Monday, November 30, 2009

Special Potatoes

Continuing on with the "Cooking a Turkey Dinner" blog series, today's entry is a very non-low-fat tasty version of mashed potatoes. What is great about this recipe is that you can make it a day ahead and put the whole deal in the oven to warm through about 30-40 minutes before your big Turkey dinner is served. This gives you more time to spend with your family, guests, or that nice bottle of Shiraz you have been saving.

You will need the following ingredients:

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
1/4 cup butter (I prefer butter)
less than 1/4 cup cream ( I use 5%)
1 teaspoon onion powder (this is optional, but it adds a lovely taste.
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cook potatoes as usual in salted water until tender. Drain. Now some people swear you get lighter fluffier potatoes if you push them through potato ricer. I have no such device- so I simply smash the heck out of them with my masher.

I have a lot of aggression that needs to be worked out people. Potatoes don't bruise.

2. Add cream cheese in pieces. Add next 7 ingredients. Go easy adding the cream. This will thin out your potatoes a little. It is a "to taste" ingredient really- you could omit it all together if the potatoes are wet enough for you.

Now beat the mixture like it owes you money.

3. Now taste it. What does it need? Salt? A little more cream? Pepper? When you have adjusted the seasonings, empty it into a casserole dish.

4. Place dabs of butter here and there over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika if you want a garnish or a little color. I never bother though.

You can stop here, if you are making this ahead of time- put it in the fridge and take it out about 30- 40 minutes before you need to serve the meal. However, if you are rearing to go now, cover the casserole dish and place in a 350 F oven until heated through (around 30 minutes).

Sooooo good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sarah Palin meets Marg Delahunty

This week on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mary Walsh's character, Marg Delahunty, travelled to Ohio and confronted Sarah Palin at a book signing. I would have preferred her Warrior Princess character had challenged Alaskan Freakshow, however, this encounter was funny in "Oh-my-God-she-is-actually-serious" kind of way.

I am not sure what terrifies me more: the fact this woman may actually have another shot at running one of the largest most powerful countries in the world, or that she honestly didn't know the Mary Walsh was absolutely provoking her for the inane and horrifyingly earnest response she gave.

"Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'll take ‘Huge Blunders' for $200, Alex

I saw this article/podcast in the Globe and Mail this morning and it really got me thinking about a few incidents in my life where describing myself as a Newfoundander did not exactly put me at an advantage. I often wondered about how the situation would have played out had I kept my place of origin out of the picture. The best example I can think of is a decorating show my husband and I appeared on. That story will have to wait for another day, because it is one that requires booze to tell. Lots of it.

The writer of the globe story, Trevor Janes, appeared on Jeopardy awhile back. He has lived and worked in Ottawa for the past 20 years but is originally from the Rock. However, while filling out the contestant information sheet for the show he wrote down that he was from Ottawa. He explains: "Besides being a mild-mannered software developer, I'm also a giant, gushing Jeopardy! fanboy, and I knew that Alex Trebek had once lived in Ottawa. Hoping to share a brief connection with a famous person I admired, I wrote Ottawa as my place of origin. I figured that back in Newfoundland, my parents and relatives wouldn't mind, and nobody else who was watching would even know. We taped the show and I began the two-month wait for the broadcast."

Not surprisingly, months later as people from home watched the show, expecting to see the home boy represent, some were surprised and perhaps hurt to learn he did not say he was from the Rock. Mr. Janes takes great pains in his story to apologize for that error in judgement, and I have to admire him for that. It is an interesting read, and some of the reader comments are quite telling. They range from the usual "Just another Dumb Newf" rants from some knuckle dragging dingbats, to the reassuring "Don't sweat it" comments. I thought about weighing in and then decided to do that here instead.

I wonder, has being from Newfoundland ever held you back in anyway? Affected people's perceptions of you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turnip Puff

Here is the first in the "Cooking a Turkey Dinner" series. Turnip Puff.

Most people don't get excited when you tell them turnip is on the menu. I realize it is not every one's favourite root vegetable, but it can be quite tasty believe it or not.

In Newfoundland, what we call turnip, mainlanders call rutabaga. It has a waxy purplish outer skin, yellow flesh inside, and it is a bitch to cut up. Cut it you must. Cut away the waxy skin, and dice up the turnip. You will need a larger size turnip for this recipe ( or two smaller ones I guess), enough to get about 5 to 6 cups of cubed turnip. For you visual learners out there, no smaller than a softball folks, bigger is better.

Bigger is always better. Ahem.

Once you have the turnip peeled, rinsed and cubed , put it in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until fork tender. Drain and mash. Let it sit while you get the rest of your ingredients together.

2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar,
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper and 1 pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup finely crushed crackers
2 tablespoons butter

Add butter and eggs and beat well. (If you are worried about creating a large meal all in one day, you can stop here with this recipe, cover it, put it in the fridge and finish it the next day. Otherwise, as you were).

Next, in a little mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, seasoning and nutmeg. Crush into turnip mixture until mixed through. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle your crushed cracker crumbs on top. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until the crumb topping turns light brown.

It is the best way to eat turnip!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Conan O'Brien Screeched In

Many of you have heard of the Newfoundland tradition of "Screeching" people in: meaning to make one an honorary Newfoundlander. Perhaps a few of you have even been screeched in yourself. There is a pretty specific ritual that is performed each time, it may vary somewhat from community to community, but real screech ins all take place on the Rock. It doesn't count otherwise. Also a shot of Newfoundland Screech is required. There will be a few Newfoundland sayings to repeat, a few questions to be answered, perhaps a jig to be danced, and you have to kiss a cod. It is possible the screechee will have to complete all these tasks while they are wearing a sou’wester. It is silly. It is embarrassing. But it is a lot of fun.

The liquor helps.

