If you're having people over to your house on Thanksgiving, you need to start getting ready now. The first thing on your list should be having your crazy, out-of-whack oven recalibrated. (Who does that? Check the Yellow Pages under Appliances—Major—Service and Repair.) I spent half an hour today talking to a repairman about my ancient Maytag Dutch Oven. The thing looks soooo cool, but it runs anywhere from 25 to 100 degrees hotter than the setting. (Sorry the cookies are burned to a crisp, but look at my cool old oven!) This year I do not intend to burn my turkey on Nov. 25. Unfortunately, the fact that my stove is so far off is an indication that calibration won't fix the problem. (Not sure how far off your oven is? Buy one of those cheap metal oven thermometers and burn some cookies while you compare reading to setting.) If you're more than 25 degrees off, or if the oven's temperature fluctuates wildly, you may need to replace the thermostat. If you're lucky, your oven is newish and the parts are still made. For an older oven, you'll have to do some serious scouting. It may end up being cheaper to replace the thing. (Nice cookies! Too bad you got rid of that old stove.) Whatever you do, don't put it off until the day before Thanksgiving.
All the News That's Fit to Eat
You really should try Le French Corner (3905 San Mateo, south of Montgomery) for breakfast some day. I know, I know, the name is bad Frenglish and the place isn't even on a corner, but don't let that get in the way of a deliciously memorable meal. When eating another breakfast burrito is too boring to contemplate, switch it up with a simple but oh-so-satisfying French breakfast. Picture this: a big hunk of crusty baguette, a big pat of butter and two kinds of jams, and a cup of café au lait. Doesn't that sound good? If you want something more substantial, Le French Corner also has a Brie and pecan quiche (a diet buster for sure), huge chocolate-filled croissants and meat- and veggie-filled omelets. Plus, there's a huge case full of éclairs, tartlets and other goodies. They open at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Don't go on Sunday or you'll be looking at a closed sign through your tears.
Know Your Ingredients
Sunchokes, Also Known As Jerusalem Artichokes
The Mysteriously Named Tuber: Tasty or a Waste of Time?
Why would you bother eating a sunchoke? Honestly, I've cooked the things and I think the greatest pleasure comes from knowing you're eating the root of a sunflower, not from any particular yumminess. Yes, the sunchoke, also known as Jerusalem artichoke, is the edible tuber of a variety of sunflower native to the United States. Very romantic, yes. Very tasty, maybe.
Tarter Than the Average Berry
Get Bogged Down with the Cranberry Companion
Cookbook co-author James Baker says that "Cranberries have played a supporting role in American cuisine for so long that we take the familiar red fruit for granted. ..." Now, just wait a minute. I may not be a food historian, but I think the American public knows a thing or two about the mother of all Thanksgiving fruits—we did invent the holiday, after all. Let's take a moment to assess what we can already say about our tart friends from the North.