Thursday, January 04, 2007

Post-Holiday Catch-up and a Question

You might not have noticed that I haven't been blogging. The holidays were a whir. A good one. I was off work for a while. We had Christmas Eve brunch with Phil's family. Santa was good to the boys, even taking the time to deliver M's new Superman bike for my parents all the way from Michigan; what a guy. True to four-year-old form, M's absolute favorite present (other than the bike) wasn't the special books or the remote-control car or the Operation game. It was a dry-erase board and markers that Santa picked up at Staples on Christmas Eve, having noticed that M has become obsessed with dry-erase boards. Go figure.
T's favorite was a Tigger-shapped pillow that he not only sleeps on, but hauls all over the house. It's about as big as him.
After the holidays, we went to Michigan to see my family. We came home and our good friend Jeff, who lives outside Boston, came to see us for a few days. We had some people over on New Year's Eve Eve. We went to Noah and Holly's for a party on New Year's Eve. (We took the boys and I came home around 9:30 with them; Phil and Jeff stayed until just after midnight; Noah and Holly's other guests stayed until about 7 a.m. Ahhh, youth.)

I keep thinking of great recipes I want to post, but somehow the thought of a long post scares me away from the computer. So I'll keep this brief while I'm getting back into the swing. How about a quick one?

When we had people over Saturday night, I thought we'd just do a ham -- have little buns and good mustard and mayo, and everyone could all make sandwiches. I was at a party once (to give you a flavor... someone brought a pinata filled with airplane-sized bottles of booze), and the hostess had a ham. How odd, I thought, used to hummus and maybe some olives. But the ham really helped keep an even keel on the wine that was flowing. Which might explain how we were able to stay there until 3 a.m. when the invitation clearly stated the party was from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. But I digress.

Anyhoo, Phil wanted to get a little more creative, so he pored through some grilling books and came up with two kebob recipes: One a beef and one a chicken. And then he made up a date recipe that I sneered at a bit -- as I always think of dates as one step from stewed prunes -- but it turns out it was my favorite food that night. Phil told me what he wanted, and I played sous chef. Here's what we did:

Bleu Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped, Not-for-Those-on-a-Diet Dates

Take a quantity of pitted dates (or pit them yourself by sticking a wooden spoon handle through one end and pushing the pit out the other). I think we did about two dozen. Slice down one side of each date so that you can lay it out and easily fill it with goodness. Now cut a little piece of bleu cheese to stuff in the date, lay a date-length piece of green scallion over this. Now close the date and wrap it with half a slice of bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick. Do this to all the dates while listening to, say, your new KT Tunstall CD. Put the dates in a single layer on a cookie sheet, maybe an inch or so apart, and if you're not ready to bake them yet, stick the cookie sheet in the fridge until you are. When you're ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and when it's hot, bake the dates for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon looks cooked and there's maybe a little bleu cheese goodness running out some of the sides.

So Amy asked me this week about New Year's resolutions. You all know that I'm planning to knit for charity rather than impose another knitted mobius on any of you. But I also want to:
  1. (You knew this was inevitable, right?) Lose the three pounds the holidays cruelly handed me before they turn into 25.
  2. Make much more effort to stay in better contact with family and friends, and stop using being "swamped" as an excuse for not staying in touch.

  3. Spend more time tickling, reading to, laughing with, and hugging the boys without having an eye on the clock.

  4. Read the first volume of Shelby Foote's (God rest his soul) history of the Civil War.

And you? Have you made any resolutions this year??


Blogger amyzeats said...

1. Start to use a budget for the first time in my life. When I look at those little pie charts of where your money goes on Quicken I'm aghast at the massive category I use as a catch-all that says "entertainment." You'd think we had the circus performing in our living room every weekend.
2. Stay in better touch with my older relatives.
3. Write & mail more notes because it's nice to get mail that's not a bill and for someone to know you were just thinkin' about them.
4. Waste less. Everything from lights on for no reason to purchases that aren't just unnecessary, but useless to using up food we have instead of buying more, more, more.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Michael and I are trying to make better choices in the eating department. It is hard with only two people in the house to eat well.

