Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Sweet potato Casserole, Sweet potatoes, Thanksgiving
Recently I purchased a buttload (that’s a Southernism for “a whole lot”) of sweet potatoes with the intention of experimentational (that’s a word, really.) purposes. Not to make Frankentater or that sort of experiment, but to determine which method of preserving is preferred by the household. Half of them I sliced thin and dehydrated, upon the advice of some internet health-guru vegan who promised earnestly that they were just as good as a Lays potato chip and far healthier and our children would thank us gratefully for caring so much about their well being. They are not as good as a Lays, and my children gave me the hairy eyeball and drove to the store for Doritos. So, dehydrated sweet potato chips were vacuum packed and stored for later use by rehydrating and mashing into casseroles, which is why God made sweet potatoes in the first place.
The second half of them were canned. 4 quarts were prepared. The first was water packed, the second with light (10% sugar) syrup, the third with a 20% sugar pack, and the fourth with light syrup and whole spices (3 allspice berries, 2 slices of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick). They seemed ok after coming out of the canner, but after a day, the liquids were cloudy and that wasn’t what I was aiming for. Himself (who knows many things) opined that there were interstitial spaces involved and assorted chemistry and physics stuff involving heat and some other stuff. I replied with “cooperative extention service directions” and “but but”. I was not uncertain about the quality of the canning, as everything was bubbling even after it was cooled off, which means a good solid vacuum was in there, they just weren’t clear jewel toned jars like I envisioned.
So, instead of putting those ugly things on the shelf, I went ahead and made sweet potato casseroles, one for Thanksgiving and 2 for later on. I started with a good basic Southern standard recipe, and tweaked it, because in this house, recipes are suggestions, not instructions. Oh, and when I tasted the spiced sweet potatoes….DELICIOUS. When I do succeed in making pretty canned ones, you can bet a few of the jars will be spiced.
Here’s the recipe, with the tweaking in parenthesises…parenthaseez…you know….
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups peeled, cooked, and mashed sweet potatoes or yams (1 quart home canned)
1 cup sugar (Nope. Since the sweet potatoes were syrup packed, no sugar necessary)
1/2 cup butter, melted (Browned. Melt it in a skillet, turn down low, and cook about 5 minutes until it starts to turn brown and smells toasty)
1 teaspoon vanilla (Here’s where Ina Garten is right with her snobby “Good Vanilla”. At the very least, make sure it’s real vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla flavoring. Alternately, you can use a tablespoon of bourbon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Seems excessive to me, I used 1/2 a teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
(Also, 1 teaspoon ground ginger. I love ginger.)
1/4 cup heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk (unsweetened almond milk. It’s what I had)
Preheat the oven to 325. Mix everything except the milk. Beat with a mixer (or you could do it with a stand mixer, whatever) until smooth. Add the milk and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly all over. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Topping 1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I used pecans. They’re More Southern.)
1/3 cup all purpose flour (A little less than 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons butter, melted ( 1/3 cup browned butter)
(1/2 cup rolled oats. I like oats in a crumbled topping)
Mix it all together really well, and sprinkle on top of the casserole. This makes a good topping for an Apple Brown Betty, too.
Now, in the interest of Journalistic Integrity, I had 4 quarts of sweet potatoes and used all 4 to make a casserole for Thanksgiving, and 2 more to put back for later. So this recipe was 4 times as much. The kitchen smells like brown butter and spices, which is not a tragedy.
Also, a lesson I learned recently, because I am thick like that, keep your nuts in the freezer. (I will pause for adolescent guffaws to subside……………………. ……………………………………………..
Ok. Nuts are like candy to insects. So unless you use them all up at one go, which I never do as nuts are bought in bulk around here, keep them in the freezer. Not only will that keep bugs out, it will preserve them longer so they won’t go rancid, what with all those lovely oils they have. But then you probably already knew that.
