Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In All Things Give Thanks

 
Happy Thanksgiving!



“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson




    My greeting is a day early because I'm closing the computer for the next few days.
    Know that all of you who visit here are on my "thankful" list. 
    Happy Thanksgiving to you all!





    Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    Last Minute Recipes



    I'm sitting here in my pajamas, before the sun comes up, making my final shopping list. It's grown since that one I started last week. I realized that my pumpkin pie recipe has never been posted here. And then while looking for that one, I came across the baked fruit recipe. Same thing for the cake recipe. I'm posting them here today to make them easier for me to find. This blog has become my own "recipe box." You might find these easy recipes useful, too.

    There was a time when everyone was happy to get a new recipe without a photo. So I'm going old school and sharing them without a picture. There were no pictures when I originally put them into the family cookbook. But I've made them all. And they are good.

    Now, back to my Thanksgiving preparations. Good luck with yours.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Before Mommy could cook much, she could make this fruit dish. I think even in college she would take this to covered dish dinners. I've made it, too, several times. Don't turn your nose up at canned fruit—because that means no peeling! How easy is this? That makes it a good last minute choice. Perfect for times when you need just one more dish.

    SPICED FRUIT COMPOTE

    1 (17-oz.) can apricot halves
    1 (16-oz.) can peach halves
    2 (8 ½ oz.) cans pear halves
    1 (15 ¼ oz.) can pineapple chunks
    1 (6 oz.) jar maraschino cherries 
    1 cup orange juice
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    1 tbsp. lemon juice
    1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
    4 whole cloves
    1/8 tsp. mace

    Drain all fruits.  Cut apricot, peach, and pear halves into half length-wise.  Combine fruit in a 8x12-in baking dish (2 qt.)
    Combine orange juice and remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
    Pour over fruit and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool.  
    REMOVE CLOVES AND CINNAMON STICK BEFORE SERVING !


    Can serve warm or cold.  Can refrigerate covered for up to 2 days.

    This baked fruit dish is delicious and it's pretty on the table. If you are carrying it to another house for dinner, wrap it carefully. There is a lot of liquid that can slosh out.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    What's a Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie? Here is the recipe I've used many times. It's not fancy. Just good. I use a refrigerated pie crust put into my own pie plate.

    THANKSGIVING PUMPKIN PIE

    2 eggs, slightly beaten
    1 can (16 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
    ¾ cup sugar
    1 tablespoon flour
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk, undiluted

    9-inch deep dish pie shell

    Preheat oven to 425°.  Mix filling ingredients in order given.  Pour into pie shell.
    Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

    This is one of my favorite desserts.  I played around with the recipe on the label of a can of Libby’s pumpkin.  The spices now suit my tastes and this pie is a little firmer than the original, so it cuts better. (I’ve used this recipe a long time---just realized that pumpkin now comes in 15 oz. cans.  It still works.)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    While not a last-minute recipe, it's one that can be made the day before...one last thing to make the "day of." Son-in-law said the first time he tasted this that it came pretty close to his grandmother's homemade version.  I can only handle this cake mix version on this busy weekend.

    COCONUT CAKE

    1 pkg. Duncan Hines Deluxe II yellow cake mix

      Bake according to directions in a 13x9x2-inch pan.

    Topping:
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup milk
    1 (6-oz.) pkg. frozen coconut

    Bring to boil.  When cake comes from oven, spoon mixture over cake.  Insert knife in 6 or 8 places (or more) to allow mixture to penetrate.  Cover with foil and cool.

    Frosting:
    9 oz. Cool Whip
    1 (6 oz.) pkg. frozen coconut

    Spread 9 oz. Cool Whip over cooled cake and sprinkle with this 2nd package of frozen coconut.  Replace foil and leave in refrigerator about overnight before serving.

    I got this recipe from cousin Audrey so long ago. Putting here so that all of the family can find it now.








    Monday, November 20, 2017

    Maybe Only The Knitters Will Understand


    Purl 1, knit 2...
    "Mimi, I need help to tie my shoe."


    Knit 2, yarn over, slip 1, knit 3...
    "I wasn't doing anything! Don't look at me!!!"


    Slip 1 knitwise, knit 2, purl 4...
    "I spilled my milk. Can I have some more?"


    Knit 2, purl 2, slip 1, knit 5...
    "Yes, Daddy-O. I'm still alive."


    Knit 4, purl 2, yarn over, knit 6...
    "Mimi! Make her give it back. She took my stick!"


    Slip slip knit, purl 1, knit 7...
    "A whole night's sleep would feel like heaven."


    Knit front & back, knit 2, purl 8...
    "Hurry, girls! We're running late!!!"


    Knit 2, purl 2, yarn over, knit 9...
    "I promise, Daddy-O. We're doing fine."


