I canna tell ye how many folks want t' have my recipes, after either hearing what I cook, or by tastin' it.
And I tell them, as I tell you now, that I don't use "recipes" much. Oh, there's the occasional time I have to get out my dog-eared, broken spine Fanny Farmer paperback (complete with missing loved up pages) and I get the scoop....
But I am more like a Pirate-Gypsy, and that goes for cooking too.
Pirates "take what they need and give nuthin' back." (i.e.you use what you have on hand) and well, Gypsies (pronounced "Geepsees") usually do a "Gypsy trade" (i.e. borrow without asking and leave some item in trade).
Now, to give you some background, I was raised on a farm with a farm wife's mentality:
Use what you have.
Make it go as far as possible.
Always take free stuff when offered.
Turn leftovers into something else.
Give anything that is leftover you don't want to the pigs in the morning..
Here's a confession: "I was once "Suzy Creamcheese". Yes, I was a good little stay at home wife, with 2 kids and a dog and a nice little home. Clean. Neat. I baked bread from scratch 10 loaves at a time. Canned. Gardened. Wore an apron and cooked with my little girls.Tried to impress the wicked mother in law. You know that old story...
But that's all o'er now.....
Girls grown, different mates, life too busy with gigs, travel and writing and being a Pirate Gypsy Minstrel Bard. Something has to give! I still have all the ingenuity of my upbringing to want to put on a spread for the loved ones in my life and to make sure company never leaves my home hungry.
But I don't have time or the patience or the snobbery for all that 'died in the wool "scratch is best" blather.
Cuz sometimes scratch is NOT best.
Case in point: My dear old mother's chili. It was basically her goulash but w/o the elbow noodles and without the Mexican seasoning but with added kidney beans. God rest her soul, but it wasn't her best work.
My sisters and I are all great cooks, but we all do things a bit different. And seeing as how I am also a Gemini, and would rather be banging my man or sleeping in after, or doing a myriad of other things instead of being stuck in kitchen for the better part of Thanksgiving Day...I'm gonna help you with the upcoming holiday meal's mandatory side dish: Stuffing.
I have served this many times....even to my wicked former mother in law (who is a food analyzer and critic of great reknown) and I pulled it off with panache!
(and BONUS: ye won't have to get up at 6am on Thanksgiving morning if you follow some of my tips)
Get out yer turkey. Use one of those turkey baking bags fer feck's sake and save yourself some time and the environment a bunch of energy on the cooking time. Yah there's a bag to throw away...but it came in one too. You are gonna cut your turkey cooking and clean up time by several HOURS.
And the bird will be moist and juicy and you don't have to baste it.
Not even once!!
Take out the giblets, heart, kidneys and neck from the bird. Go ahead. Reach into it's neck and bowels and grab the guts all wrapped up pretty for ye.
It's nothing like the farm, believe me. You grab real guts there. (but surely I digress :).
Take the neck and giblets and other mysterious parts, and boil them down in a saucepan with several stalks of chopped celery. This will make your house INSTANTLY smell like Thanksgiving Day. When the bits are cooked, put the parts on a plate and SAVE THE WATER. Give the cooked turkey neck to the dog on the porch. He needs something to do and will thank you later with raging dog farts, but he will love you like there is no tomorrow. (Tomorrow is Black Friday anyway, so you probably won't even be home for the gas part:).
Cut up the liver (that's the one that's the most yummy and cuts easily like pate'. Because it IS pate'. The heart is the toughest, use it by cutting it very small or toss it if you don't like it.
Take out a couple BOXES of Stovetop stuffing. That's right. (This is where TRUE Gourmet cooks faint). Use the cornmeal or sage. No sense in a chicken or a pig dying needlessly for your stuffing. Use the water that you cooked the turkey parts in and replace it for the plain water in the directions (you probably don't have to add the butter either) and throw in the cooked celery and turkey giblets and "mystery parts" :).
Cook as directed on the box the rest of the way.
I GUARANTEE you will want to make a double or triple batch of this for your company who will RAVE about your stuffing.
You won't have to cut up old bread. It's easy, quick and VERY yummy.
The only thing you must do is this piratical bit....:
DISPOSE OF THE STOVE TOP STUFFING BOXES deep down in the garbage before your company comes, and bat your eyes when they tell you it's the best homemade stuffing they ever had.
Not for the squeamish or the perfectionist cook.
Only for those of us who like to eat what tastes good and would rather spend time having fun with the company than stuck in the kitchen.
You can always make the guests do the dishes....by knife point, while you drink port or rum after dinner :)
Yar! Here's to the bird!