First World Problems & Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing

grey_spring_Pleasant_LakeHeading into the year’s darkest, shortest and pretty darn cold days, it is easy to get cranky. Instead of complaining, it’s worth a minute or two for a healthy dose of reality. Admittedly, I’m not immune to the problems November brings but they are mostly of the first world variety. How about you?

Before you righteously deny or grudgingly fess up, you might be wondering, what’s a first world problem? Perhaps the best way to explain it is with a few examples:

With the end of daylight savings time, it’s dark at 4:30 so you have to get up from your desk and turn on the light. The other day the wind was roaring and it was so cold that you had to get up again and give the thermostat a nudge.

With a definite chill and even a few flakes in the air, it’s time to get out the hat and gloves. Now, you have hat-hair plus you have to take off your glove to text and your hand gets cold.

Black Friday and gift giving season is coming. Your family and friends already have everything; so what the heck do you buy them for Christmas? I know; how about a pair of gloves with the special fingertip pads for texting!

When friends bring a bottle of wine to your dinner party, you aren’t sure what to do. You worked hard on your menu and wine pairings but worry that your friends will be miffed if you don’t serve their gift at the party.

After binge watching three episodes of your favorite series, be it Scandal, Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire, it dawns on you that you are watching recordings. OMG, you wasted forty-three minutes watching commercials!

To make matters worse, there’s nothing to drink in the house. Well, nothing except a virtually unlimited supply of clean, fresh drinking water. I like to call it Châteauneuf-du-Robinet; aren’t I the clever one? (If your MO doesn’t include all things French, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a respectable red wine. Robinet is faucet in French. I’ve also been known to call Coke, Châteauneuf-d’-Atlanta, proving that, yes, you can be too clever.)

There might be nothing to drink but, good news, there are five different flavors of that fancy gelato that you love in your freezer. Bad news, you’re out of the salted caramel you crave.

Your work and personal keyboards are a little different. You keep hitting the home key when you want to insert … or is it delete?

You burned the roof of my mouth on the fabulous white bean soup you made last weekend. Well, almost fabulous, you didn’t have a spare bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind to throw in the pot with the beans.

You went to the supermarket yesterday and they were out of … crystalized ginger … raw cashews … organic popcorn … artisanal cardamom cream soda … you fill in the blank with your favorite food snob snack. And should you mention that the store doesn’t carry Moroccan Harissa and their Dijon mustard comes from Parsippany, New Jersey?

With Thanksgiving a few short weeks away, I’m doing my best to feel grateful instead of grumble. After all, I have people who love me and five flavors of gelato in the freezer, including my favorite, coffee chocolate chip. How about you?

Stay positive and bon appétit!

Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Here’s one last first world problem, what to serve for Thanksgiving? My mom’s traditional bread stuffing, the one with the apple, or my favorite with a mix of mushrooms and wild rice? Whatever you decide, enjoy!
turkey_roast_02Enough for a 12 to 16 pound turkey

1 cup wild rice
1/2 cup brown rice
8 ounces sour dough bread, torn into large breadcrumbs
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Pinch nutmeg
4 ounces roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4-1/2 cup (or more) chicken stock or broth

Cook the wild and brown rice according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the breadcrumbs in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cognac and cook for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with the tarragon, thyme and nutmeg and toss to combine.

turkey gravy boatPut the wild and brown rice in a large bowl. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the walnuts and breadcrumbs and toss again. Add enough stock to the stuffing mixture to moisten lightly. Don’t let it get soggy. Let the stuffing cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to stuff the turkey. Roast the turkey as soon as it is stuffed.

Oops, just one more first world problem … to stuff the turkey or not? If you decide to cook the stuffing separately: transfer the stuffing to a large, buttered casserole dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down and bake at 350 degrees until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

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One Year Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Two Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Three Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Four Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Five Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Six Years Ago – Broccoli Puree
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite first world problem? What’s your strategy for getting over it? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

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