Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cooking w/Q

If ever there should be a new cooking show on PBS, it should definitely be Cooking w/Q.  Trust me, this child could rival Julia and Jacques when it comes to repartee.  As we prepared Sausage-Apple-Mushroom Stuffing for tomorrow's mock-Thanksgiving, he offered all sorts of bon mots - including the following gem: cooking is "really boring, but kind of fun."  Exactly, Q, exactly. 

During a bathroom break, he asked me why his penis always pointed in a different direction.  Of course, it took him about 3 minutes to phrase it the way that truly described his query - there was a good bit of stuttering as he tried to put his words together in a very thoughtful fashion.  After 3 boys you'd think I would have answered every  single penis question imaginable, but, damn them, they always have another one to trip me up with when we're home alone... 

I wasn't really sure where Q was going with this question, so I gave him my best answer - "penises go in different directions because wouldn't they be bored going in the same direction all the time?"  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I immediately saw the irony in what I said.  Ha. I'll always have my sense of humor and, on the days when I'm more inclined to be negative than positive, it can fortunately be the ultimate bad mood deal breaker.  Laughter can save you, for sure. 

Speaking of laughter  - listening to Q sing along with Lucinda William's lament about how someone "took her joy" and how she "wants it back," I knew that moments like this, in the kitchen preparing for a holiday, would always play within my head and heart even if a single episode of Cooking w/Q never aired for a  national audience. And I smiled.

The recipe below originated in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Guide to Cooking, in my opinion, one of the best cookbooks for the novice cook.  I've had a copy of one edition or another on my kitchen bookshelf for more than 25 years..

Sausage-Apple-Mushroom Stuffing
~  2 lbs loose Italian sausage - a mixture of sweet and spicy, pork or turkey
    8 small or 6 large apples, peeled and chopped
    2 or 3 onions diced
    a mess of sliced mushroom (3-4 cups) - any combination or variety
~ 10 cups or more bread cubes - whatever, whole wheat, corn, seasoned, etc.
    any herbs or spices you like in stuffing - sage, rosemary, etc
    chopped celery if you like it - I don't, so I skip it.
    a couple of cups of chicken or turkey broth or unsweetened apple juice
    2 eggs - optional

In a small amount of olive oil in a deep pot, cook onions until soft.  Add sausage, apples and mushrooms in small batches.  Rotate which ingredients you add to provide a  layer of depth of ingredients - a chef I once worked with claimed it was a very Paul Prudhomme way to cook, using only a handful of ingredients but developing different degrees of texture as the items are cooked for varying lengths of time.  Whatever - I cook it as fast as I can cut/chop it so it seems a natural way to do it.  Cook over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through.  There should a pool of liquid in the bottom of your pot as the apples and mushrooms release their juices, this is good - those dry bread cubes are really thirsty.  In a large bowl combine half of the of contents of your pot with about 2/3 of your bread cubes.  Repeat with remaining ingredients, stirring well.  Taste for seasonings and adjust to your own liking.  If the stuffing seems dry, add some liquid (broth or apple juice or a combination of both).  Eggs can also be added at this time, but I would definitely skip the raw eggs if you're cooking the stuffing inside of the bird, which is my preference. Place stuffing in an oven-to-table casserole or serving bowl and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes,  covered if you like it extra moist, uncovered if you're going for some of those crunchy bits on top.  Alternately, live on the edge a little and loosely stuff the turkey, then roast for the recommended amount of time.  Makes great sandwiches, too!

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