    Knit 3, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 10...
    "Hallelujah! Mommy's home again!!!"


    I always pack some knitting when I leave home. This time I had several very simple projects tucked in my bag because it was a longer stay. Why would I even bother when I knew how busy I was going to be? Because knitting makes me feel normal. I found time for a little knitting in the early, early morning, waiting in car line, and right after dinner. Even a few stitches a day is better than no knitting. 

    Okay. The knitting "directions" here are pure nonsense. All of my knitting during my visit was plain, plain, plain. But the sentiment is pretty accurate. Come to think of it, maybe the grandmothers will understand, too.



    Bonus:  Here is the recipe I'll use for our "emergency" turkey on Thursday. Son-in-law is frying a turkey for the first time on Thanksgiving. Prudence calls for a backup. This slow cooker turkey breast will do just fine.








    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    First Grader Hospitality


    Parents and grandparents everywhere wonder what a child might be when he/she grows up. It's a natural thought. (Personally, I am mostly hoping for "be kind.") Doctor? Farmer? Judge? Auto mechanic? Teacher? Salesman? And the list goes on and on.

    Well, after the greeting I got when I arrived here for several days of "Mimi duty" while the parents are away, I'm thinking that Little Sister might have a future in the Air B&B industry. She helped take my things upstairs. And when we walked into my room, she gave me the tour.

    "Mimi, I put these animals (see the penguin and cat above) in your bed 
    so you won't be lonely."


    "And I thought you might want something to read at bedtime, 
    so here are some books for you."


    "If you need something to do, (while I am the sole adult in the house this weekend) 
    I left you some activities."


    "And there are TWO bottles of water for you this time. 
    I don't want you to get thirsty."


    And I found these little notes stuck all around the room. There is no doubt that I am loved. Let's hope that by the time the weekend is over, she still thinks I'm fun.











    Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Thinking About Thanksgiving


    I know holidays are about tradition. And I know that traditions change. That's the nature of...well, nature. Things change. Circumstances change. People change. This is our year of change. Thanksgiving is about being grateful. And I am MORE than grateful for years and years of eating Thanksgiving turkey at one of many tables fitted into every possible space of a house, where my metal folding chair would bang into the folding chair behind me. There were that many of us. And it was always fun.

    These were Thanksgivings where the number of cousins in line for turkey ranged from 25 to 45, depending on the year. It has been the gathering where boyfriends—who later became husbands—were introduced to the family. (Daddy-O was one of those.) And sometimes boyfriends were just boyfriends. But this year it will be just my family at our house. And it's finally time for me to act like a grownup and place an entire Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

    Yes, the focus of Thanksgiving should be gratitude and thankfulness and not food. And this year we are truly thankful. But let's be honest. Food does play a big role in the day. As I am making my list and checking it twice, I'm looking for recipes I can use this Thanksgiving. Maybe I can save you a little searching if you are also on the recipe hunt.

    In no particular order, these are recipes we have used for years. No, not every recipe every year, but all (but one) of these have made it to a Thanksgiving table at one time or another. Click on the title to find the recipe.
    Macaroni & Cheese. If you are from another part of the country, maybe even another part of our state, this might not be the kind you make. But this is the recipe we that expect on every big dinner table. When I was growing up, we called it "macaroni pie." 
    Cranberry Apple Crunch. Jessica has been making this for years to add to the table. It falls somewhere between side dish and dessert. (It's delish with a scoop of ice cream.) And we have been known to have leftovers for breakfast. 
    Sweet Potato Souffle. Many years ago, my mother moved on past sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top to this nutty topping. This is her recipe—except I use less butter in the topping than she did. We like it fine this way. PS...it's really not a souffle but that's what we've always called it. 
    Caramelized Brussel Sprouts. Mommy found this recipe ages ago. Even the non-Brussel sprouts folks usually like this dish. Maybe because the sprouts are shredded and don't look like Brussel sprouts. 
    Baked Pineapple. Another easy side dish with a sweet taste. (Hey, don't judge. We're in the South.) 
    Company Carrots. These carrots are not the typical glazed sweet ones. They are savory. And they easily can slip into the oven along side other dishes. You can even bake them at several oven temps to make it work with the rest of your menu. 
    Cranberry Sauce. This is the recipe Mommy made the year they were far away from home and she made the entire dinner. Now it's a regular recipe for her. 
    Cornbread Dressing. Not my mother's recipe and I haven't made or tasted this one. But both daughters have made it and served it and say it's delicious. 
    Pumpkin Pie Spectacular. I make the most basic of pumpkin pies. But Mommy makes this one and her family loves it. I think their words were, "It's a show stopper!" They are begging for it again this year. 
    Pumpkin Angel Food Cake. Any folks are your table who are health conscious? This might be the dessert for them. If you're an angel food cake fan, this is a perfect fall version. It's easy, too 
    Sweet Potato Biscuits. These are SO good. Even work for the non-biscuit baker (like me) AND they can be made ahead of time and frozen until the day you need them. For Thanksgiving, we just serve them with butter. 
    Blushing Apple Julep. Okay. I've never had this for Thanksgiving, but it would be so good if your day calls for a beverage and a munchie while folks wait for the big dinner.
    Can you tell I'm a whiz at side dishes? And desserts are pretty easy. It's the turkey and dressing and gravy that I've never had to do. Son-in-law has offered to fry our turkey this year. We decided that the cooking process will be our Thanksgiving "activity"—which, if we're lucky, might also produce an entree. (He suggested having a backup turkey in the oven might be wise.) This turkey frying thing might become our new tradition.

