A modern heritage foodstead
I’m about to take a leap into the completely random and unexpected for a girl who is always bawking about seasonal this and seasonal that. What could this random leap be? Mincemeat! See, you so did not see that one coming, did you?
I’m learning that seasonal is a somewhat deeper, more complex concept than I originally thought. To eat well and seasonally, sometimes it takes some planning ahead. And by planning ahead, I mean more than just remembering to thaw the meat the day before.
For example, one of my favorite books perfectly illustrates this point. In Little Heathens, Mildred Armstrong Kalish tells how the preparations and planning for Thanksgiving dinner began in September. First by harvesting and storing some of the foraged and home-grown ingredients and particularly selecting and granting special fattening privileges to the geese who would be the main event. That meal was a big project requiring the help of young and old. Procrastinators need not apply.
But why mincemeat? Well, for some reason I have a fascination and determination to turn old-fashioned real meat mincemeat into a modern runaway hit. Why? I have no idea, I just do. It’s a holiday memory like fruitcake that commercialization has belittled and betrayed. It’s no accident commercial mincemeat gathers dust on the shelf, but I intend to change that.
Isn’t it early to be thinking about Christmas-y foods, you ask? Well, I suppose so, but since some projects like ham, wine, air cured meats and mincemeat need time to age and cure, the earlier I begin the more complex the flavors will become. And I won’t lie: if I blow it I’ve got time to start over.
The other, more important reason for my timing is that we are putting the mincemeat to the test. That’s right. My cousin Guy makes some of the best pasta ever. We’re stuffing that mincemeat into his home-made dumplings, saucing it up and seeing how it holds up to the competition in the Pittsburgh Dumpling Experiment. We mean business, and don’t you forget it.
I’m a lover of all things throwdown and the Pittsburgh Dumpling Experiment promises to be a good time. If you aren’t busy this Sunday, you should get on over to the ever fascinating Mr. Small’s in Millvale and watch some of Pittsburgh’s most focused amateur chefs sling some dumplin’. And did I mention craft beer?? And helping disadvantaged children & teens?
Quick Tip: I’m told the Food Experiments are usually sold out events, so if you plan to come you may want to follow the link and buy your tickets online.
OK, I’ve said too much already. I can’t reveal my secrets, but stay tuned Monday when I’ll spill about everything, recipes and all.
I’m really looking forward to a fun afternoon, and I sure hope to see you there!