Tag Archives: holiday

Thanksgiving: The Only November Stuffing I Got!

30 Nov

There is so much tradition involved in holidays and yet families change and thus traditions must. I have a small, but mighty, family. Through death and divorce our table this year was the smallest it has ever been. It was just me, my mama, my 9 year old brother, and my 91 year old grandpa. I didn’t mind, it was all of my favorite people present. My grandpa is used to cafeteria food and my brother was most excited for store-bought cupcakes in the shape of a turkey that he persuaded our mom to buy. Needless to say, the expectations on the food weren’t that high. This is really the best formula for kitchen creativity. I got to create whatever I wanted and it truly was my dream thanksgiving. Last year, we started a tradition of cornish game hens: they are moister, everyone can have their own bird and it is a nice turkey alternative. Unfortunately, my brother is now at the age where he proceeded to call them “Horny Gay Hens.”

This entire meal came together on thanksgiving day eve and thanksgiving day. My mom and I ended up at a gas station to buy gum on T-day and were sold yams by a guy out of his trunk. My mom and I both showed off our spanish skills, she pretended to be from Oaxaca, and within hours I made a yam mash for the table. This was probably one of the more boring dishes on the table but it was a staple that we needed.

As mentioned, this was my holiday now and I needed to include my new favorite veggie: brussel sprouts. My mom told me that when she was married to my step dad she never ate them because he called them devil cabbages. I felt it was my job to re-introduce my vegetable loving mama to these delicious babies cooked up just the way I like them: olive oil, salt and pepper, baked for 35 minutes at 400 degrees with some fried onions on top.

For me, the three most important parts of the food on thanksgiving table are: cranberry sauce, stuffing, and dessert. I have been making my own cranberry sauce for probably six years now. It is so darn easy and I find it unbelievably gratifying to see cranberries pop in the pot. Of course, I made some but when it came to stuffing I knew I had to step it up. I am a fruity girl, hence mission FRUITion, so I always like fruit-centric stuffings. My cooked grape stuffing last year was okay, but this thanksgiving I wanted amazing. I turned to the experts at Williams-Sonoma and made the Corn Bread-Apricot Dressing with Rosemary. I followed the recipe exactly and made the cornbread a day in advance and left it out to dry up uncovered.

Here are the onions, apricots, and herbs sautéing and below is the final cornbread dressing. This was my favorite (food) stuffing I ever had.

For dessert, I was inspired by Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding but that recipe was far too complicated. Instead I used this much simpler recipe from About.com. The recipe called for French bread but when I saw that my mom had also bought brioche for dinner rolls. I made a quick swap and made pumpkin brioche pudding instead and we served the French bread for dinner. I almost always crave dessert but I rarely know what I want. I am not a chocolate lover, I love fruit but not pie, and this dessert was perfect. Not too sweet because it had a little tartness from cranberries. Plus, bread pudding is the perfect texture compromise, not too creamy and not too carby. This dessert is perfection and will become a new tradition but I’ll always substitute brioche for French bread.

I have done a lot of talking this Thanksgiving about wanting to get some November stuffing. However, even if my dating life is currently not that satisfying I am learning that I can take care of myself. I have a family that I love and adore to no end. I also have a hungry and discerning palate that I could satisfy, and holy shit I can make 90% of a thanksgiving meal with ease. I kind of kicked thanksgiving’s ass this year and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ll admit it, I am thankful!

Hungry Girl and a Thirsty Guy: Christmas in Vegas

27 Dec

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Christmas is normally a time for family but this year was a little different. I hate tradition and really am not big on holidays so I decided to take a mini vacation to Vegas. In the past, after big vacations I tend to do something drastic; I have moved and bought cars immediately after returning from international trips. After being back in the states for not even a week I made a plan with the boyfriend to go to Vegas for Christmas.

We have both been several times but I knew that neither one of us knew each others Vegas. You see, I am a Hungry Girl and he is a Thirsty Guy. No, I am not THE Hungry Girl, but I do love her site and am always interested in lower calorie foods so I can eat more in terms of quantity. Anyway, what I am saying is I know Vegas’ 4-5 star hotels, the best buffets, and shopping. He knows downtown, cheap drinks, and told me about bacon martinis.

For those interested the bacon martini is at Double Down Saloon, I only got down a sip before passing it off and actually asked for ass juice instead (another speciality drink-don’t be vulgar).

I have to tell you I get why foodies love bacon, and I am sure many of my fellow Uncouth Gourmands do too, but I just don’t. It’s not because I am Jew because I do love me some sausage. I am just not crazy about bacon. But I do have good Uncouth Gourmand news for bacon lovers that goes beyond the bacon martini…I found bacon chocolate in Vegas. Yup, there is a company called Vosges Haut-Chocolat in the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops that produces it. When I went in to pick up a catalogue and a business card up for this blog a women walked in and told the sales lady (note: this is Christmas Day) : “Talk about a Christmas miracle, there is a God and he combined my two favorite things.” I smiled because I know the feeling. I feel that way about so many foods. For example, Magners Cider which combine my favorite things: apples, acidity, and alcohol. I am reminded of that because I got it at Molly Malone’s on tap just outside Vegas on my way home today. In Dublin, I discovered it and I fell in love with it. Although, there it is called Bulmers. I remember making Josie try it at The Globe in Dub and she said, “Ewww, it tastes like vinegar” and I replied, “I know that is why I love it, it has been my dream in life to have a vinegar collection.” That is true. I think it is the perfect thing to collect. You can collect it on your travels, it ages well- like wine, it comes in cool bottles, and many different flavors.

Oh yes, I wrote this entry to discuss relationship differences between foodies and their significant others that are not so food enthusiastic. I know Josie understands because I have heard her boyfriend question how we can eat two dinners on a daily basis. My boyfriend gets mad when I call him and am chewing on the phone and he has to tell me every time we dine “chew, chew, swallow, talk.” I have been using the “Baby, I am the co-founder of the Uncouth Gourmands” line but I think it is wearing thin. Once Josie hosted a dinner party and we double dated. When the food was ready, one of our boys said, “Ladies first”. Josie, without skipping a beat, looked at me and then looked at them and said, “Are you sure? If we go first there probably will be no food left.” I laughed because it was true.

Anyway, I was concerned about this dilemma on our trip. (Okay to bring it back to Jews and pigs here is joke: What do you call a Jewish dilemma? A free ham). It is not a major problem he is just thirsty and I am just hungry. I remember swooning when we were first getting to know each other and he said he loved to have champagne dinners. It turns out he just drinks the bottle for dinner. That is fair, but this girl needs more than liquid to fill her belly and food takes up 85% of my thoughts each day.

So how did we do? We did great! It was better than the Great Compromise. I drank way more than usual and he ate way more than usual. I suppose that is just vacation or just Vegas but still it was wonderful. I had 4+ plates at the buffet (many more if you include bowls- soup and pudding) and he had one maybe two. I would like to think that I beat that ratio when it came to drinking but I doubt it. My first gift when I woke up Christmas morning was nausea but it was worth it. When I told him that I drank too much and had 10 drinks the night before, he said if I am able to count I didn’t do good enough. Funny, because while I can count the number of drinks I can’t count how many plates/bowls I had at the buffet. Anyway, in a non crude way and referring to Vegas, he showed me his and I showed him mine.

Anyway, great trip and I hope everyone’s holidays were equally wonderful!