The HeatCageKitchen Christmas

Good evening, Dear Readers:

My sincerest apologies for taking so long. One thing leads to another, then it’s the holidays, and the blog just gets postponed. I’ll try to keep up on this during the new year.

BRRRRRR!!!!!  Seems like the whole world is frozen, at least north of the equator! Australia, however, is having record heat, so they’re sort of learning what Texas is like in the summer. Nevertheless, if you are in need of something warm and tasty, please have some Yeast Free Hot Chocolate and remember to bring your pets and critters INSIDE, or somehow keep them from freezing. Not safe for man or beast anywhere!

If you’re wondering how Christmas went, well, it went much better. Hang on, I have a few other things to tell you about first.

Remember the new cupcake shop down in the tunnel, New Addictions? Bad news—they’ve closed for good. I get to my office via an entry that passes right by that place, and I figured, like a lot of places, they would be closed during the week of Thanksgiving. While several eateries in the tunnel were open, most were closed and I just thought they were going to do the same thing.

And when we returned after the Black Friday weekend, the gate was down, and all the fixtures were gone. All that’s left is the name painted on the wall. What a shame—they nearly always had at least one person in there contemplating a cupcake. A click on their website says that they have closed both locations. I sent them an email expressing my condolences, but I haven’t heard back—and there’s a good chance I won’t.

What happened? Who knows. But I’m sure the Fraziers are up to something else, and it’s likely very tasty, too. I hope they do well in whatever they do next; they’re really nice people.

Also, the HeatCageKitchen garden is doing great–I have harvested three tomatoes before the freeze came, and the little orbs are ripening on the breakfast bar. Garlic is shooting up, and while the Meyer lemon plant just grows green leaves, the sage is coming up, the rosemary is enjoying all this, green onions are growing up straight, the strawberry plant is nice and green (no berries), the aloe vera is fine, and I’ve got flat-leaf parsley shoots popping through the soil. No lettuce yet, but I might try radishes soon. I’ve been inundated with seed catalogs after ONE order from Territorial Seed a month or so ago, where I got the garlic.

If you’re someone who watched the cartoon The Jetsons many years ago, or have seen it in reruns, you were likely treated to visions of a 21st century kitchen. Well, it’s what they thought would be “the kitchen of the future,” with lots of buttons everywhere. We have that, with touchpads on everything from microwaves to iPhones, but I don’t think we’re at the point of taking protein pills instead of having food for dinner. The Wall Street Journal did an article recently on the futuristic kitchen we were promised. And while it’s great that we can invent such things, well, the comments indicate that simple is better. 

Do you really need a circuit board and touch panel on your refrigerator or built into your dishwasher? Me either. Turn on and run, OK?

Speaking of fun in the kitchen, another WSJ article told me about something I’ve never heard of, called the Bimby.  There is also a video, but you have to sign in to see it. Also, this magic machine is NOT, repeat, NOT currently available in the US, and apparently not anytime soon, either. It is available in Canada under the name Thermomix, and one of the commenters says that their power is the same as ours, 110v.

Spinach and cod? Oh, that’s right up there with eggplant lasagna. You have it, OK?

Well, it’s interesting, but not as much fun as the YouTube videos of cats riding the Roomba. More robots at work in our homes, while the cat just sees it as catering to his natural superiority. But seriously, you can kind of do the same thing with a food processor and a toaster oven, or maybe a Vitamix (which I don’t have.)

Now back to Christmas.

As I mentioned last time, Thanksgiving dinner was a gluten-free disaster, thanks in part to my enthusiasm and my guest’s gift of some pretty potent Sangria. However, because the guest knows I’m a good cook, he agreed to give me another chance at Christmas; he was not disappointed this time. He did bring wine, and I had some, but there was no intoxication before dinner, nor after. I did bake the raspberry pistachio cake he hinted at, and he took the whole thing home in a disposable pan.

About a week before, I got an email from The Barefoot Contessa Blog, and one recipe she mentioned was Green Beans Gremolata, so I decided to include that.

Green Bean Gremolata. Really good, and easy!

I did turkey again, but of course was unable to obtain a turkey breast on the Sunday before Christmas. There was no way I was going to mess with another whole turkey, let alone a 22 pound beast, so I got turkey thighs, which I prefer anyway. They’re kind of down-market for a holiday dinner, but again, no huge beasts for me this time. I went to Ina’s last book, How Easy Is That? and made Herb Roasted Turkey on page 128, just with turkey thighs. Oh, yeah. . . .

Herb Roasted Turkey Thighs

Herb Roasted Turkey Thighs

Also in How Easy Is That?  I came across Celery and Parmesan Salad on page 62. Pretty darn good!


Celery Parmesan Salad. Must be tasted to be believed.

I also made some more of the Tuscan Chickpea Mash from Foolproof, (page 42) a second cousin to hummus (but with no sesame paste in it.)  I made that as an appetizer, and it’s one I really like, but he said, “Meh.” He did try it and said it was good, but just wasn’t interested.

Tuscan Chickpea Mash with cut celery, a nice appetizer.

Tuscan Chickpea Mash with cut celery, a nice appetizer.

Because I was baking him a cake the night before, I also decided to use up the rest of the buttermilk and made him some cornbread. It’s an old Martha Stewart recipe from her big green compendium on page 107, and I’ve never had anyone turn it down. Yes, the cake and the cornbread both were NOT, repeat, NOT, gluten free, and no, I didn’t eat it, just made it. (Oh, and Miss Gluten Free was in the grocery buying white flour right before Christmas.)

He doesn’t care, like a lot of folks, so I made him what he likes, which is everything you see here.

No, it's not gluten free, except for the pie. I emailed this pic to him the night before so he would know I was serious about doing dinner right this time.

No, it’s not gluten free, except for the pie. I emailed this pic to him the night before so he would know I was serious about doing dinner right this time.

I wanted to also make Nigella Lawson’s addictive white bean mash with lemon and garlic, but I just didn’t have the time, even though it doesn’t take too long. Next time, maybe. That steamed chocolate pudding was untouched, and it’s in the pantry for another day.

Dessert was something I wasn’t going to mess with: pecan pie. I was in Erma’s Nutrition Center the Saturday before and decided to go the bought route. I called him to ask what he’d like: pecan, key lime, or pumpkin, which is what they had that day. He said pecan, so I got one.

The Gluten Free Pecan Pie even a manly man could enjoy!

The Gluten Free Pecan Pie even a manly man could enjoy!

Gluten Free Nation (formerly known as Gluten Free Houston) makes these cute little 5-inch pies that are great. I’ve had blueberry, apple and a few others. This was my first time with pecan, and the pie did not disappoint. A little whipped cream and we had a perfect gluten free dessert. One day I’m gonna visit their store on a Saturday, and maybe I’ll write a whole blog post, too. I’ve met the owner, Randi Markowitz, who herself has celiac disease and created the company to help out folks everywhere who just want to avoid gluten.

After he chowed down on a slice, I told him it was gluten free. He was surprised, and he really liked the pie; but I guess the clue was that I ate a piece, too. No complaints on anything, and he went home happy with a bag full of glutinous munchies, which he later said he enjoyed.

He also claims there are still stains on his kitchen ceiling from when I was cooking in his kitchen. No true. Nothing I made ever exploded in his kitchen.

Mission accomplished. He spent some time with his kitty cat, we caught up on some stuff, and for a little while, all was right with the world. He promised that next time he’d bring some free-range eggs from his bud’s chicken coop to see what I could do with that. Oh, I’ve got just the thing from Giada de Laurentiis–a frittata!

Next up. . .getting over the holidays.

Happy Dining!

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