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Archive for November, 2007


I thought I would simply create a list of things I am simply grateful for this year along with sharing with you some of my favorite places to go to when you might be stuck for ideas this Thanksgiving day.

First the list of good links of places you can visit to find some ideas for what to serve your family if you haven’t already decided on your menu.

Good luck everyone, and have a great Thanksgiving! Divaliscious

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So you want to learn how to make lump free gravy, huh?!? And you want to get on that ol’ gravy train, right? Well you’ve come to the right place then. This is a simple “how to” in making Great Gravy from Pan Drippings.

Making gravy is a lot easier that people think. There are some easy tricks of the trade that can make it a wonderful experience for you the cook and for your eaters and guests in enjoying. So here goes anything. It is a lot like making a rue. And what’s a rue? Well it’s easier than having to deal with rules. I’d rue anytime before I’d try ruling! Go ahead look it up the word. I will discuss rues on another time. Back to the Gravy making… Depending upon what sort of roasting dish you just took out of the oven, this recipe basically calls for any sort of pan drippings for the best gravy you have ever had the pleasure in making and eating!

Get Ready, Get Set, Go
Having everything else ready (your salads, other side dishes keeping warm or almost finishing, your roast resting up a bit, this is now the perfect time to do the gravy – yes at the last minute.

Once you have taken the turkey (insert and replace “turkey” with whatever you just roasted) out of the oven – place it on the rack it roasted on top of some sort of large platter to rest. Place clean dish towels or tin foil over roasted turkey to help keep little fingers (hey yours included!) from poking and tearing off the crispy skin. Let it rest for 20 minutes for a very large bird (say 25 lbs) but let it rest will you? Please make that one promise to me. Too many people start diving in and get carving right away. Let me let you learn, that by doing it in this fashion by not allowing the roast to rest will get any meat to basically freeze up – which is an odd thing to say since it just came out of the oven. Oxymoron, no? Frozed up Roast. Doesn’t sound good, right? – Yeah so don’t do it. Enough said about that one!

Liquids can be from the left over potato water you may still have from doing the potatoes – this includes any left over scalded milk. I wouldn’t use more than ½ cup of wine if you so choose and that should be the first liquid if you are using wine to add once you get to this stage of the gravy making.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do have all ingredients ready before you start.
  • Don’t Forget about the gravy once you start cooking it, it requires your attention.
  • Do know that it’s not the end of the world if you still get some lumps – it’s all in the technique.
  • Don’t use already hot liquids – let them cool down a bit prior to adding.
  • Do know you should make the gravy at the last moment and it will become its most thickest once it’s reached its boiling point and starts to cool down.

Equipment Needed:

  • One still warm Oven Roasting pan with leftover drippings – Most pans are stove top safe, make sure and be careful.
  • Whisk
  • One working Stove Top
  • Pot Holders
  • Spoon for tasting
  • Heat Safe Bowl to transfer the pan drippings
  • Fine Strainer (Optional) (& in case of emergency) – (Keep reading, you will soon see why)

Ingredients Required:

  • 2 Tablespoons of drippings (fat) for each cup of gravy you want to make.
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Fresh Herbs of your Choosing
  • 1 Cup of cold liquid per each cup of gravy

Start Skimming
Take pan and pour into a heat-safe bowl all of the drippings and large pieces you can get out of the roasting pan. Careful, it may be still hot, but that’s good! Let drippings cool down just a bit – the fatty liquid may even separate a bit – and that’s good. Place roasting dish on top of stove.

Use of the Whisk
Taking whisk, scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan – these are the flavor enhancers, leave ’em in. Now preferably add the “darker” pan drippings (which inevitably are on the bottom of your heat safe bowl now) back into the roasting pan – remember 2 tablespoons of fat drippings for each cup of gravy you want to make.

Start your Burners
Add 2 tablespoons of flour to each two tablespoons of drippings you just added. Make sure the flame is on low. Whisk away to your heart’s content at this point. You will want to cook off the flour for at least 2 to 4 minutes of cooking time. You do not want it to scorch this mixture though – hence why I did say keep the flame low, adjust yours now accordingly, thanks, we can now all continue.

