29 December 2009

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner! Quite the feast, if I do say so myself. There are two things you need to know:

1.) My oven is extremely small and has only one rack.

2.) I have an 8-month-old baby who does not like to sleep or be left alone for long stretches of time.

Thus, I had to

1.) Make things that I could prepare ahead of time in short bursts.

2.) Make things that didn't require an oven.

Our Christmas dinner menu was as follows:

--Herb-stuffed Cornish game hens (oven-roasted and stuffed with fresh basil, sage, and garlic cloves)
--Mixed green salad with
green onion
hard boiled egg (which I actually forgot to put on)
homemade croutons
Parmesan cheese
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
--Homemade whole wheat crescent rolls (with butter, of course)
--Crock pot ratatouille
--Cranberry lasagna

This processes started on Monday, when I defrosted my frozen bread butts so I could make croutons. (Don't tell my grandma I call them that -- my mom will get in trouble.) Tuesday I made the croutons and went to the store and bought A LOT of food.
[Croutons! I make croutons out of the ends of our bread machine bread. It's, as always, easier than it sounds. Take your bread ends, cube them. In a bowl (large enough to hold all your bread cubes), combine olive oil, garlic powder, and various dried herbs, like basil, sage, thyme, oregano, or whatever you want, really. You can also add Parmesan cheese, but I would use the cheapo shakable stuff, not the fancy shredded kind -- it doesn't stick as well. So you mix up all this stuff, throw the bread cubes in, and stir. Then you take the bread cubes out, spread them on a cookie sheet, and cook them in the oven at a low temp (like 250 or so) for at least 20 minutes. Stir them and check them every so often. When you bite into one, and it's crunchy, they're done! Let cool and store in a mason jar.]
Wednesday I dried out the rye bread for the cranberry lasagna, and soaked the flour for the crescent rolls. Thursday was the big cooking day: I baked the crescent rolls and made the cranberry lasagna, which involved toasting the rye bread crumbs and making cranberry sauce, among other things.

I ruined the first batch of cranberry sauce because I tried to make it without a recipe. I had a good reason, though. I knew from reading The Tightwad Gazette that you can put some baking soda in pies made of tart fruits and it will cut the tartness so you can use way less sugar. And I knew that any cranberry sauce recipe I found would not acknowledge this fact, and would therefore not actually help me. But I got a little overzealous with the baking soda on the first batch. It... um... Well, when Norman tasted it, he said, "It's like there's flavor at first, but then it gets sucked away!" Yeah, it was weird. Luckily, I had followed the advice on the bag of fresh cranberries -- "Buy Two; Freeze One!" So I tried again, but I put waaaay less baking soda in, a little at a time. It turned out AWESOME. Just cranberries, honey, and baking soda. Awesome.

I tried to give our postal carrier some crescent rolls, but he/she never showed. Can you blame him/her? The blizzard we had that day was ri-diculous. So there are some crescent rolls in my freezer right now. Woot! The recipe made 32 (the way I was making them. It was supposed to make 48).

Then on Christmas Day I started the crock pot ratatouille first thing in the morning. It simmered away for 7 or 8 hours, and man, was it tasty. Unfortunately, we gave some to Lucy and her chin got a little bit of a red rash. So that interrupted dinner. I suspect it was one of the many, many herbs and spices in the recipe. (We tried eggplant on her again yesterday, and she didn't have a reaction.) Ah, the adventures of baby-led weaning.

Christmas Day I also roasted the game hens. Om nom. Sadly, I forgot to take photos of them. Boooo.

Then, right before dinner I put together the salad and mulled the mead. Which was very tasty.

And then... I was exhausted. Man, putting together a feast is hard work!

Oh, but then I got my second wind on Boxing Day. Norman had the idea to make some noodles to go with the leftovers. I made egg noodles with butter and mixed them with the leftover ratatouille and chunks of the game hens (I'm reading this over and that sounds gross. Hmm.). Wow. Very tasty. So apparently, if I'm trying to make something out of castoffs, I can cook all day. Makes sense, I guess.

1 comment:

JemJam said...

Wow, Jessie, you did a lot with a tiny oven! I'm itching to get a second oven. I do not like croutons that often, but, I'll eat them when I make them.