Sunday Morning today is called "Eat, Drink and be Merry," and features eveyrthing on food, from menus, to Chinese food, to creating at 11 Madison Avenue without menus. Chef Daniel Humm says that you wouldn't get a mineu dining at someone's home, so that's his philosophy. Of course, you don't pay usually when you dine at someone's home, either. Also there is a special on Mme. Cecilia Chang, guru of Chinese Food. No moogoo, no chop suey, no egg foo young. Sorry for typos; I'll fix it later.
The Mandarin was Mme. Chang's restaurant. Kung Pao, Peking Duck, and Sesame Shrimp are authentic.
1. Easy Pot Roast.
You don't need a crockpot. If you are a crock expert, and I'm not, go for it. Hint: Sunday AM is showing you how to make potroast, all tied up and everything, in a crock pot.
Take any cut of beef, less than 1 lb or so works. Chuck, eye of round, thick porterhouse, even, flank steak, probably. Spray a glass pan, 9 x 13, with pam, or grease it lightly. Place cut of beef or other meet. You could probably use a chunk of tofu and veggie broth, too. Pour a can of broth, aobut 12 oz over it, and if needed, add water till you reach about half way to the beef top.
Season meat; I used Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, about 5 shakes each, and a little basil. Tuck a pat of butter in a couple of places in the meat.
Cut up celery, onions, carrots, strips of fresh peppers, throw in some brussels sprouts, cabbage, or garlic. Musrooms are good, too.
Bake in preheted 425 degree oven, about an hour and one half, till meat is cooked. Cooking time varies with size of meat.
Refrigerate leftovers. They are great if you skim the fat off the broth, aadd about 3 large tablespons of beef gravy, any kind. I used Heinz because it was on sale. Microwave 3 minutes per serving or until hot.
Enjoy. Makes about 6 servings.
2. Meat Balls by my Mom:
1 lb lean ground beef, break up into a large mixing bowl.
about 1/4 chopped onion and/or celery
2 tbsp. grated cheese, parmesan is good
5 shakes each salt and pepper
Italian seasoning, garlic, oregano, basil
Curry is good, powdered, if you like space
Fresh herbs are great
Dash Worctershire sauce, optional
A couple lartge tbsp. bread crumbs, I used Italian
Mix all ingredients in large bowl.
Greece a cookie sheet. Heat oven to about 40.
Roll with your super clean hands liittle balls, aabout 1-2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Then, bake, 15-20 mins. Watch carefully and when they brown or season, take it out.
Let cool. Can be about 4 dozen meatballs. Use on pasta, make sauce for it with tomatoes, make Swedish meatballs, sandwiches, or eat plain.
Can fry in olive oil, if preferred.
3. Chicken Soup:
1 chicken, clean and boil. Skin if desired.
When cooked, in about half an hour, in a stockpot or Dutch oven, add all kinds of vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. The longer you boil it, the better.
Refridgerate or freeze after use.
Relatives for dessert.
Let me say first off I love the holidays and autumn; I live for September thru December, and exist thru the rest of the year. I can't tell you why, but bad things happen to me during this time, and I usually get sick, but I still love it.
We used to celebrate every holiday with my mom. When her sister was able, she sent packages with little gifts for every holiday, with everything beautifully wrapped. I sent cards everywhere and made elaborate decorations.
Then, my mother died, and my father revealed that he hated all holidays. No Xmas tree any more, no Jack O Lantern, nothing.
So, turn to my husband's family, you say?
Wrong. His sister schedules family fights for Thanksgiving, if she comes. It used to be fun to join the cast of thousands who arrive, and the food is very good, but the dynamics are not. I seem to be target number one for personal sniping. Family members assign insults to me through various guests who deliver them.
The annual newsletter usually excludes us completely, step great-grand grandchildren we've number heard of are lauded over, but we're out. I'm in as "the Greek person" in the list of ehtnicities and nationalities at the table.
I usually get up and leave Xmas Eve. I spend it alone. This began with my own family ostracizing me years ago for dating my husband, and my current family ostracizing me for marrying their son and chief Scapegoat. Most of my siblings in law don't talk to him, or me, a. for defending him, and b) on the principle of guilt by association. They are waiting for my inlaws to die so they can inherit. The way they live, my inlaws are going to outlive all of us. Good for them, too. They work full time in their 80s, travel, exercise,socialize, run businesses. Nothing stresses them.
My sister in law always arrives soused, I like to call her Aunt Zima, in tight pants, false boobs straining her tight, cheap sweaters, her bleached blonde bouffant 60s "That Girl" hair remaining solidly in palce, evcn in cold winter winds. I think she had her bottom padded, or whatever. She used to be very thin; this new voluptuousness just doesn't look right.
