Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Food | Posted on 19-11-2012
Dear Crock Pot,
People may make fun of you. You have a history steeped in Americana cooking. Stew. Sauces made with cream of mushroom soup.
You are on sale this time of year to keep mashed potatoes and gravy warm for Thanksgiving.
But today at my house, my friend, you are simmering chicken in Indian korma sauce.
Congratulations…you have gone global!
‘Tis the season to be thankful. Thankful for dirty dishes? Thankful for eye wrinkles?
Dude! It’s all in the way you look at things. I am thankful for:
- Dirty dishes. We always have plenty of food.
- Sand in my car. My car reliably transports us to the beach.
- Dog fur on my clothes. My puppy loves to cuddle.
- Expensive grocery store bills. My kids have good appetites.
- Long work hours. I have a good job.
- An errand to Home Depot. It’s a date with my husband.
- Being a chauffeur. My kids have interests.
- A noisy house. My family is thriving.
- Dirty soccer cleats. My kids are active.
- Gloomy, rainy days. The grass is always green.
- Piles of dirty laundry. I am needed.
- Stepping on Legos with bare feet. My kids are creative.
- My mortgage. My house is my home.
- My children yelling. They are normal.
- My slow-ass jogging skills. I am trying.
- Eye wrinkles. Lots of smiling and laughing going on.
- Exhaustion. My life is full.
Life. Health. Family. Love. Abundance. To be needed. I am thankful for it all.
I just love the little craft projects that come home from school. Such as the paper turkeys traced from my kids’ hands. The paper will forever be cut in the size of their little hands at the age of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…whatever.
I will treasure these. No need for any other type of presents from my kids EVER. Just little keepsakes and art and notes made from them. With messages from their hearts. That’s all I and and need.
I love the art that adorns my office bulletin board. The colorful hand-drawn family portraits that are framed in our hallway. (For some reason, I am always wearing a dress, pearls, heels, and lipstick. Wowza!) The rotating art exhibit in the kitchen by the fridge that showcases the weekly class art projects. The handmade macaroni necklace that I wore with pride (until it broke). The ring made from a pipe cleaner. The bookmark that says “I love Mom.” Even the words “Mom is #1″ written on my car window with a greasy finger. Love them all!
No need to buy myself that “World’s Best Mom” mug. Because I am loved. And I am thankful for that.
Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. And may all of you Moms/Mums be thankful for those greasy fingerprints and handmade drawings of you with giant, lipsticked smiles. To my peeps across the globe–here’s sending ya happy family wishes (even if ya don’t partake in turkey-and-pie on the 4th Thursday of November).
Two pies down, two to go. As in: I have baked two pies so far and have two more to bake. I didn’t EAT two pies already. Silly. That’s for tomorrow!
Pies are so easy to buy. And they are cheap too.
I am no pie snob. I will eat any pie put in front of me.
What compels me to make these suckers from scratch? My Grandmother. She was a good baker and she passed those skills along to me. So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am baking pies from scratch because I am thankful that I had my Grandmother in my life for so many years and I carry her love inside of me.
And this is why I cut the cold butter into the flour and add ice cold water to make pie crusts. And this is why I fold the corn syrup with the butter and the pecans to make pecan pie. And this is why I search out new recipes for homemade chocolate fudge pie with Oreo crust. Because I want to.
Because even though I can easily buy pies–and I was a little tempted this year–I NEED to make these myself. And fill the kitchen with wonderful smells. And serve my family and guests a little bit of lovin’ from my Grandmother.
OK, so it’s two days until Thankgiving. My workload at work is intense. My mother just flew in last night. Enough said.
Time to start freaking out.
But wait. I just gave a bunch of tips for mellowing out over the Holiday. See here for 12 Don’ts When Hosting Thanksgiving. Maybe I should listen to myself.
So yesterday, I was literally running around like a turkey without its head. Rush off to work. Traffic on the way home. House still not in tip-top shape to welcome Mom. (Why as an adult do I still try so hard to please my own mother and mother -in-law? Yikes.)
Here are the three things that didn’t get done and the three simple solutions for each:
- Ran out of time to give Lucy-the-dog a bath. Solution: lightly spray her with perfume and cover her with a clean blanket.
- Ran out of time to mop. Mop Schmop. Solution: dim the lights and light the candles. (Maybe squeeze in a Midnight Mopping tonight?)
- Ran out of time to fold 12 loads of laundry. No joke. 12 loads. Solution: shut the door to the laundry room. Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for who you are with and to be thankful for what you have. Not a time to put yourself down for all the crap you didn’t get done. I will try to listen to my own words.
So when you join us at Thanksgiving (even in spirit), please ignore the dust balls and enjoy the cheese balls.
