I’ll start with the ‘thank you’. An overdue ‘thank you’, at that. Natalie at Hot Garlic was kind enough to bestow an award upon us. Thank you muchly, Natalie! We’re blushing.
Does this mean we’re brilliant?
We’d like to pass the award along to some folks who make us hungry every time we visit:
- Culinary Concoctions by Peabody- The custards, the cakes, the cookies. Oh, stop! We’re trying to behave!
- Butter, Sugar, Flour- The sweet stuff. Linda’s photos make me drool, her recipes work without fail. What’s not to love?
- Amicus Cupcake- Are we sensing a theme? When the weather turns cool my thoughts turn to sweets and Amicus never disappoints.
- My Husband Hates Veggies- Kitty always has fun stories and great food to go along with them. Hey Kitty- my baby brother man’s a gourmet food cart in McCarren Park in Brooklyn. Not that I’m giving you the award so you’ll go buy my brother’s food. I’m just saying
- The Adventures of Kitchen Girl- Jo is great. She’s super friendly, her food looks divine and she has a sweet 10 year old who is really into cooking. I check in on her site frequently for a reason!
The not-so-strange bedfellows? My Dad and step-mom, Val (my fellow Foodie With Family) were out picking up some items we had stored for them when they moved last winter. There was a massive quantity of great food. Val made me a double batch of her deadly biscuit cinnamon rolls for which I kept not-so-subtly begging. I suppose they were also for my children and my sister and her children, but I’d like to think she made them for me since I was the one doing all the whinging.
As mentioned above, my little sister, Jess and her two kids, Willow and Ezra, also came over to visit with Dad and Val. We had a great day together playing in the fallen leaves and, what else in this family?, eating large amounts of food. Jess packed up the kids and headed back home to what turned out to be a nerve-wracking adventure. When she arrived home her Ezra was asleep in the car. She picked up Willow, took her into the house and was bowled over by a horrible smell. She was unable to identify the smell, but noticed that one of the burners on her stove looked the tiniest bit off center. She turned it back to where it should’ve been and heard a clear click. It hit her. The smell was propane gas and her house was FULL of it. She grabbed her daugher, ran for the door with the phone and called her husband who was still at work.
The long and short of it is that Jess ended up calling the fire department. When the fire department responded they told her that the house was so full of gas that it had forced out all the oxygen and that is the only reason the house didn’t explode when she threw the light switch on entering the house. Ohmygoodness. I’m so glad they’re safe. I’m also glad they are giving that old stove a viking funeral and have a new one arriving today.
Now for the politics as usual portion of my meandering post. While talking about what we should make for our evening meal, Val and I joked that we should make a politically themed dinner to eat while watching the Vice Presidential Debate. I mentioned I was making stuffed squash and my Dad interjected, “Make Stuffed Shirts!” And in a moment that could stand as a definition of how our family operates we we decided to run with the play-on-words food idea in a completely out of control way. As a family, we are constitutionally unable to leave a little joke alone. And so… Pork sausage stuffed roasted squash became “Pork Barrel Stuffed Shirts”.
A slice of Pork Barrel Stuffed Shirts
The biscuit wrapped smoked sausages became -courtesy of a phone call from little sister Christina- and depending on your political proclivities, either “Lipstick on a Pitbull in a Blanket” or “Lipstick on a Pig” in a blanket. The pictures did not turn out here… Evidentally mustard and ketchup make really bad lipstick. But it was fun the kids loved it.
Mustard Lipstick on a Pitbull or Pig in a Blanket
The baguettes and Camembert en croute that were planned for the evening became ‘Wind Bag-uettes and Cinched Purse Strings cheese in puff pastry’. Yes, the purse strings were a bit of a stretch but I was vindicated when one of the debaters last night actually used the phrase ‘purse strings’. I needed Camembert last night. Really, really needed it.
We hired this professional food model to hold our food tray for us. When we turned around he ate it.
Baby elephant ears (puff pastry scraps dusted liberally [another political reference!] with cinnamon sugar and baked) became ‘Elephant Ear-marks’. The kids and Papa polished them off rapidly.
Our model complained that the elephant ear-marks were too small and that there weren’t enough of them.
Then we ate a bunch of cheesecake and laughed through much of the debate before going into a serious food coma. It was a very good thing Dad brought extra insulin with him.
I ran the recipe for the stuffed squash last year in my Record-Eagle column, but it’s so good it bears repeating. It’s seasonal and it’s addictive. Start making it now before those beautiful fresh butternuts, baby pumpkins and acorn squash are harder to find. This can be made with Hubbard squash, but for obvious reasons you’d have to forego roasting it whole. To make with Hubbard squash, simply break down the squash, roast as normal, and top with the stuffing. It’s delicious any way you slice it.
1 large pie pumpkin or baking pumpkin (or butternut or acorn squash)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. bulk pork sausage (substitute 1 lb. sliced mushrooms for a vegetarian main dish)
2 c. uncooked brown or long grain rice
1/2 c. dried cranberries, cherries or raisins, optional
11/4 c. apple, pumpkin or cranberry butter (or any combination thereof!)
11/4 c. chili sauce or tomato chutney
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top of the pumpkin off like you’re going to carve a jack o’lantern. If you want to get fancy, you can cut the cap off by making V-shaped or scalloped cuts around the perimeter. Remove seeds and stringy insides and either toast seeds or discard.
Replace cap, put pumpkin on a baking sheet with sides, tent with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender and is easily pierced with a butter knife or skewer near the base.
While pumpkin is baking, cook rice according to package directions and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Cook pork sausage and break up well while cooking. When sausage is browned, remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When sausage is drained, add that to rice.
Over medium heat, melt butter in a heavy bottomed skillet and cook onions and garlic until tender, taking care not to brown them. Add to bowl with rice and sausage. Add the apple butter and the chili sauce and dried fruit, if you’re using it, to the rice mixture. Stir carefully to avoid smashing the rice.
Remove pumpkin from oven and cap from pumpkin. Stuff pumpkin with rice mixture and replace cap. Put pumpkin back into the oven for at least 15 minutes or until stuffing is hot throughout and pumpkin is soft. Carefully transfer pumpkin to a serving platter. You can either scoop servings from the pumpkin or you can cut into wedges to serve.