Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 III: Creamed spinach II (p. 305), Sweet-and-sour (Harvard) beets (p. 259), and Apple and cherry bread stuffing (p. 534)

And more side dishes!

I made Creamed spinach II (p. 305), which, in hindsight, was a strange decision because it was almost a guarantee that nobody would like it. Nobody in our family looks at creamed spinach and thinks "Yum! I can't wait!". I had actually never eaten creamed spinach before even though I really love spinach.

I blended milk, onion, butter, flour, salt, paprika, nutmeg, and garlic in the blender until smooth:


I added the spinach and chopped it. I then cooked everything in a skillet for a few minutes:

And poured it in to a nice bowl:

Done! It was good but rather bland, typical of creamed spinach. I think everybody took a little to be polite but I don't think anyone was thrilled with it. Maybe it would be better if I had included the buttered breadcrumbs and bacon. Does anyone out there really love creamed spinach?

Mom mentioned that beets would be a nice addition to Thanksgiving, so we made Sweet-and-sour (Harvard) beets (p. 259). It's basically a warmed up version of Pickled beets. I had a quick little chat with Professor Google (Sir Wikipedia wasn't up to the job) about the etymological origin of the name "Harvard beets". Apparently it's a bastardization of the name "Harwood beets".

I combined sugar, cider vinegar, cornstarch, salt, and cloves in a double broiler (or, more accurately, in a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water).


I cooked it until clear and let it stand for thirty minutes. I added the beets:

Added a bit of butter and poured them in to a pretty dish:

The beets were good. If you like beets, you will probably like these beets. If you don't, I don't recommend eating them, they won't change your mind. Harvard beets are beets for beet lovers. They had a smooth pickled flavor. My mom said they were absolutely delicious.

The stuffing is usually one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. Last year we made the switch to two stuffings. So this year, we decided that mom and I would freehand one batch of stuffing (it would include cornbread and sausage) and I would also make Apple and cherry bread stuffing (p. 534).

I melted butter and olive oil in my skillet and sauteed celery and onion. I decided to add everything except the breadcrumbs first, so it would mix more easily. I added apple, dried cherries, Madeira, raisins, rosemary, black pepper, and salt to the celery and onion:

I think I should have cut my cornbread breadcrumbs (that feels like a Jeopardy answer--CornBreadCrumbs) smaller, but they still worked. I mixed them in:

We didn't have a casserole that was avaliable and big enough so they went in two different dishes. Mom told me that when she was growing up, they always made the stuffing in loaf pans, so we decided to go with tradition. I moistoned them with chicken stock and popped them in to the oven:

By the time the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes were done, the stuffing was finished. It didn't take very long.

The oven was pretty crowded:

I wasn't very impressed with the stuffing. I didn't really like the sweet (dried fruit, cornbread) without a stronger balance of savory (I think it needed some sausage or something). I also didn't like my giant chunks of bread, I really needed to cut them smaller. Mom thought the stuffing was really good and particularly liked the cherries. I honestly think it would be better in a stuffed pork chop, because that would balance the sweetness better. This stuffing recipe would also be really easy to adapt for a vegan or vegetarian (although mine was not vegetarian, since I used chicken stock).

The Thanksgiving meal went amazingly smoothly. At no point during the preparations were we running around like chickens with our heads cut off, which was a wonderful and novel feeling. In fact, mom and I felt like something was wrong for most of the day because it was going so well. Mom and I each made about half of the meal, which was about perfect. Mom didn't feel pushed out of her own kitchen and I got to knock out some TJOC recipes. It was a particularly nice Thanksgiving.

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