Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eating Omily: Getting into the Holiday Eating Spirit

Oh, the morning after Thanksgiving! Glorious because of the left-overs, distressing because of the dishes.  We started our day off right with an amazing breakfast: sausage and eggs (of course) with left-over mashed potatoes formed into patties and fried in butter, left-over crescent rolls smeared with whipped cream, and cranberry relish.

We got most of the dishes done around midnight, which is pretty good, I think! you know what the next thing we did was?  If you've been reading along for a while, you can probably hazard a good guess!  What was left of our beautiful pheasant had to go in the stock pot with cold water, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, carrots, onions, and garlic to get turned into golden, fragrant stock.

Now I've got two icecube trays full of stock, and a big mixing bowl-full in the fridge, waiting its turn to be frozen.  In another day or two, we'll have a couple-month supply for soups, and other yummies.  You can add stock to anything you would add water to, and aside from coming with more flavor of course, it also comes with vitamins, minerals, and gelatin, which aids in digestion.  You can also use it in place of dairy if you don't always digest dairy well, or are concerned with the quanity of saturated fat in a dish.

Though you should know that if your dairy is coming from animals that eat grass when there's grass outside and hay (dried grass) when there's not, the saturated fat in dairy is actually healthy and full of superfood compounds that nurture your heart and your brain: the exact same stuff in coconut oil that everyone's suddenly going so nuts over! You don't have to have coconut oil shipped to you from across the planet (though full discloser: I keep a jar around for when I run out of butter/need something that can handle a higher heat point than butter) to get all those joint lubricating, heart healthy, metabolism speeding benefits.  You can just get butter from the Farmers' Market, and eat it, guilt free!

Well, there you have it. An early Christmas present from me to you: butter's a health food.

In other really good news, did I tell you I found chestnuts at the Farmers' Market?? I was super excited about this because buying chestnuts from a street vendor and using them to keep my hands warm while looking at store windows is something the holidays wouldn't be complete without...and now I can make them myself!
They're easy to make at home, too: cut an X into the flat side of each chestnut, all the way through the skin, then roast at about 425 degrees for about half an hour. Partially because of the roasting, their texture isn't like other nuts. You'll probably get a few burned ones in your batch that are too crunchy to eat, but the perfectly done ones are soft, almost like an underripe banana, but sweeter, and tasting just a bit like that, too. They have a really rich flavor that I love. We ate ours with butternut squash soup, and sautéed brussels sprouts for a warm, comforting, and nutrient-packed holiday dinner.
If you make more than you want to eat right away, peel all of them as soon as they're cool enough to handle! The cooler they get, the harder it is to peel them.  The side you cut the X into will have peeled up a bit, and if you press that side hard enough, the shell will usually crack into a couple easy-to-remove pieces, but the shell can be sharp, and it gets harder as it cools, so if you wait too long you'll want to use a tool to help you instead of your tender thumbs!

Think you'll make roasted chestnuts this Christmas? Or perhaps you have your own traditional treats you can't do without? Have fun awakening your Holiday appetite!

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