Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Hope you and yours out there in the blogosphere have a most wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Contribution eating day of the year is just around the corner! My family will be treated to turkey dinner with all the trimmings at my sister's house. And we'll get to spend time with some relatives that we ONLY see on Thanksgiving! Old traditions will carry on and new ones will be made. Belts will be loosened, football games will be watched by some, family stories will be recalled by others and for the day, old grudges will be forgotten!

Each year I bring two pies and a veggie casserole to the gathering--much easier than preparing the whole meal, n'est pas? These may vary from year to year, but most often it is broccoli rice casserole, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.

This broccoli rice casserole is a recipe I came across way back in the 60s or 70s--an oldie but goodie for sure. Over the years I have simplified it. It does use convenience foods--which I try very hard to avoid in my day-to-day cooking, who needs all that sodium-- and the microwave. I guess I rationalize that with the fact that I have to get out the door by 11AM to make the hour's drive. I just need to "git-er-done"! They still taste amazing!

Broccoli Rice Casserole In a small glass bowl soften 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion in 1/4 cup unsalted butter in the microwave. Cook a bag of Success Rice according to package directions. In a large oven safe casserole dish cook 24 oz. chopped frozen broccoli in the microwave, according to package directions. Drain excess water from broccoli, then add the onion, rice, 1 can cream of celery soup and 1 small jar Cheez Whiz. Stir, then bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. To keep the casserole warm while transporting, I use my old trusty quilted casserole carrier--it works!

If there is a better recipe for pumpkin pie than the one on the Libby's label, I have not found it.

Libby's Pumpkin Pie In a small bowl mix 3/4 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 t ground cinnamon, 1/2 t ground ginger, 1/4 t ground cloves. Beat 2 large eggs in a large bowl. Stir in 1 15 oz. can pumpkin and the sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk. Pour into an unbaked deep-dish (4 cup volume) pie crust. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temp to 350 degrees and bake 40 - 50 minutes more or till knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.

This pecan pie recipe dates way back, too. I found it in the old Dear Abby column one year and it has been my go-to pecan pie recipe ever since.

Dear Abby's Kentucky Pecan Pie In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup white corn syrup, 1 cup dark brown sugar--firmly packed, 1/3 t salt, 1/3 cup melted butter and 1 t vanilla. Add 3 slightly beaten eggs. Pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle 1 heaping cup pecan halves over all. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 45 - 50 minutes. Cool completely. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Food, family, fun--what could be better?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

So glad to see the number 11 getting a little respect today! Other than players on a football team, a lucky first roll of the dice and pipers piping, what else is special about 11? Well, today is ALL about 11!
It seems that 11's neighbors--10 & 12--get all the glory! Ten cents in a dime, 10 dimes in a dollar, 10 bowling pins, 10 fingers, 10 toes, Ten Commandments, 10 digits in a phone number, 10 hotdogs, Bo Derek's rating, basis for our number system, little Indians, Letterman's list. Twelve anniversary roses, 12 eggs in a carton, donuts in a Krispy Kreme box, days of Christmas, apostles, jury members, inches in a foot, signs of the Zodiac, highest grade in high school, hours on a clock face, knights of the Round Table, tribes of Israel...well, you get the picture! It is high time Eleven got its due! Maybe you can add to the list of things that come in elevens...

But of course, today the most important thing about 11 is Veterans Day. I so appreciate those who have served or are serving our country so that we can enjoy freedoms. To them and their families, I say Thank You, you are appreciated!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recent Reads

I am trying to make this here blog'o mine more of a chronicle of my days. That definitely includes reading. I say this as a disclaimer to those who maybe have absolutely no interest in what I read!!!! If you're in that category, please move right along to the next blog!

Kindling right along...some of the books I've been reading...

