|Ben's Red Leaf|
Holiday feasts always remind me of my Gramma Lucille, a Caledonia farm girl who made her living as a cook. She would use the outdoors as an extended fridge/freezer to accommodate all the food that one guessed would be fed to an army the following day. She also had a thing about turkey. Her favorite part--and stop reading if I've already told this story--was the neck. Until I worked at a Japanese restaurant where the natives shared how they delicately fry up the turkey neck and nibble off all the meat, I never understood how anyone could savor what appeared to be a twisted length of cartilage. But my Gram loved it and, in fact, one year had a fit because she lost the neck during the rinsing/stuffing/trussing/roasting process. It was one of the few times she let people into her kitchen as she cooked--my dad helped her dig through the trash until they finally uncovered it. She proceeded to rinse it off and cook it up like nothing had happened. Whew! The drama! We won't be preparing any turkey neck on Thursday, but I may use the giblets for stuffing (against my will...I didn't want stuffing this year, but a certain loving member of this household insisted...Vera can say "turkey" (well, it sounds more like "hockey") but she can't yet request her favorite holiday side dish so you can guess who it was.) Long story short, tomorrow I clean the fridge in preparation for the big feast.
|Bucket 'o Acorns|
|Before: Holey Socks!|
|After: Cute Toddler Legwarmers!|
Yesterday Vera and I showed up at City Hall at 4 PM to join fellow Milwaukeeans, proud progressive Wisconsinites, and recently disappointed voters in singing "This Land is Your Land" on the ground floor. Ben said it was Vera's first act of "civil disobedience" (as if there might be others), but really it was a chance for all of us who felt our voices were not heard in the mid-term election to make some noise, spread the word, and hopefully pass the spirit to others that we must use our voices, make ourselves be heard, and stand up for what we believe in no matter who's running the show in Madison or Washington. I will post the YouTube link when I get it.
After that uplifting event we crossed the street to catch our first ever City/County Christmas Tree Lighting at Red Arrow Park. Vera was most interested in looking at (thought not getting close enough to touch) the police horses while I enjoyed the carolers, Salvation Army band, and of course, people-watching. I just may be in the holiday mood now.
I would like to leave you with a warm, hearty fall recipe. It's such a treat to harvest cilantro from our garden this time of year. The row cover I laid down a few weeks ago is doing its job to keep this crop toasty and growing strong. The original recipe called for turnips instead of the potatoes and squash.
Chicken Curry with Whole Spices, Potatoes, and Winter Squash
1 4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skinned
2 whole chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs, skinned
1 small acorn squash, seeded and coarsely cubed
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 1/4 t. salt, divided
1 t. cayenne pepper, divided
3/4 t. turmeric, divided
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 large garlic cloves
2 1-inch long pieces fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 T. coconut oil, divided
14 whole green cardamom pods, husks removed
9 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 t. coriander seeds
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1 small hot pepper, stemmed, halved
3 medium tomatoes, cubed (I used frozen)
2 T. tomato paste
1/4 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
1 c. water
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. lemon juice
Toss all chicken, squash, potatoes, 1/4 t. salt, 1/4 t. cayenne, and 1/2 t. turmeric in a large bowl to coat. Pulse onion, garlic, ginger in food processor. Stir 2 T. oil, and next 5 ingredients in heavy large pot over medium-high heat 1 min. Add remaining 1 t. salt, mixture from processor, and chile. Saute until mixture begins to brown at edges of pot, about 10 min. Discard cinnamon stick and chile halves. Mix in remaining 3/4 t. cayenne and 1/4 t. turmeric, then tomatoes and tomato paste; simmer 5 min. Puree sauce in blender or food processor until smooth. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover chicken and sauce separately and refridge.) Heat remaining 1 T. oil in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken, squash, and potatoes. Saute until chicken is no longer pink outside, about 4 min. Slowly mix in yogurt, then 1 c. water and onion-tomato sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 40 min. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 min. Mix in cilantro, lemon juice; season to taste with salt. Transfer to serving platter.