"Becareful of the duck liver, it may have buck shot in it!" She giggles, as she hints how she'd like to produce another boy as heir and a spare for my inlaws. Our son doesn't count, of course. If she runs out of booze, she throws gifts back in the giver's face, picks fights over Happy Meal toys, and generally sulks over what her Daddy would do if he were there. She's at least 51, and Daddy married a girl younger than she is. Her mother is crazy, and lives out of state. She did remarry and got help. My sister in laws parents and step-parents are ten times nicer to me than she ever was. She sees me as competition. If she can't mooch of my in-laws, how will she live? Her excon friends and the hookers she has associated with, not to mention her many boyfriends, will all suffer. Ah, the humanity!
The rest of them all drink and are loud. Most are over 70. Favorite topics, Politics, [sources: the Internet and SNL], sex, "Weird Medical Tests I have Loved," and sex.
My father in law tells me it helps to drink a lot. Unfortunately, I don't drink. I'm too old to learn.
If you stick around long enough, you get to watch old people open their presents. There really aren't any for me or my husband. My son gets some insanely expensive gadget, and then fights with his spoiled, nasty little girl cousin over whose is better. [The girls' usually is. One of them leaves me"seial killer" hate notes disgusied as Xmas cards. Yet, I'm the one who used to buy her things, and offer to take her out, write to her, email her. Familiarity breeds contempt on her part. We're very proud of her; she just turned 21 and go her first tattoo].
I'm not into presents, ButI still give a lot of them. I enjoy giving them and making them. But, I never get anything any more. My hustand is not big into Christmas. In fairness, his brother died three days before, and was buried on Xmas Eve. I get why the celebrations are so dysfunctional. I'm just not into making it worse. We don't have to celebrate anything, but we don't have to make a mockery of Christmas, either.
We used to do a tree for his mother, with ornaments that belonged to our Jewish aunt. I know, but lots of people have Xmas stuff. It's largely secular in many ways, anyway. Or at least, nondemoninational. We don't do that anymore. She has interior decorator type decorations, mainly fozen looking and icy. Very appropo.
We usually head for the shopping centers out of town for sushi on Thanksgiving. Or, I just stay home.
Thanksgiving and ChristmasI eat early with Dad, sometimes a can of soup. He doesn't let me cook or bring anything. Last year, he threw out shrimp and lobster tail to spite me. We go to the cemetery, which is really where my heart is anyway. Dad goes to bed aby 6pm, up at 3.
Christmas Eve my family used to open gifts, play carols, sometimes go to Church. I used to sing in the choir at Christmas, too. In California, we had all kinds of seafood and homemade desserts. We didn't have necessarily expensive gifts, but everyone had a lot, and they were fun and unusual things. We searched all year, made things, hit after Xmas sales.
I wrapped gifts on Halloween, if I could! Did cards at Thanksgiving, had packages out by December 1. I get very few cards, now. I wait to see who sends them before I mail any. Money is always an issue anymore, and cards, to me, are the real gifts. I scarcely have time to do them, but I miss the people who get them, so I try. I email cards, too, and it's fun, but not the same. Still, I try to remember everyone somehow.
We called each other during the holidays, my family that is, though I dreaded the calls from my mother's in -laws. They, too, were great at sniping at us "Americans," even if we are all fluent in Greek, and other languages for their snooty information. She usually ended up crying. Now, my Dad thinks' they're all the cat's pajamas. Sure the are, after the cat barfed in them.
I played carols on my guitar and piano, Joe, my wonderful guitar teacher, gave me a book of Xmas carols with chords. He used to write songs for me, and transpose the chords himself. He was wonderful, and only aobut 8 years old than me. And so patient. Merry Christmas, Joe, wherever you are. I miss you, and Monday nights at Grigg's Music.
My mom wrapped piles of presents, and hid little things on the tree and all over the house. I did, too. Her birthday was three weeks after Xmas; I loved finding surprises for her and making her things, but she always seemed disappointed with the holidays. I guess hers were not quite the same as with her own family, either. Day after Xmas found us at Marshall Fields. So did Black Friday. Oh, to have one of MF's Yule Logs and to hear the music playing in the cold air.
I read a lot of Christmas Stories, including Tasha Tudor's book on Xmas, "Take Joy."
Wish I still could do these things. Wish we could play "The Little Drummer Boy" on the record player.
Now, I try to go to church with Dad, and to the cemetery. I send packages to my Aunt and Uncle in California. I miss them, and my home there, and Xmas roses.
I think of my Mother constantly. I live in my memories, and listen to the Christmas caorls and songs on the radio. I hate the modern sad ones. Go get a life, I say.
I remember how she cooked. When I can, I bake her recipes. Like those above, I cook them, too.
I play carols on the piano, I look at the store displays. I take out our ornaments, even if I can't display them, and just look.
My kitties don't let us have a real tree, and I don't have a lot of room anymore to decorate as I did, but I sitll like to look, and add an ornament to our family collection My Mom loved them, and one day, you never know. She used to buy me Nativity figure at Woolworth's, and later, she started a Fontanini collection. We bough a fruitcake just for kicks and tradition, and strung popcorn.
So, Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving, of course, and everyone hang in there. Remember, Christmas is a feeling of goodwil for everyone. Keep it in your heart, even when everyone else is fighting over the xbox.
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