Wednesday, January 2, 2008

So Much to Do, So Much to Say

Happy New Year! Now that I have emerged from my post holiday food-induced coma, I thought I would get you caught up on the goings on around here.

Ah, morning in late December.

I woke up today to the balmy temperature of 1 degree. It looks like the high today reached a steamy 12 degrees. Where's spring? No, I'm serious. I want my spring.

A male cardinal braves the snow and the cold to visit the bird feeders on my back deck.

I took this picture for a certain friend who has been whining that she misses snow. A certain friend who has numerous roses blooming as I write this... Rosie, have I mentioned that the temperatures are below freezing here?

My daughter loves to bake and has been busy making brownies, cookies and puppy chow (no baking there) for the boyfriend. Oh, we do get to nibble on a few bits and crumbs too. On this particular day she made Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. Are they? Oh, yeah. And I normally don't even eat chocolate.

The mise en place for Outrageous Brownies. We halved the recipe, used only semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I substituted 1 tablespoon of leftover coffee from the morning for the instant coffee the recipe called for.

Getting it all together.

Kelley's having fun. Hey! Why does she have a new mixer? And why won't she let me play with it?

I present to you the Outrageous Brownie. Sadly, this brownie bravely gave its life mere minutes after this photograph was taken. Let us pause for a moment of silence...

My forte and tastes lean more towards the savory, so I have been busy with the meals. Christmas Day traditionally marks the beginning of The Eight Days of Ham at our house. Do you like that name? You can thank my daughter, Kelley, for that designation. My husband gets a large ham as a gift every year, and it is a challenge in trying to serve the ham in different ways until it is all gone. Not an easy task with three people with lighter appetites and a cat. You know it's bad when even the cat gets tired of eating ham!

We're winding down. The mise en place for ham loaf.

This is the instrument of torture I had to use in years past to chop up the ham for the ham loaf.

This is so much easier with my new food processor. Oh yeah, I'm liking this. I like this a lot.

Please note that the rings have been removed for the next step. Sanitary issues aside, do you have any idea how hard it is to clean these rings afterwards?

And we mix by hand. The amount of liquid (in this case, milk) varies according to the moisture in the ham. This was a ham with no added water, so it needed more milk.

The ham loaf is finished. A glaze of apple jelly and mustard was added during the last half hour of baking. Sautéed green beans with shallot and bacon accompany the ham loaf.

Different, but good.

Another tradition at our house is the appetizer buffet for New Year's Eve. We prefer to stay in that evening, and sadly, rarely manage to stay up until midnight any more. Oh well, I am sure that the New Year will manage to arrive without my help.

I made steamed pork wontons for New Year's Eve. I ground pork shoulder, shrimp, onion, carrot and celery and mix with seasonings before stuffing in wonton wrappers. I made these the day ahead, froze the wontons in a single layer and then placed them in a container to await steaming the next day.

After just a few minutes in the steamer, the pork wontons are cooked and ready to be dipped in a homemade teriyaki sauce. Even my picky husband like the wontons (minus the sauce!).

Finding out that I am allergic to chicken has forced me to try to find suitable substitutions for favorite dishes. As turkey breast meat is sometimes difficult to find in my regular grocery store, I had to make a second substitution for this dish. I cut up turkey sausages, wrapped each piece in one half of a slice of bacon, secured with a toothpick and coated with a mixture of brown sugar and barbecue spice rub. They bake on a rack on a baking sheet for 30 minutes and are kept warm for service. Not bad for a double take on a recipe. Hot dogs in a wine-barbecue sauce, crudités with a homemade veggie dip, sliced cheeses, snack mix and cookies rounded out the nibbles.

Until next time dear friends, keep warm and enjoy your weather. Now where did I put that spring? I know it's around here somewhere...


Rosie Hawthorne said...

I'm so glad you de-blinged.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Do I whine???????????

xmaskatie said...

I'd like to respond to Rosie's question.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Do not, xmaskatie!