Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here's to New Traditions!

My family has some pretty serious holiday food traditions.  I've mentioned that before.  And the hubs has a fairly strict view of Thanksgiving fare.  So serious that I finally had to nail down what exactly is essential to him, since it's apparently his favorite meal AND he takes it so seriously.  The result?  Turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, Stovetop stuffing (NOT homemade) and pumpkin pie with whipped topping.  Though now that he's gluten-free, he does enjoy pumpkin pie bars, which are basically pumpkin pie without the crust.  And evidently, he's never been a big crust fan anyway.

This year, we all gathered at my brother's home for a family Thanksgiving affair.  Beautiful weather, an abundance of food, a brand spanking new baby and a great-grandmother rounded out the day.  It was exactly what Thanksgiving is about.  

And to top it off, those of us that are not of the crazy persuasion (i.e. those of us that love coconut with an everlasting love) enjoyed my brother's perfectly crafted homemade Coconut Meringue Pie.  He made one last year, but that was when he lived far, far away in a land called Illinois.  Now he's able to grace us with his presence.  And he's perfected the crafting of a fine meringue, something yours truly has not yet attempted.  But not only that.  He used an actual coconut for his Coconut Meringue Pie.  You know, one of those brown hairy things that look like a rock?  Yep, that.  And apparently he broke a knife in the process.  

I guess this pie called for unsweetened coconut flakes in the pie filling.  And after looking at a couple stores and not finding unsweetened coconut flakes, my brother decided he'd give the real deal a go.  Me, I'd just grab a bag of the sweetened stuff & call it good, knowing that it's PIE afterall.  But I'm not a glutton for punishment.  Just pie.

It was great, though.  And totally worth the effort of drilling a hole in the coconut, draining the milk, peeling the coconut, putting it in the food processor, and then actually making the PIE.  (His super awesome wife made a homemade crust for him too.  SERIOUSLY, people!  They need a show of their own.)

Since this is the second year Matt's made this pie for Thanksgiving, I officially declare it a tradition.  You're welcome, Smith family.  You're welcome.  (Make a note, Matt!)

After the Smith family affair, we stopped by my husband's relatives to say hello & goodbye.  And in the meantime, we learned that Jake's aunt Marti (she's been noted highly on this here blog before) had a bag of unsweetened coconut flakes in her pantry that she'd apparently procured at the Supersaver store just down the street.  My brother was super happy to learn of this the next day.

We extended our Thanksgiving celebrations to the following day, not with crazy shopping but with sushi.  As it should be.  Jake & I joined a couple of friends, my two younger brothers, their wives, and one sister-in-law's parents and brother at Hiro, our fave sushi joint for happy hour sushi on Friday night at 10pm.  LOTS of sushi was had by all.  And we declared the newest family holiday tradition to be Black Friday Sushi.  So you'll know where to find us next year.  Our table is open to all!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lemon VS. Lime

The debate has been raging in the Christian household for some time now.  ("Raging" *might* be overstating it a bit for effect. Might.)  I think it started when my helpful younger brother stated his preference for lime juice over lemon juice in cooking.  And my ever faithful husband hopped on that bandwagon with glee.

I don't mind lime juice.  I simply prefer the lemon variety.  It's slightly less tart & pungent.  More soothing and discreet.  There - with a kick - but not a kick AND a punch.  Know-what-I-mean?

Not to mention that lime juice is infinitely more expensive than lemon.  I can find multiple generic varieties of lemon juice on the market.  Not so much with lime.  And for MORE money, I can be the proud owner of a SMALLER bottle of lime juice.  What a deal!

My favorite Skinny Taste Black Bean Corn Salad calls for fresh lime juice.  Newsflash: I prefer it with lemon juice.  And the kind out of the bottle in my fridge works just fine, thanks.  (I know, this pretty much knocks me out of the "Foodie of the Year" award running, but I can deal with it, so join me, won't you?)  

We've been eating lots of fish lately & a preferred method of preparation is to drizzle the fish with olive oil & lime juice, sprinkle with some salt & pepper (and maybe some garlic salt or powder) and bake it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Top it with chopped avocado (sprinkled with a bit of garlic salt) after baking for added panache.  I would be more than happy to substitute lemon juice for the lime juice, but I think I might be met with a revolt.   

What's the verdict in your household: lemon or lime?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best Cheese Curd in Wisconsin

Growing up we had white cheddar cheese curds from the Kalona, Iowa, cheese factory in Amish country.  Our parents taught us that the freshest cheese curds squeak when you bite into them.  And the field trips to the cheese factory in grade school taught me that cheese making is kinda gross to look at but definitely delicious.  Mark Chitwood’s recent blog post reminded me of my innate love of cheese curds.

While in WI this fall I went to the Vernon County Fair. This fair has been going strong for 150 years. Though, this was my first time.

I love county fairs. The people are amazing. There are barn animals everywhere. Fried food. Need I say more.

The Westby Dairy is by far my favorite place to buy cheese curd in the world. Every time I am in SW Wisconsin I go to this dairy.

Well they had the curd mobile at the fair. I kid you not - there was always a line. Always. All they have there is Curd or Fried Curd and shakes. YUM YUM. If you love cheese - and I know you do - find your way to Westby, WI and go the this dairy. You cannot miss it - right on the main drag.

(Reposted with permission.  To learn more about great photography, visit Mark’s blog regularly: www.markchitwood.com)