An unlikely title, yes?
I just can’t pass up an opportunity to brag (whine, marvel, scoff, gawk) at how impressively cold it is in the tucked away northeast corner of Minnesota. Current tempurature: -24, windchill: -51. Our dear woodstove is trying her hardest. She is a work-horse of a woodstove but winters like this make even her shiver. Dear friends via facebook have been asking if we are okay/safe/warm. We are indeed all of those things, thanks for the concern. But it is not a good winter to be a woodland creature. Pray God grants protection to all His woodland creatures on these brutal winter nights.
Here’s our inside door nob. Tongues beware: its frozen.
Moving on to warmer, more sugary thoughts. I wanted to share a recipe I cobbled together last night. There was a wilting brown paper bag in the back of my produce drawer that I had nearly forgotten about. I gingerly pulled it open suspecting moldy, collapsed lemons or basil, black and slimy as pond scum. But what did my wary eyes find? Why, mushrooms! Earthy, cream-colored cremini mushrooms just hanging out in the bag like it was no big deal. Well, it was a big deal and I was one happy kitchen dweller. (slimy basil is the worst!)
So there I was with my fungal treasure. Sweet potatoes seemed a given. As did onion. So to the chopping board they all went. (Sparrow insisted she loved mushrooms and snatched one off the counter only to put it back on the counter covered in saliva and pocked with teeth marks. Apparently, she does not like mushrooms.)
All chopped and ready, I then had to decide what to sautee all these little delights in. Sadly, my extra virgin olive oil sat empty on my counter and the coconut oil I so dearly love had been scraped clean the night previous to feed my husband’s popcorn addiction. So I had no choice: bacon grease. O shame! O utter wretchedness! O bliss! How sweet potatoes, onions and mushrooms adore bacon grease! How they sputtered and sizzled and swooned. And I with them, at least the swooning part. I was three songs into Shovels & Rope’s O’ Be Joyful album and positively dancing with my wooden spoon.
Now, any half-hearted cook knows the joy of the deglaze. All those blistered bits of flavor, star dust really, carmelizing in a fragrant simmer. Give me wine, give me chicken stock, give me beef broth: I’m a happy girl. But give me Maple Whiskey…and I’m over-the-moon. I cannot tell you how pleased I was when my eyes shifted from the stove to the top of the fridge in search of white wine only to find a bottle of Jim Beam Maple Whiskey with a knuckle of amber elixer lying lazily in its bottom. I’ve since decided all pans want to be deglazed with maple whiskey. All pans deserve it. All pans everywhere will stand up and walk out of your kitchen if they see you coming at them with a bottle of sherry. Do your cast iron pan a favor–get some Maple Whiskey.
I am waxing poetic and need to wrap myself up. Clearly, I added coconut milk to the maple reduction. It was inevidable. And clearly, after putting the sauteed veggies in a beautiful serving dish, and drizzling it all with the coconut-maple-syrup-of-bliss, I added crumbled bacon. And then I sat down at the table where Sparrow had a change of heart: she likes mushrooms after all. recipe to follow
Bootlegged Shrooms & Sweets
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, diced
Sautee in oil of choice (bacon grease!) until sweet potato is tender to the tooth and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
1/4 cup Maple Whiskey
Pour whiskey into still hot pan and deglaze, allowing it to reduce by half.
1/2 cup coconut milk (heavy cream would be nice too)
Add to pan with reduction and allow to simmer gently until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Place sauteed veggies in lovely serving dish of choice, drizzle with sauce and top with bacon if you so wish. Give thanks and devour.