Saturday, November 27, 2010

One can't have too many pies!

Pie Party was lots of fun last night. Got together with quite a few cousins and family that we only get to see once or twice a year. Thank goodness for email and FB, as that's how we stay connected the rest of the time.

My Peach Streusel Pie turned out great. It looked good and was well received by the crowd. I think this one's a keeper. Best part is it is really super simple to make. Basically, it's a ready made refrigerator crust (unless you insist on making your own crusts). Drain two 29 oz. cans of sliced peaches, mix them with 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp pf cinnamon and blend well. Evenly spoon this mixture into the crust. Make a streusel topping using 3/4 cup flour,1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 2/3 cup butter. Spread evenly over pie. Bake at 375 for about 45 mins. or until nicely browned.

In general, everybody brings a pie (although some have translated that to simply equal "dessert" so we have had a big variety) and a finger food. We had three very different pumpkin pies, a sweet potato pie, my peach streusel pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin roll, mint chocolate chip cookies, hand-dipped chocolate candy and so much more. There were dips, salsas, pinwheels, a spiral ham (Hey, it can be "finger food" too!), and much more. Our contribution here was crab dip in a bread bowl with bread pieces to dip. Must've been good to the last drop as there was noen left. We washed it all down with coffee, spiced cider and a variety of wines and other alcohol. I believe a good time was had by all.

Then, this morning The Big Guy comes down with a bug, virus, plague, whatever. He's running a fever, has chills and pretty much slept all day. He was sleepy most of yesterday, too, but we never considered a symptom of anything other than too much turkey! I'm keeping my distance and hoping it's just a 48 hour thing. This is not the season to pass this around. We're just too busy.

So, here's hoping you're still enjoying your holiday weekend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

So, you burned the turkey...

So, did ole' Tom stay in the oven just a little (or a lot) too long? Were your local firefighters unexpected guests at your meal yesterday? (Hey, there IS a reason why they work on holidays, isn't there?There is a silver lining to burning the bird, honest. Check out these twelve reasons to be thankful your bird was, well, let's just say, incinerated!

* Salmonella won't be a concern.

*No one will overeat.

*Everyone will think it's Cajun Blackened.

*Uninvited guests will think twice next year.

*Your cheese broccoli lime a bean casserole will gain
new found appreciation.

*Pets won't pester for scraps.

*The smoke alarm was due for a test.

*Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.

*After dinner, the guys can take the bird out to the yard
and play football.

*The less turkey Uncle George eats, the less likely he will be to walk
around with his pants unbuttoned.

*You'll get to dessert quicker.

* You won't be eating turkey sandwiches for the next three weeks.

So, simply grit your teeth, smile, and go shopping!! Shopping cures most ills!! (or so it seems!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble! Gobble! - Waddle! Waddle!

Ahhh! Home from our second Thanksgiving meal of the week and feeling full!

No, he didn't eat off the table with us but he sure tried!

For the last 18 years or so, we've had Thanksgiving Dinner at my sister-in-law's. This year was no exception she has it down to an art and it seems to be flawless in all ways that count. ( Kudos to H!!!!)

We do, however, miss having leftovers at home this way. So, every year, somewhere close to Thanksgiving Day, we prepare a full turkey dinner, complete with all the appropriate sides, at home, too. Sometimes we have guests and sometimes it's just us. This year, I cooked on Wednesday and it was just us. Yep, just us and an 18 1/2 lb turkey and enough food to feed a family of at least 10!!! We definitely have leftovers, now!!
Those dark spots are simply the seasoned rub we used.
It was done perfectly!!

I'd have normally waited a week or so but I earned a free frozen turkey at my regular market and it didn't fit in the freezer. So, what's a gal to do? Thaw and bake, obviously. We also usually do our turkeys on the outdoor smoker but this dude was way too plump to fit under the hood.

I'd love to say that means I don't need to do any cooking for a few days but we've committed to a number of get-togethers all of which involve "bringing something". None of the "somethings" should be leftovers! So, I'll be back in the kitchen in the morning.

Tomorrow we'll be attending a Pie Party at my cousin's. She used to do a full sit-down Thanksgiving meal for the crowd, with everyone bringing an assigned dish but at some point, folks do get "turkeyed out," no matter how much they enjoy the menu. So, a few years ago, she revamped and renamed it. Now, everyone brings a pie and a finger food of some sort. It's really fun trying a bit of this and a bit of that. Amazingly, there is very little duplication in the pie arena. I think we each consider it a challenge to come up with something different and unique.

It took me till just a few minutes ago to decide what I'm making. (This is an annual event so I've had lots of time to plan.) I found a peach pie with a struesel type topping and you can use canned peaches in it. Sounds very simple and looks beautiful in the picture. Maybe I'll share a pic tomorrow with you.

Hope y'all had a great day, too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Countdown to turkey...