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On Monday, our 15 year old got on a school bus and went to Washington DC and Williamsburg for a week. Shortly after (like maybe 5 minutes), Himself and I got in his truck and went to the north Georgia mountains for 3 days.
After spending a couple of days and more than a couple of dollars on an assortment of antique and vintage items, we went through Atlanta, and spent a couple of hours at My Happy Place, where I threw many items of fresh produce and all sorts of spices and dried beans and this strange sugar that resembles cat litter, complete with suspicious chunks. It is delicious in oatmeal.
While there, we ate at their amazing cafeteria, which can always be depended on for ideas. This time, it was a casserole made of broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. The sauce was white and tangy and it had buttery crumbs on top. It was delicious and Himself says the gustatory spectrometer in my mouth was pinging (it makes noises like OOOOH and MMMMM and other sounds probably less ladylike), and I decided it would be delicious for Thanksgiving Dinner. Naturally, the cafe there never has a cookbook or anything like that.
So, for dinner tonight I tried to knock it off…and pretty much nailed it. Here it is (they called it Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole, but it had spinach in it as well, and something oniony without being onions. I decided they were leeks)
2 broccoli crowns, cut into floeuetters…fleurettes…y’know…little pieces
1 small cauliflower, also little pieces
2 small leeks, white and light green parts, sliced thin
1 big bunch spinach, washed and stems removed….oh just whack them off, Don’t be prissy about it.
Boil a big pot of water, and blanch all that except the spinach for 3 minutes. Scoop it out and drain.
Drop the spinach in the hot water for about 30 seconds until it wilts. Scoop it out and put all the vegs in a big bowl. Set aside.
Make the sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 cups milk
4 oz plain goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until it’s foamy and starts to smell toasty.
Add the milk and stir until it starts to thicken. Add the goat cheese, stir until it’s all creamy and wonderful. Salt and pepper to taste.
Pour all this over the vegs and mix well.
Pour this into a greased casserole dish, bake at 375F for 30 minutes.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour into 1 cup of bread crumbs (Panko, or whatever bread crumbs, Cracker crumbs I guess…) and mix well. Put on top of the casserole and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is toasty brown.
Himself is a lover of Brussels sprouts. I was not a fan until we had these at a restaurant a couple of years ago. Now I am a fan. The DFM has fresh ones that are lovely and crisp.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
A bunch of brussels sprouts…maybe 2 pounds. i don’t know…however many you need to feed however many people are eating them. Cut them in half longways and put them in a bowl.
Mix together 1 part balsamic vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and some ground pepper. I put this in a pint jar and shake the heck out of it.
Pour this all over the sprouts and toss well so they’re all coated.
Put in a pie pan, or on a cookie sheet and roast at 375F for about 30 minutes,
until brown and crisp on the outside and cooked inside.
Also…winter squash. Who doesn’t love them?
Cut it in half longways. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. In the little cup left in the middle, put 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of dark brown sugar (or honey, or sorghum syrup). Sprinkle on a pinch each of salt, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger.
Bake at 375F for a out 45 minutes, until soft.
Yum, y’all. No meat necessary, but this is probably what’s going to go with a smoked turkey (ginger, honey and orange glaze…recipe later) and cranberry chutney (ditto). And dressing.
Ok. I LOVE marshmallows. They’re goofy and bouncy and silly and happy sorts of things. They are a candy, only not, because they’re full of air, only they are because they’re mostly sugar, only not because somehow when I was a kid, marshmallows weren’t forbidden like everything else was. They go on top of hot chocolate, or on a stick and in the fire, or passed around for people to eat.
Huh…you say. The ones from a bag are fine, thankyouverymuch. Sure they are. So is white bread from a bag. Stale white bread. It’s kind of filling and holds cheeze together for a grilled cheeze sammich. Homemade marshmallows are…well, like a fresh loaf of homemade bread still warm, with real butter from a cow and a couple of slices of gouda cheese from the dairy down the road O Yes. Do you understand? Do you get it?!
