The entire Gravy family is still recovering from a major case of holiday hangover. The Gravy Baby keeps wailing about missing his "ahyis" or aunties. I can't seem to find 4 of my salad forks (my latest theory -- they grew actual legs and moved to a fork commune where they can be together all the time without judgment or ridicule from the other, unattached salad forks who don't understand love). Gravy Too's little cheeks seem to have taken on a permanently rosy hue (gah, even that girl's worst day is still most people's dream). The hubby -- well, let's just say I think he's glad to be back at work after having helmed our family's holiday feverishness all last week.
One of this year's unexpected favorites to emerge from our week of holiday merriment was when I tossed a bunch of chopped kale with our usual Caesar salad dressing. Along with some leftover roasted chicken, sliced mini hothouse cucumbers, and diced grape tomatoes, it made for a nice one-dish dinner break among our richer holiday feasting.
Please don't confuse my statement, however, as an endorsement for abstaining or substituting salad for major holiday feasts. Think of this salad more as a brief timeout from the sweatpant-wearing, coma-inducing type of gorgefests.
The other day I tried to make my favorite pimento cheese recipe. It's in the Lee Brothers cookbook, and it's so much better than the gloopy mayonnaise version with jarred pimentos that I used to get after soccer games as a kid (in the South, there's always time for a mayonnaise-based sandwich, even in 90-plus degree heat).
The only problem was that I forgot to buy the red bell pepper I needed. And these days, when I forget something at the store, there's no quick popping out for 5 minutes anymore. Loading up the Gravy Baby and all his accroutrements requires at least 30 minutes, plus additional stopping time so that the squawking Chinese ladies at the market can coo over him. Luckily, I had some jalapenos on hand, so I blackened those. Oh, and I added a shot of bourbon. Because bourbon makes everything better.
Vietnamese summer rolls are one of my favorite snacks to beat the heat
In the hot, humid weather of Southeast Asia (and, from what I hear, in many places back home right now), a cool, crisp Vietnamese summer roll is the perfect way to make a refreshing snack without having to turn on the oven.
I learned how to make summer rolls last year, in a class taught by a teeny tiny Vietnamese lady who also taught us to make pho, that classic Vietnamese beef noodle soup. She does it by simmering bones all night to make a flavorful stock, and I watched her scrub and break down a combination of leg, knuckle and ox-tails for the soup. After placing the bones in a pot to cook with some water, she threw in a variety of spices that she called "basic pho spices." It was at this point that I thought to myself, "I will never, ever be able to make this dish by myself."