holiday

Happy year of the goat!

**Please excuse the many misspelled Vietnamese words in the following entry, as I don’t have the software to write proper Vietnamese, accents and all.

This Thursday marks the lunar new year, or Tê’t, as we call it in Vietnamese. Growing up, the red envelopes containing minted bills (or—like xì—were my most anticipated new year tradition. It meant I was that much closer to that Super Mario game or, when I was in high school, that Green Day CD.

Another fond memory of Tê’t was the banh chung my grandmother made not only for us but all the extended family members that visited over the week-long holiday. Bánh chung (or banh Tê’t as they’re known in the Vietnamese South) are glutinous rice cakes filled with pork and mung bean and wrapped in banana leaves prior to steaming. The leaves impart a hint of green and earthiness on to the rice, which is why it’s no surprise they are meant to symbolize the earth. My grandmother and aunt made dozens of them, and sometimes I would help tie the red decorative ribbons around the massive cakes before stacking them on to the dining table. There they rested like stacks of sandbags, waiting to be gifted to our relatives.
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Healthier living: An everyday resolution

Happy 2015!

As you might detect from last year’s post about getting fit, I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions; I’m of the mind one should set goals whenever one is ready instead of waiting for the calendar year to run out. But, I’m aware come January 1st, many people resolve to become new and improved versions of themselves, and I know many of these resolutions are something like, “I’m going to eat less sweets in 2015” or “I’m going to actually use my gym membership this year.” Essentially, the aim is often to achieve good health, so it’s only appropriate I blog about the topic of healthier living for my first post of 2015.

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All I want for Christmas is ______ for my kitchen (part 2)

As promised, here is the remainder of my holiday gift ideas for the home cook, just in time for those procrastinators out there. Like I previously mentioned, most all of these items are available on Amazon, so you can select that crucial next-day or second-day delivery option. For my fellow blind readers, Amazon has an accessible app; I just used it at 3 AM to order some stuff. (Yes, I tend to shop or read about food online when I have insomnia–don’t judge.)

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All I want for Christmas is ______ for my kitchen (part 1)

One week till Christmas. Are you ready?

I’ve blogged about what to get your vision impaired friend or family member, and I’ve written about some useful kitchen aids for the blind cook. Now what about the rest of you sighted folks who like to cook too?

For those of you still at a loss as to what to get that self-proclaimed chef in your life, whether sighted or not, here is an extensive list of useful items in my kitchen, without which I would not be able to create many of the fabulous foods in my home. And best of all, most of these products are available at Amazon, whose app from iTunes is accessible for the blind, and which offers second day, even next day, delivery—so when Granny gets choked up come Christmas Eve, it’ll be because your gift was so thoughtful, not because it was late or, worse, nonexistent.

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Dress up your stuffing mix

Stuffing is one of those dishes with the most liberal of interpretations, depending on who makes it and what ingredients are used. Technically, what I make is not stuffing, but rather dressing. It’s not stuffing because it’s not stuffed in anything. (I never roast my bird, and frying a stuffed turkey would just be bad news.) But I like calling it “stuffing” anyway, because that word is just more fun to say than “dressing.” (Plus I always think of salad vinaigrettes when I hear “dressing.”)

One of my earliest memories of stuffing was when I was in college and had a box of StoveTop for whatever reason. Maybe I was looking for an easy side to accompany some chicken I’d made. But I quickly became addicted to StoveTop and would eat it by itself as a full meal. There was so much flavor, and there was something about the pillowy texture that exuded comfort.

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Sweet Creole corn

I love corn and have to have it every Thanksgiving. It adds a nice crispy texture next to the creamy potatoes and casseroles. Back when I was an amateur cook, I used to serve them straight out of a can with some butter, salt, and pepper. Now I’ve graduated to cutting them off the cob and increasing the number of ingredients used.
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Whipped potatoes

When I think of American comfort food, I think of potatoes. I love potatoes in all forms: fried, baked, mashed, smashed, or whipped.

What, you might ask, is the difference between mashed potatoes, smashed potatoes, and whipped potatoes? After digging around online, I’ve come up with this answer.
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Sous vide turkey

This was the first Thanksgiving in 12 years that I did not serve a fried turkey for our family Thanksgiving meal. Since my mama-in-law shrinks away from fried foods, we decided to put the new PolyScience immersion circulator to good use and sous vide our turkey instead.
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Peanut oil: The key to fried turkey

IT’S THANKSGIVING WEEK! I’m that excited that I have to type it in all caps. I’ve said it many times before: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Most get four days off, the weather is lovely, there is no pressure and stress of gift-giving, and all you do is watch/play football and stuff your faces with comfort foods.
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Roasted lamb chops

Juicy lovely lamb

I don’t understand people who claim they don’t eat lamb because it’s “too gamey.” Duck and lamb, when it’s a good cut of meat and when it’s fresh, have got to be some of the least gamey meat around. But to each his own, I guess.

For me, I adore lamb. And not just because it used to be a cute cuddly hand puppet (I say “used to” because it’s now a juicy pink piece of meat on my plate) but because it tastes pretty darn good. But because it’s expensive, I’d always been intimidated to try it at home. But during a recent trip to Costco, I couldn’t resist. Into our cart went a half rack of lamb (which yields about 7 bones) for $22. After tinkering around online, I found a surefire recipe online. The only thing I changed was to omit the bread crumbs since John was eating low carbs.

Before cooking this, you MUST have a meat or food thermometer. It is vital to cooking all meats—you cannot cook a perfect steak, pot roast, turkey, prime rib, or rack of lamb without one. I just got my digital thermometer at Target, and it’s served me fine. For convenience, buy one with a timer and a alarm option for when it reaches a certain temperature. That way, you can set it to ___°F and go watch “Jersey Shore” until it beeps and announces your rump roast is ready. (Just kidding—don’t watch “Jersey Shore.”)

So here is an easy way to cook a rack of lamb. Try it next time for a special occasion. It makes for a beautiful presentation, especially when served with some colorful vegetables like asparagus and purple potatoes. Remember, if the Blind can Cook it, so can you.

 

: Roasted Lamb Chops

 

  1. 1 single (7-bone) rack of lamb, trimmed & frenched
  2. 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  3. 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  4. 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  5. 2 tsp. salt
  6. 1.25 tsp. ground black pepper
  7. 4 tbsp. olive oil
  8. 1 tbsp. dijon mustard

 

  1. Roasted Lamb ChopsMove oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a lg. bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss in 2 tbsp. olive oil to moisten mixture.
  3. Season rack of lamb with remaining salt & pepper. Heat remaining olive oil in a lg. heavy oven-proof skillet over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 min. on all sides. Set aside for a few min.
  4. Brush rack of lamb with mustard. Roll in bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the bone ends with foil to prevent charring.
  5. Arrange rack boneside down in skillet. Insert thermometer into rack. Roast for 12 to 18 min. depending on desired doneness. Let it rest for 5 to 7 min., loosely covered, before carving between ribs.

 

To “french” a rack of lamb means to clean the meat, cartilage, and fat between tips of the bones to make for a neater presentation.

Allow for the internal temperature to be 5 to 10 degrees lower than desired since meat will continue cooking once removed from the oven.

Bloody rare – 115-125 degrees
Rare – 125-130 degrees
Med.rare – 130-140 degrees
**Med. – 140-150 degrees

**I like my lamb medium.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

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