Archive for Gravy

Turkey Day at Work

Posted in Food, Holiday, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by urbannight

Today we have our turkey day at work.  The higher-ups get a Thanksgiving lunch catered in to us.  Despite bringing my camera to work, I totally forgot about it until I finished my meal.  Such sadness.  But I found some pictures that might do it justice.

The stuffing it the best part of the meal from these particular caterers. A drizzle of gravy, a dash of pepper, and you are done. No need to add salt to this dish. I always go back for seconds even though I shouldn’t. I will tell you why later.

I grew up being a potatoes girl.  As an adult, I’ve learned the joys of stuffing.  When I make my own, I start with stove top turkey stuffing.  I take the neck and giblets and cook them.  I add garlic, onion, celery seed to this pot.  It comes out like I put a proper garni bundle in with them without the fuss.  Then I dice them up, pull the meat off the neck, and use it in the stuffing.  I use a bit of the turkey juices to mix with the broth for the stuffing, toss in the meat, and add more sage, pepper, and cayenne to the mix.  Other wise, I just make according to the package.  Now, if I was able to skim off enough stuff from the pot of water in which I cooked the organs, I’ll use that water. It has to look like a good stock.   If it looks too ‘dirty’ then I’ll just use a chicken broth.  More often lately, I just use the chicken broth.

They make very good potatoes. I would say that, for the most part, you can’t ruin mashed potatoes. But the restaurants in Omaha manage to do just that. They leave nasty lumps in them to ‘prove’ they are real potatoes. I’m from Idaho, where the rule of thumb is that lumps in the potatoes are a sign of a lazy cook. Growing up, my job was the mashed potatoes. I used a hand masher and we didn’t add butter to the mix. We added two capfuls of milk to 5 potatoes. That was it.

I went back for seconds on the potatoes too.  Although, the way I’m feeling, I should have just had the seconds on the stuffing.

The corn was mixed with parsley. It was good corn. Touch of salt and pepper perfected it. But it wasn’t stand out corn. Just good average corn.

Add that to the dinner rolls, which were 5 different kinds of classy dinner rolls, the meal was 4 starches and one meat.  It could have used some sides that were less of a pure starch than these.  Corn at least had that clear hull over the kernel that is pure fiber.  Although the meat of the kernel has enough sugar starch that, like the potatoes, you really ought to count it as a bread serving rather than a veggie serving when balancing a meal.

This is where the meal falls apart. The turkey is just bad turkey. Every year. I couldn’t find a picture of turkey that looked as blah and bland as the turkey they serve.

They use those turkey breasts, of course.  They don’t cook enough whole turkeys for an office our size.  It’s much easier for caterers to use the packaged breasts.  But it tastes like they are using the chopped, processed stuff.  It definitely tastes like the kind that is injected with saline to plump it up and make it look good.  And even with the gravy, salt, and pepper, it still manages to taste awful.  I don’t know why I take a slice every time.  I guess I keep hoping that it will taste better this year.

The gravy is a very indifferent gravy.  Nothing special, very pale, very bland.  No seasoning at all.  It tastes okay on the potatoes with a bit of salt and pepper.  It tastes great on the stuffing with a bit of pepper.  It manages enhance the stuffing without masking any of the wonderful flavor of the stuffing.  It does NOTHING for the turkey, as I mentioned.

Now, as to why I make sure I get seconds . . . .

They seem to use two different caterers for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And one of them does not leave the leftovers.  They take it away with them.  Where it goes, I don’t know.  Maybe a food kitchen.  The thing is, the company pays for it all.  All the other catered events leave the food and we set up a second buffet the next day.  The entire office usually gets two meals out of what all the caterers send us for one meal.  No wonder Americans are so fat if everyone thinks that this is what people eat in one meal (rather than two).   SO, with stuffing THAT FANTASTIC, (so fantastic, I even like the celery in it and I hate cooked celery), I do make a point of getting seconds on the stuffing.

I worked out last night, I’ll go work out tonight.  I’ll try to burn off the second helping off stuffing.

Food Poisoning and Alcohol

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by urbannight

I’ve gotten a bit busy and behind in writing.  Ive got a list of topic ideas and a few sentences here and there started.  In the mentime, I will leave you with this litlte story.

One day I went to a bohemian restaraunt that did a nice hot beef sandwich.  I knew people who didn’t care for their gravy.  Sometimes it had too much paprika in it.  One day I didn’t like the gravy.  So I was scrapping it off.  I got half way through and it was too terrible.  I didn’t finish it and I didn’t get a to go box.  I told them that I didn’t like the gravy that day.  This was lunch time.  By dinner time I was having uncontrollable, projectile vomiting.  It wasn’t just over seasoned, it was totally off.

A friend called and said I should meet up with them at BWW.  I said I had food poisoning and didn’t want to be around food or alcohol.  She told me that what I really needed was a shot or two and it would make me feel better.  The alcohol would kill the bacteria causing food poisoning.  So I went out, had a shot of something called Wedding Cake.  It was amazing.  In a short time I was feeling much better. 

