Friday Food. December.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to create in the kitchen, but having quarantine foisting Thanksgiving on us let me make the entire Thanksgiving dinner which I hadn’t done in years. Although to be fair, I do a similar meal for Easter, Rosh Hashanah, and Christmas.

This year we did a few things differently. For several years my sweet potato pie became sweet potato casserole, so I went back to the pie version, and it was really good and brought me back in time. We ate it both as a side dish and a dessert (on different nights).

Another dish I made was a new take on my mother’s candied carrots.

Leeks and Carrots. (c)2020

Here are the basics, but use your imagination.

  • Wash the leeks thoroughly. They are like children in that they have dirt in all the spaces.
  • Melt a stick of butter in a pan. Add the leeks in and saute them for a little bit.
  • Pour in a bag of frozen baby carrots (or cut your own carrots into baby carrot size).
  • Once the carrots are defrosted, add some fresh ground pepper, and then add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1-2 cups of orange juice (the amount depends on the size of the pan.
  • Let it come to a boil, then lower to simmer, letting it simmer for about ten to twenty minutes. It can really stay on the low heat until the rest of dinner is ready.
  • Serve it with a slotted spoon so the plate doesn’t get too soupy.

The second dish I made just last week. We had cooked chicken tenders in the fridge and because my son cooked them, there was no spice whatsoever on the tenders.

I cut them each into threes or fours and threw them in a wok on medium, adding about half a small jar of Korean BBQ sauce.

I trimmed the ends off of fresh green beans and broke them in half, and added them to the wok, mixing the chicken and the beans until they were hot and incorporated with the sauce.

This was also a way to heat the cold chicken without the microwave. I spooned them over jasmine rice (although any type of rice that you like is the perfect rice).

Chicken, sauce, and green beans in the wok. Almost finished. (c)2020
Closeup of the serving. (c)2020

One thing I noticed in looking back, I didn’t cook either dish with oil. Oil has its place in the kitchen especially in sauteeing, but I just used the juice for the first one and the Korean sauce for the second.

As the year comes to a close, start the new year with experimenting with your food. In January, I’ll have some basics to share with you – resources that everyone can use and adapt to their own style and family.

Soup

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Soup is one of those comfort foods that cross over all demographics – economically, culturally, all the ways. Every culture has its own soup specialty – Italian Wedding Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Gazpacho, New England Clam Chowder…I’m sure you can name ten more.

During Lent, my church renewed its yearly tradition of noon Mass followed by a soup lunch, beginning with Ash Wednesday. When shelter-at-home orders came down, they decided to continue the Wednesday soups through no-contact delivery. This occurred for three weeks, and the delicious selections were: Creamy Vegetable Chowder, Hamburger Barley, and Chicken Noodle. They were amazing!

For Easter, I made matzo ball soup for part of our dinner. I know that matzo ball soup doesn’t quite sound like part of an Easter meal, but it was also Passover, and everyone in the family loves it, so really, I can’t go wrong.

I just noticed in the below picture that all three soups, made by different cooks, all have carrots!

Soup is comfort for the soul, and for the stomach. I’ve found blowing on the hot soup and watching the steam rise like incense in the church is very nearly a prayer for the gift of soup, and the gift of love and friendship. Mmm, mmm, good.

Soups: Matzo Ball, Chicken Noodle, Hamburger Barley. (c)2020