And like Amy, I am going to try and do a better job of not wasting stuff--which hopefully will also lead to the better budgeting for us both!

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Laura Kitchel said...

1. Talk to a financial advisor and get our money working better for us. Why should Dennis & I have to do all the work?
2. Find a job more convenient to my home so that I'm not spending valuable family time on the road.
3. Think of as many creative ways to use ground venison as I can. I've got about 3 deer in my freezer (thanks, Dennis) and I can only eat so much chili, meatloaf and sloppy joe's! Any suggestions?

6:52 AM  
Blogger amyzeats said...

laura, no lie -- i just sat down with a bowl of leftover venisen stew seconds before reading what you wrote. :)

i bet it would be good in my grandma's eggplant polpetti recipe (which uses ground beef, but i think venison would be pretty tasty with eggplant). if you want the recipe, it's yours.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Laura Kitchel said...

Thanks, Amy! Please post the recipe and I'll see what I can do about bringing eggplant into my life.
And just to keep everyone apprised of my progress with the rest of my resolutions, we have an appointment with a financial advisor on Monday, and I sent out yet another resume. It'd be great to have all my resolutions met by say, March. Then I could just coast thru the rest of 2007.

5:26 AM  
Blogger amyzeats said...

Teresa Zavatto, my grandmother, emigrated to the States from Italy during the 1920s. My grandfather, from the same tiny town (San Martino) in Calabria, fought as an American soldier during WWI to gain citizenship and bring my Nana (as we called her) and my two aunts over here (my dad and his brother were born in the States). She was an amazing grandma and a great, great cook -- this is on of her recipes (which my cousin totally figured out because our grandma was a very "pinch o' this" kind of cook -- no recipes). I love it because a) it reminds me of her and she was amazing and b) it's like a better version of a meatball (which is basically what polpetti means: meatballs) -- more like a meal than a sidedish.

1 medium eggplant, skinned and cut into cubes
8 slices of white bread, torn into small, small pieces or grated OR 1 cup of bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ground beef (or ground venison in this case)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan (**i would venture to guess that because venison is so very lean, that you should use at least 1/2 cup, maybe a little more)
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp oregano (if you have fresh, use same measurement as parsley)
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Boil eggplant until soft (about 15 minutes). Press in a strainer to get excess water out and mash. When cool, mix with 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, reserving the rest, and them add all other ingredients. Form the mix into patties or egg-shaped balls (larger than your average meatball).

Pour 1/4 cup of the remaining sauce into a baking dish (small 9x9 will likely due, but whatever size you have is fine -- if it's larger, just might need a little more sauce in bottom of pan). Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven, top with rest of sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and return to oven -- bake 'til bubbly (just a few more minutes).

I like to eat them with pasta (of course!)

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Laura Kitchel said...

I'm having some guests in for dinner on Saturday, so this may be the main attraction. And I'm with you on adding more parmesean. On cheese, I'm of the opinion that if some is good, more is better. I'll let everyone know how the wild game edition turns out.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Leneta said...

Look forward to trying the Eggplant Polpetti since I have a freezer full of venison also, thanks to my great son-in-law, Dennis. Here's another ground meat recipe. Be brave; it sounds wierd.
El Dorado Meat Ring
1 1/2 ground lean beef or venison
6 slices bacon, finely diced
1 lb. applesauce
1 c. shredded carrot
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped pimiento
1 T. minced onion
2 t. prepared mustard
2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
Blend ingredients together and pack into a greased 1 1/2 quart ring mold. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes to absorb juices. Unmold on warmed plate. Fill center of ring with mashed potatoes or vegetables.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Leneta said...

That's 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef. You probably knew that!

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Laura Kitchel said...

The wild game edition of eggplant poleptti was excellent! I highly recommend it!

6:35 AM  
Blogger amyzeats said...

yay!! oh, i'm so glad. i can't wait to tell the rest of my family about Preaching the Kitchen Gospel of Teresa. :) they're going to love it. actually, you're giving me a good idea for a story -- i wonder if i could pitch this somewhere. it seems like there's a lot of unused venison floating around...

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