This is not a post about turkey, because I’m not talking about leftovers yet.

It’s been another busy busy weekend, and we’re just at the end of it now. If you’re not Canadian, you probably didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, but up here, we celebrate in October. I don’t quite know why, because I had my head on my desk for much of Canadian history, because there is only so much one can hear about fur traders, and a certain amount less is all that can be absorbed by the brain and then retained. And I wanted to tell you what you should do with all that leftover turkey, but, to be honest? It can wait a day. Too much turkey all at once is why no one eats turkey at all the whole rest of the year. So leave the leftovers for now. We can talk about them tomorrow, or even the next day – they’ll still be there.

So instead of making turkey hash, sandwiches, curries, and soup, make fettuccine. With bacon and garlic. And since we’re very near first frost, gobble up the last of those heirloom tomatoes – they won’t be on the grocery shelves long. I inherited a five-pound bag of green tomatoes from my mom this weekend, and I’ve got big plans for them – I’ll tell you all about green tomato soup this week, I promise, and you’ll love it. But in the meantime, the red ones (and the yellow and orange and pink and striped ones) will be gone soon, and you must enjoy them while they last.

Tomatoes: The last of the fresh red ones for the season.Slice your tomatoes, and drizzle them with a little bit of good olive oil, a bit of your favourite vinegar, some chopped herbs, whatever kind, and a bit of cheese. And then set it aside, because in eleven minutes the rest of the feast will be ready.

You’ve probably been cooking all weekend, or at the very least doing a lot of things this weekend that took up a lot of your time, so pick up a package of fresh pasta. Dried pasta will work fine too, but dinner won’t be ready for sixteen minutes then, and you’ll want that extra five minutes for sitting and sipping wine and enjoying the quiet. You’ll be hovering over the stove souping up those leftovers soon enough.

Fettuccine Kind-of-Alfredo

  • 1 package fresh fettuccine noodles (350g or 3/4 lb.)
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated aged Gouda (or other hard aged cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

While your pasta water is on its way to boiling, fry up your slices of bacon over medium-high heat.

When they are crisp and brown, reduce to medium, and add the butter and the garlic. About this time, the water should be boiling – dump in your pasta, and boil for three minutes. Right before the pasta is done, add the cream to your buttery garlicky bacon, and let simmer until the pasta is to your liking.

Dump the pasta into the frying pan, and then add the cheeses. I find that tongs are most useful for mixing this all together – you want the cheese to be melty but not sticky, and you don’t want the noodles to feel dry. If this has happened, add more cream. Nothing bad ever happens if you add a little bit more cream.

Once coated, toss with fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a side of sliced tomatoes, and revel in the easiness of this. This weekend marks the beginning of the eating season, which often means a lot of large, complicated meals that, while delicious, are an awful lot of work. There’s a lot to be said for lazy, hearty pasta dishes during this time of year – they’re like lulls, and you should certainly enjoy them (with wine).

The long shot.Busy week though last one was, I hope to be able to tell you about a lot of lovely things this week. It may be soup week, because I’ve got a bit of zucchini and onion that’s itching to be made into this spicy Korean thing that will surely kill any cold that threatens you, and that green tomato business that I mentioned before. And the stew. You want a showstopper stew that’s not actually all that much work but tastes like you slow-cooked it for two days? Got it, in a pumpkin. And maybe something with turkey, though there’s a lot to be said for freezing the leftovers for a week or two. Or three. Maybe I’ll haul it out to celebrate American Thanksgiving in a month or so. It’ll be about time for it again then, yes? I think that sounds about right. But I’ll let you know if anything changes. And in the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

The close-up.

I guess it’s fall now, the crock pot is out. Or, “A recipe for hearty baked beans.”

The musical fruit!

The other day I told you about the coronation grape granita I made for company, and how wonderful that was. Well, lately whenever we’ve got guests, Nick insists that we have ribs so before the granita, we had several racks of pork ribs, a batch of cornbread with blackberries that I was kind of disappointed in, and baked beans. Which I was not disappointed in, because they were awesome. It wasn’t just me who thought so, either, which is the mark of a good recipe. I suppose.

