Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving

Wow, it's been awhile, hasn't it. I've been consumed by NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I've finished, so can now think about things like blogging again. If you're interested in my NaNoWriMo experience you can check out my other blog. I wrote about it a little there and will be writing more in the next few days.

Right now, I want to write about Thanksgiving. If you're not a denizen of the US, Thanksgiving is our November harvest festival. You can read the background here. What it's come to mean for many American families is a gathering in one home with enormous amounts of food prepared by one harried family member. The feast is eaten, then everyone sits around in a stupor. This year, I was the harried family member.

It's the first time I've hosted Thanksgiving. It went well. I'm still exhausted. But boy, was it yummy. I made all the traditional stuff - giant roasted turkey, stuffing (three different kinds), cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, green beans, etc etc. My favorite dish was among the simplest. It's comforting, easy, smells and tastes great and is nicely symbolic of the bounty of the season.

Roasted Root Vegetables
(Please note I've not included proportions here. Use the amounts that seem yummy to you.)
  • Fingerling or baby potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsnips (yum!)
  • Whole peeled garlic cloves
  • Other root veggies you could include: turnips, carrots, beets, etc
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • S&P to taste OR a seasoning blend with salt that you love
  • Olive oil
Wash the potatoes (all varieties) and other root veggies. Leave the potatoes whole but cut everything else except the garlic into chunks about the size of the potatoes.

Put it all into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with seasoning blend and toss again, being sure to coat everything evenly. It should be somewhat oily. Stick the sprigs of rosemary here and there. Cover with foil. Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes then test for tenderness. Roast until done. Eat. Mmmm....

I also roasted whole onions separately, just wrapping them in foil and putting them in oven. When they were soft to the squeeze they were done. Let them cool for a little while then peel and eat. They become soft and sweet. Yummy.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy November!

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cool, crisp...

It's been awhile since I've written here, not because I've not been eating (ha!) but because I've not had anything that really inspired me. While on a recent trip to Vancouver BC I had some wonderful food - a great bowl of Chinese noodle soup, wonderful cod and salmon, so on and and so forth - but it didn't inspire me to write. I'm not sure why. Since coming home I've cooked a little of this and a little of that, all good, but not stunning.

It's taken a cucumber to inspire me to write.

I had leftover hot and sour soup for dinner. It was takeout from a local Chinese place, one I've written about before, so it was pretty good, but I found myself still munchie. I looked in the pantry and considered popcorn. I thought about heating other leftovers, maybe the chicken mushroom stew from last night. And then I remembered I had a cucumber in the crisper and all my prayers were answered. Or at least some of them, the prayers of the moment.

Peeled, sliced (I love the feel of the knife moving through the cucumber, the resistance as it hits the seeds), and arranged on the plate, then sprinkled with salt, it was everything I wanted.

Cucumbers are a fruit, contrary to common expectation. They have a nice array of nutrients though aren't really a nutritional powerhouse. You probably know that slices of cucumbers placed on the eyes can reduce swelling (though honestly I think that's a waste of a yummy cuke) and it's said that sleeping on a bed of cukes will cure fever. You can guess that they're a fertility symbol.

All of this and they answered my craving for something cool and comforting this evening. Rarely do I have a craving met so thoroughly and with such ease.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer