Archive | November, 2010

Is (inflection) Sarah Palin dumb?

30 Nov
Those should be dollar signs

Those should be dollar signs

I know many of you read the title and immediately said “yes”.  Yea, maybe she is, but in what form?  Is she dumb with great advisors? or does she know how to make money playing dumb?  Like Octomom, Kim Kardashian, and others to name a few that have made a boat load of money due to fame unrelated to talent, Palin won’t go away.  Palin’s in politics, though.  Hmmmm. 

This post’s question was sparked after I read two articles about her this morning via CNN.com.  One in which Scarborough, a fellow Republican, spoke ill about her and said the Republicans need to ex-communicate her (I’m exaggerating) and another that highlights her pointless shots at Obama in a Facebook Thanksgiving post.  As I read more and more of each post (I provided the links below) and read line after line of her taking blows at Barack Obama and wishing she had time to cover Joe Biden, I realized this woman has nothing pertinent to talk about and makes no substantial contribution to bettering America, but due to our insatiable amusement with people’s stupidity and obnoxious behavior, we tune in.

So, what did I do? I went to Sarah Palin’s category on CNN.  Right!  I’m not supposed to be on there, but I needed more information about this woman that called George H.W. and Barbara bush “blue-bloods” for her “American By Heart,” which has already been called “Going Rogue”, book sales.  To which Barbara retorted, “And she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”   What?!  Thanks, Barb, for being polite.  We know the press can chop and screw footage and transcripts, so it might be misconstrued.  Even with that, Palin raked in approximately $500k in a little over a month in book sales.   How much do you make a month? How much do I make a month? This Alaskan Beauty Queen contestant said her gaffes were due to the 7 interviews she had already done that day.  Palin is undeniably a businesswoman on her grind while she’s hot.  So don’t get mad at her, she’s capitalizing on Americans being caught in the fog. Is she the best candidate to speak on politics?  Probably not.  Are her criticisms of Barack relevant? Nope; she wasn’t even a presidential candidate.  I find her amusing, at times, and the SNL skits are hilarious.  I am not sure that Sarah Palin’s Alaska will win her votes.  Yet, while I wish she’d disappear, I can’t tune in and tune out at my disposal.  This is the case with most Americans, like me.  But, she’s cashing in on me. *cha ching!*  She will never be President.  Man…I hope I do not have to eat those words.

Our general obsession with other’s follies keep them around longer.   Politics has become entertainment.  It’s no secret that our interests can be quite mischievous.  I’ll try not to read the next article, but you can indulge, too and get on the beaten path with me to get her out of the news…eventually.

Palin followers please keep your “hate mail”. She’s not dumb. As Meghan McCain said, she’s “either brilliant or insane.”

Scarborough “Palin Must be Stopped”
Read here

Sarah Palin’s Thanksgiving Post titled “A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States” 
Read Here

Palin Delivers a Gaffe Filled Message ,
Read Here

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Not Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie

25 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

I didn’t want to do this post. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potato pie. I know, right? A dessert I don’t like? However, because we needed to do a dessert and one in keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, here she is via Patti Labelle with my notes…

Norma’s Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie
From Patti La Belle’s Cookbook
Labelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About

Ingredients

Basic Piecrust for a Double-Crust Pie (you can buy these, if you’d like. Just don’t store them in the freezer for long; they freezer burn quickly)
3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Louisiana yams), scrubbed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, and gently unfold the dough to fit into the pan.

2. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough around the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.

4. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a medium bowl. Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, keeping any extra for another use, and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the pie shell and brush the interior with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it. (Cook too long and you’ll have crumbly pie crust. Yuck!)

6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.

(If using an electric mixer, you’ll notice these strings when u lift the mixer out of the batter. Remove as many strings as u can via mixing for a while, lifting the mixer to remove strings, then, returning mixer to batter. No OCD here. 3 times should be sufficient. This will make sure u pie is smooth.)

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

By the way, I’ll be making Pear Sorbet and apple fritter. *wink* I’ll let you know about it.

Shake what you got in them GREENS!!!

24 Nov

This is the GWC non-negotiable item: COLLARD GREENS. If you are Southern you know that this is a staple at EVERY meal and if it ain’t done right, it ain’t need to be done at all!

