Monthly Archives: November 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 on the smoker

[Two years ago]( I did a couple of 13lb turkeys on the smoker and it was a huge hit. This year we’ll be doing more of the same and I won’t change much in the way of process or spices. I’ll probably be able to use more Northwoods (a Penzey’s spice blend) because I’m more confident about it’s flavors, but at least I won’t have the thawing problem like last time.

It’s 10:30PM the night before and I’m running through the mental checklist of items I need. So far I’m doing good and the prep time for the rest of the dishes will just about match the cook time of the turkeys.

What are you cooking tomorrow?

Thanksgiving Menu Planning

Emails went out to family and friends for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. Planning is always fun since everyone has a favorite food that can’t be forgotten. Mine is pumpkin pie; for others it’s green bean cassarole. What’s yours?

Sunday mornings at the new house

It’s another Sunday morning and that means coffee and reading the paper. The new house makes things a little different but mostly the same. There’s the stereo system, a large high-quality system from the 80s that fills the house with sound. Right now, it’s shuffling 4 CDs of 80s music while we wait for the paper to show up. It’s running late, almost expected for the last Sunday before Thanksgiving. I’m sure they were waiting for ads to jam inside at the last minute.

Cooking for Fun and Profit

We moved (duh!) and that meant a larger kitchen for me. Tammy’s a baker and not as much of a cook, although she can whip up a mean soup on the strength of smells alone. I’m an event chef; I like to cook for people. That said, last weekend was a “pressure cooker” because I was cooking for some extended family, one of which was a chef himself. The menu was designed to be small courses served with social time in between.

The starter course was potato leek soup, a rustic Cook’s Illustrated recipe that rarely fails to disappoint. What’s funny is that it’s easy to make and not too expensive. Side note: if you have homemade broth then chose that over store brands. I used a organic chicken broth that cost on a quarter more than the name brand and it made a big difference.

Second course was butternut squash risotto, another gem from Cook’s Illustrated, which features a unique method to extract plenty of squash flavor: roasted innards! You scoop the stringy goo and seeds out, roast them in a skillet and add it to the broth as a base for the “stock” to add to the risotto later. I like the flavor where the sage punctuates the sweetness of the squash, but my experience is that it consistently comes out gummy. Most people that have tried it like it that way, but I’m hoping for a better texture that allows the shape of the arborio rice to come through.

Main course was a modified chicken saltimboca. We did the tenderloins instead of the breast and that allowed better portion sizes for everyone. My lessons learned here were important, especially regarding the correct placement of sage and prosciutto. I undercooked the pieces in the pan due to the falling sage burning on the skillet surface, so instead of warming in the oven, I moved the temp up to 375F and then 5 mins of broiling near the end. It produced fantastic results, so I made a mental note to restructure the cooking times with more broiling to crisp the prosciutto.

The title of the post mentions profit so here’s the money shot: cost savings. I was able to feed six people all of the food above (even a white cake and frosting for a birthday cake) for $37.00, much less than we all would have spent at a restaurant and the food was just as good.


Still Alive

I’m still here and still trying to find time to write. When I’m home, I’m spending my time cooking, getting stuff from storage unpacked, ironing the occasional shirt and even playing some Halo 3. I’ve got some posts stacked up, so it’s time to write again.

Tweets on 2008-11-06

  • @kerner I’m with you–KY3 needs to get it together. KOLR10 made it work. in reply to kerner #
  • so far all of the votes are for “short” on the hair. I have to get a note from like three people to get my hair cut. Six months to grow back #
  • @kerner you’re crazy! Who shaves their head? 🙂 in reply to kerner #
  • @r how could anyone -not- go vote with such a historic oppty facing us all? in reply to r #
  • @kerner Dare I say President Obama? in reply to kerner #
  • Gas in Ozark was $1.89 tonight. Wow! #
  • 9:30PM and Obama is leading by a million votes. Still not at 270 yet. #
  • Staying up until McCain concedes. #
  • All networks calling the race with Obama the winner. Wow! #
  • McCain shows a little more than the minimum sincerity required for a concession speech. #
  • Staying up to hear President-Elect Obama speak. #
  • Chinese buffet for lunch==sleepytime #

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Blog like it's 1995!

I’m writing this on an *dial up* internet connection. Yuk! The modern web is mostly usable on a 56K internet connection, but it drags. Online shopping is mostly a joke–photos and images take forever to download. We still don’t have DSL on at the new house. It’s a very long story, deserving a blog post of it’s own.

Tonight it’s dinner at Tuscan Grill on the east side of Springfield. We’re taking my mother-in-law and her husband to a nice restaurant to say “thanks” for their hard work over the last couple of weeks. Much like my parents did for us when we moved in to Kickapoo, Anne and Burl have sure “filled the gaps” with our new house.