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WND – Etiquette Lessons of Dubious Merit

August 5, 2010

I think I watch too much Masterpiece Theater because the other night I dreamt that I was being given etiquette lessons on how to dine with the ghosts of your departed ancestors (most important, don’t dip your spoon in your soup until your oldest female ancestor has dipped her spoon – you may be hosting the living guests, but at 425 she’s the matriarch and it was her house first). Or possibly I’m anticipating the next Harry Potter movie too eagerly, because the Great Hall where I was co-presiding over the multi-course dinner looked suspiciously like Hogwarts. It’s enough to make me think that I should be making Dinner a lot more formal than it is.

Either way my dream life is much more exciting than my real life which involves doing research on new fridges because ours is rapidly dying. It’s been making unhappy noises for a while, but this week it has decided to actually mostly stop working. A friend last night walked by it and said she was tempted to unplug it and call time of death just to put it out of its misery. We’re going on Saturday to buy a new fridge, unless my roommate’s father comes by to tell us we’re doing something incredibly stupid that will magically fix the fridge. Off hand I can’t think of what that would be, but clearly that’s because whatever it is is so stupidly obvious that I’m not seeing it. I don’t think this is likely, but it’s a nice thought.

Weirdly in Massachusetts landlords are required to provide a sink and a stove/oven, but not a fridge. I don’t really understand this, what’s the logic behind making a stove a requirement but not a fridge? In France landlords are required to provide a sink in the kitchen but nothing else, which is annoying but at least is mostly logically consistent. As a consequence most large companies with a cadre of foreign employees tend to have warehouses full of kitchen appliances that they can use to outfit their kitchens (left behind when said employees move back home or to another posting). Also as a consequence, when we moved to Geneva (where landlords do have to provide a complete kitchen) we had an extra stove, an extra oven and a second fridge. We didn’t do anything with the oven or stove, but the second fridge was always useful at Christmas for storing the extra food – during the rest of the year my mother used it to store the cookie tins (because where else would you logically look for cookie tins but in the disused fridge in the laundry room?).

I figure there’s about a 50/50 chance we’ll have Dinner next week. It all depends on how fast a new fridge can be delivered. According to Sears they do next day delivery (assuming the item is in stock), so I’m crossing my fingers and being optimistic that we’ll have a new fridge installed and running by Sunday. Unexpected large item purchase notwithstanding, I’m actually kind of excited by the idea of a new fridge. Our current fridge wasn’t new when we moved into the apartment and it was fine, but the vegetable drawers have broken runners, and it’s never been great about temperature control. By the time fridge is cold enough for the milk on the door not to go bad, stuff that’s near the back of the fridge will freeze. I’ve inadvertently frozen hardboiled eggs when I put them too close to the back wall of the fridge, and forget trying to defrost anything in the fridge. Frozen chicken left in the fridge will still be frozen solid three days later – dire warnings from the USDA notwithstanding I defrost all my meat on the counter because otherwise I’d be cooking it frozen. So a brand new fridge with all kinds of shelves and fancy air circulation is sort of fun.

The big debate at the moment is top vs. bottom freezer – my roommate’s advocating for a bottom drawer freezer (apparently they keep things colder, plus with the fridge on top you don’t have to stoop to get things out of it). I’m fine with it as long as the drawer is big enough for a full size frozen turkey and wide enough to store a sheet pan. I plan to take a sheet pan and a stuffed animal the size of a turkey with me to Sears on Saturday, and I will look like a dork but at least I won’t be guessing about the size of the freezer (stuffed animal as stand in for frozen turkey is a genius idea courtesy of the friend who wanted to call time of death on the fridge). I will also measure the size of our current fridge, and more importantly the size of the doorway into the kitchen before I leave the house on Saturday.

Roasted Sausages
Grilled Fruit
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Tomatoes
Watermelon

Roasted Sausages
(serves 8 )
This was not what I planned to make for Dinner this week. I planned to make grilled fruit and sausage skewers with a rhubarb glaze. Unfortunately when I went to taste the sausages after I precooked them on Tuesday night (if you try and cook them on the grill with the fruit the fruit will burn long before the sausage is cooked through), they tasted like the less exciting cousin of sawdust. So there was some last minute revision of Dinner plans and an unexpected trip to Whole Foods at lunch on Wednesday for some more sausages (pork this time instead of chicken because I figured more fat was the way to go if I wanted an edible sausage).

Normally I’d object to turning the oven on in August to cook something that can be cooked on the stove top, but I had to turn the oven on to cook the corn anyway, so this was killing two birds with one hot oven. Also, I have to agree with a friend of mine, roasting is just about the best thing that can happen to most food. These sausages came out juicy, and the onions roasted in olive oil and the fat from the sausages are dangerously addictive. It’s possible that two of us stood over the baking sheet at the end of dinner picking off the remaining bits of onion that were stuck to the pan – all in the service of cleaning the pan up before it got washed you understand.

12 sausages
2-3 onions, cut into wedges
1-2 heads of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
3-4 sprigs of thyme (or a generous sprinkle of dried thyme)
Olive oil
Salt/pepper

Cut the onions into wedges and separate the layers. Toss the onions and garlic with enough olive oil to coat and salt/pepper/thyme. Place on a baking sheet.

Rub the sausages with a little olive oil and salt/pepper and arrange on the baking sheet – make sure that they are sitting on the baking sheet and not on top of the onions or they won’t brown.

Roast at 375 for 35-40 minutes until sausages are browned and cooked through – flip once halfway through cooking to make sure that both sides brown.

Half way through cooking you can add a pint of cherry tomatoes (or a bunch of grapes) tossed with a little more olive oil and salt/pepper. I haven’t tried this, but theoretically it creates a wonderful sauce to go with the sausages. I plan to try it for some meal where I can serve bread, which wasn’t this week when I already had 12 ears of corn in the fridge waiting to be cooked.

Grilled Fruit
Dust your fruit with cinnamon and/or ginger (you don’t have to, but when am I not inclined to add cinnamon to my food?)

Oil your grill/grill pan and place the fruit on it. Allow to cook long enough to get some nice grill marks (3-5 minutes per side).

This, incidentally, is not the shape I would have cut the pineapple into if I’d been planning on grilling it – I’d have sliced it into thinner wedges rather than cubes, but this worked fine too.

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Recipe previously given: The Chalice from the Palace

Tomatoes


Melon


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4 comments

  1. I’m a big fan of bottom freezers. (Don’t forget when you do your measuring that you can always take the shelf out in order to get the turkey in.)


  2. There seem to be a lot of votes in favor of the bottom drawer freezer. The only one I’ve ever had I disliked intensely, but that was more than 10 years ago and on another continent, so I’m willing to be convinced.


  3. […] Recipe previously given: Etiquette Lessons of Dubious Merit […]


  4. […] This is a variation on the roasted sausages I’ve made previously. […]



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