Family Traditions

Labor Day with the family

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Batten down the hatches!!!  My parents and my brother are driving up from Florida to visit me for Labor Day.  Plus I got some other cousins and aunts and uncles coming in from about an hour away.  Lord help!  It’s not that I don’t want them to visit — it’s the planning that can be tricky.  And figuring out a menu isn’t going to be easy.  Maybe I can talk my cousin into bringing something to help with the menu.  What would be nice is having a whole roast pig, but since that ain’t gonna happen I’m going to have to improvise.  And too bad my grill just busted.  Good thing there’s still the trusty Smokey Joe. . . and as a side note, here’s what the Department of Labor says about Labor Day.

Luckily, another aunt and uncle (also from Florida) came in for a visit a few weeks ago so the meal they had here was essentially a trial run.  But since there’s gonna be more people, I’m going to need to expand a bit.  I do want to make some stuff focused on local goods and made in Michigan things, but I also want to make some things that I know they’ll like.  I did find some Labor Day ideas at Grilling.com, Martha, and Yum Sugar.  So here’s what I might end up doing (which I hope to post on these new ones soon):

Roast pork shoulder

Sautéed green beans with mushrooms

Ratatouille

Grilled corn

Fresh Lumpia

Bibingka

Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic Confit

Empanadas

Steamed Mussels with Glass noodle

Koegel’s viennas

Something with Rhubarb (probably a Raspberry and Rhubarb tart)

San Miguel

Oberon

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Of course all this planning might just go out the window, so I’m going to wait until the last minute to do any shopping.  There’ll probably be a trip to Windsor in the making.  Or maybe a quick jaunt to Toronto (if I’m lucky)!

National Fried Chicken Day and My love of Chick-Fil-A

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I love Chick-Fil-A!  For those in the know, you understand the love.  What is extremely difficult for me is not having a Chick-Fil-A anywhere nearby!  It’s ridiculous actually.  How is it possible to not have one anywhere in this state?  I lived in Maine before here, and that state didn’t have one either.  I really need to rethink where I might live next:  requirement #1 — Chick-Fil-A; requirement #2 — ocean coastline.  It’s surprising that I’ve managed to survive all these years without it.  Every other state in the Big 10 has one, so why not here?.  Actually I lied; there is one in this state.  But it’s not a real one — it’s part of the cafeteria at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.  You can’t even order anything; you just grab what’s available and take your tray to the cashier.  It’s better than nothing though.

However, there is one in Toledo, OH.  But there is something about having to cross state lines to get some chicken that seems kinda wrong.  Like bad-addiction wrong.  It’s different if you’re going to Toledo for some other reason and you just decide to stop by Chick-Fil-A for a snack.  Totally legit!  But just for the food?  (Did I mention that there is also a Waffle House in Toledo?)  Of course, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done it.  Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, you just fall off the wagon, drive to a totally different state, and order some sandwiches, fries, and a couple of 120-nugget platters.  It’s not like I ate those all by myself; there was a party involved (well, at least that’s the excuse that I use).  But after spending some years growing up in the south, that chicken is a staple of life.  To me, it’s like a part of home.  And what’s wrong with a little taste of home?

I do have tomorrow off, though.  Now, I’m not a Jedi, but I foresee a road trip in my near future.

Bibingka — Cassava and Coconut Custard

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Here’s a recipe that is always a staple at pretty much all of my big family get-togethers.  I was trying to track down a recipe so that I could list it on the blog, but there was just a problem of getting everyone on the same page.  So luckily I was able to finally find one that was relatively simple (some recipes involved lots of different tropical fruits and cheese, which was a little weird to me — in my experience, SE Asia isn’t big on the whole cheese thing).  You will need a food processor though, but I guess you could grate the cassava by hand.

This recipe I found on the Saveur Magazine website.  From the picture in the article, this looks pretty close to what is done in my family, but I think the family recipe has some macapuno in it (here’s a link to a blog that nicely describes what macapuno is).  The topping is different, too.  The one my aunt makes is a lot more caramelized on top, almost like the topping on creme brulee, but softer.  Now, I did make one change to the recipe, mainly for time constraints.  I was making this for a party and I wanted to do most of the prep ahead of time so I mixed the batter together the night before and put it in the oven just before dinner was served.  Worked out great for me!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 lbs. peeled cassava, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.

2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and coconut milk.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

3.  In a food processor, chop the cassava pieces until it is finely shredded.  Stir into the egg mixture, and pour the combined mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

4.  Bake for 40 minutes until set.  Baste with the heavy cream, and then bake for another 40 minutes until browned.  Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes — I think I might put in a little citrus zest in the next batch.  I’m still trying to get closer to what my family version of the delicacy is, so maybe I’ll add some macapuno.  You should be able to find some macapuno preserves in any good Asian grocery.