydrates. It was Thanksgiving time, and through the cardboard cutouts of cornucopias I spotted an odd-looking orange dessert. The other kids on line were grabbing at the plates as if they were a blue-light special, so I took their lead. When I had finished my slice of pizza, a buttered dinner roll, and some French fries, I again focused on the little paper plate with the orange concoction. It was smooth and sweet and tasted like spice cake pudding. The dense texture filled my mouth and was a perfect match with a pony of cold milk. When I came home that night and told my mother what fantastic dessert I was introduced to, she simply replied, "Oh that was pumpkin pie."
In amazement I asked, "How come we never have that at home? It's really good." She looked at me rather flat and said:
"My mother never served it. It's not a very Jewish dish". I didn't understand the explanation and still don't. My mother is an Atheist ? but I assume she recognizes herself as a "Gastronomic Jew". If it doesn't fall within the confines of traditional Jewish baking, it's not worth serving. To my mother, Thanksgiving was an assimilated holiday. She celebrated the event with little passion all the time knowing that those people weren't her forefathers. There hadn't been one Jewish Pilgrim at the original Thanksgiving table, and she resented that. She held out on the pumpkin pie for as long as she could. Now that the secret was out: she had no objection if I ate it, she just wouldn't bake it! From that year on, I had to purchase Entenmanns's from the convenient store if I wanted to have pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving dinner.
Mom pulled out the culinary stops when it came to the Jewish holidays, though. The matriarchs of the family, Grandma Lil and her nieces, sisters Sara and Bertha (both married to guys named Sam), would arrive two days early to start cooking the meal. This group of four women, none of whom stood above the five-foot mark, cooked and battled from dawn to dusk. Grandma would start the morning at 7:00 a.m. without even a cup of coffee to get her going; the competition alone got her adrenaline flowing. Her specialty was Brisket of Beef, and it wasn't until I was a married woman that she revealed the secret ingredient to her sauce.
"Don't tell anyone," she had said.
"I promise", I had assured her. "Don't even speak the words, just point to it".
She admired my conviction. "A bottle of ketchup," she humbly admitted. That was it. The secret ingredient that I had waited to hear about was ketchup? Even Grandma's entry to slow food had convenience written all over it.
The three older ladies, two with bottle-red hair, and the other with a blond bee-hive, planned every morsel that our family would devour over the two-night Passover feast. When they couldn't agree on whose recipe to use, they simply prepared two versions. My mother would make a turkey for the night following the brisket. I couldn't convince her to place the stuffing inside of the bird as I had seen it done in TV commercials. Instead, her stuffing was always baked in a metal pan, so that when it was done, the top was charred, and the contents resembled wood shavings. The gravy boat had been taken out of the china cabinet along with the good dishes, but it never made an appearance at the table.
My best friend's mother had the market cornered on preparing lamb. I just couldn't get over how juicy the stuff was. I had her call my mother, right from the dinner table, to set her up with the recipe. Mom felt a bit put off by such an elementary lesson on broiling until the weapon of succulence was revealed: gravy made from the pan drippings. I forced Mom to try and recreate the dish in her own kitchen, but to no avail. She just didn't have the gravy gene.
It wasn't until I started having dinner at my mother-in-law's house that I was able to soak up every piece of meat, potato, or bread with a rich helping of gravy. Her cooking followed the English style of heavy-handed measurements of butter and cream. The roast beef with Yorkshire pudding that we were served on Christmas Eve was legendary within their family. She taught me how to spin gravy drippings into soufflé gold. It would rise in the oven and fell when it hit the air, then lay flat on the plate just waiting to be doused with warm brown sauce. We all knew that the Gout was a disease that would rear its ugly head in that family. We just didn't know when.
1 1/4 cups beef broth, divided
Hot cooked rice
1. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the broth, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and pepper; set aside.
2. In a skillet or electric wok over medium-high heat, brown beef and garlic in oil.
3. Add peppers and tomatoes. Cook and stir until peppers are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir the soy sauce mixture and add to pan. Cover and cook until the meat is tender, about 15 minutes.
5. Combine cornstarch with the remaining broth until smooth; add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
6. Serve over rice.
Easy Spaghetti Recipes
Spaghetti has always been a favorite family meal. My teenage daughter will eat leftover spaghetti for breakfast, lunch, and as a mid-afternoon snack. Not everyone loves spaghetti so much that they will go to that extreme, however, and the same meals can getting boring after awhile. Here are some ways to jazz up this old favorite:
Ribolitta: The Italian Way Of Having Your Five Veggies A Day!
Ribollita is a delicious low fat Italian soup, a bit similar to the famous minestrone, but instead of pasta, you cook it with beans.
The Secret To Making Perfect Chili Fit For A King
Every autumn my thoughts turn to making chili. The garden is about done. The freezer is full of veggies. All the canning is done, and winter is coming. Just before winter hits, the price of beef drops as cattlemen sell off any remaining stock that they don't want to "winter over". It is the perfect time to stock the freezer with homemade chili.
Sot Suppe (Norwegian Sweet Soup)
My mother was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants who homesteaded our small Wisconsin dairy farm in the late 1800s. When my mother was a child, sweet soup was a traditional part of Christmas Eve, served cold with julekake, lefse, Christmas bread, or open-faced sandwiches. Sweet Soup is made with dried fruit and tapioca.
