Monday, November 19, 2012

Sassy Thanksgiving 2012

Happy Thanksgiving week!

I spent an ungodly amount of money at Costco and Super Target yesterday.  Shhhhh.  Some of it was for Christmas baking, but not-so-much.

I still have to pick up the turkey, parsley, pearl onions, and Haralson apples on Wednesday morning.  The turkey is fresh, which for many years now is the ONLY way I will purchase and prepare a Thanksgiving bird.  I have no time nor patience for that whole thawing scenario.  Into the brine it goes Wednesday noon and there it stays until Thursday morning when I wrestle that slippery sucker into buttery golden submission.

Brine?  Gallon of water in a big pot, cup of salt, cup of sugar, handful of herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage.  Peppercorns.  Sliced onion and garlic.  Splash of white wine if I have some to spare (dry vermouth!).  Bring it to a boil, add a bunch of ice to cool it down, then put your turkey in a Rubbermaid tub, pour the brine over the turkey and add enough ice cold water to cover Tom completely.  If you live in the North, put the tub in the garage.  If you are below the Mason-Dixon line, I hope you have a big spot in your fridge.  And you'll probably need a pot rather than a tub.  On second thought, don't brine it.

As at your house, every year has some "must-haves" on the menu.  I've been doing this holiday meal for 20 years, and there are some things you do not mess with.  For example, my mom's wild rice casserole (hot dish, thank you).  When I smell it baking, I get teary-eyed.  I wish we could have Thanksgiving with my parents . . .  And if the mighty hunters get a deer in early November, there will be a venison roast, smothered in  mushrooms and onions and some red wine.  There has to be lefse.  There has to be cranberry relish AND cranberry chutney.  Some in Eric's family insist on a cranberry jello thing made from canned cranberries, jello, walnuts, sour cream, and, well, ewwwwww - it's chunky and pink and doesn't touch my plate.  But we include all traditions.  Pickles are law.  And the usual TURKEY-STUFFING-MASHEDPOTATOES-GRAVY situation.  Stuffing.  In.The.Bird.

Every year, I try to do one "new" recipe to impress the company and keep things fresh.  This year, it's Scalloped Oysters, from Martha Stewart's Magazine.  See link to recipe below.  It calls for 2 pints of shucked oysters.  The fish monger told me I would be making a $40 side dish.  I opted for canned in water (NOT smoked).  It'll be good.

Some of the below items are being brought by other family members.  THANKS people!

The Menu

Sage and Onion Stuffing with Sausage and Pecans
Mashed Potatoes with Scallions (Champ)
Venison Roast with Mushrooms
Wild Rice Casserole
Scalloped Oysters
Corn Casserole
Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions
Cranberry-Orange Relish
Cranberry Chutney
Cranberry Jello

Dessert:  Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Sour Cream Raisin Pie, White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies, Fresh Whipped Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream.

WINES:  Rose', Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc.  Consumer's choice :-)

Scalloped Oysters

(from Martha Stewart Living Magazine, November 2012 issue)

So, friends, what's on YOUR menu?

Have a wonderful, cozy, tasty, loving, gratitude-filled day with the people you love the best.  Happy Thanksgiving from the Sassy Family!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This CanNOT Be Good

Well crap.

So I run to the store for a few items.  The most important being butter.  I am down to 2 tablespoons and the Sassy Family simply cannot breakfast without more butter than that.

It's 8:00 p.m., the dish crew (Asher and Elsa) are working on the kitchen.  I sneak out.  To get butter, orange juice, some fruit, and NOT this:

Since none of you have ever experienced this situation, let me hold your hand.  There is no shame.  Much.

You run to the store (see above) for a few selected items you've jotted on a post-it note and stuffed into your jeans pocket.  And you're powering your way through your familiar store when suddenly, it happens.  Some horribly twisted and perverse store merchandising expert decided to put THE ABOVE on an end cap.  All "holiday-ish" and "festive-like" to seduce late evening women shoppers with muffin tops and a short list of items to procure.