Adding the Liquids
Add a ½ cup of liquid to start. Immediately start whisking. This is the imperative and most important part of the gravy making process. Let the liquid meld into the flour mixture. Add more accordingly. After each addition, let the mixture thicken at each stage of adding liquid. Once you get about three cups in, you can now add the rest all at once. It was simply important to get the first stage of the adding liquid part to have the initial part of the gravy thickened.

Preferences Please
I would not normally leave the gravy alone at this moment. I would be whisking pretty much the whole time. Slowly of course – don’t tire yourself out – great time to get assistance at this stage – like a teenager with nothing else to do but text their way through the feast you worked so hard all day on – or of course then there’s that too helpful relative that needs something to do to get out of your hair for just one moment! Grab them now to help “the continue to whisk till you drop” stage of the gravy making process. You can at this stage put up the heat to get your mixture to its boiling point. If you let it sit and not whisk– only the bottom liquids will thicken, and hence the beginning of your lumpy gravy disaster once you realize this. (And hence, what the strainer’s for in case of emergency.)

Boiling Yet?
If a yes, put the burner way down on low at this point. You want your gravy to simmer for 5 minutes at least. Now is a good time to add your fresh herbs you wished to try, taste for need of salt and pepper. Once the gravy has met its boiling point – note that the gravy will thicken upon standing. After this, your gravy is ready – Welcome to the Gravy Train!

Have You a Too Thin Gravy Mishap?
Quick, without anyone looking, grab a teacup or other small vessel. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour, add 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir with fork till all lumps are finito and mixture resembles Elmer’s Glue – Add this into too thin gravy, whisk immediately, up the column on the burner, and whisk. Let it get to the boiling point, then return step above.

What About a Too Thick Gravy Mishap?
This can happen when you may have put too much flour in or when you return back to the kitchen to get more for seconds or thirds and the gravy has cooled down and is not a thick mess with a skin layer. You can simply add more liquid slowly at first, a little at a time, yes, get that whisk out, and stir away while allowing the gravy to reheat. It should thin out just lovely, thank you.

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Lately, things have been pretty interesting around here in Divaliscious Town. And I started to realize I have got to get my questions and answers section up and running. Especially since that is what a lot of my old site was made up of. So what sort of questions may you ask? Well, almost anything. I will do my best to answer them. Though let’s just start with food. That’s an easy one. Just Ask Me, Ask Divaliscious!

Examples would be – how to you get your fudge not to crystallize, or how to make the perfect pie crust, etc. Those questions that people seek in order to be the best they can be, can be answered. Yes, there are always tricks of the trade, and just maybe I will share with you my grandmother’s favorite trick to fluffy mashed potatoes or how to have lump free gravy.

Since it is nearing Turkey Day – or for some of you, Tofurkey Day well I guess I’ll let you on this little secret. I have had to do the mashed potatoes and gravy basically at every Thanksgiving Dinner since I seem to be either 1) the only sucker who knows how to peel potatoes quickly or 2) have been told I get them as close to Grandma Nell’s as they will every possibly be. So here goes anything and everything.

How to make lump-free fluffy and whipped Mashed Potatoes and incredible lump free Gravy – Grandma Nell Style:

A word to the wise, this is NOT a calorie free side dish, nor a recipe for the delicate at heart. It will contain milk, butter, salt and a whole lot of love, which of course you will too be a little more to love by the end of the meal, so heck go with it!

