How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebratory Loaf

For Thursday's dinner, we had decided to try a turkey loaf from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, which regular readers will know is a frequent favorite for simple, good foods.

At the grocery that morning, I had picked up one extra treat, a mango. Just a couple months ago, we had bought a mango splitter, Kevin Walzak's miracle device I had heard about on NPR seven years ago. Mangoes are the most readily available of the many tropical fruits I came to love during my 1996 summer in Rondônia, but I always make a huge mess with them. We are always cautious in our kitchen-gadget purchases, but the delay-to-cost ratio was pretty high on this one, and I was glad finally to have acted on a long-overdue and simple desire. My efforts lacked the symmetry of the Oxo stock photo, but I did have much better results than I have ever had with Mangifera indica.

Back to the main course -- Terrific Turkey Loaf on page 440 promises to be rich but low in fat, and it was. It begins with sauteed garlic, celery, leeks or onions, sweet red peppers and mushrooms. These are mixed with ground turkey, egg, fresh parsley, and bread crumbs and placed in a lightly-oiled loaf pan. An interesting innovation is that the loaf pan is placed in a larger pan, into which boiling water is poured to a one-inch depth, to keep the humidity in the oven high so the loaf does not dry out.

I departed from Brody's instructions in a few ways. First, I do not think I reduced the vegetables quite enough, and for this reason I chose a small casserole instead of a loaf pan. And though I looked at the recipe list several times and saw the pinch of nutmeg, I somehow forgot to add it. Finally, instead of the "fresh bread crumbs" of one slice of bread, I used packaged crumbs, and probably not enough. I think this is what made the loaf a bit soupier than it should have been.

The result was delicious, though a bit slow to cook. I think fresh bread crumbs would have worked better and allowed this to firm up better, and I think leeks and that pinch of nutmeg would have made the flavor even better.

What made this celebratory? At the very end of the work day, Pam received a letter from our provost, informing her that her application for promotion -- from Associate Librarian to Librarian -- had been approved. Academics only get a couple of promotions over their lifetime, so this was a big deal.

How to celebrate? A common impulse is to drop everything and run out to eat, and at times we have done that. But we did not even discuss scrapping a perfectly good dinner plan for something that would cost more and probably not taste as good. Instead, Pam got out the good silver and put a bottle of 2004 Vintage Rose from Westport Rivers in the fridge while I started the loaf. We had purchased this bottle for Valentine's Day, but careful readers will recall that for that meal we decided on a peppery Savignon Franc from Sakkonet. The line "pink champagne on ice" is now stuck in our heads, but thankfully the fruity notes of this champagne-style rose are balanced, and the wine went surprisingly well with the loaf.

Incidentally, our favorite vineyard began as a hobby in the year before we got married; a bottle or two may be on hand when we celebrate our own silver anniversary in early May!

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