The first time I made…well…attempted to make marshmallows was not quite a dismal failure but they sure weren’t anything I’d give to adults. They didn’t quite set up right, maybe the sugar syrup wasn’t cooked long enough. They were…um…mucusish. Like snot. Gross. Only, the boys were in middle school at the time and they were delighted. So I let them wrap blobs up in waxed paper to give to their friends, who also were delighted. So it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t the result that was hoped for.
Last year I tried again, this time with a different recipe, a candy thermometer, and the proper equipment. By proper equipment I mean a heavy stand mixer with a whisk, and jelly roll pans.
This time I was patient, I let the stuff whip in the bowl for a long, long time- that’s why you’ll want a stand mixer. I suppose if you want to be all “but I’m Old School and I want to do it the Right Way” you can go right ahead and whip it with a big wire whisk in your big crockery bowl and go at it for 20 minutes until your arm falls off, but I am a proponent of modern technology (most of the time, except with the stupid smart phone and I really want my flip phone back even though the candle app is neat). By letting it whip a good 15 minutes you can get everything else cleaned up or even start on a blog post or something!
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup peppermint candy chips (or mini chocolate chips, or colored sprinkles or nothing at all)
- 1 cup sifted powered sugar…sifting is important so there’s no lumps.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, making a lip up the sides, and spray with non stick spray.
Using a pot bigger than you think you need (trust me on this), put the sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in it and put this on the stove on medium-high heat. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil, then stick a candy thermometer in and boil until it comes to 260 (soft crack) degrees. While that’s coming up to temp, go do the other stuff.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of the stand mixer, and with the wire whip, whip until it’s got stiff peaks. While that’s whipping, go to the next step.
Put a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove and bring it to a boil. Put 3/4 cup water in a heat safe bowl or pyrex thing, and add the gelatin. Let it sit a minute until it’s all in the water and it’s pretty thick. Then set it in the pot of boiling water and stir constantly until it’s all liquid and kind of translucent. Add the peppermint extract. Set aside
When the sugar syrup reaches 260 degree, pour in the gelatin mix. IT WILL FOAM UP, this is why you need a big pot!
Pour this mixture into the egg white, with the mixer on medium. When it’s blended, turn up to high and let it rip for about 15 minutes. Just let it go, and clean up or write a letter or something. When it’s done, it will be glossy and very thick, and will have cooled off substantially.
Pour all this onto the greased foil and do the best you can to spread it out evenly.
Sprinkle the peppermint chips all over evenly and press into the gooey stuff.
Let this sit for several hours (at least 3) UNCOVERED, you can go longer, but you don’t want to let it sit less than 3 hours. Overnight is fine…whatever works.
After a couple of hours (or whenever you get to it), flip the whole thing over on another piece of foil, and let it sit for several more hours. Then dust it with some powdered sugar.
Cut into squares and toss each one in some sifted powdered sugar so they won’t be sticky. I recommend using a big knife with a heavy blade, and make one big chop to cut the slice. You can run the blade through the powered sugar before you make the cut, if it helps.
Package up nice and pretty!
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When I was a kid, Mom made hot chocolate mix ever year. It was the one made from the Nestle’s Quik chocolate milk stuff, instant creamer, and powered milk. Now, I grew up with that and like it just fine. But, because this is how we roll around here, I wanted to do something MORE and BETTER, without the powdered instant stuff (well, except for the milk, I guess) and it needed to be Too Good For Children. Of course, that is up to you, what you do with it, sharing and all. I wanted it rich and dark and real and even a little scary, maybe. Like dessert or mousse or something.
