Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekly menu, recipes, and a few pictures

I'm not sure, but I think Tabby likes her new bed. At least, this is where I'm finding her most of the time now, usually curled up against the side of the bed, blissed out asleep. Wish I'd made the sides a little taller and the rest a bit smaller - might toss this in the washer again and see if I can reshape it. But definitely a success. It warms my heart to see her so comfortable and happy, especially since I was able to help her feel so good. Warm fuzzies all around.
This over on the right is a really bad picture of something new I started. I used some of the sock yarn that I got in the DyeORama swap that's been waiting ever so patiently to be used for something special. Thought of something I actually need and want, did some figuring, cast on, and I'm beyond happy with the results so far. Too bad my camera disagrees! Anyone want to guess what I'm working on?

Here's the menu for this week, followed by two comfort food recipes that should be perfect for colder weather. I'm not hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in many, many years, which makes me a bit sad since I love all the planning, cooking, and arranging. Well, more to the point: I love having people come over and eat my food! This year, we'll be going to a pot luck T-day with my cousin and his wife and her family. I'm doing a small turkey meal the next day so we can have all of our favorites and leftovers to pick at (isn't that the most important part of Thanksgiving? Stuffing to pick at the next day?)

  • Potaju - a simple soup with vegetables and bacon I got from a Japanese cookbook - recipe to follow, fresh bread (extra for stuffing on Friday)
  • Channa dal with herbs and garlic, basmati rice, cauliflower with mustard seeds
  • Three cheese pizza (mozzarella, parmesan and romano), salad (I make pizza dough constantly, freezing half once the dough is frozen. This leaves another batch of dough ready at any time I want to make pizza without extra work. I make the sauce, too)
  • Grilled chicken, sauteed cabbage with garlic
  • Thanksgiving day - I'm bringing my Grandma's rolls (these are so good! I'm making 2 batches, 64 total, so we'll have enough left over), mashed potatoes, and Cranberry Jezebel Sauce
  • Our own T-day spread: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans wtih nutmeg and walnuts, some of the rolls, some of the Jezebel sauce, Martinelli's and wine, and Tirimisu (this was at the request of both boys)
  • Leftover feast pickings the next day :-)
And now, recipes. Both for warming, comfort in a spoon of one sort or another.

This is a soup recipe I got from a book called Japanese Country Cookbook. It was interesting to find that this is considered a Japanese dish, even the name (which surely comes from the French potage). Any way you look at it, it's warm and simple and delicious.

4 0z. bacon or fatty ham (can use a little more if you like), sliced into bite sized bits
1 medium onion, diced
6 cups water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste (give it a good bit of pepper)

Saute bacon or ham in a large pot over medium heat until most of the fat has separated. You don't want the bacon or ham to crisp. Add onion and saute until transparent. Add water slowly so it doesn't splatter. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes have come apart, around 30 minutes. Add carrots, salt and pepper and cimmer until carrots are soft. You can serve the soup as is, or mash the vegetables a bit to thicken.

Conjee (or Jook)
This is comfort food at it's simplest and best. Rice is cooked in a lot of water until it forms a thick, delicately flavored soup, perfect for topping with just about anything.

3/4 cup short or medium grain rice
5 1/2 cups water
salt to taste (I use around 1 tsp.)
ginger, grated fine - optional

Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Combine with water and salt (this isn't traditional, but I like it) in a heavy pot, then bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook for at least an hour, though two is better. If you like, add some ginger to the rice before it cooks to add a bit of flavor and comfort to anyone with an upset stomach. Once the congee is ready, you can eat it plain or top with any number of things. Leftover meats or fish go well here. A splash of sesame oil, soy sauce, and some green onion is good. Shot of hot sauce can be nice. Vegetables are nice on top, or you can add them to the congee as it cooks so they end up tender at the end. Play with this until you find your own favorites - congee is a wonderful blank canvas.