the wonderment of cait

I dare you to read this poem and not be moved.

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Today I am thankful for many more things than I could list in one blog entry. They include (but are not limited to):

  • my wonderful families, both of origin and of choice, as their love and comfort has literally kept me alive and sane this year
  • hummus
  • a working car
  • the cutest small cousins ever
  • all the random people i’ve met in the last year
  • livejournal
  • my friend jason’s new clicky heart valve
  • paxil
  • the gorgeous chocolate-colored vintage dress that fits me like a glove that i found in my grandma’s closet
  • that every time i think i’ve reached the end, there is always more love to have and to give

    happy thanksgiving, friends.

  • Tofurkey

    With many thanks to Hannah, without whom I would be devoid of this tastiness

    “Turkey”:

    5 pounds of firm tofu
    1 pound of tofu for the “drumsticks” – optional

    Stuffing:

    2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    1 large onion, chopped fine
    1 and 1/3 cup celery, diced (about 4 stalks)
    1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
    3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 cup sage (may use 1/8)
    2 teaspoons marjoram
    2 teaspoons thyme
    1 teaspoon winter or summer savory
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 teaspoon rosemary
    2 teaspoons celery seed
    1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
    3 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing

    Basting mixture:

    1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
    1/4 to 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
    2 tablespoons miso
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1 teaspoon vegan mustard of choice
    Directions:

    Mash tofu or mix well with hands. Be sure that all of the lumps are out. Line a 12″ colander with wet cheesecloth over lapping the sides. Add the mashed tofu to the cloth covered colander, press down and cover with the overlapping sides. Place the whole thing in a large bowl. Cover the cheesecloth with a plate that fits inside the
    colander and place a 5 pound weight on the plate. Refrigerate and let sit for 2 to 3 hours.

    When time is up, start the stuffing. Saute’ the onions, celery and mushrooms in the 2 tablesoons sesame oil. When soft, add the garlic and all the rest of the stuffing ingredients, except stuffing, mixing well. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add herb stuffing and mix well.

    Remove tofu from fridge and take off weight, plate and top of cheesecloth. Hollow out tofu to within 1 inch of the sides and bottom, placing the tofu in a bowl. Place the stuffing inside the shell and pack in firmly. Cover with the remaining tofu and pat down firmly. Turn stuffed tofu onto a greased baking sheet, flat side down. Gently press on sides of “turkey” to achieve a more oval shape. If desired at this point, you may mold “drumsticks” out of one pound of tofu, and place on each side of the “turkey”.

    Mix up the basting mixture and baste tofu “turkey” with half of it. Cover the “turkey” with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.

    Remove foil, baste with all the remaining mixture except a few tablespoons and return to oven for 1 hour more, or until the “turkey” is golden. Remove from oven and use rest of basting mix. Using at least 2 large spatulas, move to a large plate. Serve with the gravy of your choice, if you wish, and cranberry sauce.

    Roast Chicken

    Nate asked me for my roast chicken recipe, and this is the best approximation I could come up with.

    Preheat the oven to 425. Wash your chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down, and cut small slits in the skin on the back. With your fingers push several pats of butter under the skin. Prepare a rub made up of any of the following:

    salt
    pepper
    oregano
    basil
    thyme
    rosemary
    garlic

    Generously rub the herbs/spices all over the chicken, inside and out. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, preferably one with a slightly elevated rack, and roast approximately 2 hours, give or take, depending on the size of the chicken. The chicken will be done when you can easily twist the leg off, or when you can poke the breast down near the leg with a knife and the juices run clear.

    That’s my basic recipe. I like to make stuffing along with the chicken, and I will fill the cavity of the bird with a mixture of the following, baking the rest separately:
    cubed/shredded bread
    chopped apples
    raisins
    chopped celery
    garlic
    chopped white onion
    more of the herb rub

    This fall we made a really tasty roast chicken with all kinds of tasty citrus-ness, but I can’t remember the recipe as it wasn’t mine. I know we filled the cavity of the bird with oranges and lemons, and used orange juice, ginger, and tamari for part of the glaze. I’ll have to look around for that recipe – it was different and delicious and made for excellent soup stock

    Baked Carrots with Cumin, Thyme, Butter, and Chardonnay

    from The Naked Chef Takes Off

    1 lb carrots, scrubbed and peeled
    1/2 t cumin seeds, crushed
    1 handful fresh thyme leaves
    4 large pats butter
    1 glass Chardonnay
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 425F. Tear off around 5 ft aluminum foil and fold it in half to give you double thickness. Place the carrots and butter in the middle of the foil. Sprinkle the cumin, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper over the carrots, then bring up the sides of the tin foil to form a pouch. Pour in the wine, then close up the foil pouch. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

    I would recommend putting the foil packet on a cookie sheet to prevent any possible spills. These carrots will be wonderfully tender and flavorful without being wine-y or too spicy. We made them for Thanksgiving and they were terrific. I highly recommend fresh thyme over dried – they just weren’t as good with the dried spices.

    Pigs in a Haystack

    or, the pasta with a terrible name

    2 T olive oil
    3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
    6 oz canadian bacon, sliced into matchsticks
    1 green onion bunch
    1/2 lb vermicelli, boiled, drained, and set aside
    1 C grated parmesan
    1/2 C heavy cream
    1/4 C pine nuts, toasted

    Saute mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Add the canadian bacon and green onions, and toss to combine. Add pasta, cheese, cream, and pine nuts – toss until the sauce thickens and coats pasta and the mixture is heated through. Yum!

    Chicken Satay

    courtesy of Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens by Malulee Pinsuvana

    Marinade:
    3 slices ginger, crushed
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 T curry powder
    1 T coriander powder
    1 t salt
    2 T butter
    3 T light cream
    1/2 C coconut milk + extra for basting

    Cut 2 lbs chicken into one inch strips. Combine the above and pour over the chicken. Allow to marinate for at least two hours. Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill, basting with the remaining coconut milk. Good alone or with peanut sauce.

    It helps a LOT if you soak the wooden skewers in water before using – otherwise they tend to break or burn.