So, I looked up Alton Brown’s recipe, because his recipes are nearly always wonderful, only I didn’t want to use powered sugar because I’d bought a couple of things of turbinado sugar and I like that different flavor it has. And no cayenne pepper. I know it’s all the thing this past few years to go full-on Mayan and add cayenne pepper to the chocolate but I am all “Hey this is the Deep South where we like things the way Mama did it” and Mom didn’t add cayenne to the hot chocolate tho I am pretty sure if someone had told her about it she would have. Mom still is a culinary adventuress. Maybe I will add come cayenne to hers and see what happens. Anyway, I read another recipe somewhere that added grated up white chocolate to make it richer. Then, the though occurred that if adding white chocolate is good, then adding milk chocolate as well would only be better. Then I decided that dark cocoa would be nice, because really. Dark chocolate. Right? Right. So it’s not his recipe anymore. Now it’s mine. David taste tested it, and he said “huh. It tastes like a brownie, Mom.” Thus the name.
Tastes Like A Brownie, Mom hot chocolate mix.
1 large bar REAL white chocolate
2/3 bag of milk chocolate chips (real chocolate, please)
2 cups Special Dark cocoa powder
1 cup turbinado sugar (or regular white sugar)
2-1/2 cups powdered milk
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
Shred the white chocolate in a food processor. I use the grater disc. Put in the large blade and the chocolate chips. Process until it is all a fine powder.
Add everything else (the food processor will probably be pretty full. I know mine is.) Turn it on, and let it mix for a while. How long? Until it’s all mixed and there’s no lumps or bits or anything. Maybe 5 minutes? Something like that.
Put it into containers for gift giving! Little mason jars would be perfect!
Use 2 heaping spoons full in a 6 ounce cup of very hot water. It needs to be nearly boiling in order to melt the chocolate. You can let it cool a bit after, but the nearly boiling hot is important. Trust me, it’s worth it. When you serve it, stick in a spoon and stir it a bit as you drink it, to keep the chocolate from settling to the bottom. A peppermint stick would make a good stir thing. Marshmallows! Of course! I haven’t made them yet. That is for another day.
Is there such a thing as too much garlic? Probably. Eventually. That roasted garlic french stuff was too much garlic. If your very polite friend says you smell of garlic then tries to backpedal by saying it might be her husband, that’s too much. Tonight was not too much garlic. In fact, Himself request more garlic next time this stuff is made and he may be right.
I need a kitchen camera. Just a cheap one, that it’s ok if grease gets splattered on it. I am cautious with the Nikon D90 W/fancypants lens. O yes, can take great pictures but not in the kitchen with all the stuff everywhere. Thus, no pictures but if you have any kind of imagination…bear with me because this was the kind of meal that made me sigh with satisfaction and wish I had a bigger stomach.
Did you know May 4 (my birthday!) is International Respect For Chickens Day? I respect the chicken. I respect it’s dedication at providing eggs and it’s commitment for giving it’s life that we may have fried chicken, roast chicken, chicken broth, chicken pot pie, and King Ranch Casserole.
My favorite roast chicken. It is how I honor the bird who gave it’s life for me. I want to treat it with respect, not shove it in a can and coat it in mayonnaise. So, I use a bird that has lived a long enough life to get a layer of fat on it. (no wonder my thighs…but really…at my age…whatever). A roasting hen, not a fryer. Also, little new potatoes, the red kind omygoodness so creamy. And Vidalia onions. Not Spanish ones or yellow ones or white ones, but Sweet Vidalias grown right up the road about 15 minutes from here. Sweet enough to eat raw in a salad but also amazing when roasted in chicken juice and fat omygoodnessyespardonwhileiclosemyeyesandsigh. Also garlic. the biggest cloves you can find. I used 6 or 7 cloves and it was suggested that perhaps a whole head might be better because we were all sort of fighting and stabbing each other with forks to get at the roasted-in-chicken-juice garlic. I caught Himself picking through the bowl of potatoes hunting for garlic.
Easy peasy but this is the first time I’ve done it this way and I tell you what, it’s happening again because….chicken juices and fat and potatoes and onion and garlic are quite possibly the second most delicious thing ever (right after that little fatty tail on a ribeye that’s been cooked to medium rare perfection on a hardwood charcoal grill). And SO easy!
