The arc Buford incisively traces takes the network from an original premise of entertainment shored up by the credibility conferred by culinary experience to today’s foundation of “no-muss, no-fuss” kitchen short-cuts shows, epitomized by titles like “Easy Entertaining,” “Quick Fix Meals,” and “Semi-Homemade” (starring the near-anorexic Sandra Lee). “You don’t have to know how to cook,” Buford concludes, “just how to shop; and everyone knows how to shop.” Surprisingly, half of its audience is composed of men, according to the network’s president and former Lifetime channel executive Jenny Girard, while the other half of the audience isn’t described; presumably, the 37.5 million women who comprise that group are the over-scheduled, under-appreciated working mothers who’ve been tuning into food programming since Julia Child first lifted her whisk on public television in the sixties. Or are they?
I don't have time for this; I can't blog because the 27 members of my husband's immediate family (no aunts, cousins, grandparents, no, no, just the nuclear family with parents, wives, husbands and offspring) will arrive Thursday and that's only three days away.
So in between finally finishing the kitchen, cleaning out a jam-packed trunk room so I can fit other, equally unnecessary stuff from all over the house into it, the Salvation Army has seen a spike in donations and my curtains met my water for the very first time. This is serious cleaning, my little poults and writing is a luxury.
However, I would be seriously remiss if I didn't share a few Thanksgiving secrets--you know, things like brine your turkey (a bucket on the back porch works great this time of year as temperatures plunge nightly, but make sure you weight the lid so little creatures don't help themselves to a midnight snack--I kept that particular secret to myself last year), make your own cranberry sauce, etc., etc. Except that every other food magazine/cookbook/blog tells you to do all of those things too (except the animal part--that's gleaned exclusively from my particular experience). They don't, however, give you the perfect, the only, the ultimate pumpkin pie recipe to cherish and share.
Whipped or mashed? How do you prefer (demand) your potatoes at holiday time? It's an ongoing battle at my house, but as far as I'm concerned, Martha Stewart's version (god help me) wins hands down. Martha, Martha, Martha, how I love to hate you and even better, how I love to hate myself for loving your recipes. Now isn't that the essence of the holiday spirit? Take a bite of these potatoes and swoon.
Martha Stewart's Insanely Rich and Insanely Delicious Mashed Potatoes 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and quartered 8 tablespoons (1 stick)
unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces package cream cheese, at
room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream or Créme Fraiche Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Quarter potatoes and boil until tender in well-salted water (add about a tablespoon of salt once the water boils), about 15-20 minutes. Drain thoroughly and mash a with hand masher; while hot, beat in the butter, then cream cheese, and finally cream, with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt
and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 10. Or 8 after taste-testing for seasoning.
You need a little something to feed your hungry guests (read family) while that turkey endlessly roasts on Thanksgiving Day. Here's a less-than-difficult extra to go along with the Brie and the crackers:
4 c. black kalamata olives, Niçoise and green olives with pits, bruised (bang each olive with the flat side of a knife) Zest of 1 lemon (Meyer lemon, if you can find one this time of year), zested by grating with the medium holes of the grater. Avoid the pith! 2 tbsp. lemon juice 1 lemon (again a Meyer lemon, if you have it), cut into thin wedges and seeded. 4 tbsp. olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp.red pepper flakes 1/2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, stems discarded before measuring 1 t. fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme if you've got it) 2 t. dried oregano
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a big lidded jar and squish lemon wedges over to the the sides (this is purely for aesthetic reasons). Place in the refrigerator and shake vigorously a couple of times a day. Ideally you want to let it all marinate for a couple of days (or a week) but the olives can be served immediately. Just decant and bring to room temperature.
Check out the Festive Food Fair over at Morsels & Musings for holiday recipes from around the world--contrary to collective belief, Thanksgiving and the US aren't the center of the universe.