I made these in a crock pot earlier in the day and then set them aside because I wasn’t doing much in the morning – I let them cool and then reheated them in a much more attractive pot, which I served them in. And while from first step to final step actually took somewhere in the neighbourhood of 22 full hours, they weren’t actually much work. You don’t have to do much – it’s all waiting. And it costs, like, nothing to make. All you need is a crock pot – but if you don’t have one, you can make these in the oven – bake covered at 250°F for 8 hours, remove the lid and cook for an additional 30 minutes. I haven’t tried it that way, but it sounds legit.

Baked beans

  • 1 lb. dried small white beans, such as navy or pea beans (actually, dried black beans of about the same size would probably also be awesome)
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1 cup beer (whatever you’re using for the ribs, or else something in an amber or cream ale would be nice)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 5.5 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Worth its weight in beans!Pour dried beans into a 9″x13″ glass baking dish, and cover with water, to about 1/2 an inch over the tops of the beans. Soak for eight hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to start, boil the beans in six cups of water, with the salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, and then remove from heat and let sit, still uncovered, for 90 minutes.

Fry up your bacon and your onions, until the onions are golden and translucent and your bacon is brown and crisp. Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping up any delicious flavour bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour over the beans, then add the sugar, molasses, tomato paste, cinnamon, mustard, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Mixish.

Mix thoroughly, and then pour the whole thing into your crock pot. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or, like I did, on high for 5 to 7 hours. I ended up cooking mine about six, but I think it depends on your crock pot. My mom once made baked beans in a brand new crock pot using the low and slow method overnight, which was how she always did it, and woke to find that the pot had cremated the beans overnight, leaving a black, crusty mess behind. I like the 5 to 7 hour plan, because if you do it when you’re awake, you can monitor the beans’ progress. Taste and check your seasoning. They’ll be smokey delicious.

Crock pot beans,

As I said, you can totally take these and cool them off, and then reheat them before serving, and they’ll be fine. Delicious, even. You may want to cook them a bit over low heat to reduce the sauce, if it’s runny.

Serve, to all kinds of acclaim. I heard they might even be better than the ribs. Maybe. Says Nick, who only wants to eat beans and meat for the rest of his life. Enjoy!

Dinnerific.

Bacon fat cookiestravaganza. Or, how to make you fall in love with me. Except that I probably wouldn’t tell you what was in these if I was trying to woo you.

I hadn’t had a peanut butter cookie in a really long time.

And when Nick went out to get dinner stuff, he mentioned that maybe I should do the dishes, and I was like, “If I’m helpful, maybe he’ll come home with a present!” So I did the dishes, and Nick came home, and I pointed out the four dishes I washed, and he wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped, and then he asked if I bothered to clean out the fridge yet. Of course I didn’t. But I thought, I could at least open it and see what happens. And then it happened. The bacon fat resurfaced!

Mmmm!Please don’t quit on me yet. I promise you, this is worth your while.

Bacon fat is better for you than margarine, if you haven’t heard, and while I can’t actually back that up, it’s a fact, and if you want proof then I would be happy to recommend some literature that will help you along. And we’re in a recession. And I’m saving the butter for mashed potatoes. My grandmother used to make the best peanut butter cookies in the world using schmaltz (rendered chicken or goose fat), which would have been left over anyway, which she kept in the freezer just for baking. And being (constantly) broke, my cold little heart breaks when I have to throw stuff out. I always save my bacon fat.

