Happy Holidays, readers! At the Yarnstead, we celebrate Winter Solstice and Christmas but consider the holidays to start with Thanksgiving (what I like to think of as a day-long festival of gratitude, served with pie and stuffing). Yesterday we hosted the larger side of the family for a big Christmas Eve day party. My plan was to make roasted sweet potatoes, polenta, hot turkey sandwiches, chicken wings, and pie; the rest of the meal was brought by our guests, and it was delicious.
It was not, however, the meal I had planned because half of my contributions went awry. Not the pie, thank goodness. That was made easier by cooking my pumpkin in the Instant Pot I received from some dear friends as a congratulatory gift on my new job. Here’s how I did it:
- Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and stringy pulp
- Put rack, pumpkin halves, and 1 cup water in IP
- Close lid, set to Sealing, and pressure cook on High for 10 minutes
- When done, turn off warming cycle and release pressure. Steam-proof oven mitts strongly recommended! The cooked pumpkin falls right off the rind
The chicken wings were also winners, baking cooperatively in the background while the rest of the drama was happening.
First misadventure, the sweet potatoes. Since Christmas Eve was on a Sunday this year, I had time on Saturday to make the parts of the meal that could be prepared ahead. Luckily I’m an earlier riser than my teen daughter who had ambitious kitchen plans for food gift-making but neglected to do gift work on the 23rd while off school (and I was at work). Anyway, I had some sweet potatoes in cold storage from the last outdoor farmer’s market. The farmer recommended this light-fleshed variety as mild-flavored, even liked by people who don’t usually like sweet potatoes (not me, I love ’em). Into the oven they went on my favorite Lodge cast iron griddle. And when they came out, I thought they looked … well, let’s just say that no amount of food styling could have made them look appealing. Plus they were very bland tasting. I opted to serve roasted brussel sprouts instead.
Then the turkey fiasco. I cooked three boneless turkey breasts on Saturday. When I cut them on Sunday into manageable size pieces for shredding and reheating, I discovered they were raw in the middle. Ugh. They must have been frozen when I cooked them. I should have checked their temperature and cut them into pieces before cooking them to be sure the middle was done. So 45 minutes before the guests were expected, I slid to HyVee in my minivan to buy cooked and turkey from their hot food counter.
Polenta soup? I decided to use the IP for polenta to free up my hands and attention for other kitchen jobs. Either I mismeasured the amount of liquid or the cookbook was wrong because I got very watery polenta. I bailed out about half of the liquid, since it had risen to the top. It was still very wet but tasty. #sigh
Here’s hoping your culinary adventures all end well and that you have a delicious, warm, and happy 2018!