"...No one will remember the perfect Thanksgiving anyway. Five and ten years from now, family and friends will be laughing over the time the turkey burned and you had to order in Chinese food. Or the impossibly hard biscuits Aunt Beth insisted on making every year. All the perfect food will be long forgotten. ...relax and enjoy [yourself]. It's the mishaps and the funny incidents that create the best memories --Sophie"
So says Krista Davis in The Diva Runs Out of Thyme

As you rush about today, doing all those last minute preps for the big meal, keep these words in mind. They are, oh, so true. Go ahead and ask your family about their most memorable Thanksgivings (if you dare). I'm sure the ones that stand out will be the "imperfect" events. A bonus of doing this is the laughs you'll all share as a family reliving those unique memories.

Want to read some tales of Thanksgiving meals gone wrong? Check out this thread on the Etsy Forum. There's everything from a turkey flying off the tray across the kitchen and right into the dining room, to flour covering the cat just as the doorbell rings, to a miraculous diving catch of mashed potatoes. Some of these will make your worst story sound pretty good.

Now, go ahead and get that pie in the oven, today!

Then, sit down and have a glass of wine while you contemplate all the rest of that work.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Martha's not coming!?!?!

Oh No!!!
I just received this email from my cousin, our hostess for our family get-together:

Dear Family and Friends:

I know that you were eager to accept our family's invitation to Thanksgiving dinner when you found out that the famous Martha Stewart would be joining us. However, due to scheduling conflicts beyond her control, Ms Stewart finds that she is unable to grace our table this year. With that in mind, there will be a few minor changes regarding the meal and decor, as outlined below. Please be aware of them, and adjust your appetite and dress appropriately.

Thank you

1) Our driveway will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After several trial runs and two visits from the fire department, it was decided that, no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

2) Once inside, please note that the entry space will not be decorated with swags of Indian corn and fall foliage. Instead, we included our dog in decorating by having him track in colorful autumn leaves from the back yard. The mud was his idea.

3) The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this is Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the paper SpongeBob dinner plates, the leftover Halloween napkins, and our plastic cup collection.

4) Our centerpiece will not be a tower of fresh fruit and flowers. Instead we will be proudly displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper and pine cones. The artist assures me it is a turkey, albeit one without wings, legs, or a beak.

5) We will be dining somewhat later than planned. However, our daughter will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure she will be happy to share every choice comment her mother made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims, stuffing choices, the turkey hotline, and, especially, her husband. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 7:00AM upon discovering that said husband had only remembered to pull the turkey from the freezer at 6:00 AM, and that the thing was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

6) As an accompaniment to our daughter's recital of these events, I will play a recording of Native American tribal drumming. Curiously, the tribal drumming sounds a great deal like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, but that only enhances the holiday appropriateness. If our daughter should mention that we don't own a recording of Native American tribal drumming, ignore her. She's only nine; what does she know?

7) A dainty silver bell will not be rung to announce the start of our feast. We have chosen to keep our traditional method of assembling when the smoke alarm goes off.

8) There will be no formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask all the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. And I would like to take this opportunity to remind our younger diners that "passing the rolls" is neither a football play nor an excuse to bean your cousin in the head with bread.

9) The turkey will not be carved at the table. I know you have seen the Norman Rockwell image of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Such a scene may occur somewhere in America, but it won't be happening at our dinner table. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in the kitchen at a private ceremony. I stress "private", meaning Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children, or older, helpful grandparents into the kitchen to check on my progress. I have a very large, very sharp knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win the battle. When I do, we will eat.

10) For the duration of the meal, we will refer to the gravy by its lesser-known name: Kraft Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or makeup of the Kraft Cheese Sauce, smile kindly and say that you know the answer, but it's a secret that can't be revealed to them until they are 18.

11) Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and dog tongue marks. You still have a choice: take it or leave it.

That concludes our list of alterations. Again, I apologize that Martha will not be joining us this year. Come to think of it, she probably won't come next year, either.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adrift on the sea of my daily life ...

I feel like a bad mother! My blogs are like children and I've neglected them terribly recently. Oh, I feel so very guilty. Yet, I can't seem to get things back on track.

I love blogging but when push comes to shove, it drops down on the priority list. Lately, life in this household has been like a small boat in heavy seas. Throw a life jacket on and hang on for dear life!

Every few days, the sun comes out and the waves settle and things start to level off. Then, we jump to and take care of necessities first and then work toward the niceties and fun stuff. We begin to relax, sit back and take a deep breath ... and then, along comes another swell and we're thrown into the next squall. Once again, we don the foul weather gear and grab hold of a lifeline to ride out the waves.

At the moment, we're on calm seas with no clouds in sight. Maybe I can get back to my routine. Just maybe catch up with all the "To Do" things on my list. Starting with this post.

