Ruby’s Corner – November Edition
I’m not your typical Ghanaian-American, 20/30-something gal. To say that I am non-traditional would be as obvious as saying that fried chicken isn’t the same as Shake & Bake. Um, duh.
When my family and I moved from Ghana, West Africa to Nashville, TN when I was 2.9 years old, any form of tradition went out the window as we tried to maneuver the blending of cultures. The new normal became a “make it up as you go” mentality and we never looked back. I’m thankful it has made me the woman I am today. It’s why I cook like a mad scientist. It’s why I am open spiritually (It’s truly “Om” or “Amen” on any given day). It’s why I have dated men of all colors and creeds and why I don’t give two fits if you live your life how you want to live it – as long as you’re not setting ants on fire or pushing wheelchairs into traffic.
The holidays are a time when many of us feel pressured to uphold passed-down rules and regulations on how to celebrate, where to celebrate, and with whom to celebrate. In some families it’s a “This is how we always do things” way of existing, and any veering from the norm could cause every steadfastly-present relative to charge you with family abandonment and shun you until you made it up to the family on the next Hallmark holiday.
My only tradition around the holidays is non-tradition. I make it up as I go every year. One year my Christmas Day was spent watching “Clueless” and my Christmas dinner consisted of tuna (because it was red), peas (because they were green), and bowtie pasta (because they looked like gift toppers). I think I covered the theme pretty darn well. I don’t believe that you have to read from a book at midnight to remember what it all means. I also don’t believe that a blood relative is any more worthy of your presence than a “love relative.” The pressure we put on each other, and more importantly, upon ourselves, is the exact opposite of what this season should be all about.
So, if you’re someone who spends the last Thursday of June with loved ones instead of the last Thursday of November, more power to you. If you give gifts on May 17th or 25th as opposed to December 17th or 25th, go on ‘head witcho’ bad self. Live your life. I’m in your corner.
Piss them off this season by switching out the mashed potatoes for this knock-out mashed cauliflower recipe. Just as creamy and buttery as the traditional starch offering – but your stomach won’t feel like you hate it after a few helpings….
- One small head of cauliflower, cut into florets (discard majority of the stalk)
- 2 small heads or 1 large head of garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup organic chicken broth/stock
- 1/4 cup organic sour cream
- 1/4 cup organic heavy cream
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Crispy Shallots
- 2 cups peanut oil (or anything other than olive oil)
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons organic all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (1 reserved for garnishing)
- 1 teaspoons organic cane sugar
First, prepare crispy shallots:
Place 2 cups oil into frying pan and raise to medium-high heat.
Place sliced shallots onto a paper towel and spread out evenly. Sprinkle flour and salt onto shallots and toss to distribute.
Test to see if oil is ready by placing one slice of shallot into frying pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready. Then place all of the shallots into the frying pan, stirring slowly with a wooden or metal spoon (NOT plastic) for 5-8 minutes. If the shallots are browning too quickly, lower your heat and continue stirring. Low and slow is just as good for crisping shallots (Just make sure there is still a slight bubble to your oil).
Once they are golden brown, transfer shallots from oil with a slotted spoon onto paper towels. They will turn crunchy before your eyes. Take off of paper towel and place into glass or porcelain bowl or plate. Sprinkle final 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar onto crispy shallots and toss lightly. Set aside.
For the cauliflower:
Put cauliflower florets and peeled garlic cloves into a steamer basket and place over a pot filled with enough water so that it boils underneath the steamer basket, but doesn’t reach the cauliflower. Cover with a lid and bring water to a full boil and steam for 15-25 minutes or until fork-tender (Cauliflower should be easily mashed with a fork when done).
Transfer steamed cauliflower and garlic cloves into a medium-sized pot on a medium-heat stove. Add butter, chicken broth/stock, sour cream and heavy cream. Mash with a potato masher or slotted metal spoon until desired consistency. I personally like it evenly textured and creamy.
Transfer mashed cauliflower into a serving dish. Reserve crispy shallots just until serving, then sprinkle shallots on top of mash.
Yeah, you’ll like it.
Isaiah “Ikey” Owens always lived life outside of the box. It’s why I cherished him and it’s why I still do and forever will. You had never heard keys played like he played them. You had never heard records produced like he produced them. My non-traditional friend deserves all the love and adoration that has been poured out for him after his passing. He was gone far before his time but he still lives on. Just listen to the following creations to know this beyond a shadow of a doubt:
- From the album Love is the Answer; “Who” by Rubedo; produced by Ikey Owens. Purchase here.
- From the album Agua Amarga; “Vazio” by Wild Pack of Canaries; featuring Ikey Owens on keys
- From Third Man Records; Brittany Howard & Ruby Amanfu; “I Wonder” featuring Ikey Owens on keys
(That reggae section in the middle that you think is an electric guitar is actually Ikey Owens wailing on keys. Now ya’ know.)