Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Salad Pesto Sandwiches

This is variation of a turkey sandwich recipe I clipped from the LA Times Food Section a few years ago.

½ cup toasted and chopped pecans

3-4 cups diced leftover turkey (white and dark meat)

1 cup red grapes, halved if small, quartered if larger

1 cup diced celery

¼ finely sliced green onions (scallions)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 cup of regular or low-fat mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

Freshly made pesto

Whole-grain bread

1. Toast the pecans.

2. In a large mixing bowl blend the turkey, grapes, celery, onions, tarragon, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and pecans.

3. Spread the pesto sauce on both bread slices, pile on the turkey salad, and presto, you have a great sandwich.

This will easily make six servings.

If you don’t have a basic pesto recipe:

2 cups basil leaves

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

½ cup freshly grated parmesan

1 garlic glove

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (virgin is fine)

1. Assemble all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.

2. Process the ingredients while slowly pouring in the olive oil.

The original recipe called for using cranberry sauce as the sandwich condiment. If you like cranberry sauce (which I don’t), have at it.

How was my Thanksgiving, you ask? Quoting from my book, “It was the best turkey I ever prepared.” Everything else was pretty spectacular as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Massaging Your Turkey

Last year I broke from a multi-year tradition and did a dry-brine for our day of fowl play, spurred on by a favorite LA Times foodie writer, Russ Parsons. The process was simple; rub kosher salt all over the bird, wrap in an oven bag and let it sit for three days in the refrigerator. (Making room for it will challenge your organizational skills.)

Our reward was the moistest turkey in memory. No memory jokes.

This year I ordered my turkey early (from Bristol Farms) anticipating the same process.

But a week before Thanksgiving, Parsons scribed some improvements on the salty technique, sharing a reader-inspired concoction of kosher salt, fresh rosemary and grated lemon zest. I bit.

The bird went in the refrigerator on Monday morning. This morning I removed it and gave it a thorough massage. Hey, a guy can follow directions and the sage Parsons instructed me to massage thoroughly.

Later, the bird and I shared a cigarette.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Myths posted an article today entitled “5 biggest Thanksgiving myths debunked.” The article comes from Bon Appetit.

1. The bigger the turkey the better. Guys would always pick the bird with the biggest breasts. I think it’s in the DNA. Apparently when it comes to turkeys, large breasts are overrated. Think turkeys on steroids.

2. Fresh pumpkin is better than canned pumpkin. I always use canned pumpkin for a favorite pumpkin cheesecake recipe. For fresh pumpkin I would need a Ford F-150 and a back brace.

3. Turkey makes you sleepy. No, adult beverages make you sleepy, or if you eat so much you cannot move. In that case, you might as well sneak in a nap while down. You will also need a nap if you don’t plan, prep, and prepare as much as possible ahead of time and you’re in the kitchen from sunup to sundown.

4. Stuffing is the same as dressing. No, that is why they call it stuffing—it is stuffed inside the turkey. Dressing is prepared in an oven-safe, casserole-type dish. Go with the dressing. It is hard to get any crunch to the breading when it is getting all soppy inside the bird. The cooking turkey-correctness posse also suggests that using and subsequently consuming stuffing raises the risk of bacteria types I can’t spell.

5. Pop-up plastic thermometers work. Simply stated, they are unreliable and you need a reliable way to make sure that turkey is cooked (and not overcooked). Besides, the size of pop-ups allows too much juice to escape. I have tried a number of thermometers including instant read. I have yet to get it perfect with a turkey and my oven and end up using the zapper (microwave).

Bon Appetit left out a few myths.

1. Turkeys can’t fly. Actually the wilder ones can, albeit short distances. The domesticated ones are so fattened they have as good a chance of flying as emus. Thankfully, Europeans bypassed America and transported emus to Australia. Turkey Day has a better ring then Emu Day. The turkey flying myth was immortalized by a classic episode of a 70s’s sitcom, WKRP Cincinnati.

2. Deep-frying is the best way to cook a turkey. You’d probably want to check with your local fire department and find out the number of emergency calls on turkey day for exploding fryers. If you must earn your guy badge this way I suggest you cook the bird at least 100 yards from the house and any dry forest or shrub area, and don fireman garb.

3. Cranberry is a Thanksgiving staple. Not. There are about five hundred foods that go better with turkey. Okay, so I never liked cranberry.

4. The turkey waddle is the way they walk. Actually the turkey waddle is the word for the sagging skin on the turkey’s neck; also know as turkey neck. On humanoids, Botox buttresses that blight. Celebrating Thanksgiving-style throughout the year would also fill out that waggle, and cause one to waggle.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guy's Guide to Domestic Engineering is Published

For those blog readers who found me independent of my friends and family emailings, Guy’s Guide to Domestic Engineering is now available on both and

My new website, is also live. Be sure to visit and check out my occasionally serious videos, and scroll through the cartoons spaced throughout the book.

This blog site will stay live—I need the blogspot process for new entries. All new posts will also be imported into my website, joining the archive already there.