Mama Luella’s House Greens

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound smoked meat (ham hocks, smoked turkey wings, smoked neck bones or bacon renderings)
  • 1 tablespoon house seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce (OPTIONAL, IF YOU’RE LIKE ME I HATE SPICY FOOD)
  • 1 large bunch collard greens (or any mixture, swiss chard, kale, mustards [I prefer all of these])
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

Directions

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards (or mixed greens) don’t need to be stripped. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into 1/2 to 1-ince thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with favorite dish as a side.

 

Basic House Seasoning:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

THE BIG BIRD

24 Nov

And no, we’re not talking about Sesame Street. Whether you’re doing chicken, turkey or cornish hens then PREP is about the same. The only difference is THE COOK TIME AND THE TEMPERATURE.

ALL THREE POULTRY ITEMS SHOULD REACH AN INTERNAL TEMP OF 165 DEGREES which lets you know they are completely cooked through.

For Turkey, your oven should be 375 degrees and cook time is 18 minutes per pound.

For Chicken, your oven should be 400 degrees and cook time is about 55 minutes per 4 pounds.

For Cornish Hens your oven should be 425 degrees and cook time is about 30 minutes (or until the juices run CLEAR between a leg and thigh.)

Now that we have that out of the way, here is a BASIC recipe for a delicious & simple whole roasted chicken. You can season the turkey & cornish hens the same way just remember to alter the oven temp and cook time.

Ingredients

The Biggest Baddest Bird and Roasted Veggies Recipe
  • 1 whole chicken (4 pounds)
  • 1 Tbsp. and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound carrots , cut into 3-inch sticks
  • 1 pound parsnips , cut into 3-inch sticks
  • 1 pound small red potatoes , halved

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°. On a sheet pan, toss the carrots, parsnips and potatoes with 2 tablespoons of oil, 4 sprigs rosemary, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken and season with the remaining salt and pepper, then rub with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Pierce the lemons several times with the tip of a paring knife and stuff, along with 2 sprigs of the rosemary, into the cavity of the chicken. Using cooking twine, tie the legs together.

Nestle the chicken among the vegetables and put in the oven—with the chicken’s legs toward the back of the oven. Roast, stirring the vegetables once, until the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature reaches 165° in the thickest part of the thigh), 55 to 60 minutes.

Carve and serve with the roasted vegetables.

Green Beans: Two Different Ways

23 Nov

There are several ways to cook green beans.  I am going to explore two extremely easy options: Green Bean Casserole and Stove-top Green Beans

Green Bean Casserole

You will need:

1/3 stick of butter
½ cup onion
2 cans of green beans
3 cups chicken broth (2 cans should cover this amount)
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom (this makes everything taste better)
1 can of French’s French Fried Onions
Salt and pepper (to taste)

How-to:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease the bottom of a casserole dish or 9x13in baking dish.  Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes.  While they are boiling, melt the butter in a frying pan.  Stir in Onions and let them cook until tender.  Green beans should  be almost done or done.  Drain the green beans.  Add them, the Cream of Mushroom, and the French Friend Onions.  Mix well.  Pour into casserole/baking dish.  Cook 15 to 20 minutes.

Tip: Make sure not to boil the green beans longer than 10 minutes.  They will fall apart and become mush.  Remember that there is still oven cook time.  Use your timer to help.

Additions:  You can add cheddar cheese, if you’d like.  5 minutes before done, top green beans with cheese. Return to over until cheese is melted.

Stove-Top Green Beans

You will need:

4 cans of green beans
¼ cup of onion
A smoked Turkey Wing
1 can of Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/3 stick of Butter

Get going:

Pour your can of Chicken Broth into a large pot with the smoked turkey wing.  Add enough water to cover the turkey wing.  Make sure they is always enough liquid to cover the turkey wing.  Cover pot, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour.  The turkey meat should be tender after 45 minutes.  Add green beans, onion, and butter to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  Again, we do not want to overcook the green beans, so make sure they are tender, not falling apart.

Tip:  People tend to forget when steaming and boiling vegetables that there is still heat in the pot once they turn the fire off.  I always turn my pot off a couple of minutes before they are done, if I am not taking them out of the pot immediately.  The remaining in the pot will finish cooking the vegetables.

Additions, some people like to add potatoes to green beans.  If you like that, add the potatoes the same time you add the green beans, onion and butter to the pot.  In addition, to potatoes, some like to add bacon.  Cook the bacon, drain the oil, chop it up, and add to the pot once the beans are done cooking and have cooled a little bit.  Bacon gets really soft and weird when it’s soggy.  This is why you always add it last.

Get Ready for Your Guest

23 Nov

In addition to our recipes, here are some things to help decorate and make the home festive and welcoming for family.