Ok, here’s how you do it:
Roasted chicken with new potatoes, onion, and garlic
1 5-6 pound roasting hen, washed and dried inside and out
Several long stems of oregano from the garden
olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper
2 pounds-ish red new potatoes, cut in half (I have no idea how much…I had about 12 of them)
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin
6-7 fat cloves of garlic (or a whole head, if you trust me), lightly smashed and peeled
Put the potatoes, onion, and garlic in a large roasting pan
Set a rack over the veggies.
Put the chicken on the rack, coat it in olive oil,and salt and pepper it. Stuff the oregano up inside the body cavity.
Roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes per pound of chicken.
When the chicken is done (crispy and golden and the leg is loose when you mess with it) set it aside to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then cut into pieces. Put the vegs in a bowl and pour the pan juices all over them. Keep a wooden spoon handy for whacking hands of anyone who tries to pick out the garlic, or eat the really crusty potatoes first. Also whack the hands of anyone picking the skin off the chicken because that’s COOK’S PRIVILEGE. The Son Who Ate With Us opined that the potatoes would be excellent as hash alongside an omelet. Next time I’ll have to make more because there was only enough left for Himself to have for lunch tomorrow. However, I am not sure that there will ever be enough of those potatoes.
There was a salad to go with:
1 Vidalia onion, sliced thin
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse
1 large can little black olives
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (loosely packed)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and whizz up.
Pour the dressing over the onions and let sit for an hour or so. Right before serving, mix in the tomatoes and olives.
This would also be good with some feta cheese thrown in, or maybe those little bitty pearl mozzerella balls.
Use your imagination to figure out what a golden brown roast chicken on a bed of crispy new potatoes, roasted sweet vidalia onions and buds of roasted garlic look like. Close your eyes and imagine the aroma of all those sweet roasted vegetables and a chicken stuffed with oregano. Imagine the family drifting in on the wafting scent like what’shisname Jetson when whatsername Mrs Jetson cooked something, feet flapping and riding the waves gently…
Maybe for Mother’s Day I’ll get a small kitchen camera that I won’t worry about getting greasy or floury.
Also…someone needs to invent smell-o-vision. srsly.
Ok, the last post was a Proceed At Your Own Risk sort of thing.
This one involves the same ingredient- roasted garlic, but with MUCH happier results. The recipe was taken from Epicurious.com, found during a search for a broccoli salad recipe that didn’t involve raisins or cheese. I didn’t make the salad exactly as the recipe said, but I did make the dressing as such and I must say it’s probably the tastiest dressing I have EVER made. Ever. Even better than the garlic and lemon peel and black pepper sauteed in olive oil and blended with rice vinegar, which is my favorite for fresh salad greens from the garden in May.
This stuff. Wow. Rarely (with the exception of a friend’s coconut pie exchanged for sewing services) have I wanted to take something and sit on the kitchen floor, assume a defensive posture hunched over it like some sort of hyena guarding an antelope carcass, and eat it with a spoon. Calories be damned. This is so good it’s worth a little cellulite.
Creamy and amazing and OF COURSE there’s no PICTURES. But, you know what mayonnaise looks like. And buttermilk. Imagine the fresh Spring chives cut from a pot on the patio, and pepper from a grinder on the kitchen counter. Imagine a couple of golden heads of roasted garlic, oily and gleaming in a pie pan. Close your eyes and breathe in the aroma. Now imagine a 23 year old outside, manning the grill and tending the beefsteaks cooking on it. But the salad is the star of the show, no doubt. As per usual, I didn’t make the exact salad it called for. I never do. BUT, as it was a broccoli salad I was looking for, that is what was made.
I don’t really like broccoli, unless it’s in a salad with a delicious dressing, or drowning in a cheese soup. Broccoli has unpleasant childhood recollections attached to it. I was forced to eat it, and I don’t like being forced. However, if it had been presented with this stuff on it, I would have eaten it and asked for more.
Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing.