The peanut butter cookie recipe I like the best comes from Fannie Farmer. I have long been a fan of Marion Cunningham, who is like everybody in the world’s grandmother’s cookbook (but not my grandmother, the story of who’s cookbook is a novel for another time) mashed into one divine being who makes everything you want to eat and is tall (I imagine) and regal and is friends with Jeffrey Steingarten, who is another kind of hero. I make half-batches of this recipe, because two dozen cookies is quite enough for me. The recipe in its full measure claims that it will produce 120 cookies, which I have never found to be true. This is either a gross miscalculation or they’re supposed to be tiny little cookies, and I hate little cookies because they’re a tease and before you know it you’ve eaten two bags of mini rainbow Chips Ahoy and you’re drunk and it’s 3:42 am and you’re crying on the kitchen floor (again) and the reason is embarrassing but also you wish you could carry on a conversation with normal people without saying something wildly inappropriate or them thinking you had tourette’s syndrome, for once, and who the hell let you have the phone in the first place?

Peanut-Butter Bacon Fat Cookies

(Adapted from the recipe for Peanut-Butter Butter Cookies from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, circa 1984. Makes about two-dozen cookies.)

  • 1/2 cup bacon fat
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat your bacon fat, peanut butter, and sugar together in a large bowl. You want the colour of the goop in the bowl to lighten and get creamy. Once it’s there, crack open your egg and drop the contents in, and keep beating the mixture.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, mix well, and then slowly add it to the mixture in the bowl, beating until all your ingredients are combined.

Cookie doughIf you’re like me and you’ve never been disappointed by a hunk of cookie dough in your mouth, then sample away. At first you may think it’s a little weird – and it is. But in a good way. The bacon fat makes the peanut butter seem peanut-butterier.

Roll the dough out into balls about an inch or so in diameter. Place about an inch apart on a cookie sheet, and press the tops down with a fork dipped in granulated sugar.

Raw cookie deliciousnessBake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, and cool for a bit on a wire rack before eating.

I have to say I was pretty pleased with myself/these cookies, and not just because I used something in the fridge and therefore made progress toward a cleaner tomorrow. They are TASTY. You really ought to try this. I’m pretty sure a pound or so of bacon will produce enough fat for these, and then some, if you don’t already save your fat. Don’t waste fat. Baby Jesus cries when you wash the fat of the pig down the drain.

COOKIES!Seriously. You need to try these. Go render some pork fat, and then let me know how it all works out. Or, just come over for cookies and milk, and inhale my good baking stink.

An Unbalanced Breakfast.

Meat pancake? Only justifiable in the dead of winter when there is no fruit and everything is grey and dark and you just want to eat a hug. Or when you’re going to be doing a lot of exercise anyway and you can pass this off as an acceptable morning repast. Actually, I can justify anything, so maybe you can just have this whenever.

This is actually Toad in the Hole, which is something I would look forward to as a child, and which we would have often, mostly when Dad would cook. I used to cry when he’d add onions. Meat pancake. It sounds like a thing a dad would make.

And to be fair, it’s not all THAT bad. I mean, it’s essentially a pancake with the sausage baked into it instead of served on the side. And onions and bacon, and served with sour cream. So, it could be worse. It could be deep fried.

Toad in the Hole

  • 2 bangers (or large sausages … if you’re going to use the little breakfast sausages, use more)
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 small onion, cut in half and then sliced long-wise, into strips
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste (but because of the sausage and bacon, I don’t add salt. You can. No judgment)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss a greased pan into the oven as the oven heats.

Fry sausage, bacon, and onion (I like onion now – no tears!) in a pan on the stove until browned. You don’t need to add any oil. In fact, don’t, because you’re going to pour the entire contents of the pan into your batter (later), so don’t add more grease. Unless you’re into that. I’m not. Surprisingly.

Meat and onions in panIt doesn’t matter too much if your sausage isn’t fully cooked through at this point – it’s going to bake for a bit.

Mix together your milk, flour, and butter in a separate bowl. When the meat is done, empty the whole pan into the bowl, toss lightly to coat in batter. Pull the heated pan out of the oven and pour the contents of the bowl into the pan, making sure that the batter is evenly spread out. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges have pulled away from the sides and the top is golden.

Toad!Slice and serve. I like it with a dollop of sour cream and a breakfast cocktail.

Tasty!Eat. Resist the urge to nap. Maybe go for a bike ride, or to play frisbee golf. Meat pancake!