The authorized biography of Steve Jobs is a fascinating look at the perfectionist/genius who was not a very nice person to be around. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the early days of Apple Computer (now called just Apple) as I have been a longtime fan of Apple products. But I was disappointed to learn how he treated people in his life--friends, coworkers, business associates, business rivals--even family members. Having been given away for adoption as an infant seemed to cast a sadness or longing over his early years. He did later unite with some birth family members--never his biological dad. His eating obsessions were interesting as were his hippie background and spiritual searches. An insightful look into what made the man tick.

The biological sister that Jobs discovered turned out to be Mona Simpson, a talented author and success in her own right. Talent must have just run in that family! Of course, I had to read one of her books. Anywhere But Here was Simpson's fictional novel seemingly based on her own mother's irresponsible rearing of her. It followed their life from Wisconsin to LA and the half-hearted attempt to get the daughter into show biz. It was quite a ride.

One of my favorite books from last year was Winter's Bone, a novel set in the Missouri Ozarks, rife with a mystery killing, meth users and a strong teenaged heroine who needs to discover what happened to her dad--while helping to raise her younger siblings. When I saw this book, The Outlaw Album, by the same author and set again in the Ozarks, well, I had to read it too. It is a series of short stories about people who do absolutely horrible things--but as always, there are two sides to every story. The stories really make one stop and think and consider people's choices in life, no matter how evil they may seem on the surface.

On a whim, I decided to download The Mill River Recluse, a book that had become a bestseller on Kindle. It was very different. The heroine is an elderly lady who is dying from cancer and the story relates her tragic life that led to her becoming a recluse. She became quite wealthy and secretly used her money to help the townspeople who had stories of their own.

I love novels that have a food element. A Homemade Life was a dandy! Molly Wizenberg recounts her life with family and food and how she decided to quit graduate school and go to Paris. It turned out that I had been reading her blog, Orangette, for a while and had not put two and two together!!!

Change of pace...two J. A. Jance mystery novels featuring J. P. Beaumont. Always good for some laughs and some thrills and some plot twists!

The Kite Runner was one of those highly acclaimed novels from a few years back that I never got around to reading. Thanks to Amazon's vast library of books for Kindle, it is easy to go back and catch up with some great books I missed first time around! I can see why The Kite Runner spent over five years on the NY Times bestseller list. It was a wonderful look at a culture I knew nothing about--Afghanistan at the time of the Soviet invasion. It is about two boys growing up in Kabul in the same house but with very different experiences. It is about love and friendship and betrayal and hope. Khaled Hosseini painted a very beautiful but stark picture.

Currently I am absorbed in John Grisham's newest legal romp, The Litigators. I have read a ton of Grisham's books and have found that he can usually keep me rapt. He did go through a period for a while where he got so bogged down with tangential information in his novels that I gave up on him for a while. Happily--I returned and am so glad I did. This book seems lighter and faster-paced. A burned-out lawyer joins a small ambulancing chasing, hospital haunting two-man team of injury case attorneys. The change of pace and lowering of salary leads to some interesting, tragic and comic experiences. Can't wait to finish it!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mmmmm....Cornbread Dressing

My sister and I have settled in to a nice pattern: she hosts the family Thanksgiving dinner and I have the Christmas dinner. We each bring items to the other's get-togethers. It works! The only regret I have every year is lack of leftovers. So... I sometimes make Thanksgiving Day wannabes the weekend after the fourth Thursday of November. A pumpkin pie here, a turkey breast there and my favorite dressing, Best Cornbread Dressing!

In a huge bowl combine a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix with a pan of cornbread, crumbled. Set aside. Saute 2 small chopped yellow onions and 4 or 5 stalks celery, chopped, till soft. Add a squirt of garlic paste (about 5 ") and saute a minute longer. Season with house seasoning (mine is Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder). Add to the bread mix and stir in about 6 cups unsalted chicken stock (or turkey stock if you can find it!). The mixture should be almost soupy. Stir in 2 beaten eggs. Spread into a sprayed 9x13 oven dish. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 20 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake another 25 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011