The Menu

Most kids in the '80s went home after school and played Nintendo . . . or went outside and rode their bikes around the neighborhood.
I did that sometimes.
And sometimes I went home and attempted to make homemade mozzarella cheese sticks.

I never really learned how to cook with recipes.
Partially because I have never really been all that great at following directions in general.
I attribute it to the fact that I had eye surgery in the third grade . . .
to correct a vision problem that resulted in dislexia-like symptoms.
It really isn't a big deal anymore. . .
But when I was learning how to learn . . .
Learning was tough for me
School felt like torture
I couldn't follow what the teacher was saying
But I wanted to succeed.
So I was frustrated.

But from a young age, you learn how to adapt your learning style . . .
Since reading and comprehension did not come naturally,
I never really learned how to interact with facts and information . . .
but I developed a keen sense of hearing . . .
my ability to play with words was honed . . .
and I became very visual.


I remember blocking out the teacher's voice when she explained "shortcuts" in third grade math class . . .
"Are you KIDDING ME?
It took me all week to learn how to do it the long way!
I can't risk goofing that up with your shortcut!"

Eventually I had surgery.
Within the year I went from struggling to get a "C", to being an Honor Roll student.
But the foundation for my learning style had been solidified.
It was just too difficult to learn the facts - so I have always done everything by intuition and using my senses.
So in day to day life, that means I probably can't give you detailed directions of how to get to a restaurant downtown . . . but if you came to my house, I could drive us there just fine . . .
using my gut and environmental cues . . .

My dad taught me how to cook just using my five senses.
In the kitchen, I found a great deal of freedom . . . and confidence.
In the kitchen, I didn't have to worry about reading or trying to keep facts straight.

I just cooked.

And it turned out well!

Sweet freedom.

This year I get to make my first Thanksgiving meal for Herb and my mom.
Kind of a small group.

Still praying about any "orphans" that we might need to scoop up and share the wealth with.

This morning I woke up at 5:45 am - excited to start the day. I figured if I could get my tasks done early, I can spend the day scrap booking. Or has Herb has taken to calling it, "mixed media art" . . . we are still working on that "suburban soccer-mom" stereotype that is has historically been attached to scrap booking at our house.

That's okay. We'll get there! Eventually, I will probably be a soccer mom, so there you go!

I just spent the last hour collecting recipes for the meal and putting them into plastic sleeves.
I do use recipes now.
Partially because I need an idea of the nutritional information so Herb and I can make sure we are getting what we need.
Partially because I have hit a plateau in my cooking . . .
And I am now interested in technique and theory.
In fact, it is on my "to-do" list to buy the text book that most culinary schools use, so that I can get my head around how to prepare meat and create sauces.

The Menu:

* Mushroom and Caramelized-Shallot Strudel
* Red Wine Reduction
* Field Greens w/ Pancetta . Pears . Blue Cheese . Dried Cranberries . Walnuts.
* Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
* Butternut Squash Soup
* Creme Fraiche
* Homemade Garlic Croutons
* Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin
* Grandmother Taylor's Stuffing (an old family recipe . . . always served on the side . . . no need to ruin it by putting it in a turkey!)
* Stuffed Pork Loin
* Caramelized Onion-Cranberry Sauce
* Pumpkin Tiramisu

I am really excited about the Butternut Squash Soup. I made this a few years ago as a contribution to a meal . . . and I STILL daydream about it sometimes! I am even more excited because I convinced Herb that I need the pumkpkin soup turine when it went on sale at Safeway this fall!
Please enjoy this amazing recipe:

By the way . . .
Creme Fraiche is made by combining equal parts of heavy cream and sour cream - whip and chill.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cups butternut squash puree
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and
thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock
2 small bay leaves
3 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/4 tsp. ground coriander (optional)
1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger (optional)
8 baguette slices, each 1/2 inch thick,
lightly brushed with olive oil and toasted
until golden brown
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the onion to a slow cooker. Add the squash puree, apple, stock, bay leaves and the 3 tsp. salt to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 2 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Add the crème fraîche. Using a stick blender, puree the soup directly in the slow cooker until smooth. Stir in the coriander and ginger. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls, garnish each with a toasted baguette slice, and season the slices with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

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Blogger peanutgallery said...

Um.... correction, most 80's kids played Atari. And what do you mean Turkey ruins the stuffing!?!?! This makes me very sad that you have such skewed views of Thanksgiving food.

11:31 AM, November 20, 2006  

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