Saturday, November 22, 2014

Most Favorite Food

I am a bread foodie. Love bread; love to make it and eat it buttered and still hot from the oven when the bread aroma still lingers in the air. Loaves of French, sourdough, rye, honey whole wheat, rolls, biscuits, whatever, I make them all. It often surprises me to realize my sourdough starter is now older than most of my college students. Besides toast and sandwiches, bread is cut up into cubes to make croutons for salad and casserole toppings, but the best use of bread cubes is for making stuffing and bread pudding. To me they are synonymous, stuffing being the savory version and bread pudding the sweet.

My Dad became a home baker in his forties, and I use his French bread recipe which makes great loaves from four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. However, one of my oldest memories is of my Mom making Thanksgiving stuffing for the family's turkey. She was very intense in each step of her work. I remember watching her melt the butter and sautéing the celery and onions, salt, pepper, and herbs before pouring it all into a huge oblong pan. She then added the bread cubes, poured a cup or so of hot water onto the bread, and mixed it with her hands until it was the right consistency before she shoved it into the turkey's back end.

I've loved stuffing ever since. The taste of roasted celery, onion, turkey, and bread is good plain and warm, covered with gravy, or cold from the refrigerator. Maybe especially cold as the celery taste seems more intense. I make mine a little differently, using homemade bread and moistening it with chicken stock instead of water, but the celery, onion, and spices remain the same. I don't stuff the turkey either, but cut it into pieces and place them on top of the stuffing in an ancient roaster. Yum. I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Stuffing is high calorie, so it's a good thing I have it only once a year.

So here's the recipe, but this may be superfluous as I think most families already have their own favorite:  Melt 1 to 1 ½ sticks of butter, add 1 large onion chopped into small pieces, 2 to 3 stalks of celery sliced crosswise, with ¼ to ½ tsp thyme, if desired, ¼ to ½ tsp sage, ¼ to ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add 9 to 10 cups of dry (stale), cubed French bread and 1 cup of turkey or chicken broth. You can make a cup of turkey broth by simmering the turkey's liver, heart, and gizzard for twenty minutes. Use the salt in the liquid and omit from the dressing. The heart and gizzard can be chopped up and added to the dressing if desired. Jerusalem artichokes (I planted some this fall) are also good chopped up and added when sautéing the vegetables. This recipe is good for a 10 to 12-pound turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more on favorite foods check out the blog postings of the following authors:

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor 
Ginger Simpson
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosnski
Anne Stenhouse 
Heidi M. Thomas
Helena Fairfax 
Kay Sisk
Connie Vines 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

All Things Six

Cardinal: SIX
Hindu-Arabic: 6
Ordinate: Sixt
Roman: V
Greek: Digamma
Pythagorean number: the hexa
1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 2x3

The Roman word for six is sex (sextus) which gives us sextant, sextuplets, and sextet which shouldn't be confused with the one on one unless it is a double ménage à trois.

Greek has hexa, which gives us the hexagram or the six-pointed star also known as the Seal of Solomon. We also have a hexagon in geometric shapes, and hexapods, which are insects.

June is the sixth month, and Saturday is the sixth day when the week starts with Monday. Saturday is named for Saturn or the Titan Cronus in disguise which ties six to time in another way. Cronus controlled generation as in when the weekend begins or the turning point for a new week,  and dissolution as when the work weekends or the end of the current week, and later became tied to time itself.  So even if it is the fifth or sixth day, it is in keeping with Cronus's control. Six am and six pm mean a quarter and three-quarters of the day is done. Six has been an important measure for a long time whether in time or quantity as a half-dozen.

In science, Carbon (C) has the atomic number six and is the sixth element on the periodic table.

Six is the Christian number of creation and order as God created the world in six days. It is also symbolic of the ending of effort, but six is also a day of imperfection as it is one day short of a complete week. The Sixth Commandment is ‘Thou shall not kill.’ In the Bible, the manna fell from heaven for 6 days; Jesus changed six pots of water into wine for his first miracle. Six, as already mentioned represents the Seal of Solomon and the six-point star of Judaism. Three sixes, 666, represents the devil. The Hexateuch is the first six books of the Old Testament. By the 9th Century, Sext was a canonical hour for mid-day prayer services.

A sixte in fencing is the sixth defensive position, and in cards, we have a six-spot or sixer, and in dice Captain Hicks.

Numerology assigns the number six to the alpha letters f, o, x. Six’s Astrological association is the House of Virgo. Six represents the human soul because six is symbolic of the union between fire and water, and is the number of ambivalence and effort. It is a 'perfect number' because it equals the sum of its divisors and is divisible by both a 3 (odd) and a 2 (even), thus harmoniously combining the elements of each; this leads to it becoming a hermaphroditic number. Six is the number of love, marriage, and domestic happiness. The Pythagoreans referred to this number as 'the perfection of all points.' They considered six the form of forms, the maker of the soul, and the articulation of the universe. Its keywords are time, panacea, the world, overabundance, and being indefatigable. Its associated deities are Orpheus, the Muse Thalia, and the Fate Lachesis.

Again, come up on the bad side of six and you earn the negative connotations of being unfinished or imperfect in business, and projects, while conversely, becoming a workaholic. It might mean you have lost your sense of time and place because you are in want or exhausted. Worst of all, it can mean you are working for evil.

In Tarot divination, the sixth card is the lovers. This card represents knowledge of the super-conscious by seeing through the subconscious. The card indicates choice, temptation, attraction, and the struggle between sacred and profane love. One positive aspect is harmony between the inner and outer aspects of life.

Venus, Diana, Janus, and the heart are symbols of six. Venus governs love, harmony, artistry, feminine sexuality, attractions, affection, physical beauty, and art. A double triangle or circle divided into six parts represents the unity of spirit and body and harmony between man and God.

In common usage, you have a half dozen, a six-shooter or six-gun, a six-pack, a six-penny, six fold, or a six-footer.

There you have it, all things six. For more on six check Wikipedia.
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Sources used for information:
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.