2 heads of garlic
a little bit of olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise…c’mon, use the good stuff. I like Duke’s but that might be a regional thing.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tablespoons of minced fresh chives. yes. Fresh. not dried. please. Not dried.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (Epicurious recipe said 1-1/4 teaspoons celery salt but I never use the stuff and have to watch the salt anyway)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground (yes, please) black pepper. I have no idea how much I put in. Probably more than that but I like the stuff.
Cut the garlic heads in half through the middle (how do I explain that?) so each clove is cut in half…get it? Drizzle each cut side with a bit of olive oil and wrap them all together loosely with aluminum foil, or (like I did) put them in a cake pan and cover with a pan lid.. Roast at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Check after that to see if they’re soft and turning golden. If not soft yet, put the lid back on and put them back in the oven, heat turned off, for about 10 minutes.
Put all the other ingredients into a blender (ok, Epicurious said get all fancy and precious and mix everything by hand blah blah blah) and whiz up (or mix gently by hand with a wire whisk made by Turkish metalworkers who’ve been doing it for generations and using methods passed down from their ancestors…whatever). When the garlic is done, pop each clove out (SO EASY!) from the papery skin and drop into the blender with the other stuff. Whiz it up again.
Taste it and adjust with salt and pepper and try to restrain yourself from hiding in a closet with it and a spoon and eating the whole blender full then serving the salad with a disappointing Ranch dressing from a bottle.
Now, the salad I made was 1 head of Romaine lettuce (Epicurious said use a bunch of overpriced hearts of Romaine but I am feeding Philistines who wouldn’t know a heart of Romaine from a bag of iceberg), chopped kind of small. I hate big pieces of lettuce. Also 2 heads of broccoli, florets cut VERY small then the stems shredded like cole slaw, and a fresh spring onion (from the garden of my 14 yr old) chopped fine. It could possibly have been improved with the addition of something like sunflower seeds or pepitas, but I didn’t have any of those.
Admittedly, I probably ate too much salad, if such a thing is possible.
“too much salad”…did I just say that?
I will probably reek of garlic tomorrow, as will Himself, but if both people in a romantic relationship eat too much garlic, no one who matters will notice.
It’s more like a Proceed At Your Own Risk post.
I love garlic. It is probably my favorite seasoning of all time, and yes. It’s a seasoning. Not a vegetable seasoned with something else. Or it shouldn’t be,anyway. I have experience with this.
The other night, Mr. Rootie was out of town on business, and I took the opportunity to make something New And Different. To me, anyway. I’d never made it before. Since we in this household are enamored of roasted garlic, it seemed like a good thing.
And if one head of roasted garlic in a pot of tomato sauce is good, then how much better could 4 heads in a pot of broth with a few noodles be? LOTS BETTER, I TELL YOU WHAT!
I am not posting pictures, because the ones on that web site are lovely, so look at them. Also, those are pretty much exactly like what I made, only I used a rich homemade chicken stock instead of water. Because stock is almost always better than water in a soup. Right? Right.
The soup was made and eaten like French Onion Soup with a slice of crusty bread and cheese on top (I used asiago because gruyere is hard to find in this town).
It was delicious. Pungent, but delicious. Comments were made about a low risk of intestinal parasites in the future.
The next day, when Himself returned from his trip (it was Valentine’s Day) he gave me a hug and said “you smell like garlic.” I was horrified mainly because this was late afternoon and I had gone all day long being around people and completely unaware that there was an aroma utterly unlike the C.O. Bigelow Lemon perfume I typically wear. The horror was then doubled with the realization that garlic and lemons only really go well together on a roasted (or grilled) chicken or possibly in some hummus, and I am neither of those things.
So. The moral of this story is two-fold:
1. If you make the soup, make sure your significant other eats it as well.
2.If you eat the soup, either sequester yourself for a few days (if you are self-conscience as I am), or at the very least wear that aroma with pride.
3. and don’t eat it within several days of taking a long flight on an airplane.
Then there’s this: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.