Pork is nothing to be trifled with, tacos and Thanksgiving thoughts
One of my sharply cruel punchlines was, "Lady, I didn't sleep with your husband, but I know who did." And another, in response to a colleague chiding some of us for hitting the wine a little hard, "Aquí los alcólicos anónimos" to which I replied, "Qué anónimos, somos alcólicos bien balcónicos" (roughly translated in rhyme as, "what do you mean anonymous? we're alchoholics eponymous" or, more literally, "nope, we're openly alchoholic."
You'd think I would remember that pork is not to be tolerated, at least not by my enzyme-lacking self (divine justice?! genetic engineering?! You choose). But no... yesterday I found myself sicker than I have been in... well... since the last time I chose to eat pork pupusas... or perhaps since I had tacos al pastor in Tijuana... maybe both. I don't know, I just know that the day after I make the terrible choice to eat delicious tacos de cochinita pibil, I am doubled over in the worst kind of body-rending pain and cursing myself for not remembering my easy jingle. Next, time, dear GI tract, next time I will not forget. Never Again. (About as useful as that phrase has been, I admit, when referring to atrocities of human carnage. Never again, actually never really means Never Again... it just means... next time it won't be me! But, I digress).
So, this morning, once again feeling myself, and after a long sunny walk with the child and our porcine puppy (one need only look at his speckled pink belly, or hear his snore-grunts as he flops in my arms at night to draw such a conclusion!), I set to a more vegetarian-friendly set of activities, swearing to myself to recall that meat is not so kind to anyone involved, and setting about my mostly vegetarian thanksgiving prep.
Between grading papers, and washing dishes (how do the piles keep on piling?) and laundry (ni hablar), I set about making gluten-free cornbread so that it will have time to be dried in cubes for a few days and integrated into the basis for the stuffing (or "dressing" as my Mimi used to call it) for Thursday next.
It was a simple recipe, and while I don't necessarily recommend it for eating as-is (it can be doctored with more honey and butter while still warm, of course), it makes for a great stuffing:
2 cups corn meal
2 cups buttermilk (I knew there was a reason my sub-conscious made me buy it the other day! Yes!)
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 Tbs raw organic honey (well, that's what I had)
I actually 1.5'd the recipe, but it worked perfectly. I mixed the wets and dries separately, melting the butter and honey apart, and beating the eggs and buttermilk thoroughly before mixing into the dry ingredients. I added wet to dry, stirred, allowed the soda and the acid from the buttermilk to interact in fabulous bubbles, and then added the honey-butter melted into the center and stirred for a few minutes. The oven was set to 400 degrees, and I baked for about 20 minutes in the pre-buttered pan (makes for a lovely crisp brown edge to the crust).
The stuffing, for those interested, when trifling with pork, will use roasted brats, or chorizo, but... since I'm being good to myself and my vegetarian guests this Thanksgiving, I will make it with the following modifications:
My makeshift stuffing recipe:
1 large 9x12 in pan of cornbread, cubed and dried for a few days (see above recipe, 1.5x)
1-2 cups vegetable (or chicken stock)
two bulbs roasted fennel (oh, yes...)
sauteed large onion
3-4 garlic cloves
8oz. sauteed quartered crimini or other delicious mushrooms
1 cup roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
3-4 stalks celery, sauteed with onion, garlic and mushrooms
1/2 cup organic unsulphered apricots (or dried cranberries, or fresh apple, or all)
vegetarian chorizo, about 1/2 the package
fresh thyme and/or sage
Sautee herbs, chorizo, onion, garlic, celery, pre-roasted fennel, chopped, celery, and mushrooms. Add chopped apricots (or dried cranberries, and/or apple), pre-roasted chestnuts, chopped, and finish the sauteeing. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss the sautée with cubed bread, add broth until the entire mass is tender but not mushy and bake for 20 minutes or so. Can be reheated by adding a bit more liquid and reheating in the oven.
So, here's to a productive Sunday, in which work will happen, on many fronts, and I will give thanks that I have a mantra meant not to forget, until the next time tacos wink at me, and I think, "it wasn't so bad last time, was it?"