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Today was the last day for guaranteed delivery for merchandise geared toward Thanksgiving. My goal was to get it all shipped by this Thursday. I have just finished packing up the last of those orders so I am actually ahead of target on this one. It's a Thanksgiving Miracle!!!

I had one order to finish painting today and a whole pile of Christmas work to get to. Today's project was organizing, laying out, sketching and base coating for gingerbread and candy canes on various garments and hard items (wood and glass). Both images are time consuming in that they require a base coat which must dry completely before adding intricate details. While I can often do detail work on only semi-dry base coats, I find the white details necessary for both gingerbread and peppermints must be done on dry bases.
I do love painting both of these themes, though, as they allow a fair amount of creativity from piece to piece. The peppermint candies are also always so bright and cheerful. It will be a few days before these will be ready to photograph for listing in the shop.

Tomorrow, I hope to get some of my Christmas themed baby hats photographed and listed in the shop. They're all done, just waiting for their close-ups.

Among tomorrow's projects is also the daunting task of getting my other blog updated. Yes, I really do have a second blog though few have actually found it. Splish'n'Splash Kitchen deals with food from a variety of angles. I try to list interesting events around the country that are specific to various foods, food news, food ideas, and more. To date, I have not done recipes there but I think I'll be adding a few party dishes and food gifts to make and give for the holidays. I have a goal to get that blog back in line by the beginning of December. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Here's hoping y'all are right on track in your holiday preps.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't let the turkeys get you down!

The turkeys are ready! Finally.
I have finally listed the last of the Thanksgiving merchandise in my shop. Just in time, too! The last day to order for guaranteed delivery in time for the big feast is Tuesday, November 16th!!

I'm going to sit back, take a deep breath, relax for 5 minutes, and then, get busy listing Christmas items!

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I received a disturbing e-mail yesterday. It simply read: "Only 47 shopping days til Christmas!"

It disturbed me on, oh so many, levels.

I could feel the annual panic beginning to well up in my chest. "I'm not prepared. I won't be ready." My mind began to chant the seasonal battle cry of most of the women I know. I could actually see those days peeling off the calendar in my mind. Various deadlines lunged at me as if I was caught in a 3-D movie.

How do the holidays always seem to sneak up on us? I mean, they come every year. Not only that, but Christmas is ALWAYS on the 25th of December. It's not like Easter that jumps around a bit.

Then, it dawned on me. This friend sent this message very late last evening. Yesterday was pretty much over with. So that meant, he's counting Thanksgiving Day and Christmas as shopping days! Okay, I can accept he might do some shopping online after Thanksgiving dinner, after football overload and when he is too stuffed to do much else than wiggle a little mouse around to browse the web. (Actually, a few years ago, my brother found you could actually access a few of the Black Friday sale prices on Thursday evening.) But just what does he plan to buy us at CVS or Walgreens (worse yet, 7-11) on Christmas morning?!?

Okay, NOT planning to shop after dinner on Turkey Day and NOT counting Christmas Day and actually getting a move on right now, this very minute, I have 46 Days!! Only 46 Days!! Not just shopping days, but planning, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, decorating, packing and shipping days. That's 46 EVERYTHING days!!!

I'm a list maker. So, right now, I'm going to sit down and make some lists. You know the kind - the gift list, the deadline list, the merchandise to be finished list, etc.

Then, in true Scarlett O'Hara style, I'll get busy "doing" tomorrow!!! (You know, when we're a day closer.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We REALLY never do know what goes through their minds. Do we?

Deep Thoughts From Children

From an actual newspaper contest where entrants age 4 to 15 were asked to express their deepest thoughts.

I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life? -- Age 15

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. -- Age 13

Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote. -- Age 10

For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. -- Age 6

Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that's five more than the biggest number you could come up with! -- Age 6

As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you'll have a couple of days saved up. -- Age 7

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. -- Age 15

It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there. -- Age 5

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started. -- Age 15

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Next time you look at your son or daughter and wonder what they're thinking, go ahead and ask. You never know. It could really be a deep, deep thought!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Sorry, folks. I'm just not feeling very bloggy at the moment. Please bear with me.

I've allowed myself some downtime to wallow in memories of a close family member that left us way too soon. It's been less than 18 months and today would have been his 45th birthday.

He was a beloved brother, son, grandson, nephew, uncle and friend to many. He made folks laugh, could tell it like it was and gave really great hugs.

He'd been a very proud U.S, Marine and served our country well for several tours of duty. He fully believed, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine!!"

He could grate on my last nerve at times, was terrible at returning calls, often canceled out on things at the last minute, and did all the other things family does "just to irritate" each other, BUT, he was a hugger and could speak softly, saying just the right word or two to make my heart melt and grant him instant forgiveness.

He had the magic touch when it came to kids. They worshipped him. (Maybe he was just able to think like they do!) Yes, they still miss him and ask for stories about him from "the old days."

And you know what? We love to tell those stories.

Tommy, we really do miss you.