In fact, anytime I start to get the odd stomach sensation and I suspect food poisoning, I have a shot of scotch or rum or vodka.  It works like a charm every time.  Alcohol really is the cure for food poisoning if you are reacting to it before it gets to the intestinal tract. 

So if you are at that picnic this summer and are a bit concerned about that potato salad then chase it with a beer or two, or a shot of something, or a margarita.  Alcohol IS good for something!

Do Not Call it ‘Cajun’ and the Mayor’s Tax

Posted in Economics, Economy, Food, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by urbannight

This morning I went to try out Wheatfields.  A new eatery just a block away from home.  ‘New’ meaning it’s been there a year but I refused to eat there.  It used to be a wonderful European pastry shop with some soups and sandwiches.  You really went there for the desserts.  The building was sold and the owners forced them out because they wanted to charge a higher rent on the place.  So they brought in a regional chain.

The service was great.  My server was rather delicious looking himself.  Very pleasant and he went back to the kitchen to get me more seasoning for my soup.  I’ll get to the soup in a moment.

First, I’ll tell you about the half order of hot beef sandwich.  The potatoes were good with no lumps.  Since moving to Nebraska, getting mashed potatoes without lumps is a challenge.  They think that they much leave lumps to prove they used real potatoes.  I’m from Idaho.  Lumpy mashed potatoes is a sign of a lazy cook.  In grade school I could quickly use a hand masher and get smooth potatoes without using butter or a lot of cream.  I used about a table spoon or two of milk depending on the number of potatoes.  That’s it.  So the mash passed my standards.

The gravy was nothing to write home about.  But it was homemade beef gravy.  Not the super dark brown glop you often get on open faced hot beef sandwiches.  On one hand it was my father’s ordinary gravy.  On the other hand it was better than most everywhere else.  And I didn’t even need to add any pepper.

The beef was to die for.  It was an amazing roast that was shredded and put on the sandwich.  No slices folded together.  I thought it odd that it didn’t come with a steak knife.  Until I cut into it with my fork.  No knife needed for this sandwich.

I ordered a half order.  It was huge.  Half of the half order is now in my fridge for tomorrow.

They had two soups for today.  One was Tomato and Cheese.  I don’t like cheese soups in general and don’t like tomatoes.  I tried the other one.  Cajun Shrimp soup.  Let me count the flaws…..

1. The shrimp was salad shrimp.

2. Bland

3. Beyond bland into absolute lack of flavor.

The soup seemed to be a broth with a little bit of onion, some chopped carrots, and some cut tomato.  To this was added rice, salad shrimp, and some tomato paste.  There was supposedly some Cajun seasoning in there as well.  Cajun food is not normally bland.  Even if it isn’t spicy it normally doesn’t have a complete lack of any flavor at all.

I asked for some Cayenne pepper.  They didn’t have any but the kitchen sent me two little tubs of spice.  One had about 1T of cajun seasoning and the other had a chili power that was paprika based with some cayenne and some other chili in it.  I put half the cajun and a bit of the chili in it.  Better.  I then added all the rest of the cayenne and half of the chili.  MUCH better.

Rice, shrimp, and tomato paste does not make a dish Cajun.  Scaring the dish with the bottle of Cajun seasoning does not make is Cajun.  You have to actually USE the Cajun seasoning until it tastes like a Cajun dish before you can use the word Cajun to describe it.

Now you may wonder what a Mayor’s Tax has to do with this food rant.  If you are from anywhere near Omaha, NE you probably know where I’m going.  The new 2.5 % tax that gets added to your restaurant bill AFTER the state taxes.  So you also get taxed on the tax.  Different places have labled it differently on their sale’s slip.  I had to laugh when I saw that Wheatfield’s is labeling it the “Mayor’s Tax”.

People want to recall Mayor Suttle.  I understand the few people who are saying the economic and budgetary situation he inherited was not his fault. They are right.  But the people who want to recall him are not doing so because they think he created the situation.  They want to recall him because of his reaction to the situation.  The city council actually soften his ideas when they passed the budget.  The people of Omaha hated his ideas and plans once he got into office.  As much as people are screaming now, it would have been 2 – 3 times worse if the budget has passed as Mayor Suttle envisioned it rather than the way the council modified it and softened it.

The worse is, of course, the wheel tax.  People who live outside Omaha but work in Omaha now have to pay a wheel tax.  It will be collected via payroll deduction.  The issues is that these people are being taxed who have no way to vote on it.  No representation in Omaha.  There is a very large portion of couples who live outside the city and drive one vehicle to work.  But both will be charged the wheel tax on the one vehicle.  A person who happens to have two jobs in Omaha is going to get charged the wheel tax twice.  Once for each job even thought it is one vehicle.

People who live in Omaha already pay a wheel tax when they register their vehicle,  but only once per vehicle. Our wheel tax is going up as well and for less than the mayor wanted.  The city council lowered that amount as well.

The Mayor is very tax happy.  I understand they needed to raise taxes but he was going way out over the deep end about it.  The fact that Wheatfields now shows a ‘Mayor’s Tax’ on their sales slips seems funny and appropriate.