I went to an Event Planning class with one of my friends recently and got some helpful tips. 

Here’s a mixture of tips from the class and mine:
 
∙         Clean your home 2 days before. Minor clean the night before Thanksgiving.

∙         Greet your guest with something to drink.  Maybe wine to get them to loosen up a little bit, if not every knows each other

∙         Have appetizers ready in the rooms they will first sit.  Typically, everyone trickles in and everyone comes hungry, so provide light food.

∙         Have music playing softly.  Since it is now officially holiday season, holiday music will be playing in my car.  I have the biggest smile on my face.  Omgosh.  I love holiday music.  Best CDs are Toni Braxton’s Snowflakes and Whitney Houston’s One Wish the Holiday Album. 

∙         Use seasonal decorations.  Harvest time.  Think Browns, Greens, Oranges, Beiges, Reds.  This does not mean go and buy the paper turkey from your local Party Supply Store.  This means purchase napkins of these colors to mix and match.  Buy a couple of vases and bowls of these colors.  Pumpkins are cool, not just for carving.  Placemats, if a formal gathering.  Use your clear glass decorative items to fill with things of Autumn and Fall (think of the leaves that turn, fruit and vegetables that grow during this time of year, chestnuts) Pillows and candles are great, too (I touched on this in my Home Goods Shopping Trip post).   If you choose the right decorations and colors, they can carry you into Christmas.  Google “tablescapes” for some ideas of setting the table.  Placards are always a nice touch on the dining table or dangling like a gift tag around the napkin. Don’t forget the front door and/or porch.

∙         Oooooooo  I just had the best idea…I know there are normal holiday desserts, but do something interactive like a fondue or fire setup for S’mores.  If you cannot setup an outdoor fire, use Diethylene glycol chafing fuel in the kitchen.  It’s noncombustible. Setup platters with chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows on each side so that people can reach them from wherever they stand.  Remember to get skewer sticks, if you do not have a fondue set.  Setup your chocolate on the graham cracker, get the marshmallow nice and gooey, put the hot marshmallow on top of the chocolate (leave skewer in), use the other graham cracker to smash down the marshmallow on the chocolate.  Then, slide the skewer out.  Be careful.  The marshmallow will catch fire, but go out.  I almost started a fire in a restaurant by dropping the flaming marshmallow on the tablecloth. Kids and adults will enjoy this alike.

∙         After everyone has eaten, my family and I always play games.  ALWAYS.  Men against women create the best competition.  ALWAYS.  And guess who wins every time.  This very statement begins another argument.  LoL

∙         If doing a food table, I always suggest doubling up on each item on the table and having them on opposite ends of the table and/or people being able to access the table on both sides.  I hate the pile up…I’m trying to get my plate!

∙         Have to-go boxes on hand.  It is so much easier to go to Smart and Final and buy the boxes rather than having plates and foil.

∙         All of your food should either be done or prepped the night before, so it only has to be warmed.  Only the appetizers should require some attentive oven or cook time.    Get some rest the night before, so you look great the day of. 

∙         Clean all rooms, but the kitchen before going to sleep on Thanksgiving, if you can’t tackle it.  This will make for easy clean up in the morning because everything will be collected in one room.

Lastly, remember that you are inviting people to your home.  A spill/drop is going to happen.  Don’t freak out.  Have cleaning supplies on hand.  If you can’t handle it, maybe you should not host.  I wrote a post on party planning before.  Check it out, too.

Sweetest Sweet Potato Casserole

22 Nov

Sweet potatoes are a mainstay on any southern table on a Sunday afternoon. But sweet potato casserole is reserved for special holidays only! This recipe is more of a give and take as my Gana does not use recipes, she uses experience and wisdom so be sure to use your culinary judgment as well!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter extract
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 bag of miniature marshmallows

Preheat Oven to 35o degrees

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thin strips. Place in skillet with water. Cook until most of water is gone and potatoes are tender. Place sugar, butter, flavorings and nutmeg in skillet and cook until all liquid the majority of the liquid has evaporated and potatoes are coated with sugar and candied.

Place potatoes in a mixing bowl and blend with hand mixer until smooth and blended (the mix should be thick and smooth, DO NOT PUREE). Place blended potatoes in an oven safe baking dish and cover in entirety with mini-marshmallows. Place baking dish in oven and the cook time is about 15 minutes. Make sure you closely monitor this dish as you want the marshmallows to brown and melt BUT NOT BURN!!!