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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (9/16/11) ~

Culinary Q & A #2 Since our last Culinary Q&A Fall arrived here in Happy Valley.  The temperatures have dropped to the point where my kitchen doors are open during the day and my sweater goes on in the evening; the Penn State football and tailgate season is in high-gear, and; the vegetables in Joe's garden are dwindling to a manageable pace! 

Fall is probably my favorite time of year.  On second thought, Fall is definitely my favorite time of year:

As busy as I am, I just naturally pick up the pace in Fall. I do more and for some reason everything seems easier to do.  My warm-weather mindset (be prepared to switch gears at any moment due to whatever fruits and vegetables are coming out of the garden and/or the weather) changes to a more focused and disciplined mindset.  Those of you who know me, KNOW I am a natural planner.  I love lists, checklists, time-frames and deadlines... and Fall is the perfect time of year for these things.  I am truly "in my element" in the Fall!

PICT3465 How do I know it is officially Fall? The tomatoes have been turned into sauce, the peaches are preserves and the peppers are pickled.  The  squash and pumpkins are almost at their peak. Root vegetables like carrots and red beets are in a basket on my kitchen porch and apples are almost ready to be picked from our tree!

PICT0482 Comfort food, the kind that gets cooked with lots of love is being served.  ~ My Mother's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Holubki) ~ was my first choice to feature Fall, and, it goes without saying I made them using cabbages from Joe's garden. You can find this recipe in Categories 3, 12, 17, 19 or 22.  For a quick look at how I prepare this delicious, ethnic meal, click here to view a short video/slideshow:

Download My Mother's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Holubki)-Medium

I had no idea what a "buzz" this post would cause.  My blog stats skyrocketed, my Facebook friends were sharing and chatting about it and I spent a couple of hours on-line that evening accepting compliments and answering questions.  One of my favorite compliments came from my Facebook friend Naomi, who after reading the recipe wrote, "THANK'S MEL! If I can't figure out how to make these now, you're going to have to write a Cabbage for Dummies book"!

Which brings us to my Culinary Q&A for this week, which comes from one of my regular Kitchen Encounters readers.  He posted a lovely comment and a couple of excellent questions regarding the stuffed cabbage recipe I just talked about:

PICT0518 C.  PSUinBOSSTON says:  Mel - I want you to know I am extra special excited to make this.  I know I don't always post feedback, but I (at least try to) make almost every recipe you post (my sister and I have found your bacon cooking tip from last year to save loads of time and effort and are very grateful).  This one has me especially excited.  I have had to travel a lot for work lately, and have had to have countless uninspired hotel and airport meals. This looks like the antidote!

One question:  I typically prefer to grind my own beef, but 95/5 looks leaner than I could accomplish.  Which is more important?  It's probably a placebo effect that grinding my own beef tastes that much better, but would you give that up to get 95/5?

Next question:  Turkey meatloaf.  Love ground turkey as a substitute, like meatloaf.  Can't get my turkey meatloaf to be anything other than boring.  What key ingredients will "excite" my turkey meatloaf?!?!?!

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  PSUinBOSSTON!  Flattery will get you everywhere!!!  I could not be happier to hear that you and your sister are enjoying my blog and cooking my recipes.  It is comments like this that make all of the care I put into this worthwhile.  Thank-you!!!

Texas Chili Dogs #5 (Processed Meat) I too like to grind my own beef in the Cuisinart and it is not a placebo effect.  It really does taste better.  I also think it has a better texture.  All the way around, it is:  a better product!

That being said, when I made my stuffed cabbage a couple of days ago, I simply asked my butcher to grind a sirloin tip roast for me, but, that is just my preference.  I have made this recipe using extra-lean (90/10) and lean (85/15) and is works perfectly, so don't give my 95/5 standard a second thought.  I also want you to know, your question prompted me to go back into my post and add that "note" to the recipe!  By all means, grind your own meat!!!

PICT5482 As for turkey meatloaf, I use the same mixture to make turkey meatloaf that I used to make ~ My Moist, Juicy, Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~,  found in Categories 2 or 13.  The meatloaf comes out so moist, succulent and full of flavor, no one will guess it was made with turkey.  So, if you like Asian flavor, I suggest you and your sister give that recipe a whirl!

Have a nice weekend everyone.  Once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary, Photos and Video courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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