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DISH: A weekly serving of food news and views

By JANET K. KEELER from staff and wire reports
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002


deconstructing
explanations from the inside out

overindulgence

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[Times art: Rossie Newson]

We just can't help ourselves, can we? The turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberries, Jell-O mold, rolls and relish tray dance before us in macabre syncopation. Even if we just had two or three bites of everything, we'd be stuffed. And yet, we keep going.

Overindulgence is part of the reason we need a nap soon after the feast. The other is L-tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey that makes us drowsy. The causes of overeating are many. Surely the sight of all that delicious food is one of them.

Sometimes, a cocktail or glass of wine, or two, dissolves our resolve to eat judiciously. Picking at food before the meal is another way to get full before sitting down. Eating seconds doesn't help.

The starchy carbohydrates will fill you up faster than veggies and protein. Drinking water before the meal might help you feel full, but if you're determined to eat a lot, you'll do it anyway. Taking a walk after the meal might aid digestion, but once you've gone overboard, there's not much to do but wait it out.

Oh, yeah, and gobble antacids.

cooking class

Use fresh or frozen berries for holiday relishes and sauces. If using frozen berries, cook them directly from the freezer. There is no need to thaw them first. For whole-berry relishes, cook the fruit before adding the sugar to ensure that the skins will be tender.

this web site cooks

www.google.com

This is our favorite search engine. We typed in "Thanksgiving dinner disasters" and chuckled at the number of stories about burned, frozen and dropped-on-the-floor turkey. Normally, though, we use it to find recipes. A Google search for cranberry recipes turns up dozens and dozens. Type in "Thanksgiving help," and you'll get lots of tips on how to remedy lumpy gravy and sticky mashed potatoes. Dog ate your turkey? You're on your own.

constant comment

"The hostess must be like the duck -- calm and unruffled on the surface, and paddling like hell underneath."
-- Anonymous

local flavor

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We know you'll be thinking about turkey today, but come Monday you might want to take a break from Thanksgiving planning and consider local seafood. That's when the Food Network will rerun the episode of Food Finds featuring Ward's Seafood Market of Clearwater. The show airs at 3:30 p.m. Monday and repeats at 9 p.m. Dec. 12 and midnight Dec. 13. Owner Robert Cameron says the cable channel was "particularly impressed with our long-standing history and excellent reputation."

holiday facts

More than 90 percent of homes serve turkey as the main course on Thanksgiving.

More than 45-million turkeys are cooked on Thanksgiving -- about 535-million pounds.

Fifty percent of Americans say they put stuffing inside the bird, while 50 percent cook it on the side.

Twenty percent of all cranberries that are eaten are eaten at Thanksgiving.

More than 40-million green bean casseroles will be served at Thanksgiving.

The No. 1 Thanksgiving leftover is the turkey sandwich.

light and kicky

A lower-fat breakfast is in order on Thanksgiving, and two new products from Egg Beaters might jazz up the meal: the new Garden Vegetable and Southwestern Egg Beaters. We tried the Southwestern, which includes red and green peppers, onions, chilies and spices. The vegetables are chopped into such fine bits that they are nearly indiscernible, but taste testers agreed they still offer a kick. As with regular Egg Beaters, these are fat- and cholesterol-free. A 15-ounce carton is $2.49.

a safe kitchen

If young children will be coming to your normally childless house for Thanksgiving, make sure your kitchen is a safe place. Keep pot handles turned to the back of the stove and raise refrigerator magnets out of reach. Also, keep the trash out of sight and knives away from the edge of the counter. Make sure you tell the youngsters' parents that your house is not accustomed to children so they will know to keep a careful watch.

phototimesavers

Save yourself a last-minute run to the supermarket with these emergency substitutions, from Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks by David Joachim (Rodale, 2001):

  • Pumpkin pie spice (per teaspoon): 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.
  • Light brown sugar (per packed cup): 1 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons molasses; or 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.
  • Milk (fat-free) (per cup): 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk plus 3/4 cup water.
  • Milk (full fat) (per cup): 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water; or 7/8 cup water, 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk and 21/2 teaspoons butter.

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