Where Does the Time Go?
I’m trying not to take it personally. Every fall, when we turn the clocks back to Standard Time, I find myself with the same feelings. How can one hour make such a huge difference in my day? Why does a change in the level of daylight turn me into a different person? How can they do me so wrong??
I do realize that Standard Time is not meant as a special punishment for me, just as sure as Daylight Savings Time is not a prize I’ve won for making it through another winter. It does seem---at least to me---that my day has been drastically reduced and because of that, I find myself looking for ways to save time and make the most of daylight.
As we wind our way into the holiday season, our to-do lists grow longer even as the days grow shorter. Every time I see a facebook post that informs me of how many weekends are left before Christmas, I cringe in disbelief. How can the weeks roll by so quickly? Where does the time go? When I see the wreaths and decorations go up even before the Halloween candy is discounted, I know that I have to get moving. Coming soon is Thanksgiving, the first big deal day of the holiday season. I have always loved Thanksgiving and have fond memories from family gatherings of my childhood as well as those I have made with family and friends in more recent times. So many great stories to tell!
For most of us, the highlight of Thanksgiving, the focus of our efforts and the main topic of conversation is “The Dinner”. With a capital D. Ever since I moved to the South (spelled with a capital S), this all-important meal has been my responsibility. The first one or two, after moving to North Carolina, were nerve-wracking to say the least. I had never cooked a turkey before and found it a daunting task. The temperature, the timing, the trussing….it was all new to me. I felt more than just fortunate, I felt relieved and also excited when my new North Carolina friend, Nadine Kirk, offered the idea of joining forces to put together the feast. Both of our young families were in NC for a job at the local nuclear power facility and far from home and relatives. We divvied up the dishes and took turns hosting for the big day. It was so much fun and turned into a long-running tradition that I was sad to leave behind when we moved to East Tennessee. Our early attempts at bread baking will have us howling with laughter to this day! One of the greatest gifts to have come out of all the shared dinners was a family recipe given to Nadine by her mother-in-law, Mrs. Kirk. As she tells it, it took several years of marriage to her husband John before her mother-in-law trusted her with this family heirloom. It is a simple recipe, best made ahead and therefore a real time saver. It is also served cold which frees up coveted space at the stove on the big day and makes a welcome contrast on the dinner plate. At its base is raw cauliflower and it is known as “KIRK SALAD”. The first time I tried it, I begged for the recipe. In true Kirk fashion, it took Nadine a couple of years before she would share it. Know without a doubt that I got her permission before offering it here! Thanks, Nadine! Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe just a bit (I’m not sure Nadine knows that!), but it remains much the same and there is no such thing as a Thanksgiving Dinner without it!
I also offer another make-ahead side that will be on my holiday table. Again a raw veggie takes center stage. This time it’s the often misunderstood Brussels sprout. A chilled salad of the shaved sprouts with apples, nuts and cranberries in a tangy vinaigrette, CHOPPED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD will convert even the most stubborn Brussels sprout hater. I hope you give these recipes a try and decide if they will find a place on your holiday table. It’s never too soon to start planning! Happy Start-Of-the-Holiday Season!
KIRK SALAD (Raw Cauliflower Salad)
1 large or 2 medium cauliflower
1 pound of bacon
2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/2- to ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese (from the green can!)
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
Starting with a cold frying pan, lay bacon slices in pan and cook slowly over low heat, turning slices once, until bacon is cooked thoroughly---crisp, but not brittle. Drain bacon slices on a double layer of paper towel. Reserve. (May be done in advance and refrigerated until needed)
For the dressing: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly until sugar no longer feels granular. Set aside. (May be done in advance and refrigerated until needed)
Remove the outer green leaves from the head of cauliflower and gently scrape off any browned spots from the florets. Cut head of cauliflower in half and cut out central core. Chop cauliflower florets and stems into pieces, varying sizes but not chopping too small. Put all of the cauliflower, including any small bits that are the result of the chopping, into a large bowl. Add half of the dressing to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Add more of the dressing if a creamier dish is desired. Amount of dressing needed will depend on the size of the cauliflower used. Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces and reserve about ¼ cup. Mix remaining bacon into the cauliflower. Refrigerate until chilled or up to one day ahead. Before serving, sprinkle the reserved bacon and the chopped chives over the top of the dish to garnish. (Adding bacon is optional) Serve chilled.
CHOPPED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sunflower oil (or grapeseed oil, canola oil or other neutral flavored oil)
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey (or other sweetener)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1.5 to 2 pounds raw Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (see note)
2 sweet apples (Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, etc.), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seed kernels
1/3 cup shelled, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Make dressing: Whisk together shallot, vinegar, oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. (May be prepared ahead and refrigerated.)
NOTE: Preparing Brussels sprouts---peel off 2 or 3 outer leaves and discard. Do not cut stems. Rinse Brussels sprouts and drain. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise. Holding the sprout half by the stem end, place the flat side on the cutting board and slice very thinly (or use a mandolin), until you get close to the stem (about 2/3 of the sprout will be sliced). (May be prepared ahead. Cover tightly or seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate.)
Peel and core apples. Slice thinly. (If preparing more than 4-5 hours ahead, briefly moisten apple slices in acidulated water to prevent browning of fruit. Acidulated water: Mix 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar with 2 cups cold water.) Drain apple slices well.
Place sliced Brussels sprouts, apple slices, cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds into a large bowl. Pour dressing over and mix well. Refrigerate until serving. (May be served at room temperature.)
NOTE: If mixing salad more than 4-5 hours ahead, do not add the almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas to salad. Hold in a small plastic bag and add just before serving. This will keep those ingredients crunchy. Mix thoroughly.