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Whidbey Recipes

"Today, December 29, is my birthday. No, you don’t need to know exactly which one; it’s only a number and has no real relationship to the person its attached to. Sufficeth it to say that I’ve had more birthdays in this past millennium than I will have in the next one. And by the way, have you stopped to think that there is not one person alive on the earth today who will be here when the next milennium rolls around?There’s so much cornball stuff like that going around because of the “end of” mania, I just thought I’d throw that in with the rest of it, for your contemplation. In fact, only a small handful of people who are alive today will even be here when the numbers roll to 2100; they’ll probably all be computer programmers still trying to fix the problems of Y2K.Of course, having a birthday sandwiched in between Christmas and the New Year hasn’t meant much in the way of big birthday bashes, even as a kid. One or two stand out in my mind, but more often than not, things are just too rushed during that week to pay attention to a birthday. One year, coming home from the hospital on Dec. 29 with a new baby, my first, I totally forgot I’d even had a birthday and it wasn’t until the following year, when my sister asked me when I stopped telling the truth about my age, that I stopped, counted, and realized that I was a year older than I thought! Ugh.Anyway, I’m here to tell you that having a birthday so close to a major event like the closing of a century and the beginning of a new one does bring on a certain amount of trauma over how fast the years fly by. (Yes, I know that technically this doesn’t happen until 2001, but why fight the flow?) I recall quite clearly sitting alone in our living room, everyone else fast asleep upstairs, in the wee small hours of January 1, 1975, wondering where I’d be, what I’d be doing 25 years later, at the turn of the century. The scary thing is that that night now seems such a very short time ago!Perhaps because of the heavy-handed media hype about remembering past events and emphasizing the end of just about anything that can end, I somehow feel that today I should be doing some very serious introspective thinking about my life thus far and what it all means. I should be reviewing, setting new goals, contemplating my past life and deciding upon a direction for the future. This is the very last birthday I’ll have in this millenium; surely I can turn it into something spectacular, unique, momentous, soul stirring, meaningful, unforgettable, passionate, a birthday that’ll transcend all others and remain my Most Remarkable, Unforgettable Birthday Ever.And I’ll try to do that, just as soon as I have a few minutes. I’ll sit right down and ponder on the meaning of my life the very first opportunity I have, but right now I’m just too darned busy living it to think a whole lot about what it all means. Perhaps next birthday.We wish all our friends and readers a very happy, healthy, peaceful New Year. May you dance gracefully and eagerly into the New Millenium.RECIPESAs I’ve said in the past, I think hors d’oeuvres are one of the best things about parties at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays, when people seem to get more creative. And, because you’ll no doubt be doing a bit of entertaining in the next few days, or be called upon to contribute a bite to a party, here are some delicious possibilities. First, one of my all-time favorites for Island entertaining, always a big hit at any party:Favorite Party Salmon Mousse1/4 cup cold water1 envelope unflavored gelatin1/4 cup bottled chili sauce1 cup plain lowfat yogurt1 pkg. (8 oz.) Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temp.1 t. dried crumbled thyme1 t. dill weed1/4 t. black pepper, or to taste8 oz. cooked salmon, flaked (preferably fresh; otherwise use 1 can skinless, boneless salmon, drained and flaked)1 large egg, hard-boiled, peeled and finely chopped1/4 cup finely chopped celery1/4 cup finely chopped pimiento or green olive (optional; I leave out the green olive)1. Coat a mold (I use a salmon shaped mold) with vegetable spray. Put the cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand 1 min. to soften the gelatin, then stir in the chili sauce. Cook over med. heat about 5 min., or until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and set stand at room temp. for 15 min.2. Into the gelatin mixture (after the 15 min.), add the yogurt, Neufchatel cheese, thyme, dill and pepper. Beat with electric mixer until creamy. Fold in the salmon, egg, celery and pimiento/olive, if using, combining thoroughly. Spoon into the mold, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until well set. When ready to serve, unmold onto a bed of lettuce leaves and serve with small toast rounds and/or crackers. Note: If you have time and have used a fish-shaped mold, you can use an olive slice to make the eye and use very thin strips of green pepper or cucumber to mark the scales and tail lines.Paté is considered to be a very elegant but time consuming “first course,” with classic versions made of duck or goose liver, rich and caloric but delicious. This version is equally elegant and delicious but is easier to make and decidedly lower in fat. Party Paté8 oz. lean ground pork and 8 oz. ground veal1 med. onion (not too sharp), chopped2-3 cloves garlic, minced1/2 cup low-fat milk2 large egg whites1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs3 sprigs cilantro or parsley1/2 t. dried oregano1/4 t. dried thyme1/8 t. ground sage or 1/4 t. crumbled dried sage leaves1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a loaf pan with foil, with the foil standing about 1 inch above the pan on all sides; lightly grease the foil.2. In a skillet, cook the pork, veal, onion and garlic over med.-high heat until browned (about 10 min.). The pork should provide sufficient fat in which to cook these ingredients, and if you use a non-stick skillet, you won’t have to add any oil. After cooking, drain off any fat.3. In a food processor or blender, process the meat mixture with the milk until almost smooth. Add egg whites, bread crumbs, and remaining ingredients, processing until almost smooth, but it should have a bit of “character” - don’t make it like baby food. Spread mixture in the foil-lined pan, cover with foil and place pan in a larger baking pan. Pour water around the loaf pan to a depth of 1 inch and bake for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near the center reads 170 degrees. Cool on a wire rack for 1/2 hr. then refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to two days. When ready to serve, take hold of the foil edges you left standing and lift the paté out of the pan. Carefully remove all foil. Use a very sharp thin-bladed knife to slice the paté, making very thin slices. Cut each slice in half and arrange slices on a bed of lettuce or other greens, surround with tiny grape tomatoes and/or green grapes, or very thin cucumber and/or pickle slices, or green and black olives - or whatever pleases you. Serve with an assortment of crackers and/or small cocktail rye bread slices."

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