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January 11, 2015

A King's Feast: My 2014 Christmas Dinner

I’ll cut right to the chase. My Christmas dinner is seen here (shown above). Clockwise from left to right, peppered green beans, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and crown roast of pork. All the items were home made by my Mom. This isn’t meant to be some tease or “porn” to grab your attention. I figured in what way I can share and maybe plant some seeds for a later date. This dinner was TREMENDOUS!!! Mom went a little off the norm in creating this dinner. I figured I’ll share what I can and what I decided to ask her on what she did. I’ll share what I can and what I can’t give completely, I will revisit down the road. I won't give you step for step. This is about showing some of the modifications made for this meal. Some different techniques, some different preparations, and totally thinking outside the box. To make a great feast, you don't always need 10 items or more. A few well executed items get the job done, as you will see here. 
Let’s start with the crown roast of pork (shown below). Mom went a bit off the script. Instead of using leaving the pork as a crown, she split the roasts into halves. She then used a rack and cooked as normal. She cooked it at 375 degrees (about 190 Celsius) for about 2-2 ½ hours or until an internal temperature of about 135-140 degree Fahrenheit(55-60 degrees Celsius), as it will continue cooking while it rests. Use the seasons of your choice but she used salt, pepper, some thyme, rosemary and sage (enough to cover for the latter 3 ingredients. That was it. How nice of a dinner does that look like? Now maybe next year, time will allow me to make macaroni and cheese as well as some dinner rolls.

The peppered green beans sounds more difficult that it really is. It’s not that hard at all. She placed them in a pan w/ some oil (grape seed I do believe), sautéed until tender (about 5-10 minutes). While cooking, she added the pepper in spurts, not in one mass. That way, the pepper would still not only taste right, but won’t be overpowering either. This was a VERY pleasant surprise and hope to try this down the road. No, not hope to. I WILL do this. I’m not sure if I’ll do this for a holiday, dinner, lunch or whatever. It will happen. WOW that dish was fantastic!!! Don't let the name of this fool you. This isn't as hard as it looks. I did something similar a while back. Mom just made it better. If you're using frozen green beans, follow the instructions and then add most of the pepper before the end. This will inspire an incredible dish down the road. Now how I'll pull it off remains to be scene. Only time will answer that question. For now, enjoy the finished product. 

I touched upon the cornbread dressing already in a different post. I just did it yesterday (previous blog post). As I mentioned before, just take your normal stuffing recipe and use cornbread in its place. PLEASE REMEMBER TWO THINGS!!! Cornbread tends to need more liquid so make sure you have enough stock available for your use. On average, you’re looking at least 32 ounces for a 9” X 12” pan. You may need more so make sure you have enough  stock on hand. I suggest using a baking or glass pan in lieu of a cast iron pot. Cast iron might be a trick for some and the cornbread could form a bit more of a crust that may be optimal. Apart from the liquid content and the actual cornbread itself, don’t change any of your preferred seasonings.  

Now as for the next two items, the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce (not pictured), I wish I could share more but I didn’t ask my questions. Here is what I can give you. In the case of both the sweet potatoes and cranberries, my mother used Splenda. That’s the one thing she’s changed. We have some diabetics in our family and through some trial and error, she knocked this out of the park. She took about 16 ounces of fresh cranberries and cooked as normal. I think she used just about ¼ - 1/2 a tablespoon instead of a full cup of sugar. She used about ½-3/4 tablespoons for splenda for the sweet potatoes. She’s played with the ratios over the last couple of years and found the ration she liked. I’ll confirm and share more in a later post. One of my problems with eating sweet potatoes is that they can get too sweet. Notice there are no marshmallows or anything of the like on them? As time has gone on, I generally don't want that stuff on them. It makes the MUCH TOO SWEET for my liking. For each is their own but I prefer sweet potatoes as they are. Add very little if anything to them since they are naturally sweet.

And once again (below), the finished product for Christmas dinner. I ran out of battery so I didn't show my empty plate. Still, very good and will revisit some of these items down the road. I thought it was good good not to share again. Thanks, Mom!! You always make a wonderful meal for the various holidays. I've learned much from you and I will make this up to you and Dad in 2015. At the very least, I'll do some of the sides and the meats. Notice how I said MEATS?! I guess turkey alone may not be enough. I enjoyed the ham we had at my cousin's home. This meal would make King Henry the 8th envious. 

Clockwise from top left to right, peppered green beans, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and crown roast of pork. A feast that would make a king jealous!!
This is the first post of the year. I hope this is the first of many more to come. I have learned and got so many inspirations from different sources. If you're a Twitter user, there are SEVERAL food chats you may want to be a part of. There is a great deal of friendship and exchange of ideas each week, often sponsored by different brands. You also meet people from all over the world. You'll be amazed to see a food lover in India participating at 2:AM their time. From time to time, there are even some giveaways. The weekly schedule is listed below and are about 60 minutes unless listed otherwise (all times listed are CST and the correct hashtag listing the chat's name and the hosts connected with them). Maybe our paths will cross at one of these chats. I don't think you'll be sorry you came.
- Sunday's at 6:PM, #SundaySupper (various hosts)
- Monday's at 3:PM #FNIchat (hosted primarily by @FoodiesNiteIn, @CookingwCaitlin)
- Monday's at 7:PM #Foodiechats (hosted by many including @Foodiechats @FoodiechatsCHI, @steveGOgreen, @AngelaWoodley and a few others).
- Tuesday's at 3:PM #PantryChat (hosted by @CompletePantry). 
- Wednesday's at 7:PM: #FoodTravelChat (I've missed this one a few too many times but still a great session if you can make it).
- Thursday's at 2:PM: #Fdbloggers (this one is globally hosted from the UK, 7-9PM GMT, @fdbloggers is the main host from what I've seen). 

Until then, thanks for reading and happy eating!!! May your plate be full only to be emptied because of great meals. I hope 2015 will be filled with many posts to share with you all!! I hope and believe you will enjoy them. One of the main subjects will be macaroni and cheese in their various forms. I am finishing part 1 of many. This was TRULY an adventure of sorts. Once I make the post, you'll see what I mean. I will show not only how versatile it is but how I adapted on the fly and went outside the box. The next post will be a perfect example of that.

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