Don’t host. Just kidding!
I have been around the Thanksgiving table, so to speak, many times. I have hosted Thanksgiving many times. Even to my own mother and to my in-laws (gasp!) And they are particular….wonder where I get it from?
I have learned a few things that you probably do NOT want to do when hosting Thanksgiving.
- Don’t try to channel Martha Stewart. But do steal some of her tips and recipes. Martha is a kitchen fairy with lots of helpers. We copied her last year with her Pureed Butternut Squash recipe. And let me tell you, it was delicious and tasty. But it was a lot of work and you had to stir it constantly. And it took up a whole burner on the stove for hours. And ya know what, the kids hated it. Said it looked like throw up. It just was not worth the hassle for the few compliments it did generate. But if you are stubborn–and I know some of you are–here is the recipe.
- Don’t skimp on the pie. If you just have one pumpkin pie to share among everyone at the table: you suck. My motto and ratio for hosting: one pie per person. And who says only apple? We did apple and pecan and I just might do chocolate cream. Who says? Here’s Pesky Pippi’s Perfect Pecan Pie–I mean Martha’s recipe:
- Don’t forget to take OUT the bag of giblets before cook your turkey. And don’t try to hide them in the stuffing or the gravy. I’ll heat them up for my dog, Lucy, but they are still simply repulsive to look at and eat. In my book.
- Don’t guess how long to cook a turkey; be precise. Buy a thermometer. This is not a good time to spread salmonella or E. coli. We have gone for years guessing. Hmmm, done yet? How about now? And then we have wound up with some well-cooked turkey, that’s for sure. Pass me a glass of water to wash it down (choking).
- Don’t dis the orange-carrot-pineapple Jell-O mold. Traditions are awesome. And this colorful dish kicks ass.
- Don’t be shy about offering several kinds of cranberry. My husband and kids love the smooth, formed kind from the can. My father-in-law likes the chunky kind from the can. My mother and I like the cranberry relish my grandmother used to make. You chop up a bag of fresh cranberries, add bits of fresh oranges, chopped pecans, and sugar to taste. Set it aside the morning of (or the night before). It’s beautiful and fresh. I cannot have Thanksgiving without it.
- Don’t forget to let the rolls rise…early. Craptastic: last year I bought fancy rolls instead of the crescent rolls that you bake in like seven minutes. I thought, oh, I’ll just throw them in the oven at the last minute. Come to find out, they required rising and sitting and rising and… So at Thanksgiving last year? No rolls.
- Don’t dump flour into the turkey drippings and expect beautiful, lumpless gravy. Now, this I learned from–again–Martha. She told me to make a roux. As in, take a little bit of turkey drippings into a separate bowl, add a bit flour to help thicken, stir, THEN add into the pan of drippings and heat. I have made Pesky Pippi’s Perfect Gravy without fail every time. So good, just give me a straw! Oh, and throw in onions, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery in with the turkey while baking. And the flavors sorta ooze into the drippings. (Another Martha tip.)
- Don’t send guests home with leftovers. Hello, turkey sandwiches on Friday!
- Don’t stress too hard. I actually HATE when people tell me this, because I am a stresser. But you are not Martha Stewart–unless Ms. Stewart, you are reading this–and it’s more about togetherness than if the gravy has horrific lumps.
- Don’t forget to partake. Anything goes great with turkey: wine, beer, beer, wine. And with the pressures of cooking and serving and worrying, “Dang, did I overcook the turkey AGAIN?” it’s also time to chill and be with family and friends.
- Don’t forget to lighten up. The most important thing: be thankful that you have food on the table and you have loved ones to share it with. Regardless of how it looks or how it tastes. Remember how Charlie Brown had toast at his Thanksgiving spread?
Is there anything more cheery than a pumpkin? The color screams HELLO FALL. With their shapes, bumps, and quirkiness, pumpkins exude character. And I just love ‘em. So finding the perfect pumpkin for me is finding one that might not quite fit in. I seek out the pumpkins with personality. Not the fat, rounded, “perfect” pumpkins that Martha always picks. Last year, I went for one with the lumps and bumps. (Which, I admit, was a pain in the ass to carve.) This year, I went for the squash-like pumpkin, with its misshapen figure.
Kinda like the pumpkin, er (spoiler alert) squash in the book The Ugly Pumpkin. Have you read it? It’s a great book that teaches us that looks may be deceiving. You know, don’t judge a pumpkin by its skin? The pumpkin in the book was ridiculed for not belonging. It was simply trying to find its place in the world. Turned out the pumpkin was not a pumpkin; it was a squash and fit in perfectly at the Thanksgiving table.
Maybe now you’ll seek out the ugly pumpkin (or squash) and give it a proper home for the season.