If you want hint of how the ceremony might play out you can look at this video of Natasha Henstridge screeching in Conan O'Brien. While she doesn't get the ceremony anywhere close to correct, it is a funny little bit, and it is great to see her bring up her Newfoundland roots. However there were a few things she mentioned I was not aware of, and I was wondering if any Newfoundlanders out there in the void might be able to enlighten me. Natasha says that Newfoundlanders do this for luck, for wedding anniversaries and such. Indeed the reason she says she has chosen to screech Conan in is for luck on the birth of his first child. Pardon?

Can anyone confirm or deny this? I never heard of us doing this to our own for luck, or celebration? Have you? I thought this was something we did for tourists- make them feel welcome and make them laugh a little. What say you folks? Have you ever heard of this?

Have a look at the clip though, it will put a smile on your face.

Thanks to my cousin Ron for showing me this, I am sure I would have missed it otherwise.

Cooking a turkey parts.

A friend of mine asked for my help recently, she wanted to know how to cook a turkey dinner. She is not much of a cook- more of a baker, and she is a vegetarian as well. So cooking a bird was not something she knew, and the side dishes were also a mystery for the most part. However, she was going to host Thanksgiving at her home this year, and that meant she was on bird duty. So I gave her the few tips I could, I am by no means an expert, and recipes to some of our favourite"Sunday Dinner" dishes we used to eat a lot back home.

Her dinner was a success, her kids even enjoyed the turnip dish I suggested, a minor miracle apparently. So I figured I could slowly post a few of those recipes here, complete with pictures.
Just keep in mind this is not going to be some fancy schmancy production, just some down home cooking. Cooking anyone can do, and everyone will enjoy.

Tomorrow, I will post the recipe for the first of our side dishes: Turnip Puff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take time to remember

It is the least we can do.

In this video, Canada's troops get recognized at BC place for their dedication and sacrifice at the November 6 2009 game.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Falling

I am a little bit of a klutz. I don’t really require anything to trip up in; I have been known to fall over nothing, heck, I have even fallen up the stairs (on more than one occasion). Some people can sing, others can dance or swallow light bulbs; this is my talent.

I remember one Christmas going out to Sears with my mom to help load up the car with some of her catalogue purchases, the most important one was my brother’s Christmas gift, a DVD player. It wasn’t that she bought a lot, but she had some bigger boxes coming and needed the extra pair of hands, plus we had to get groceries on the way back.

We loaded the van without incident or injury and arrived back at the house safely, even though a pretty good winter’s storm had picked up while we were shopping. Unloading the van in the white of a storm was a bit messy and you would think that if a person was going to fall this would be the time they would do it- but not me.

We were almost finished when my brother came home. He helped us bring in the last of the groceries in the back of the van, but thankfully did not see the boxes in the front. Mom, worried he might see his gift, told him to go inside and start putting the groceries away. There was a problem with that plan though, part of the kitchen is open to the foyer, and if Cas was in the wrong spot at the wrong time he would see his Christmas gift. As far as my mom was concerned that would completely ruin Christmas.

So mom handed me the DVD player and she grabbed the rest of the stuff. She ordered me to hang back a bit until she gave the signal for me to move out. On my tip toes behind her, bundled in a large marshmallow like winter jacket with my hood pulled down tight; I waited stealthily at the end of the walkway in the blowing snow with the player in my arms. She was inside now, I could hear her talking. Then her hand jutted out the front door, one quick ‘come in’ gesture. I was ready.

I made it across the icy walkway and up the steps and to the threshold, and then I was airborne.

You know the old Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons where the poor Coyote always ends up getting the utter and complete crap kicked out of him? Where at least once, every show, he ends up falling from some great height and landing with a puff of smoke and an ACME anvil on top of his head? At the beginning of every fall though, he has that moment where he pauses mid air and looks at the camera as if to say: “I am so screwed” and then plummets to the bottom of the canyon. Got that visual?

I am not sure exactly how I achieved the height I did, or why I was perfectly horizontal when I got there, but I do know there was a fraction of a second where I paused mid flight and looked at mom with that “I am so screwed” look on my face and then I landed in the middle of the foyer with a groan and a thud.

There I was, flat on my face and splayed out on the ceramic tile. However, my arms were miraculously straight up over my head with the DVD player held in them still. Somehow I had not dropped it, landed on it, or let it hit the ground.

I believe my first words were: “Did I break it?”

Mom did a quick check to see if I was ok and then wrenched the player from my outstretched hands leapt over my prostrate figure and vaulted over the stairs with the gift before Cas could come out to see what was wrong. She is pretty nimble.

When she came back down she helped me up, and then started laughing. It was quite the fall to witness but once she knew I was ok, and that the gift was safely stashed away, she was free to laugh. She had a hard time stopping.

Most of my falls have this effect on other people. There is a story Don tells about one of my more memorable flights into painland that makes people cry laughing- especially when he does a step by step re-enactment.

The reason I bring this up is because I had actually been doing ok for awhile I hadn't had any major story worthy falls in quite sometime. It was enough of a break in routine that Don actually commented on the fact I had been fall free for months.

I think that is what did it actually. The cruel bastard jinxed me.

Considering the number and severity of falls I have had over the years it was a lucky and remarkable thing that I never broke anything. Well that situation has been remedied my friends.

Two Saturdays ago I had a fall and fractured my foot. I am currently in an annoying aircast. I wish I could tell you how exactly I fell this time but the truth is I have no idea how it happened. I was walking back to the car and all of a sudden the pavement was rushing toward me at an alarming rate and then I saw sky.

In the process I rolled an ankle fracturing my right foot, and landed on my left knee followed closely my left arm and then the back of my head. The story of my experience at the clinic will have to be for another day because that one is a long one. And right now, I haven’t got time for the pain.