I do this every year – make a list. Sigh.

I make a list of things I want to try in the kitchen, but this year I am going to plan this out in some way that makes it possible. Not sure  how (not good), but at least I have motivation for a few things. This is a hallmark year for me (shut up Super Bowl), but something needs to kick me in the arse and I think this just might be it. So I am starting the list now. I expect it will get longer (and be updated) as the remaining days of this month – hell, probably the whole year –  go on. Who knows?

Venison – I kind of have a freezer full of it since the MotH’s brother is a hunter. I have NEVER cooked it. That said, I have eaten it and really enjoy it.  I have talked to my favorite hunter once about it and will do it again over the holidays – and make notes this time. I know venison is on the lean side, so right there I need to figure out how to make that work for me = add fat. I have the following types of venison in the freezer – sausage (!!), ground, chili, and something that may be backstrap, I will not know until I thaw that last one  and I can damn well guarantee that will be last one I try to figure out how to cook because in my head that is the most challenging. But I think this is a January project. Right now, unfortunately, leading right up to New Years here it is in the 60’s /70’s and rainy. Ugh. So save this project for some colder weather.

Pate a Choux (not sure how to add all the cool French accents)  – I will not go 1980’s crazy and make a croquembouche, but I think I will make gougeres since cheese is involved. And, sigh, this was on the list last year. Lord, I am a loser.

Beef Tenderloin – I cannot believe I have never made this. It is supposed to be dead simple – a favorite cooking method of mine. I even have a couple of recipes from America’s Test Kitchen for it which means it should turn out perfect – they are ATK for a reason, after all . I guess it is the fact that is it so much beef and now, it is just me and the MotH. Either way, I will have to get over that and just get to it.

Panatonne – I am going all in on this since the only bread I have ever made is soda bread (it was good, but it is kind of not real bread = no yeast).  I will not make it for Christmas / New Years, but for sometime while it is cold outside – Mardi Gras isn’t that far away – excellent thought! I may temper the dried fruit a little and there will be pecans involved – it is my Southern version of the thing after all – but I know my starting point will be the recipe I just saw on Martha Bakes. I really like this show – it is kind of like taking a master class in baking. I can watch it for ages. It is on PBS and really wonderful.  You may have missed my earlier MS reference – 1980’s croquembouche – first time I ever saw one was in her Christmas book. It is what I compare them all to. Need to get a copy of that book again. It is completely over the top, especially for me in the, um, 80’s. May still be way out of my league. There is a great deal of trepidation involved in this.

As I type, it is raining buckets – again. Ugh. Another front that brings rain not much cooler temperatures. And more rain due in two days. Not the Christmas / New Years that we wanted. Weather guessers (meteorologists) are not terrible accurate, Best job to have – you can be totally wrong and NOT get fired. This wreaks havoc on my candy making. Cannot make decent candy in anything but very low humidity. Every Southern candy make will tell you that. Our window is very very small, and this year getting smaller by the day.

 

Prep for Christmas – in all its forms.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving which I enjoyed, but I am glad Christmas is going to be an all-out family party. I love the way my brother-in-law fries a turkey. No matter how many times I roast one (thank you AB for the best roasted turkey of all time! And I should add, the first turkey I ever made in my life), I still prefer a fried turkey, but do not have the nerve (or equipment) to do it myself. Very glad he does.

So here are my plans for the upcoming holidays:

Christmas Eve – just an aside – This is my favorite part of Christmas because growing up we had a smorgasbord (sorry lacking the umlauts and accents). Or at least my eleven year-old version of it. Why my mom let me kind of take over to a degree – although she still did most of the cooking, I have no idea. But that is what happened in my family. Christmas Eve we opened presents from each other and munched on a buffet of all kinds of things that my mom made and a few that I dreamed up. At the time, I realized I wanted to be a caterer, so it is not surprising that I went into event management – not really.

So for me Christmas Eve is meant to be relaxed. Our new tradition from a few year ago is to have Cheddar fondue night with all the things that go with it. In our case, that is apples, pears, grapes, baguette, and to gild the lily, some Boursin (for the baguette, not the fondue). Maybe some Brie or, well, who knows.  I always shop on Christmas Eve to get the freshest things I can find. It is so simple and it can be scaled for however many people you have. In our case, it is small – typically four of us, but fun nonetheless. I am just a bit too excited about this. Oh, and then there is dessert. Whatever kind of cookie I make for the next day – but we hit it anyway. Although after a bunch of fruit and cheese I do not have tons of room. Well, that is what I tell people.

DD_0380_b

Sausage Balls – A Southern & a family tradition

Christmas Day – Morning. I am kind of going easy this year. I have my mom’s Banana Nut Bread that I will slice and broil until crunchy and smear with great salted European butter. I probably could just do with that. But I want something else, but something simple. This year, not sausage balls (which are a huge tradition in my family), or latkes which I love more than words, and yes, I might just be being a bit lazy in this department. But there may be just the two of us so I am going with sautéed hot breakfast sausage that I then add scrambled eggs. So the eggs cook in the sausage grease – it is amazing. That was the only way I ate eggs as a kid (long story – see: allergies).

Then the plan is to bake my stuffed mushrooms which you will see and reheat my Sunday Sweet Potatoes which you have seen way too many times, for Christmas with the family. I will have the third batch of Cranberry Horseradish Relish made by then and have more bags of cranberries in the freezer than make sense.  And have put up the pecan/walnut tassies as well – again things that people seem to really like.

So on the 28th, we are having another family thing on the beach – super cool! I plan to make my (yes, you’ve seen it here) sweet potato biscuits with something in them. May try to change this up this year. Probably will not, but … I might. You never know what happens.

I am dreading going to the grocery store today. I have put it off since it’s been raining for days. And the forecast does not get any better until, well maybe if we get really lucky – not likely, Friday for Christmas Day. That said, it will be in the 70’s. Not any kind of Christmas weather and certainly not any kind of candy making weather. Guess I am waiting for January for cold and dry to make Vanilla Taffy or English toffee, or Divinity or even Peanut Brittle. Nothing too unusual in the grand scheme of things. But irksome.