I have been working with my grandchildren in various ways, and language acquisition is paramount. My father-in-law once chided me for using million-dollar words, and I responded that there is no way I would talk down to him as if he couldn’t understand my vocabulary.
Besides, as a master woodworking craftsman, would he use a butter knife when a standard screwdriver was called for? “Point well taken,” he replied.
So, it pleases me when my teens and pre-teens take pride in their oral and written skills; and they understand how appalling it is when people in the public forum, who should know better, are making drastic errors.
On the news, in particular, I hear some newscasters using run-on sentences which continue until he or she runs out of breath, then begin in the middle of the following sentence. Others have noticed how increasingly prevalent this is; just listen for it yourself.
The other day I heard that “funner” is now acceptable — oh my! I also cringe at this time of the year, when I just know that myriad folks are going to mispronounce the month of “Febuary.”
I prefer to pronounce “culinary” with a long “u” rather than with a short-u, which is the primary pronunciation, according to the dictionary. How about cumin — also with the long-u? How about the confusion when hearing “tumeric,” with the middle-r missing (it probably went to the same place as the “r” from February)? Mascarpone cheese is not “marscapone.” (Spell-checker wanted to correct that, as well as turmeric.)
So, it’s off my soapbox and back into the kitchen.
For Christmas dinner, I picked up a small fresh turkey at Cookie Crock, and right there on special was a frozen duck. Now would be my chance to get fancy with something special. Everybody on the food channel claimed it was simple; just score the skin of a fresh or thawed duck and roast it for 1-1/2 hour at 375 degrees, or just until medium rare.
Because of the high fat content below the skin, Mario Batalé advised parboiling it, but that defeats the purpose of allowing the fat to baste and moisten the meat as it cooks, without actually penetrating the meat and making it greasy. (Besides, you can reserve the melted fat for other cooking purposes, they say.)
But also because of the fat, it spatters mightily, and I wouldn’t appreciate a greasy oven. Hence, cook it outside in my covered barbeque — a task assigned to son, Alan, who seasoned it nicely and allowed the briquettes to do their job, from a very high heat to the lower residual temperature.
There isn’t much meat, but with orange sauce, it was deliciously decadent beside the oven-baked turkey. (We didn’t reserve the almost two cups of fat.)
New Happy Hill full-timer, Joyce Backhaus, brought a delightful variation of the traditional candied canned yams, topped with marshmallows, to the table — and I envision this to be a favorite dish on many holidays to come. The Easter ham will be a natural, paired with:
Orange-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
2-1/2 pounds fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 to 4 tblsp. granulated or brown sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tblsp. butter
2-3 tblsp. honey
1-2 tblsp. grated orange rind
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a two-quart rectangular baking dish. Place prepared potatoes in a single layer in casserole.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt; slowly stir in orange juice. Add butter and simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick. Add honey and half the rind. Simmer and stir another minute.
Pour sauce over the potatoes. Cover with foil and bake one hour. Garnish with remaining orange zest; serve hot. Joyce has successfully prepared this dish for years with slight variations, from a 1985 community cookbook.