Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

Since 'moving out' of my parents home in 2005, I have not been home (or in Ohio) for Thanksgiving.  I have spent a few in DC with Michael's whole family, hosted by Aunt Nina.  I have spent two in South Carolina with one set of Michael's grandparents.  And this year, since we are in Ithaca, we were able to spend time with the other set of grandparents in New Jersey.  I have enjoyed all of these holidays full of food and family.

This year was extra special because Michael's grandparents, knowing Al is close by in the city, invited her, too.  So I had Michael's family and my sister around the table this year.  It was yet another lovely celebration of family, food, and laughter around the dinner table.  We were there for almost 4 hours, but it sure didn't feel like it.  I am lucky to have family near by, no matter where we move.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

This is one of my favorite poems from my childhood.  Mom's too!  Enjoy  

The Turkey Shot Out Of The Oven
The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.
It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with a deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.
It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.
It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.
I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.
--Jack Prelutsky

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Yummies

For me, Thanksgiving is a time for transition.  From fall to winter, from the regular year into the holiday season.  And, of course, a ginormous cliff dive into holiday food.  Thanksgiving is all about the people you spend it with (more on that later this week) but it's also all about the FOOD!   Specifically, pie, if you ask me.  I love pie.  L-O-V-E it.  It's a sickness.  I try to avoid it all year because I am the type to cut a slab, top with ice cream or cool whip and go back and keep eating tiny pieces.

I am by no means a chef.  I can barely cook.  Ironically, I bake, but never pies.  This year we're spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with the young generation of M's family and his wonderful grandparents, and for the first time, I am not contributing to the bounty.   I'm OK with it, and his grandma is quite the cook.  But in lieu of making the foods, or eating the 'family' foods I have had in the past, I am going to share them with y'all.  Virtual Thanksgiving, if you will.

M and I actually cooked a whole turkey last year after t-giving.  We had a wonderful dinner with family in Florida halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It was very fun.  You know what we did?  Rinsed the bird and stuck it into an oven bag.  Seriously.  And it was delicious.  Reynolds is your friend when cooking a turkey

Some folks do not have corn at their holiday table.  I suspect the reason we had corn is that it was one of two vegetables (the other being potatoes) that I would eat as a child.  In order the guarantee that I did not starve, my mother always provided the following corn dish.  It's by no means gourmet, but it's darn tasty.....  sort of like if cornbread and corn pudding got together- In a good way.   And it's easy!

Corn Pudding 
Serves 12
temp: 350, time:  45 min.
9 x 13 greased pan                        

1 can cream style corn                                    
1 can whole kernel corn, drained           
8 oz. sour cream                                    
1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese (or just get alpine slices in the dairy case)

Combine all but cheese.  Bake uncovered 35 minutes.  Top with cheese.  Bake 10 minutes longer.   

So now that you have turkey and corn, you probably can supplement with your family's stuffing and green vegetable and yams (candied or otherwise).  I personally enjoy a little fresh cranberry relish on my turkey, but I don't know how to make that either.  So that only means one thing- time for dessert!  

Four years ago Michael and I went apple picking in Virginia, and realized we had no pie recipes.  Later that day we spotted a Woman's Day at the grocery checkout featuring a beautiful pie on the cover.  It's become our favorite- never disappoints.  And!!!  It's store-bought crust.  Don't tell my sister

Apple Pie
Crust:1 prepared refrigerated piecrust (from 15 oz package)

¾ c packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch ground cloves
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

6 Golden Delicious apples, (about 2 ¾ lb) peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch dice
¾ c packed light brown sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ t ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves

Arrange rack in lowest slot of oven.  Heat to 375°.  Fit piecrust into 9-inch pie plate and decoratively crimp edge.  Refrigerate until ready to use

Crumb: Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cloves in bowl.  Rub in butter with fingertips until crumbly. 

