The Post-Thanksgiving Report

I know. I know. To use the current butchering of the language, Thanksgiving was literally so last week.

Still, it was a good one. We did a basic but tasty turkey with cranberries, green beans, and mashed potatoes and stuffing, the things that we really like. We had pumpkin pie tartlets, just big enough for a bite for me but not big enough to blow my remaining points for the month.

MHz ran a “Montalbano” marathon. Chez nous, the National Dog Show and a telethon on Fox that showcased dogs in need of adoption bookended it. Usually, I don’t watch TV like that, but sometimes exceptions must be made.

Oakley enjoyed the turkey, the National, and the telethon. He dozed on my lap the rest of the time.

For that matter, Hubby and I drifted in and out of our turkey comas, too.

I’d been able to walk Oakley early, but the clouds that invited themselves and the chill wind negated the effort to get out for a second walk.

So it was just the wind, and the peace, and the quiet of the day making it the way it was supposed to be.

Mmm…Pasty!

The humidity and (to me) excessive heat finally broke yesterday after a Monday night of rain, thunder, lightning, and five E1 tornados. Today is delightfully cooler, about 70-75, no humidity to speak of. It’s transporting me to my happy place at the beach in Marquette.

The only thing that would make me happier is one of these: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113207915.

It doesn’t have to be from Lawry’s, either. The pasty, a meat pie, is Cornwall’s gift to the world. Immigrants brought the recipe for these tidy savories with them when they came to work the iron and copper mines in the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The crimped edge provided a way to grip it without contaminating the filled part with toxic residues left on their hands. It contains some kind of meat (usually beef, sometimes pork, not unusual for venison to be in there), potatoes, and onion seasoned with salt and pepper. It may or may not contain turnips or carrots. The filling gets wrapped in a basic pie crust, baked for about an hour, then served plain, or with ketchup (my favorite), gravy, or butter (!). 

This morning, I looked at some recipes on the web. There are some people out there who really have no comprehension of what a pasty is supposed to be about. The pasty is about simplicity of preparation and quality of ingredients. It it what Cornish miners ate on their breaks, not who can out-gourmet whom. You do not put celery into the filling. You do not saute the filling–it will not be as juicy that way. You do not put Dijon mustard and cream into the filling. If the meat is dry, a spoonful or two of gravy is just fine. But you do not try to make it go all yuppie as one restaurant I was in tried to and then charge $12 for it. The trauma blocked out the place’s location; probably better that way.

If Hubby heard any of the half mumbled profanity that I have been spewing, he will probably be too scared to come out of his office until dinner tonight.  I may have to get some spelt flour for the crust and make some here at home to coax him out.  

Pasties became a staple food up north, and your mom or grandma made the best ones. Or your favorite stand that you visited on vacation. They are best served at sunset by your favorite lake with sand between your toes as the waves provide dinner music.

 

 

Simpler Fare

An empty sack cannot stand up; a starving belly will not listen to reason. Creole proverb.

I reread parts of More with Less recently. If you’re not familiar with the cookbook, it was originally published in the ’70’s by the Mennonite church. No matter your spiritual orientation or lack thereof, it gives food for thought (pun intended) about cooking and eating and shopping and how one’s choices can impact the world at large.

With food prices going ballistic for everyone, the wisdom will help anyone’s groceries stretch a little further in a relatively painless manner. The meals and meal planning are pretty simple, relying on ingredients that can be found in the supermarket, even in recipes that came back from Africa and Asia when postings were up. Many use little meat, and the ones that do combine it with veggies, pasta, or beans to make it go as far as possible. There are plenty of veg-friendly selections included, such as baked lentils and soups.

The recipes that have become staples chez moi are the Indonesian fried rice (it includes curry), Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, and West African groundnut stew (a curry with peanut butter in the sauce). Oh, and don’t forget the skillet cabbage and green bean stir-fry. 

In addition to the simple recipes, the book includes instructions on how to make homemade chicken stock, soap from cooking fat, and other green ideas. They also encourage the making of soup to avoid wasting anything.

If you’re looking for a reboot, this just might be your book.