Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Save Those Carcasses!

I know, I know. Food blogs this week are filled with orgies of culinary debauchery. Luscious photos of golden roasted turkey with all the trimmings, including nostalgia. It is enough to make one weep.

I adore Thanksgiving; it is my favorite holiday, and not only because it is centered around food. There is something so beautiful about a day set aside just to be grateful. No presents to buy, no exhausting flurry of preparations. Just a day to gather with family and friends, hold hands in thankfulness and--dig in to the incredible bounty! Christmas could learn a lot from Thanksgiving.

After the big dinner, when you are packing away the glorious leftovers, don't overlook the bones!

By that point, I know, we are weary of the whole thing. But, if you can summon up the courage to face the bones, you will be so glad. And, in the spirit of being grateful for what we have, it seems a shame to throw away something perfectly good.

If you have ham, wrap the bone tightly and put it in the freezer. One snowy evening, it will make a delicious--and economical--bean soup (I'll provide you with some ideas later).

And the turkey carcass? Do NOT throw that away--it is pure gold! The broth you can make from one of these babies is incredible. Make it the next day or wrap up the whole mess and toss it in the freezer for later.

Now don't be afraid. Making broth is easy. I do it all the time and it makes such a difference in any dish--especially soups.

This is no fail--give it a try!

Turkey Broth

In a large pot, place the turkey carcass, including any fat or skin. Add a bay leaf, 2 scrubbed or peeled carrots, 2 celery stalks, an onion chopped into quarters, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley, a tablespoon of peppercorns (crush them in your hands slightly--smells so good!) and a sprinkling of salt. You can also toss in a few mushrooms, a turnip, potato, or other mild vegetable. Pour in enough water to cover everything.

1. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover. In the beginning you might want to skim off some foam (just use a large spoon) as this tends to cloud the broth. Check it occasionally. The longer you cook it, the richer the broth. Aim for 3-4 hours and add water if needed. (Definitely, I have cooked broth for a shorter period and it tasted so much better than store bought).

2. When you've tasted the broth and it meets your satisfaction (you might need to add salt), turn the heat off. Remove large pieces and discard.

3. Strain the broth and then skim the fat from it. There are two ways to do this: If you have a degreaser pitcher (I highly recommend one of these--they are so handy) pour in the broth in batches and let it settle, then pour out the broth leaving the fat behind. Or, place the cooled broth into the refrigerator and let the fat solidify--then simply skim it off the top. (Don't put the broth in the fridge right out of the pan--let it cool a bit first. I like to use an ice bath--place a stainless steel bowl of broth into a larger bowl of ice. Stir occasionally and it will cook quickly.) Broth freezes beautifully.

Make a turkey-vegetable soup or just a simple vegetable soup with the broth. You will love the flavor. Here's a warning, though: Once you have made your own broth you have definitely raised the bar. It will be difficult to go back to the canned varieties.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apple Crisp

Fuji Apples
photo from wikimedia

Fall is the season for apples and one of my favorite ways to make them more fattening is apple crisp.

This great weeknight recipe includes oatmeal and nuts so that you feel less guilty, since you are boosting the nutritional power of the dessert. Also, it is very yummy.

Apple Crisp
Serves 8

6 large Fuji Apples (or other cooking apple, 3 - 3.5 pounds)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks cold butter (you can use margarine if you feel you have to)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 qt baking dish with cooking spray.

Toast walnuts in a pan on top of stove until they smell, well, toasty. It only takes a few minutes, so watch them carefully so they don't burn. Spread walnuts on a cool plate and set aside.

Peel and core apples and slice into a large bowl. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Stir to coat and dump into prepared baking dish.

For the topping, stir together oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut butter sticks into small cubes and work into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers. You are looking for a crumbly texture. When the mix comes together, add the toasted walnuts and incorporate quickly.

Sprinkle topping over apples and bake for 45-55 minutes, until topping is brown and apples are bubbling.

I like apple crisp all on its own, but you can add a scoop of ice cream or pour a little cream over your serving. Also, the leftovers are delicious for breakfast. ;-)

*If you like, you can sprinkle dried cranberries over the fruit mixture before adding the topping and baking.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"One cow, make it cry," and other diner lingo

Photo from wikimedia

While researching vintage restaurant ware for an earlier post, I ran across a very entertaining website called For instance, "one cow, make it cry," means a hamburger with onions. "Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it" means grill a hamburger and serve it with lettuce and tomato.

This all-American slang went by the wayside as fast-food restaurants began to take over in the 1970s. But, it is so uniquely American, I hope the retro diners and roadside cafes will keep these treasures alive.

Here are some fun examples (all from

Soup jockey = waitress
photo from wikimedia

Mike and Ike with Yum Yum = Salt and Pepper with Sugar
photo from wikimedia

City juice = glass of water
photo from wikimedia

Cluck and grunt with a stack of Vermont =
eggs and bacon with pancakes and syrup
photo from wikimedia

Butcher's revenge in a fog = meatloaf and mashed potatoes

Nervous pudding = Jello
photo from wikimedia

Eve with a lid on = apple pie
photo from wikimedia