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Need to do this in stages? You can set aside peeled potatoes in water (make sure they are all covered with water) and let it sit aside somewhere in the kitchen or safe place away from your house pets, preferably in the deep pot that they will be cooked in. They can stay in this water until you are ready – just replace with fresh water when ready to boil.
  • Once Potatoes are boiled and cooked correctly (a fork will easily penetrate the potato) do not let them sit in the hot water for long – they will continue to cook and bring you gooey potatoes and of course we know that Divaliscious wouldn’t want that for you.
  • Do when straining the water from the boiled potatoes; reserve at least half of the starchy water. This is fantastic to use instead of milk for those who are lactose intolerant, and for thickening up the gravy or the soup you will inevitably make with all the side dishes and leftover turkey. And yes, I am sure you can use this water, I have used it plenty in helping both dishes – this was a Grandma Nell trick.
  • Know you can reheat the mashed potatoes, if you have a small oven, or it’s cramped up with the turkey and other side dishes. Place potatoes either in a microwave bowl for reheating or put back in the pot you cooked the boiled potatoes in and about ½ hour before serving, place in the oven on low say 300 degrees while turkey is out resting after her hard time in the oven.
  • I am not a fan of the ricer that some people use to mash the potatoes, stick with the tried and true hand masher.
  • Once you start mashing – do the next few steps quickly, you do not want the potatoes to start to cool. This is where the gooey and sticky mashed potatoes come from.

Equipment needed:

  • One of those potato mashers
  • Mix Master or Kitchen Aid Mixer
  • Pot Holders
  • Strainer
  • Pot deep enough to hold all of your potatoes
  • A second pot for the strainer to sit over when straining the water from the boiled potatoes
  • One working stove and warm oven at 300 degrees
  • Fork
  • Spatula

Ingredients:

  • Figure 2 potatoes per person and anywhere from 15-30 minutes of boiling time depending upon the quantity of mashed potatoes you are making.
    (I love the Yukon Gold for their natural buttery flavor, but good old Idaho’s are great too!)
  • Butter – A stick – yes a whole stick (8 oz.) for 12-15 potatoes. If you must, use half margarine
  • Whole Milk- two cups

Peel the Potatoes
So where do we start? With the potatoes of course! Peel completely the potatoes. I am not one for dirty looking potatoes, that’s for your local greasy-spoon restaurant that has those great ribs, but this is for your family – so make sure every peel is off that potato in your hands – It’s easier to do this in the sink versus in some bowl.

Boil the Potatoes
Add enough water and at least two teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. You may wish to cover the potatoes, but do watch it, once they start boiling, a slow boil is always better than a fast one, since the pot lid will probably pop off with water all over the place on top of your stove with a hard boil. Yuk!

Has Ten Minutes Gone By?
Take your milk – I like to take at least two cups for say 12 potatoes, scald the milk in a separate 2 quart pot and keep warm in the back of the stove top. Keep milk warm, very very very important, hey did I say very enough yet? – -Yes Keeping the milk warm is imperative to making great-tasting and looking mashed potatoes – yes, another one of Grandma Nell’s tricks! You never want to add cold milk to the hot potatoes!

In a Rush?
If you are in a rush, say you forget at the last minute to do the potatoes, well slice them up into smaller bits say the size of a large walnut, which will cut the time it takes them to be boiled. While boiling, do stir up the potatoes around in the pot, since the ones on the bottom will cook faster than those on the top. Yes, believe me, they will.

Are Potatoes Fork Tender?
OK so the potatoes are finished being boiled, you can now bring the pot to the sink, using those potholders, using a strainer over yet another large pot, strain the potatoes so that you are able to reserve the water that the potatoes were boiled in. Set aside the “potato water” for use in a bit.

Back to the Stovetop
Take the original pot you boiled the potatoes in and put back the now cooked potatoes into the pot and place over a low flame.

Using your potholders once again, shake vigorously the pot, as if you were making popcorn. This will allow some of the steam and inevitably some of the water to be evaporated. Do this for maybe two or three minutes. You think your arms are tired now?!? Just wait. We haven’t even gotten to the gravy whisking!

Now Comes the Fun Part
Invite the kids to mash up the potatoes, keep this task quick, say only five minutes. I prefer the open masher vs. the flat masher. Then get rid of the kids after the mashing is completed. Not all lumps will have been removed, but that’s what your mixer is for. Now I have both types of mashers, and I tend to use the flat bottom one for when I am making bruschetta for mashing up the tomatoes – but that’s another recipe, another day and another time.