The book’s chapters are short so don’t be put off by the number of chapters. Here they are:

Introduction—You’ve Been Jobbed

Separation Anxieties

Time for Home Schooling

Adjusting More Than Attitude

You’re a Y-Chromosome-Challenged Guy

A Short History of Guys and the Kitchen

A Slightly Longer History of the Kitchen and Me

Tools of the Trade

Guy and Carts—Provisions Procurement

Foodie Cookbooks, Magazines, Shows, and Following Directions

Expanding Your Vocabulary—More Brain Food

BS (But Seriously)

Blueberry Thrills

Guy’s Guide to Wine

Au Chocolat

Real Men Barbecue (with charcoal)

How Not to Choke on a Choke

Our Day for Fowl Play

Vaguely Vogue

Just Call Me “Franck”

Master of the House

Channeling Your Handy-Manly Side

iYogi, You Boo Boo

Mastering the Sanctum Sanctorum

Who Moved My Washcloth?

Gutting the Garage

Pulp Friction

Mastering Lint

Mastering the Zen of Ironing

How to Score (extra points with your bride)

The Care and Feeding of You

Bookish Club

Here’s to Not Dying

BMI and Thunder Thighs

No, You Did Not Ask, But Here is the Shortest Weight Loss, Weight Control, Long-Life Program You Will Ever Read (and the longest chapter heading)

Congrats Grad

The Ability to Cook Does Not a Metrosexual Make

Domestic Engineer Guy, the New Uberguy

Is My BS Enough

Recipes for Success

Breakfast of Champions

Dinner Spoilers (appetizers)

Salads Not Found on the All-You-Can-Eat Salad Bar

Where’s the Beef?—Here’s Your Beef

Cluckers and Gobblers

Pork for Porkers

Mary Had a Little Lamb—Which We Ate

Salmon-Plus Recipes

Something on the Side

Live Large—Eat Desserts

Cigar & Courvoisier

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trans-gender Papayas

Here’s a BREAKING NEWS story in today’s Los Angeles Times: “Papaya sex change is in the works.”

This is the kind of story that humorist Dave Barry used to write of, saying, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Okay, it didn’t make the front page, was buried in the middle of Section A, and topped out at around 200 words.

PJ and I love papaya but the only time we eat it everyday is while vacationing in Hawaii, where a papaya costs less than one dollar. By the time Hawaiian papayas reach our supermarkets they cost over three dollars, and they rarely taste the same. Papayas are good for you. How? Let’s just say they move things along.

There are three papaya sexual orientations: male, female, and hermaphrodite. It’s the third that produces the tasty cleansing agents. A hermaphrodite carries both male and female sexual organs.

A University of Illinois biology professor has been given a grant by the National Science Foundation to encourage more papaya sex changes to hermaphrodites, which supposedly would save on production cost and potentially pass on the cost savings to consumers. Like that could happen.

If perfect papayas grow in Hawaii, why wasn’t the grant given to the University of Hawaii? Urbana-Champaign (home to the U. of Illinois) is not a hot spot for growing papaya.

I have no idea how anyone could tell the sexual orientation of a papaya, but apparently the sexual orientation of papaya can only be determined when they have grown and flowered. So papaya growers have no use for the weaker sexes: male AND female.

When our son was between the rug rat and pre-teen stage, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the rage of Saturday morning TV. We bought him a turtle, which he named Donatello. It was only later when we took the turtle to the vet that we had a name change to Donna. There was just no way I was going to be caught trying to determine the sex of a turtle.

We had to find a new home for Donna. Our son couldn’t cotton having a female turtle for a pet.

I’m wondering if there is a trans-gender turtle and if that is the source of turtle soup, about the only thing of any value from a turtle.


I’m usually reading two books at a time; one, fiction, for my monthly book group obligation, and two, nonfiction, for whatever political, social, or cultural tome makes my heart beat a bit faster.

A current nonfiction book of interest is entitled In Praise of Slowness, which ideally will help my heart beat a bit slower.

This is not a review of the book, though I do recommend it. Just don’t speed-read it. The slowness movement, catching on slowly in the United States, has a slow food component. Its website is

I have blogged earlier about my resistance to speed cooking, hyped by Food Network shows like Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals.

Now, even my favorite chef, Mark Bittman ( has a new book out entitled Kitchen Express, “404 inspired recipes you can make in 20 minutes or less.” No doubt Mark was feeling the pressure to feed the short-term America phenomenon because speed is not what he usually touts.

Today I found a quote from his blog that I wish I had seen in time to include in my book Guy’s Guide to Domestic Engineering, now available on both and This fits my kitchen philosophy to a tee. Question: “What would you say is the most important skill to develop in the kitchen?” Answer: “The ability to go in there and start. I am the least impressive cook you will ever see. I am completely without knife skills. I screw things up all of the time. When I’m in the kitchen I’m not obsessively trying to create the perfect dish; I’m trying to put dinner on the table. Comparing yourself to the people who cook on television is like comparing yourself to Andre Agassi. If you can drive you can cook.”

Mark is being too modest; he cooks on television regularly on The Today Show. That is how I first noted him. Even though his cooking segments are only a few minutes he always exudes a casual, calm, “I don’t take myself too seriously” style.

Cooking is like most skills acquired in life; if you don’t begin, you will probably suck at it. And the goal is to put something edible on the table in time to still be called dinner, in a casual, calm style.