Good will toward many. (food, week of 12.16.13)

Saturnalian Christmas Tree

If it weren’t for the Reformation, it’s possible that the world communion of Christians (all Catholics, if it weren’t for the Reformation) would be about to launch festivities associated with the Feast of Fools, the evolution of Saturnalia, that wild Roman holiday tradition marked by role reversals, gag gifts and general mischief.  Yes, Virginia, the Church  denounced the traditions of Saturnalia in the 14th century, condemned them with Cartman-like authority in the 15th (Council of Basel), and then, thanks to the Reformers, were finally were rid of them in the 16th.  Can’t you tell?

No, of course you can’t.  And in between the Dirty Santa office parties and the “Keep the Christ in Christmas” campaigns, you loosely labeled Christian folks are feeling a bit rudderless these days, right?  Yeah, I know.  I SO know.

Ok, here’s my tip, which is worth what you’re paying for it but which was inspired by an awesome Facebook event (12 Days of Anonymous Giving) created by a complete stranger and shared with me by a friend:  Just do something nice for someone who doesn’t expect it, for no reason, every day from now until Epiphany (that would be January 6, for those of you who don’t know the liturgical calendar by heart).  Take the tradition of Saturnalia, when social roles were inverted and masters served servants, and the mission of the Magi, and just give.

Need some ideas?

  • Go vanilla: pay the tab for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-through.
  • Go stylish: pay for the haircut of the person whose appointment comes after yours.
  • Go stealth: put your rake in the trunk of your car in the morning and clear someone’s yard during your lunch break.
  • Go Jewish grandmother: double your dinner recipe and deliver the extra portion, neatly wrapped, to an unsuspecting neighbor or friend the next day (from this week’s menu, below, the white bean soup would work really well).
  • Go hero: offer to babysit for your child’s teacher while he/she runs holiday errands.

Got the idea?  Great.  Now run with it.  And one more thing: don’t tell anyone what you do, because this is our secret, we few, we happy few.

Peaceful week.

Menu and grocery list 12.16.13

Food |

Week of December 16| 2013


White Bean Soup with Grilled SausagesI found this recipe, which originally appeared in Everyday Food last September, while rifling through my very disorganized recipe book.  I made it once and remember that it was very tasty and not disliked by my people.  I suspect any dark green will work in place of escarole, if you can’t find escarole.  I also will use canned cannellini beans as I don’t have a pressure cooker.  For the Andouille sausage, I like Aidel’s Cajun Style Andouille, which isn’t too spicy for most people to enjoy.


Goat Cheese Quiche with Hash Brown Crust| Fruit

Another found item from the recipe chaos, this one makes, if I remember correctly, a creamy quiche with a texture more like cheesecake than ordinary quiche.  I recommend seasoning the hash browns with garlic (either fresh pressed or garlic powder).  If you are taken aback by the idea of using TWELVE EGGS in one recipe, remember that you’re feeding 6 people (2 eggs each), which is a typical breakfast omelette or serving of scrambled eggs.  Serve with tart fresh fruit.


Quick Jambalaya | Green Salad

Yep, another MS recipe.  I like this one not only because it’s easy but also (and mainly) because it doesn’t include shrimp.  My little people despise shrimp – something I hope they’ll grow out of.  Until then, I’ll use this base recipe for jambalaya, which can easily be customized.  I’ll serve with a plain green salad and Frank’s hot sauce (which is Bernard’s current favorite).

 hoop house Cheese Ravioli | Garlic Spinach

When the going gets tough, the tough buy ready-to-serve.  Cheese ravioli fits the bill perfectly when there’s no time to cook.  If you’re super ambitious and have extra time on your hands (seriously?), cheese ravioli is surprisingly easy to make.  This recipe from Food & Wine looks similar to the techniques in Marcella Hazan’s books (RIP, Marcella Hazan).  I’ll buy Contadina.  I usually just toss it in butter and top with a bit of grated cheese instead of using sauce.  I will make the garlic spinach, at least.  Here’s Ina’s recipe for that, if you need one.


 Yogurt-marinated Chicken | Chopped Salad

This recipe from Whole Foods is simple and tasty, as long as you remember to marinate the chicken ahead of time.  Serve with a basic chopped salad (I use a variety of bell peppers, even though they’re not in season and come from a very non-local farmer, red onion, celery, carrots, and parsley).  I will serve with Makoto ginger dressing.  If you want to try making the ginger dressing yourself, here’s a recipe that looks simple.

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