And the final step in pumpkin pie – prepping and eating!
I realized as I was making the sweet potato casserole and, more importantly, the pumpkin pie that I, the consummate baker, had somehow let myself run out of ground ginger! Luckily I had fresh ginger from last week’s carrot soup – but what was I thinking?
In the end I made some semi-Indian-spiced stuff. It’s post-Thanksgiving 2013, pseudo-Thanksgiving. Pics are a bit dark but we were going for atmosphere. A nice spread and some white wine, loads of candles, great company. And rodentia!
The weird mix served for my non-traditional little Thanksgiving:
Tandoori-ish chicken & roasted Bombay potatoes.
And yes, that is a lemon shoved up the chicken’s backside (see recipe at the end of post).
Sweet potato casserole and a nice bowl of pumpkin soup
Get a two- to three-pound chicken. Prepare it for marinating.
Mix up the marinade:
1 tablespoon crushed fresh garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of canned tomato puree or 1-2 small tomatoes, finely chopped (which I had to do because I ran out of canned tomato – how in the hell is that possible? It’s one of those staples I always have on hand!)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
When you have mixed all the ingredients together well, rub them all over and inside the prepared chicken and put it all into a plastic bag to marinade in the fridge overnight.
On cooking day, take the chicken out and put it on a baking rack over the top of a deep roasting pan. Heat the oven to 200C (400F). Put the chicken on the rack and in the pan underneath put the gravy ingredients:
2 small onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons flour
500 ml vegetable stock
Chop the onions and place in the roasting tray. Throw in the cinnamon stick, cloves, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce. Let heat, add the flour and whisk. Pour in the stock. Put this under the chicken. It should cook the entire time the chicken is cooking (1.5 hours total)
To start, roast chicken for about 30 minutes before taking out and inserting the boiled lemon from the potato boiling pot (see below).
About 10 small potatoes
1 whole lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (which, being clumsy Erika, I kept spilling everywhere)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 bulb garlic
2 chopped small tomatoes
While the chicken is cooking in the first 30 minutes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Halve any larger potatoes, then parboil them in a large pan of salted boiling water with a whole lemon for about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and steam dry. Stab the lemon a few times and insert it into the back end of the chicken. Put the chicken back into the oven for another 10 minutes while preparing the potatoes.
Use another roasting tray or a saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, seeds and spices quickly. Throw in the halved garlic bulb with chopped tomatoes. Add the potatoes and mix well. Put into a roasting pan, if not already in one, and place in the oven.
Roast the potatoes for 40 minutes (continue cooking the chicken for these same 40 minutes).
Once the chicken is cooked, move it out to rest and peel off any dark, charred bits (mine does not get that dark) and carve as desired. Get your potatoes out of the oven and put them into a serving bowl.
Wouldn’t you know that you’d be talking loudly about the Third Reich, of all things, at the exact moment when you open your front door to greet your one Jewish Thanksgiving dinner guest? Especially when Thanksgiving happens to coincide with the first night of Hanukkah!
Happy Hanukkah! – a cat menorah*
The hostess exclaims, “OF COURSE I WAS – A JEW COMES TO THE DOOR AND I’M TALKING ABOUT THE THIRD REICH.”
Luckily everyone in attendance got the innocuous context and laughed heartily. (Not that I am sharing the context. I wasn’t, after all, there.)
It’s strange not to have cooked the majority of the stuff I normally make for Thanksgiving – but also liberating. As much as I love having guests and hosting loads of people, this year is very low-key and relaxing (much needed for me). One friend is here with me, and it is easy to cater to her wishes and, as she says, “spoil” her. It used to be that when we spent time together, she “needed” to have a lemon cake (something I used to bake all the time). Now it seems it’s an either/or – lemon cake or mini cheesecakes. Although I just told her that if we were spending enough time together at once, she would get both. But this is sort of a lazy week – I have prepared a number of things, but ultimately have not gone overboard, had time to do other things (and she is relaxed and knitting, as one does).
I did observe today that I love celebrating Thanksgiving outside the United States. It is as though it is a holiday for only my friends and me. Nothing is closed down on the actual day of Thanksgiving, we don’t have to put up with much of the “Black Friday madness” that grips America the day after. It’s like having a secret, special holiday all to ourselves – getting the best of all worlds at once.
I have remarked that my writing is stream-of-consciousness uncontrollable vomit lately. I made a lot of comments the other day to a variety of people that could be classified as harsh generalizations. I excused myself, though – I was in a broad-strokes mood. Yesterday my visiting friend and I were discussing the concept of making generalizations about Icelanders and the Icelandic population. It is possible – you can easily get a representative sample of such of small population. Of course I am not sure I would want to in the way/manner we were discussing it, but at least we can acknowledge that it’s possible if desired.