Easy Summer Salads, Lighter Foods For A Brighter Summer
Easy summer salads are the way to go, now that the winter blues are fading into the distance and salad days are here. The best salads are light, bright and easy to prepare.
Sauted Family Bean Curd
Family bean curd is Sichuan's famous characteristic dish. Its main ingredient is bean curd.
Chocolate Tasting Techniques
First of all start with an empty stomach. This has never been too much of a stretch for me, I am always willing to sample chocolate before dinner. Next, have the chocolate at the recommended 66-77 °F. Finally allow the chocolate to sit in your mouth for a few moments. This will help to release the principal flavors and aromas. After the chocolate has set for a few moments chew it slightly to release the secondary aromas. Resting the chocolate against the roof of your mouth will allow all the flavors to be enjoyed.
Do I Really Need to Follow a Recipe?
These days, its seems like everyone is looking for different recipes to add to their tried and true favorites. Many people are looking for recipes that are low carb or that fit into the type of diet they are on. Or, they are looking for a new things they can make for busy nights like crock pot recipes or quick recipes. Maybe you are looking for a new cookie recipe or even an easy gourmet recipe.
½ lb. Asparagus spears (top part of asparagus with the floret) 2 shallots 4 eggs ¼ cup Milk Salt Pepper ½ cup Ementaller Ready made pie crusts or use our Pate Brise recipe.
Fresh Fruit: The Sweet, Healthy Dessert
Americans love dessert so much that some of us eat it before the meal instead of after. Fudgy brownies, gooey layer cake, cookies the size of saucers - we savor them all. But these desserts are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Is there such a thing as a healthy dessert? Yes, and it's fresh fruit.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies
Homemade cookies from scratch in 20 minutes!!
The Untold Secrets To Making Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Have you ever wondered if there was a healthful alternative to the sugar and preservative filled vanilla ice cream you buy in the supermarkets?
Straight Talk from a Comfort Foodie - Moms Remedy for the Blues
As puberty crept up and I became a passive passenger on the roller coaster of hormones, there'd come days that I just couldn't shake the blues. It was a Jekyll and Hyde scenario that would haunt me for most of my fertile years. I never thought to look at the cause: my body was gearing up for a wham-bam of reproductive activity. I would only treat the symptoms, which were moodiness and the ability to bite someone's head off. My mother, Champion of Chocolate, held the key to my happiness. We were driving in her car one night, my mother in that flame red Cadillac sedan Deville, when she turned to me and said,
Sicilys Great Eggplant - Tomato Stew
I ran into a friend yesterday, who tells me that he should be harvesting eggplants from his garden any day now. Of course, this got me thinking about Caponata, the famous Sicilian eggplant and tomato stew.
Cooking Roast Prime Rib on the Grill
Love the taste of prime rib? Love the taste of barbecue? You can combine them together for cooking roast prime rib on the grill. It takes a bit longer than hamburgers, but cooking roast prime rib on the grill gives you a fabulous roast that everyone enjoys.
Light Veal Recipes to Barbeque or to Broil
With everyone watching their weight and seeking out recipes that are low in fat and calories you may think that you have to give up some of your favorite dishes, but you can find many light veal recipes that you are sure to enjoy You will never be able to tell that these unique recipes are considered to be a light meal once you taste the savory dish. Low carb and barbeque can go together
Apples of Love
If the Spanish conquistadors had known what they were onto when they brought tomatoes to the old world in the sixteenth century, they wouldn't have spent the rest of their careers searching for gold, because they had already found it. If any of them had any prescience at all, they would have simply opened a canning facility somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius, and begun mining the gold that became known as pomodòri 'golden apples'.
Chicken with White Wine & Pasta
Here is a great recipe that is so simple to make. You will find that most of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive as well. Happy Eating!
Ma Po Tou Tu (Bean Curd with Chili Sauce)
Ma Po Tou Fu is Sichuan's well known characteristic dish. Tradition has it that during the Tongzhi years of Qing Dynasty, there is a small inn at the WanFu (Innumerable Blessings) bridge outside the north gate of Chengdu, Sichuan. The woman owner Chen is pretty good at cooking. She uses bean curd, tiny sliced beef, hot pepper, Chinese prickly ash, thick bean sauce and other ingredients to cook. The dish tastes hemp (a unique flavor from the Chinese prickly ash), spicy, fresh, fragrant, and it is delicious, it is extremely well received by the people around the town. At that time there was no official name for this dish. Because Chen has pockmarked face ("ma" face with "ma" happens to be the same character as the "ma" or "hemp" flavor from the Chinese prickly ash), people then started calling it "Ma Po To Fu". "Po" in this case means woman, wife. So to translate accurately it means "wife of pockmarked face Tou Fu". From then on it became well-known around the entire nation. It is now a world-renowned Chinese cuisine 100 years later. All the Sichuan restaurants must have this dish. Along with the development of Sichuan cuisine, most of the overseas Chinese restaurants (Sichuan style or not) all carry this famous dish. Not too long ago, the Japanese merchants even imitated Sichuan "Ma Po Tou Fu" and produced canned "Ma Po Tou Fu" which sell quite well around the world.
Digging Up Earthnuts (Conopodium Majus)
The custom of grubbing for Earthnuts, or Pignuts is as ancient as mankind itself. Although these tasty tubers are beloved of pigs (hence the name) they are a most unusual and rewarding woodland snack and there was a time when they were a popular nibble for country children on their way to and from school.
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