Knowing DARN well this mamasita is going to snatch a bag and drop it into her tiny "quick trip to the store" cart and look the other way.

Now here's the part that surely you've never done.

You get in the car with your 3 bags of list-items and impulse-buys and you realize you need to tuck into that bag of dark chocolate sea salt kettle corn before it makes its way home and into the eye-range and ear-shot of a bunch of bottomless pits known as your children.

And then you cuss, because you realize it's one of those stupid childproof bags - you know - the kind that no hands or teeth could ever manage to open?  Invented because someone, somewhere, broke a filling or a fingernail or burned their THIGHS opening a bag way too easily, so there was a lawsuit and then better bag-laws.

So, being the girl you are, you dig into your animal print handbag and pull our your multi-use Swiss Army Knife.  And you enact the scissors and proceed to cut that sucker WIDE open.  The devil made me do it.

You sample.  And munch.  And silently both curse and bless your store, the dude who stocked the shelf, and Angie, who made this crazy-sinful-wicked-good-sweet-and-salty bag of $3.99 fanny-widening product.  "About 6 servings" - mmmm hmmmm.

The bags came home.  The vittles were shared.  Smiles and moans ensued.

There's this much left:

The bag is now folded over and tucked into the cupboard.  As is the way with things at the Sassy House, the teen will come home from work at 9, eat the dinner left for him in the fridge, and then scrounge around for a thousand more calories and discover this bag.  And finish it off.  Teens.

The worst part of the whole story?  The moral, the lesson to be told and learned here?


"Oooooooo, shiny thing!"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Freezer Storage

What do you freeze your soups-sauces-stews-whatever in?

Lots of people ask that question.  I make a lot of broth and soups.  And I make a lot of everything, so there's usually a quart or two of something or other than needs to go into the freezer for another day.

Today I'm making this:

One can never have enough Red Sauce in the freezer.  Trust me on this one.

There's a lot of talk out there about the dangers of plastic.  Some people prefer to freeze in wide mouth quart glass jars.  I've had enough breaking fun to decide against that plan.  My solution has been to use these wonderful quart sized containers, but I avoid putting HOT things into them.  It's the heat that leaches the chemicals out of the plastic and into your food.  They say.  Who are "they" anyway?


The pumpkins are just for interest.

My grandmother used these containers.  And they still make them!  I find them at my local hardware store, and some grocery stores will have them.  You can write on the lids.  They stack.  They fit nicely into odd spaces.  Just don't put hot liquid in them, and don't reheat in them in the microwave.

My kitchen freezer (top of the fridge kind, not my fave) is home, currently, to about 20 of these containers.  There's chicken broth, cranberry chutney, potato soup, wild rice soup, potato leek soup, pinto beans, black bean soup.  There are 5 rows across and it's 4 containers deep.  

If you say anything nasty about the Oscar Mayer hot dogs, I'll fuss.  They're leftover from our "feed the neighborhood dads on Halloween" party.  Humph.

So that's my solution.  Works for me.  Can work for you.  A pack of 3 of these containers runs about 3 bucks.  I have some I've used for 15 years.  They do not wear out or break or get funky in any way, if you follow the general idea I've given.

Now get busy.  Make some soup.  Freeze it.  Or Red Sauce.  And then when you are sick, or your family is, and there's a need, your kids or husband will have access to healthy simplicity.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup

There's a reason that drug store cough syrup is red.

Because way back when people chose natural medicines and herbs over chemicals, some clever person (probably a woman) discovered the wonderful properties of the bark from a cherry tree to suppress and ease coughs and chest congestion.

But along the way, being the Americans we are, we heard the word "cherry" and thought it ought to be more of a maraschino cherry type of experience.  Someone probably got tired of peeling the bark off trees and going through the routine of making their own syrup.  So a big company got out their chemicals and their food dyes and their grain alcohol and made an inferior and lousy product, because we tend to go that way in our health care decisions.


