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With anticipation of a new year, we prepare for a fresh start, with new goals and good intentions. But hold your horses. Before you begin 2011 with a strategy to improve your health by consuming more plants and eating meat sparingly or maybe not at all, bring on the bacon. Bacon has been a hot food in 2010. It's not just being eaten sizzling and crispy right out of the skillet. Bacon has been adding flavor to many things sweet. I've seen bacon ice cream, bacon peanut brittle, bacon cupcakes and peanut butter bacon cookies. Bacon has been dipped in chocolate and infused into vodka.
Popcorn. It's the official winter snuggling snack in our family. Whether it's a snowy Saturday afternoon or a way-below-zero evening in front of the fire, there is often a big bowl of buttered popcorn in our laps. During a recent stay at my son and daughter-in-law's house for our annual marathon Christmas cookie baking weekend, my son made popcorn one night after all three children were in bed. Bright and early the next morning, my 3½-year-old grandson was eating what was left in the bowl. Popcorn's not bad for breakfast, either.
This time of year many of us are up to our ears in butter, flour and sugar as we mix and pat and roll and bake. Many holiday bakers will wrap up their homemade cookies, candies and breads to share as gifts. I've been doing that for years. It's a tradition I grew up with.
The fun and festive holiday season is upon us. In my quest for keeping my stress levels low and my spirits high, I'm keeping everything as simple as possible this year. Spicy Cranberry Cream Cheese Pastry Bites is an appetizer I will be making all through the holidays to take to every single event that I'm asked to bring nibbles to share. And everyone who comes to my house will be served these luscious little sweet, tart, spicy, creamy, crispy bites. I've stocked up on cranberries, cream cheese and boxes of frozen puff pastry.
Bill, I just mixed up some crullers. It seemed a much less intimidating task when you were in charge. Wish me luck! Sue As I mixed up the dough to make puffy crullers, I recalled my introduction to the sweet treat. It was one of those unseasonably hot days we experienced in October. The thermometer in Willmar, Minn., read 80 degrees as I joined my new friend, Bill Strong, in his kitchen. Bill was ready to teach me how to make crullers. Bill, a loyal reader of my column, loves to cook and bake.
One morning I was sitting in a small café having breakfast, taking notes on the unique combination of ingredients in the scrambled eggs I was eating. The next afternoon I was sitting in a movie theater watching Harrison Ford playing the part of a grizzly, grumpy, serious journalist-turned-begrudging-morning news anchor, Mike Pomeroy, in the movie "Morning Glory." The dour anchor who refuses to utter the word "fluffy" on the morning program, eventually softens, swallows his pride, dons an apron and prepares a mean and "fluffy" frittata on the air. The next day I was in my kitchen roasting a p
One day in 1960, a woman in Connecticut asked her daughter, Irene, to drive her to Stamford, about an hour away from their home. Craig Claiborne was going to be giving a cooking demonstration. Irene, who was barely beyond 20 years old at the time, didn't care much about cooking. But she agreed to take her mother to see Claiborne in action. Just three years before that cooking demonstration delivered on a stage set up with a bare-bones primitive kitchen, Craig Claiborne had been named food editor at the New York Times, the first male in the country to take on that position at a newspaper.
Ten years ago I could say I'd never seen a ruffed grouse. I definitely had never tried to cook one. Then I moved to northern Minnesota. My first peek at a ruffed grouse happened one day when I heard a loud crash against the living room window. There was the large speckled bird, lying dead on the ground. My neighbor came to fetch the feathered creature, affirming my suspicion that indeed it was a ruffed grouse. He grabbed the bird, took it home, cleaned it and brought me the meat. His wife told me how to cook it.
It's magical, really. As the family gathers around to observe, your sharp knife skillfully passes through pale yellow skin of a cylindrical fruit that has been cooked to tenderness. Curiosity mounts as you prod the halves apart. With a fork, you gently scrape the seeds away from the steaming hot flesh. And then, with the same fork, you amaze your audience as you pull out noodles. Well, they look like noodles. And that's why the steaming food before you is called spaghetti squash. Although some would say spaghetti squash is a substitute for pasta, that is a bit misleading.
A snack of warm, buttery, freshly popped corn has been one of my favorite treats for as long as I can remember. It stems way back to my childhood when my mom would make popcorn for the family to munch as we sat in front of the black-and-white television watching Dorothy and the little Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. Holiday TV specials also warranted a bowl of popcorn. Back to the stove my mom would go to shake a pot of corn kernels over a hot burner. I've gone through many phases of my own popcorn-making techniques.