    So here's to tradition, both old ones and new ones! That house where we gathered might not be as full of people this Thanksgiving, but it will be just as full of love as ever. It's just that the love is coming from a little further down the road. And I have no doubt that they will feel it.


    These recipes are posted here just as a quick reference if you need ideas for the holiday. And don't forget there are more salads, desserts, appetizers, etc. listed in the Recipe Index at the top of the post. Click on that tab to reach the index. 

    Don't overlook the little search box at the top left of the blog. I use that as often as the index. When I discovered this week that Sweet Potato Souffle was not in the index, and I was positive that I had blogged that recipe, the search box led me straight to the recipe. And it's now safely listed in the index along with its brother and sister side dishes.








    Monday, November 13, 2017

    Snow?


    It wasn't an intentional deception. You just need to understand that I live in a part of the country where a dozen snow flakes falling out of the sky will cause the local TV stations to break out the special weather alert team. And even though those intrepid meteorologists use words like "maybe" and "slight probability" and "conditions could be right", that is enough to send people rushing to the store where the milk case and bread shelves are empty within minutes. Just in case. Because once every few years, there really might be several inches on the ground. So now you know. When I see snow, it is a BIG deal.

    While in the mountains this weekend for the loveliest knitting retreat, we arrived at the building where the knitters gathered each morning and I saw snow. I dropped my knitting gear on a table, grabbed my phone and headed out the back door to make a picture. Then I posted it on Instagram with a one word caption. "Snow!"

    I went back in to find my comfy seat by the fireplace and thought not much more about it. But much later when I checked my phone (cell reception was somewhere between slim and none) I saw messages and comments like, "Are you snowed in?" "Are the roads okay for driving home?" "Oh, how perfect for knitting!" "Isn't this great?" "Lucky you...you've got snow!"

    And I realized people had misunderstood. I posted the part of the photo that was the most fun for me. THIS was the whole photograph...


    The resort was testing their snow making equipment. This is all the snow there was. And it is entirely possible this is all the snow I'll see this winter. So, please forgive my excitement.

    Warning:  When you see a magazine picture, or a post on social media that makes you a little envious of the kitchen/furniture/house/dinner you're admiring, keep this in mind. You are only seeing the part someone wants you to see. Who knows what the whole setting looks like? That gorgeous kitchen may be neat because the junky stuff is behind the camera. The burned rolls are not in the picture. The green grass may have been cropped out of the snow photo. Just remember that. Even if, like me, it wasn't an intentional attempt to distort reality, that is how photo editing works. Have fun admiring, but keep your expectations real.


    The knitting weekend was wonderful. There really wasn't snow on the ground but it was cold enough for rocking chairs by the fire. The quiet whirr of a spinning wheel was our background music. One man who was helping out with the retreat popped in and stood still for a minute. He said "Wow. I can feel the peace in this room." And that's exactly how a retreat should feel.







    Thursday, November 9, 2017

    Winter At Last



    I am almost packed. Leaving shortly for a knitting retreat in the mountains. And just on time, the weather has decided to give us cold temps. We have had a nearly endless summer. There are sunflowers still blooming in our back yard. I can see them as I write this.


    The zinnias were gorgeous right up until Halloween. Then we had our first frost that took care of them. The sunflowers actually bloomed AFTER that frost. Crazy, isn't it.


    But the point is, it has been so long since we've had a winter kind of day that I can't really remember how to pack for cold weather. So I'm taking everything. Besides my suitcase, I have a bag loaded with warm knitted things. Morning temperatures are predicted to be in the 20s. Finally! I get to wear some of what I have knitted. Knowing how fickle Mother Nature has been this year, I put an assortment of shirts in my suitcase. Warm snuggly pullovers. A long sleeve T-shirt. We just never know. At the rate we're going, we may be picking tomatoes when I get home. (Just kidding. That WOULD be crazy!)

    No blog posts for a while. See you soon!