During the offseason we’re going to bring back Sounder at Heart’s favorite way to bond over non-soccer things. It’s Open Flavor Fridays, which sometimes happens on Saturdays or Sundays. OFF is our way to connect about things not soccer. We’ll discuss flavors and other things we love. This week Andrew Beck covers flavor, while Dave Clark talks entertainment.
This may be sacrilegious to some, but I’m not the kind of person who enjoys most Thanksgiving dishes. Turkey is my least favorite fowl to eat and roasting it is probably the worst way to cook it. I find stuffing/dressing to be a soggy bread pudding. Most sweet potato recipes make me feel like I’m going into a diabetic coma just by looking at them. And most other Thanksgiving dishes are just side dishes I might eat at any time; they simply aren’t special.
But what is special are the leftovers. It’s the one time of year I always have enough leftover food to transform it into new things. I like a turkey sandwich more than the turkey itself. Have dry breast meat? Nothing a bunch of mayonnaise can’t fix. Add a little cranberry sauce and serve it on a Parker House roll and you’ve got a winner. If a cold turkey sandwich isn’t your thing, why not make a quick Mornay sauce and assemble one of the world’s great sandwiches, the Kentucky Hot Brown.
Remember that soggy stuffing? Everyone knows that the best part of stuffing is the crispy bits. So why not make it all into crispy bits? If you have a waffle iron you can! Most people prefer to slather their waffle with gravy, but I prefer the sweet/savory combination that you get when you use maple syrup. Stick with the real stuff (grade A dark amber for me) and find a barrel-aged version if you can.
“But Andrew, I don’t have a waffle iron,” you say? You’ll just have to make the easiest of all leftover dishes, the hash. Crisp up the stuffing and chopped dark meat with some butter and then throw a poached egg on top and you might just think all of Thanksgiving was just an excuse to have leftovers.
I usually don’t just have leftover food. It’s not uncommon for me to have beer, cider, and wine left after a feast. This is the perfect time to drink like the colonial Americans.
Use your leftover beer or cider to make a flip. They would have used a red hot poker to prepare it back in the day, but we can do it with the stovetop. Fill a pitcher with two beaten eggs, 2 ounces of spirits (I like whiskey with beer, brandy with cider, or rum with either) and a tablespoon of superfine sugar (molasses, cane syrup, or honey also work) and beat to combine. In a saucepan, heat 8 to 10 ounces of beer or cider over low heat until it begins to steam. Slowly pour the warm liquid into the spirit-egg mixture, then pour the drink back and forth between vessels until blended. Decant into a pint glass, shave some nutmeg over the top, and serve. A few sips of this and you’ll realize where eggnog came from.
With leftover wine, a punch is what to make. Pretty much all recipes for mulled wine, sangria, and the like trace their origins back to this. Entire books have been written about it. The best part of punch is you don’t need a recipe, just a simple rhyme: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak, a dash of bitters, and a sprinkle of spice; serve well-chilled with plenty of ice. The weak in this case is the wine, but you can augment that with water or fruit juice. The sweet is sugar of any sort. Any spirit works for the strong. Lime or lemon is the traditional sour, but I’ve even used cider or cane vinegar to good effect. The combinations are limitless.
I've settled into ruts in my science fiction. I've got a Big 3, and I'll buy all of their stuff — Card, Gibson, Stephenson. Sterling and Bear are "always purchase" as well.
It's a list I developed in the 90s, and it lacks a few topics I now desire. For a while I wanted to write sci-fi set in the Arab World. Those stories are things I need to re-explore, as I think I'm a better writer now.
But others can write stories inspired by cultures different than me better than I can, so today my wife bought me N.K. Jesimin's The Stone Sky.
Who else can help me break out of my cyberpunk dystopian rut?
Games — Video or Tabletop, whatever
I’ve been loving Magic: The Gathering Arena. I played Magic way back when it launched for a few years, and then again got into it in 2001-2. Since then the card game has added layers of complexity I barely understand. After playing some Hearthstone (which is simple, mechanically) I decided to re-explore MtG via Arena. I still can’t build decks to save my life, but the battles are going well so far.
Upcoming soccer stories
The Stars are ready to shine.
- A review of Unbreakable, the Steve Zakuani story.
- Realio’s ratings recaps.
- MLS offseason targets.
Playoffs open threads.