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Things are starting to slow down again. There’s a lot of things I want to post about, but I just cooked and I’m pretty proud of the results, so dinner first!

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2009 went out with a bang.

Above was our final dinner for 2009: split-pea soup, tenderloin steak, broccoli, and tomatoes. I’m no chef. Yet our dinner banter led us to critique the meal as if we were in a restaurant; and oh was it painful. The soup wasn’t smooth — mostly because I got impatient waiting for the peas to completely soften since they’d been on the stove for over an hour. The steak was dry — a rookie mistake to be sure, but in my defense I haven’t cooked steak in a long time. And the broccoli and tomatoes were just an afterthought — the broccoli itself was just steamed and pretty boring, and the tomatoes were raw, again, because of impatience and wanting to eat. Yet if you throw a little parmesan and garnish around, all of it doesn’t look half bad. In conclusion, while this was a totally edible meal, I don’t think I could cut it as a chef.

The wine was a Malbec. We’ve had an interesting relationship with Malbecs. The first time we tried one, it had these wonderful fruity notes of strawberry and raspberry. Ever since then it’s been a search for another Malbec that could do the same. 3 or 4 bottles later and nothing has come close — the one pictured was no different. Uninspiring is a good word for it. It wasn’t bad wine, per say, it just wasn’t anything like our first.

For dessert, a fruit tart. I didn’t arrange the fruit, I just cut and washed everything earlier so that we could put it together, together. This is dessert in its simplest form; a ready-made pie crust, cool-whip, fruit, and a lemon glaze from the New York Times. Unfortunately, cutting the tart proved difficult due to the fact that the crust was pretty cheap and crumbled on us. Regardless, the crumbled mixture of fruit, cool-whip, and graham cracker crust, while not pretty on our individual plates, was tasty.

“Don’t let statistics do a number on you.”

“Cooking is easy. Doing dishes is the hard part.”

Well, Thanksgiving’s tomorrow, here’s what’s on the list of stuff to cook. Can’t go wrong with Alton Brown’s Turkey nor Ina Garten’s stuffing. Best wishes to all those out there in the Blogosphere.

Turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil

Stuffing

  • 16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (1 1/2 pound loaf)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Vegetables

  • Green Beans or Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I read somewhere on the net that you can cook oatmeal pretty easily in a rice cooker. “Great” I thought, “now I have a way to make myself an easy meal while I get ready in the morning.” So I load the rice cooker, carefully paying attention to Mr. Quaker’s directions, and even add a few berries and brown sugar for kicks. The problem? Milk expands when heated. Lesson learned: don’t heat milk unless you watch it (otherwise you’ll have to clean it out of the nooks and crannies of everything), so if you’re going to make oatmeal in a rice cooker, use water instead.

Attempted to make soup last night, but it turned out bland.  One shouldn’t try to make soup without stock, else you’re just boiling vegetables.

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