before he hits repeat

Someone – please stop my brother.

The youngest one of us (who is also usually the most jolly) has been needling us to anarchy for weeks now.

“Can I play Christmas Music?”

“Let’s turn on some… Christmas Music…”

“Who’s for a little bit of … Christmas Music!!?”

“Oh good – I’ll sweep the floor… andplaychristmasmusic…”

He thinks if he inserts these words quickly enough into a normal, every day, inconspicuous conversation that we the old ones will be duped into saying, “Oh sure – wonderful idea!”  He thinks wrong.

As my brother must learn, there are rules. There is protocol. There are expectations and reservations and limitations that keep time from happening all at once and becoming a Horrific Mess. The End. And since I am so much older and so much more experienced and so much wiser, I see that these boundaries are what give the holidays their extra glimmer. If we go around playing Christmas music all helter-skelter any ol’ time – we will wear it out and the world might end, or we might start another Black Plague, or at the very least we will all be sick of the sound of it by the time Christmas actually rolls around. We, the old ones, must preserve the sanctity of the holidays from they, the jolly ones. *steps off soap box*

At any rate, the fact is that the holidays are approaching at a frighteningly swift pace, and I can’t believe it. I’m still dawdling around wondering when the trees will reach peak color. How did I get so far behind? Keep up, Ann! In just a few days the Christmas music will start and reality will set in and I must be prepared.

A huge part of the holidays, for me at least, is the food. Yay food! The oldest brother said to me several weeks ago that he was planning on loosing something in the neighborhood of 20 pounds in preparation for the holidays. I have no idea how far he’s come towards that goal, but I admire his gumption. November and December have a cruel way with waistlines, and it’s terrifying and mystifying and wonderful all at once.

The recipe I’m going to share this week is a little secret weapon in the food-fight that will begin in mere hours. It’s a veritable bomb of comfort and joy that utilizes handy leftovers as well as several other ingredients that aren’t Holiday specific at all, just in case you need to call a time-out and recoup your losses.

 

Turkey Soup with Quinoa and Spinach

otherwise known as ‘Holiday Pause Soup’

You will need:

3-4 quarts of turkey (or chicken) broth

1/2 pound turkey meat (which could always be increased or decreased to your preference)

10 oz frozen spinach

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 medium sized onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp butter or olive oil

Optional other leftover ingredients such as corn, chopped roasted veggies, etc.

 

Dice the onions and garlic and then sauté them in your butter or oil in a large soup pot. When the onions are translucent and limp, add your quinoa and let it brown for a minute or two. Then pour in the broth and cap it. Let the quinoa simmer in the broth for half an hour or so before adding the rest of the ingredients. I think a little pureed squash or sweet potatoes would add such great texture and taste fabulous! Let this boil until the spinach is cooked, about 10 – 15 additional minutes and then you are ready to serve. It’s a clever way to change the outfit of heavy holiday foods and add some much needed yule-tide greenery to your dish.

Well, gentle reader, so it begins. Are you ready? Make sure to double up on your vitamin C and get enough liquids in the midst of all the merry making. Honor the things that make this time of year precious and don’t be afraid to take a pause every now and then to reset and recharge. Have a bowl of soup, count your blessings and go forth and be merry!

 

homemaker’s victory

I consider the first woman who ever mixed leftover meat with vegetables and seasonings before frying it a domestic revolutionary. She is on my list of ‘Most Inspiring People’. I picture her standing over the blistering hot skillet, hand on her hip, a slight smile playing around the mouth that was more familiar with pursing in serious concentration.

 “Wait till he tries *this*.” She thinks, and I see the smile breaking out now, bright as dawn. Perhaps her burly man had sighed over the soups that were the usual destination for left-overs. Being the thrifty and ingenious matron that she was, she probably set her busy mind on the predicament while scrubbing linens or spinning yarn until she had her solution.

I can see her grating, chopping, adding a little of this and that to scraps of cured pork or beef or mutton, mincing them together with potatoes, cabbage, carrots… what ever her fancy landed on, making her hash and thereby answering her problem. The hot, black pan was made ready for the newborn culinary creation with a swipe of lard and then, just as the man of the house returned from his work, the hash was slapped on and cooked up. He was, I am sure, enticed by the fragrant promise of a good dinner and she was well pleased.

That is as far as I dare conjecture. I know, I went pretty far as it is, but I won’t presume to know whether she served it with eggs, gravy or  a sturdy, home made biscuit. We’ll leave that to her….

I made a very simple hash the other night for the Man of this home, and like that woman so long ago, I made it as an answer to a masculine request… “Can we get some canned hash sometime to eat? I love hash.”

Canned Hash?

Call it Pride (go ahead, I did already and have since repented of my wickedness) but I decided there and then to Make Hash for my husband, Good Hash. Homemade Hash, The Old Way, the Right Way, and if he still desired Hormel, then I would gladly fry him up a can of the stuff and say no more, but please – let me try my hand at it first. Hormel is no fit competition for a woman with a mind and a frying pan. I will hold to that.


Hash

1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 pound leftover, cooked corned beef

salt and pepper

 

I am sure our matron didn’t have a food processor, but I do. This makes a simple meal even simpler. I minced the potato, carrot, onion, garlic and corned beef in a matter of minutes with the food processor. Some recipes I have read have you add broth to the mix, but I didn’t have any broth and so didn’t find it necessary to use it. This truly is an ‘as you like it’ sort of meal, so you could do wonderful things; add peppers, broccoli, use roast beef or chicken instead of corned beef- it’s up to you!
I spread the hash out in a layer on the bottom of a hot, lightly greased cast-iron frying pan and let it cook, covered, for five minutes or so before stirring it, flattening it back out and cooking it some more. Once the raw vegetables are well cooked, it is ready to serve. At the very last, when the hash was technically ‘done’, I spread it out once more and cracked three eggs on top, covered it and let it cook until the egg whites were opaque but the yolks still liquid. Let me tell you, the hash, dripping with melting egg yolk is one of the best things I have ever eaten – In My Life.
We will not be needing to purchase any Canned Hash in the near future, in fact, I heard some unflattering words launched at the canned stuff while my dear man was happily eating up his dinner.
Real Food, once more, wins the day