Traditionally I get badgered at this time of year by people who ask me to make good on some promise I made weeks earlier.
Among the most persistent badgerers are family members who want me to (a) write them a letter, (b) buy them overpriced toys or (c) clean my closet. To them I say, "I'm working on it."
But to the other pesterers, namely my dear readers, who want (a) the recipe for the hominy casserole that goes well with roast turkey, and (b) the annual reprint of the recipe for the world's greatest eggnog, I say, "You win."
But first a few words about each. I attempted to keep the hominy casserole a secret. I thought it would be our family's "signature dish."
But like most secrets, this one has leaked out. I have it on the highest authority, my mom, that already the dish has appeared at supper tables in Kansas, Missouri and Massachusetts. To this list of casserole-familiar zones, I add Arizona and Vermont.
I first ate the dish in Tucson, where my sister-in-law fixed it. She and her family have since moved to South Burlington, Vt., taking the recipe, if not the jalapeno peppers, with them.
Speaking of sisters-in-law, the one who lives outside Boston called before Thanksgiving to get this recipe. When I gave her the ingredients, she asked if yogurt could be used for sour cream.
As a devoted fan of any kind of cream, I wanted to scream, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" I wanted to go into a tirade about how yogurt is sneaking into perfectly wonderful recipes, and sapping out flavor. I did protest, but not very loudly. I make it a policy not to fight with sisters-in-law. And I had the feeling that regardless of what I said to assassinate yogurt's character, it was going to get the job.
That is also when I decided to "go public" with the real version of the recipe, complete with sour cream. I figured I had better strike before the bogus yogurt version was credited as the original.
As for the eggnog, it remains a perennial favorite, especially among people who annually lose the recipe.
It has even become controversial. The original recipe calls for using raw egg yolks, and that alarms folks who worry about salmonella poisoning. Salmonella is not something to joke about. Its symptoms include fever, severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Nor is it something to become hysterical about.
The risk of getting "a bad egg" is low, about 10,000 to 1. That is for the first egg. Since one bad egg can contaminate a recipe, as you add eggs the chances of getting ill remain distant but increase with the addition of each raw egg.
There is a new scientific theory of where salmonella originates. Basically it holds that salmonella comes from the chicken, specifically the infected ovaries of a hen, not the "dirty" eggshell. What this means, to me, is that a perfectly fine-looking egg could contain salmonella.
So this year in the interest of folks who do not want to play the odds, I include instructions from the American Egg Board in Chicago on how to cook the eggs to eliminate the remote chance of salmonella. I must say that every time I tried to cook the yolks to the temperature called for, 140 degrees, they curdled -- even when I used a double boiler.
And on that note I'll end, wishing all a creamy holiday.
Secret hominy casserole
2 16-ounce cans hominy
2 16-ounce cans yellow corn (not creamed)
1 cup sour cream
2 cans green chili peppers, chopped (jalapeno optional)
black pepper and salt to taste
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
In a greased casserole dish, layer ingredients, starting with hominy and finishing with cheese. Repeat as necessary to fill dish. Cook uncovered in 400-degree oven for about 1 hour, until top is crusty.
World's greatest eggnog
Makes 20 cups.
2 cups bourbon
1 1/8 cups sugar
6 egg yolks, beaten (see note about cooking)
4 cups whipping cream
Blend bourbon and sugar in large mixing bowl. Let sit overnight, if you can wait. Add eggs. If you wish to cook them, put them in a pan, with 1 1/2 cups of cream and heat them to 140 degrees. Stir eggs bourbon mixture well. Cover and let sit in refrigerator, 2 hours if you can wait. Whip cream, add to bourbon mixture. Nog starts off very creamy, becomes soupy the longer it survives.