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Flavour Guy: Take this story and stuff it

Stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? We have a house, an upper duplex, not very big. We have lived there for more than 30 years. It is filled with stuff.

It is an old house, more than 100 years old with lots of nice ornamentation, including plate rails.

These narrow shelves, a few inches wide are on the walls a couple of feet down from the ceiling. They run the perimeter of the living room. They hold dozens of plates, knick knacks, tchotchkes, stuff. The closets are also full of stuff.

A few blocks from us is a decent sized Sally Ann. A few blocks more brings us to a Renaissance outlet. Everyone brings stuff to their warehouses. We bring stuff to them. We take away even more — a shirt, a few books, a cast iron frying pan to go with the other cast iron frying pans we already have (such a good deal). Stuff.

Our country cottage started filling up with stuff from our house in the city. Then we had to build a shed to hold the stuff that was accumulating in the cottage.

I have a theory. We don’t actually look for stuff. In fact, I often hear people say “I wasn’t looking for more stuff.”  No, that’s not the way stuff works. It is attracted to us.

It comes into our hands and, as if by magic, is exchanged for a small amount of money. Stuff is not what I would call a big ticket item — a few dollars here, a small debit charge there. We never really need the stuff and could easily ignore a garage or yard sale, but the stuff pulls us in.

When it comes to stuff, I have noticed that each of us acquires it differently. I have a propensity for musical instruments and cooking utensils.

My stuff includes several guitars, an accordion, tin whistles, nose flutes (gotta have those, only 25¢), and lately a banjo.

All of which I play ineptly. There is something in me that attracts this stuff — some ideal me that says “one day I’ll practice and play well.” So, from this perspective, stuff is good. It represents my ideal self.

One day, I’ll fit back into my scout uniform, one day I’ll read that leather bound set of Charles Dickens. One day, I’ll use the oblong paella pan. Of course, to someone else it may be just junk. But on the other hand — let me see your junk. It may be my stuff.

Thanksgiving stuffing

With Thanksgiving upon us, the Flavourguy suggests stuffing. There are two schools of stuffing — inside the bird or outside. A decent sized chicken or turkey offers several places — in the body cavity, in the neck cavity, under the breast and thigh skin.

The problem with stuffing the bird within the cavities is that the bird will take longer to cook and the stuffing risks become greasy from the fat in the fowl. This is not necessarily a bad thing but consider if that is what you are looking for.

I like making a pan of stuffing which gives a crisp crust, and also stuffing under the skin but ignoring the cavities. This also helps keep the breast meat moist, as that often dries out before the darker meat is cooked.

As to the stuffing — a basic recipe would include a loaf of bread, crust removed, cut into small chunks and toasted. Mix this with a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic, that have been finely chopped and sautéed in a few tablespoons of butter or oil.

Add a teaspoon each of oregano, thyme or whatever herbs you like. Some like sage. I prefer just using a tablespoon of herbes de provence. Add enough vegetable or chicken broth to moisten the stuffing. Add about a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. (If salted butter or broth is used, you may need less).

If you like to add cooked bacon, oysters or sausage meat, do that too. There should be enough stuffing to put some under the skin and the rest in frying pan. The pan can bake alongside the bird for the last half hour or so until the top is brown and crisp.

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