Sassy's done preaching.  Here's how you make your own, for cheap, and for easy, and for health, and for taste.  You can get all the ingredients at either your health food store (if it's a bigger, good one), or you can order for MUCH LESS MONEY and support a SUPER FAMILY from:

Tell Nickole and Brian at Savvy Teas and Herbs that Sassy says hi.

If you want to make a glycerin-based cough syrup, great.  Your syrup will be ready in about 2 hours.  If you want to try an alcohol-based syrup, you'll need at least two weeks.  Alcohol (some say) extracts more out of the herbs.  But some prefer to skip that ingredient for their children or themselves for various reasons.

(Hint!  Make the glycerin-based syrup, and then for the grown ups, add a tablespoon of the syrup to an ounce of brandy before bed . . .)

Here's what you'll need and what it does.  Plan on about 2-4 tablespoons of each herb, depending on the amount of syrup you want.  And make sure you have a glass quart jar with a lid.

Wild cherry bark - it is an expectorant and has a very mild sedative property

Mullein - the herb of choice for respiratory problems (great herb for kids)

Licorice - has calming and stress relieving properties (cough spasms) and adds a pleasant flavor

Rose hips - high in vitamin C, and my "add to everything" herb for flavor

Orange peel - flavor, anti-inflammatory, more good vitamins

Nettle leaf - a great antihistamine, also anti-inflammatory

Vegetable glycerin - which you can get at some drug stores, most health food stores, or on line in many places - it extracts the properties from the herbs and has a nice sweet flavor


Vodka or rum - you know where to get this

Method A - Glycerin

In a wide mouth quart jar, add 2-4 tablespoons of each dried herb.  Add water just to moisten the herbs and then add glycerin to the jar, leaving an inch of space at the top.  Screw lid on tightly and place in a pot of simmering water, so the water reaches halfway up the jar.  Gently simmer for 2 hours.  Cool for 30 minutes, then strain into a pint jar, pressing the herbs to get all the goodness out.  Screw on the lid and it should last in a cool dark place for many weeks.  No refrigeration necessary.

Dosage:  One teaspoon as needed, 3-4 times per day, for either wet or dry coughs.  Honey may be added if the cougher prefers.

Method B - Alcohol

Fill jar as directed above.  Moisten with water.  Fill with vodka or rum.  Screw lid on tightly and shake.  Place in a cool dark cupboard and shake 2-3 times per day, for 2-3 weeks.  The longer it sits, the stronger the potency.  Strain and use as above.

One of my willing patients:

Chicken and Pinto Enchiladas with Cilantro Cream Sauce

All credit for these beauties goes to my friend Jillian.  It's basically her recipe.  Which I had to ask for at least 3 different times.  Because I'm 45 and, well, I'm 45.

Thanks, Jillian!

I usually do the reddish sauce for enchiladas.  But really, what could be wrong with jack cheese, cream cheese, cream, sour cream.  Really?

Here you go.  This made 2 really big pans, but I have a really big family and we like leftovers.

Chicken and Pinto Enchiladas with Cilantro Cream Sauce

24 small flour tortillas
6 cups shredded chicken
2 cups cooked pinto beans (maybe 2 cans worth?)
one bunch green onions, chopped (reserve 1/2 cup for topping)
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups salsa verde
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped

2 cups monterey jack cheese
reserved green onions

In a large bowl, gently stir together chicken, beans, green onions, cream cheese, jack cheese, cumin and chipotle.

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons down the middle of each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in a buttered 9x13 baking pan.

In a medium bowl, blend together sour cream, heavy cream, salsa verde and cilantro.  Pour over enchiladas, and top with the rest of the cheese and green onions.

Bake in a 350 oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Serve with more salsa verde or hot sauce.