This is a stream-of-consciousness ramble as well. Tying up the loose ends of all the recipes and things from the last few days.
The Lia Ices album Grown Unknown is a piece of perfection. I forget how much I love it every time I stop listening to it for a while. Lately I have been wrapped up in compiling the year-end mix (going out next week along with new copies of the fouled-up 2013 Halloween mix).
A couple of other hated words since I enjoy chronicling (bitching about) meaningless corporate language so much: “stakeholder” (the more I think about it, most so-called stakeholders don’t really hold any stakes. They are involved, results are relevant to them – but stakes? No, not so much) and “funnel” as in “marketing funnel”. Not terribly fond of “silos” either, even if the word makes sense. I like to keep silos in the farmyard for grain since I have become like an old-hand farmer, dealing with dead mice and such, I know about these things.
The lazy man food that is a cold salad of some sort has traveled with me through life from the potluck culture of America (and especially my university, The Evergreen State College). I cannot count how many of these salads I made during those few years – you would think that I would never do it again, considering how often it was required of me in those years. I have one particular memory of having made both of the salads I made tonight (tomato green bean and mozzarella and the sesame noodle with prawns, as shown below). I was taking a “field trip” to Victoria, British Columbia with a couple of classmates and our Russian teacher (who was in the US for a year or half a year or something). Our class consisted of three other students and me – and one of those students, a Polish woman, could not attend. Thus, I did all this cooking, all the driving and off the four of us went. I got the worst, most brutal sunburn of my life on that excursion – on the ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria on a deceptively overcast day. I also realized the perilous depths of my propensity for seasickness. The one guy in my class, a nice guy apart from his hopeless, shameless and relentless flirtation (presumably one factor that may have led to the demise of his marriage), talked me through the seasickness very sweetly, talking, telling me stories, trying to distract me by singing Marlene Dietrich’s “Lili Marlene”. “Crush” is not something compatible with my aloof, indifferent personality and often laissez-faire attitude toward pretty much everything. But he is one of the few people who caused me to feel the real ache of crushing on someone who is completely out of reach.
It was on the trip home from what was a beautiful day in Victoria that we stopped to have a picnic of sorts and ate these lazy salads. We contentedly sang together the rest of the way back to Olympia. We started off with songs we all knew (the Russian songs we were learning in class, for example) and moved on to the entire Cowboy Junkies’ catalog (although by the end of that I was the only one singing since no one else knew the songs).
Usually songs capture moments and events in a way that vividly awaken a hear-taste-touch-smell-feel sensory overload that cannot be replicated in any other way, as though you have been transplanted back into that moment. In this case, though, it is a noodle salad taking me back. I briefly relive the beauty and ache of that day – and then my memory shuffles through a few other memories of that year, those characters, the prickly, painful moments that shine a bright light on my awkwardness during that period. I cannot call it anything other than “trying too hard”. I tried so hard to be likeable that I am fairly sure I wasn’t. I kept giving and volunteering and twisting myself into someone I wasn’t and someone I did not even like. I remember spending a lot of money buying gifts for these people (the Russian class, among others), somehow imagining that that would make me more endearing, memorable? It didn’t, of course. I actually lost touch with all these people within a year of the course ending. The other girl in the course, with whom I thought I was close friends, was apparently bullied by her boyfriend not to be friends with me (or anyone who might encourage her to think for herself). The instructor went back to Russia. The flirtatious guy went on with his studies, I suppose, got divorced (maybe remarried and divorced after?) – but I did not really keep up. (We briefly connected on Facebook before he disappeared from there.)
Reflecting on this – thanks to my noodle salad – it’s interesting to compare how people so often meet their life partners in college. I cannot even begin to imagine. (Scarier still that people who meet in high school manage to pair off. To each his/her own. I get it but at the same time don’t get it.)
Interested in making your own salad – whether or not it ends up being inextricably linked to stirring and sharp memories, made while eating it – follow the recipe below.
Sesame noodle salad with prawns
A large package of Asian egg noodles or four packages of instant ramen noodles
One packet of seasoning from a ramen packet
1/3 cup rice vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 clove of minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cooked prawns (as many as desired)
Chopped green onions
Mix all ingredients together (other than noodles, prawns and green onions). Cook the noodles according to instructions (or very slightly undercook them, as they will soak up more of the dressing). Cool the noodles, rinsing under cold water. Drain well. Mix the dressing into the noodle and refrigerate for a few hours. Cook the prawns, chop the green onion, toss into the noodle mix. Refrigerate overnight if desired as it helps flavors develop. Or eat immediately.