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Archive for November, 2011

I don’t know who first came up with the concept of reaching into a dead, plucked, and fully scoured bird’s orifice for the very reason of stuffing a loaf of bread up there only to reach in there yet again a few hours later, take it out and eat it.  I’m always amused, however, by how protective we Americans are of our families’ stuffing creations.  So protective, in fact, that we have to lock the recipe in the family vault and make sure no young whippersnapper ever comes along and tries to change it (even a tiny, little bit) for any reason what-so-ever.  You’d think with all of that effort and secrecy we’d found a way to stuff our missiles with that mixture of bread, eggs, and more sage than an Apache reservation.  But no, we reserve this load of carbs and sulfur for a very special celebration each year where we fill ourselves with so much food and family togetherness that by the time the December holidays come around all we want to do is escape to Euro Disney till January 1st rears it’s snowy head.

But I digress.  Some of you may be able to relate to this set-in-stone stuffing tradition, and even more if you’ve been chosen to be the red-headed stepchild of family change due to your or your kids’ food allergies.  Nothing says family togetherness like angry, tight-faced relatives reacting to “this new re-vamped, more intestine-friendly” Thanksgiving menu you’ve come up with, especially if it includes defiling the sanctity and holiness of Mom’s (or Dad’s or dead Aunt Bea’s) Special Stuffing.  I realized this when we informed my father-in-law (who’s been so good with “all this crazy food stuff”) a few years ago that we were making cornbread stuffing that year instead of the traditional stuff to better accommodate our food allergies and change things around a bit.  For him, that was  the sacred altar of food ritual that you just did not put your slimy little hands all over.  Breading the Tuesday night fish with rice flour instead of wheat? Fine.  Gluten-free pancakes in Ocean City? Sure.  But do not mess with an 85 year old man’s sage stuffing.  Just don’t do it.

Well, we did it, and it was awesome, even to the aging, set-in-his-ways Sicilian (who took it home to eat all week).   It first started out with just caramelized onions and cornmeal, then the year after we added sausage to the mix, which was incredible.  This year, I decided roasted garlic and chestnuts would be a great addition to this ever-evolving new tradition in our allergy-friendly family.  It’s just the one thing I can’t pass up, and this carb-loving girl is not gonna let the yeast get her down for the nosh-happiest holiday of the year (besides Easter, where we gorge our way to salvation).

So anyway, here’s the recipe extraordinaire for all you brave, sassy stuffing changers out there.  By the way, if we were really being traditional, we’d be eating Bambi and Loosey Goosey for dinner on Turkey Day……but I digress again.  Bon appetit!

Caramelized Onion and Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

  • 2tbs butter or oil
  • 1 lg sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lb loose pork sausage (sweet)
  • 1/4 c cooked chestnuts
  • 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic (we put them in the toaster oven, skins on, with a bit of olive oil in a ramekin and let roast on med low for a good 45 mins or so)
  • 6 lg cornmeal muffins, torn to bits*
  • Handful fresh sage and thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c heavy cream (dairy or soy) or non-dairy milk product (we use almond milk)
  • 1/4 c veg or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

mmmhmmm

Melt butter or oil in a med skillet over med-low heat.  Add onions, sweat and cover for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize a nice golden brown.  Add a little sea salt to the pan to bring out flavor.  Add sausage, chestnuts and roasted garlic (peeled)  and stir constantly for about 5 mins until flavors meld.  Sprinkle mixture with some pepper.  Add sage and scrape into a lg mixing bowl.  Add cornbread pieces and more s&p to taste as you toss to combine.

chopped chestnuts and roasted garlic - going steady

In a seperate bowl, whish together egg, cream or milk, and stock and pour that over cornbread mixture. Stir the stuffing together and either stuff your bird or plop into an oven- safe container to bake for the last 30 mins of your turkey cooking time.  Bake until hot and crusty on top.

no bluffin' for these muffins

*Cornmeal Muffins

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 lg eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp
  • 1 c milk (we use almond), at room temp
  • 1/3 cup oil (grapeseed or canola works well)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 c cornmeal (we use Bob’s gf)
  • 1 heaping c flour (we use Bob’s gf all purpose)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar or the agave/stevia equivalent of such
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease six cups of a muffin pan.

In a lg bowl, beat liquid ingredients with electric mixer on low until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until also blended. With mixer on low, gradually beat in dry ingredients until blended and slightly thickened, like cake batter.  Pour mixture into each cup just about to top.

Bake 20-30 mins, until tops are firm and sides are lightly browned.  Cool in pan and transfer to cooling rack or bag for later use.

Happy Holidays!

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie

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Stranger Danger

Remember those days,  long ago, when our parents warned us about every single person we didn’t know and the hidden dangers that would surface merely by uttering that one dreaded, terrible word to one of them?  Yes, that word: “Hello.” *issues blood-curdling scream*

I’m finding myself taken back to those schoolyard  days lately with the realization that I might not exactly know all those bagged and canned things as much as I thought I did.  I’m having a case of stranger danger and just like Mom said, it’s showing up all around me.

Let’s first introduce dirty offender numero uno: the word Natural.  I’m really getting sick of this pseudo exposer-of-sorts that’s really a shadowy figure in disguise.  I just can’t understand why chips can’t be chips and canned tomatoes refuse to simply be the peeled and sealed fruit of the nightshade family.  Why must these things be Natural, thus roping off a dark corner for ingredients that aren’t really ingredients at all.  I’m talking about that elusive spices or even grosser in imagination spice extractives.  Upon my usual research (which seems to happen every time I break out which at this point is a little bit every day) I’m discovering that these seemingly innocent terms are little masks for not only added hidden gluten but also derivitives of MSG.  If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also a nasty rumor that anything that doesn’t need to be leavened but includes some sort of “yeast” (autolyzed, torula, or extract of) is really a code word for added glutamates which act as  cheap flavorings and have been said to disrupt the part of the brain that tell you you’re satisfied.

The problem with all of this is that it’s such a shadowy subject it’s hard to prove what’s really going on here and what’s bunk.  If consumers have no idea what “natural flavor” means what do they have to link their migraine headaches, cardiac symptoms and suspected allergic reactions to?  I dunno about you, but this is serious stranger danger to me.  I can’t put my finger on when exactly these companies started listing “natural peach flavor” as an ingredient, for example, but it disturbs me that a manufacturer would feel the need to add the fact that their product has flavor to their ingredient lists.  Is flavor considered an ingredient or is this just another underhanded way to sneak something in that shouldn’t even be there?

When I make a dish myself, in my own kitchen, I don’t feel the need to add super-duper derived ingredients to it in order to experience proper taste.  Part of me wants to go totally old school and buy nothing from a bag or can, but I don’t know if I’m able to be that wholesome.  Tortilla and rice chips, for example, make me a very happy girl.  I can’t deny that it’s convenient to grab a bag from the specialty aisle a few times a month.  I also can’t deny that these new companies that are cropping up claiming to be “natural” and “organic” with products full of whole, sustainable foods are adding lots of mystery to what used to be simple bags of chips.

The UTZ girl may very well be hanging her head in shame right now at what it seems the food industry has become.  And that whole Stranger Danger thing?  I never really listened to my mom about all of that, anyway.  I like to know what I’m dealing with, and roll the dice from there.  From where I’m standing, the welts on my arms are looking pretty darn obvious.

Always look both ways (she told me that, too),

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie

Update: Turkey Day is almost here which means the holiday season is just about upon us!  Stay tuned for awesome reviews of soups, sweets and wonderful Winter comfort food, plus a few recipes here and there just for fun. 

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