Wednesday, January 02, 2013

From Outer Space, Outer Mongolia...

Or wherever the hell I've been keeping myself,.  I know, it's been awhile, and this little blog seems to be dusty and abandoned.  I've got a dozen half-started posts that I could never bring myself to finish, so I'm chunking them all and starting fresh for the new year.  Especially since it's after December 21, and we're all still here.  Take that, Mayan calendar and all those crazy doomsday preppers!

I'm going to be optimistic and hope that 2013 is a better year than the last 18 months or so...yeah, that's more than a year, but remember I've always been bad at math.  Natural disasters happened, hearts were broken and re-broken, too much time was spent in New Jersey, knee surgery happened, and people died...not exactly a rollicking fun time.

Hope does spring eternal, you can't always get what you want (sometimes you are waaaay better off without it), and nothing beats lovin' like something from the oven, especially if it's corn pudding stuff.

New Year's Day lunch seems to be my holiday, and I'm good with that, although I tend to eat too much ham for far too long afterwards. This year, I got all experimental and went with Martha Stewart's Marmalade Glazed Ham, Duchesse Potatoes, Corn Pudding, and I baked a cake.  (Never fear, I had the backup fixings for a Banana Pudding in case the cake went south.)

This is kind of a potluck meal, which has evolved into "things that people must bring in order for it to be a proper New Year's Day lunch," i.e. our personal traditional foods.  T brings this amazing Hoppin' John dish with fresh black-eyed peas and sausage (the best part is that there is more sausage than peas, but it still fits the requirement to have black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.)  L brings a creation that she has dubbed "California Pea Salad," which is a lot like a 3-bean salad, but about a thousand times better.  I hate 3-bean salad, but I cannot get enough of this pea salad.  It's crunchy, sweet and tangy, and a good palate cleanser.  I also cannot make this pea salad as well as she does, even when I follow the directions to a T, or should that be "to an L"?, and that just makes me crazy, so I beg her to bring it to everything whenever I can get away with it.

I never really know what to do with the glaze packet that comes with the ham.  It never seems to turn out quite right for me, so I was poking around on line to get some ideas when I stumbled on the Martha Stewart Marmalade-Glazed Ham recipe.  The recipe called for Madeira or sherry, which I was sure that I had, but of course, I did not.  So, I substituted a little Marsala, which is Spanish sherry, and I think it was pretty tasty.  Since I had spiral sliced ham, I didn't follow all the scoring directions, but I did lift up the slices and paint the glaze between them.

For some insane reason, I decided that I needed to stretch myself a little and make Duchesse potatoes.  When I did the Duchesse in the culinary basics class, they were the source of much angst and agony and re-piping.  It's amazing what a glass (or two of wine) will do for your creative morale when you pipe mashed potatoes into mounds.  Yeah, I had to re-pipe a few of them, but all in all, they were fine.  I used a recipe that I found on Cook's Country (it might make you register to see it), which is an offshoot of America's Test know, the folks who will cook a 100 pork chops to perfect the technique.

Of course, the idea of peeling 3 pounds of potatoes at 10 pm the night before was not sounding like a fun way to spend New Year's Eve, but the CC recipe was a little different.  They microwaved the potatoes rather than boiled them...which might be the way I make mashed potatoes for the rest of my life.  I actually used the ricer, and I think they came out pretty darn fine.  I mixed them up and piped them out, covered them loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerated them overnight.  The next day when I browned them, I was extremely pleased with how they turned out.  They weren't perfectly uniform, but they were uniformly tasty.

And, before I forget...for the greens part of the meal, I did Sauteed Kale with garlic and a metric ton of bacon.  I'm just not good at the whole collard greens thing.  I think it's because I don't have enough patience or time management skills to remember that I have to cook them longer than I anticipated, much less make sure they are in the pot on time.

I also made a double batch of what I think is a top 10, if not top 3, comfort food...the Jiffy Corn Pudding!  This thing is a staple in any church or civic organization cookbook, and M brought it over for our Labor Day cookout, and I tried to carry this dish off into the corner and growl at anyone who came near it.

It's so bad for you, yet so warm, tasty, and comforting.  I made a double batch of it, because I wanted to make sure there were leftovers, which I had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today...along with the ham.

There are variations of this that include cheese, green chilies, jalapenos, etc.  Someday, I may work my way around to trying those options, but for now, the original is the best.

Jiffy Corn Pudding (my people call it Spoon Bread)
(serves4-6 as a side, as long as one of you is not a greedy snarling goose)

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream corn
1 stick butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter (or spray with cooking spray) a 1.5 quart glass baking dish.  Melt the stick of butter in microwave.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the corn, butter, and sour cream and mix well.   Add the beaten eggs and mix, then add the corn bread mix and combine well.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until done.  The edges will probably get browner than the middle.  Serve with butter (see--what is not to love about this!).

This recipe also double very well, and you can use a 3-quart (lasagne-size) glass baking dish.

The Jiffy Mix is a product of Chelsea Milling Company in Chelsea...wait for it...Michigan!  I find that hilarious and mildly troubling, because dish and the little mixes seem so distinctly Southern to me.  Do not ask me why I think that...probably because of the butter factor.  

Anyway, Jiffy Mixes were introduced in the 1930s and are one of the first homemaker convenience foods.  I've got some mixed feelings about convenience foods and the decline of modern civilization , which surfaced more after I read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School while I was at the beach this fall.

That book deserves a post of its own, which I shall work on, but it really got me to thinking about why I started the blog, and the things I learned from the Fine Technical College culinary program and while I was working at Super Suppers.  It also reminded me of how much I liked to babble about food stuff and how important this blog has been to me at different times over the last 6+ years.  I realize that I didn't want to abandon it, but it took me a little while...okay, another 3 months or so to actually put fingers to actually make myself do it.

Here's to a more tolerable, less eventful new year!


LinC said...

So happy you've rebooted your blog! I know you were busy, but you should have taken a picture of your really pretty Duchesse potatoes. You did a fine job. What kind of potatoes did you use? That Jiffy corn pudding stuff is the bomb. We always make it for Easter. I didn't realize it comes from Michigan. I expect all corn products to come from Iowa.

Poodlebugz said...

I used red Idaho Potatoes for the New Year's Day Duchesse potatoes. I also didn't know you could get the Jiffy recipe book, so I ordered one for myself!