Filling: In large bowl, toss together apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and clove
Spoon filling into pie shell, mounding slightly in center.  Top filling with crumb topping.  Place onto small foil lined baking sheet

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350°; bake 30 minutes more, until fruit is tender.  Loosely tent pie with aluminum foil during last 20 minutes.  Let cool for at least 1 ½ hours.  (Can be made a day ahead.  Cover pie and store at room temperature)  

Speaking of Al, she makes the best pumpkin pie known to man.  I do not exaggerate.  I attempted it last week for an office Thanksgiving celebration.  It is not for sissies, especially if you make your own damn crust.  I don't do that.  I was going to post it, but then I realized I don't even have her crust recipe.  So that will come at another time.  But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and lazy people who don't make pie, I leave you with Pumpkin Bread.  It's a simple quick bread, and quite versatile.  Works for breakfast, a snack, dessert, mindless munching.  It's delicious whenever you eat it.

Pumpkin Bread
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Happy eating, everyone.  And remember..... 
What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?  
-Erma Bombeck

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nothing 'kicks off' the holiday season like a kick line

Sorry for the pun-ny headline.  Couldn't resist.

Last weekend was a whirlwind trip to Atlantic City for Michael's casino class (fun field trip, huh) and a jaunt to NYC.  Michael went for a hotel show and I went to see Al.  Guess who had more fun?  As you may recall, my sister agreed to see the Radio City Rockettes with me during our stay, and I had a bit of a run-in with ticketmaster.  I really wanted orchestra seats, but can I tell you something?  Our seats in the first mezzanine were PERFECT!!!!  I felt a teensy bit bad that I had a run-in with Luis, but then remembered how much I paid for the blessed seats and felt immediately better.  We could see the whole stage and the formations, and at times, could make out faces, too.  It was so much fun.  I could see making this a regular holiday tradition- sorry Al.  

Anyway, the trip was a blast, Michael did hotel stuff, Al and I saw the Rockettes and generally hung out together (with Bill and Broadway, of course) and I went to Loehmann's.  What more could a girl want?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random Thoughts

  • Daylight savings is over.  Of course, even if it wasn't, I still got up super early.  Especially for a Sunday
  • Yesterday I decided I was sick of my golden highlights and bob.  I now have purplish-red hair and long bangs.  Realizing some of my shirts look a little funny with this coloring
  • Busy couple weeks ahead, but excited to see Al in NYC soon
  • Speaking of busy, it is quite likely that after today I won't see Michael for dinner until Thursday, when we're in the car, driving to Atlantic City
  • Weatherman predicted snow yesterday which DID NOT HAPPEN!   YAY!  I probably shouldn't gloat yet because there is probably a flake or two in forecast the next few days

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surprise YAY of the Day

We went to Niagara Falls last month for Fall Break.  It was splendid and glorious and full of fall foliage.  And the camera died while we were there.  Rather, the camera dropped and smashed the Canadian concrete at full force.  It made a terrible sound and when I powered off and then on again, got a failure message.  The lens was busted, and wouldn't even retract into the body of the camera. SO SAD!

Because I am a photo junkie, I am freaking out about not having a camera available for our upcoming trips to Atlantic City, NYC, and New Jersey.  We've been scanning and other nerdy tech sites for a new Canon Elph.  The super cool ones are pricey.  I love photos and fancy cameras and use the features.  I also do not have the highest paying job right now and Michael is in school.  What to do, what to do.  Momsie offered to buy us the fanciest camera around for Christmas and just deliver it to us now.  Interesting...

On a whim, I grabbed the camera today and turned it on.  It worked!  No error message!  The zoom lens moved back and forth and it seemed to be just fine.  I turned it off and back on again.  I took a picture of Michael studying.  It was fine.  SUCCESS!  The camera is WORKING!   I do not know if this is short-lived or not.  But as of November 3, the camera appears to be functional and peachy keen, jelly bean.  YAAAAAY