Post #519 Merry Christmas Feasting!

December 25, 2016 at 12:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone is enjoying a splendid festive holiday.  For a week now I’ve been wanting to write about our upcoming plans for the feast day which we enjoyed yesterday due to Partner/Spouse’s work schedule.  There is so much left over, we’ll be eating it again and again, and maybe again.

To start, I roasted some baby carrots and Brussels sprouts.  I love roasted veggies, particularly carrots, and am usually pretty successful with them.  Lately, I’ve been branching out on my own testing different cooking methods with . . . . mixed results.  Last weekend when a friend was here for the weekend, I did a mixed veggie roast to go with the round roast I was fixing.  All the veggies turned to leather.  The green beans were black and crispy, tasting like charcoal.  We tried to eat them, pretending to like the flavor, but after the initial few bites, we all put them down and filled up on salad and roast beef.  And bread.  So I was determined to do these right.  And didn’t.  I cooked them with high heat, but left them in too long.  The outsides were completely black, and the insides of all the veggies were mush.  I’m gonna keep playing with it, because I know there’s a way to do this.  So I put the pan in the microwaved to get it out of the way and turned to the ham.

We had a gigantic spiral cut ham from the store.  It was on sale a couple of weeks ago and we bought it then.  I was so tempted so many times to open that sucker and slice a few pieces off, but held off.  So now we have this gigantic ham for one feast for two people.  Luckily, ham stores well.  And we both love ham sandwiches.  I made a glaze out of honey, brown sugar, yellow mustard, chili sauce, and pineapple juice.  It tasted so good!  The ham turned out perfectly so once it was out of the oven, it sat on the back of the stove awaiting its moment of glory.

Then I turned to the star of the feast.  Partner/Spouse makes a dish he learned from an old Polish woman about 50 years ago called Kugelah.  It’s a potato dish whose primary ingredients are shredded potatoes, shredded onion, eggs, and cooked bacon with the grease, plus a little flour and a little farina.  He’s made it for us a couple of times, and it is so GOOD!  He printed out a recipe and asked me to make it since he’s sleeping the daytime these days.

This is pure comfort food from the get go.  The recipe I followed called for five pounds of potatoes!  So not doing that.  Two gigantic onions.  Nuh-uh.  So I cut it in half, and it still made enough to feed a family of 8.

First, you shred 2 pounds of potatoes.  I left the skin on, but found out later, you should peel them.  I used the food processor to do this and it took no time at all.  (And, yes, I’ve already ordered my new chopping blade from Cuisinart and it will be here when the fine folks at Cuisinart deem it appropriate.  The rest of the machine is perfectly safe to use.)  Partner/Spouse said to get the shred to the right degree of fineness, once it was shredded, it had to be shredded again.  Ever try to spoon shredded potatoes into the hopper of a food processor?  I invite everyone to try it sometime as an exercise in patience.  Once that was finally accomplished, they potatoes have to soak in cool water to release any starches.

Once the potatoes are ready, grease or spray a glass baking dish, and set your oven to 375.  Drain the potatoes and squeeze out as much water as you can.  Use a fine mesh strainer (but don’t use a plastic handled one that’s five years old.  Mine went to pieces and cut the ball of my left thumb pretty badly.  Luckily, I live with an ER nurse.)  Cut half a pound of bacon into large bits and fry them crisply.  Set aside to cool.  Shred one large onion so you have at least half a cup of onion and onion juices.  Beat 4 whole eggs with 1/4 cup of flour, one tablespoon of farina, 1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper in a bowl or mixing cup.  I should say here to some recipes call for a 12oz can of evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk) to be included at this point, but most do not.

Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and stir in the bacon with all the drippings.  Add the egg mixture and stir till well combined.  Pour into prepared baking pan (I used an 8×8 sized dish and it fit perfectly.)  Bake for 60-90 minutes until it’s golden brown on top and cooked in the center.  If the top turns too brown, cover with foil for the last 30 minutes or so.

When Partner/Spouse makes this, he always cooked longer at lower temps.  Since this is basically a potato pudding, I don’t think it really matters as long as you find the process that works best for you and the dish is cooked thoroughly.

This dish is from Lithuania and like so many regional dishes, it’s as individualized as the people making it.  Each family has their own recipe for it, so once you have it mastered, play around with it and make it uniquely yours.  Next time I make it, I’m adding grated cheese.

kugela

I wish I had taken a picture of what I made before we hacked into it because all the pics I found on the ‘net did not do it justice.  Oh, well.

After the feast, I discovered I’d forgotten to run the dishwasher when I wanted to so clean up had to wait a while.  Then, during the small gift exchange, my thumb started bleeding all over creation again.  The only bandaids I could find immediately were from Frozen so I still have Elsa smiling at me from my left hand.  Probably why I’ve been humming “Let it Go” incessantly.

Hope your holiday is wonderful!

Enjoy

2 Comments

  1. Happy Holidays. Sounds like a great meal.

  2. Sounds like a perfectly wonderful meal with your husband. To do a great green bean, pan fry them in very little oil, and once the pan is screaming hot, never stop stirring. They come out fantastic! Look up “dry fried green beans”, bet you’ll love them.

    When we are away from our boys and their families we don’t do serious food for Christmas dinner. Last year it was burgers, potato salad and chocolate chip cookies. This year it’s shredded beef tacos, Spanish rice and black beans with pumpkin pie.

    Merry Happy Christmas!


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