Bring to Mixer
Bring pot to mixer, and though its awkward, put pot under mixer, or if you have to put potatoes into mixer bowl. Add half of the butter and add salt and pepper at this stage. Some people prefer white pepper, who cares, I know its pepper, so what if I see little flakes of pepper in my mashed potatoes, and I know at least its real ingredients!

Start Your Mixer
Add scalded and still warm milk slowly to the whipping potatoes. You can also substitute the potato water you set aside on reserve – but don’t use it all up – save some for making the gravy next. You may in fact not use all of the two cups of milk depending upon your preferences of whipped mashed potatoes.

Do Not Be Afraid
Stop mixer on occasion and see how the potatoes taste and feel in a spoon. Do this within five minutes. You can also check for lumps at this stage. In other words, see if they dollop like you want them to, say like when you are whisking up egg whites. How stiff or in this case, soft do you want those taters of yours? Once you think you have added enough milk/liquid, salt, pepper, and butter, you are finished! Serve immediately with a big lump of butter on top and proudly take your potatoes to the table and banquet. Relish in the oohs and ahh’s you hear. And know that Divaliscious is winking behind you somewhere out there in cyber land.

Not Ready to Serve?
At this stage, you can either put the potatoes back into the pot you boiled them in and do your best to keep them warm say in the oven on low, keep them covered too!
If they’ve gotten a bit cold for your taste, yes, you can reheat them in the microwave, but the oven reheating is best, since this will allow them to stay airy and fluffy.

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So here I am looking for all the old web-related files in order in assisting me in bringing back up my Divaliscious site…and let me tell you – for the normal person – just imagine how many files that collect unnecessarily on their pc/mac? OMG one would think! – The amount of junk is incredible. Now, what if they were Divaliscious…? Yeesh!

So the Divaliscious site for those of you who do not know or recall; Divaliscious was a site for free recipes, love advice that might bite, party ideas, music news and a lot more including Divascopes. In fact if you are interested, you can get an idea of what was and what will be the new Divaliscious site. I warn you, not all links work on the recipes page, but it will give you a good idea.

So this Divaliscious one has the wonderful and arduous task of reorganizing after have several PC meltdowns. Then I have to get some of my domain names back…one I think is gone for good, but I will give it a try – hey you never know…does one….that saying always makes me think of the Fats Waller song and that great production they should put back on Broadway titled, Ain’t Misbihavin’ – Wow does that take me back – imagine seeing Nell Carter sing like the true songstress she is – it was amazing.

So, I’m back in cyber land, and found a lot of the files, but nothing is organized that way it was…forget about letting someone else do back up for you – my suggestion today is if you own a new computer, learn yourself how to do the back ups and copying of DVD’s of information – and keep the file hierarchy. Most people wont understand your way of organizing…This is not to say I do not know how to do these things. I just let a very nice helpful person make a mess of things for me. Thanks a lot.

So let me go and be Divaliscious – and hey Donna Koran?….Be Divaliscious was a tag line LONG BEFORE your perfume Delicious came out with the tag line Be Delicious- you don’t know how that fumed me, yes people, please imagine your little Divaliscious fuming away that one of her own marketing tag lines was stolen right under neath her very own perfect nose. Urgh…..But it only reminds me that Divaliscious (me) is on the something and I get to get back out there!

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Well, after a very long hiatus, Divaliscious is back. Don’ even begin to ask me where the heck I was! I am still trying to get back my old site. For those of you not in the know…I ran for years a well populated site that had free recipes to great and fun real love advice to divascopes – You were able to Ask Divaliscious anything and she would answer you.

I will be getting the beloved divascopes back up and running, let me do some astrology research first and you all will be happy! I will also be starting up my recipe section and the ever popular Ask Divaliscious section up and running.

I have lots to design and get ready – but I am so terribly happy (sounds like an oxymoron) but you do not know! – So hey, are you Divaliscious, 100%?. We shall see.

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