Friday, November 28, 2008

The feast was at our house

The trouble with not blogging for a while is it’s hard to get going again. It’s been a nice break and I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done. I’ll tell you all about that soon (maybe). But today I want to tell you about our Thanksgiving meal. I had 9 people over for the meal and several people remarked that I looked so calm when I said yes I was having Thanksgiving at our house this year. But remember that I retired from a job where I was responsible to feed hundreds of children (can you say picky?) every day. Granted I had staff but really 9 vs. 500. No contest. And the Compadre counts as staff right? And besides my daughter brought the green bean casserole and my sister brought cranberries (the scratch kind and the kind in the can – we have lovers of both kinds in the family), pies, pickles and olives, and pop (that’s soda for those of you not from Minnesota). So I was responsible for the turkey, dressing, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and gravy, ice cream for the pie, sparkling juices and wine. Whew, we were full after dinner! This is all traditional food for our family – don’t dare tamper with our menu! But I did alter the bread – I made the dilly bread recipe from the Mason Dixon blog on November 24 and it was good!! We’ll do this one again (right family?). The Compadre and I liked it a lot.

This year the dressing turned out the way I like it. I polled some of my friends to see how they make it and used a suggestion from Kelly that was great. We stuffed the bird with as much as could go in without packing it and put the rest in a casserole dish. Then when the turkey came out to rest I put about ½ cup of chicken broth in the dressing in the dish and popped it in the oven. When the Compadre cut up the turkey he scooped out the dressing from the bird and added it to the casserole dish. The two dressings were mixed together and it all tasted like it came from the bird and was more than enough for us with leftovers to boot. Thanks Kelly for the great suggestion! Here is my recipe – it’s just your basic sage dressing.

Sage Stuffing

3 qt. bread cubes

1 cup melted butter

1 large onion, diced

2 tsp. powdered sage (more if you like)

1 tsp. pepper

2 stalks celery, diced

Cube the bread – we usually use the cheapest kind of store bought bread available. If you use dried bread cubes you’ll need to add about a cup of chicken broth to it. Add the onion, celery, and spices and mix. Drizzle the butter as you mix it up. Stuff the bird lightly with as much of the stuffing as fits. Put the rest in an oven proof dish, add ½ c. of chicken broth to it if it needs it and bake it for about 20 minutes right before serving time. Mix the stuffing from the bird with the stuffing from the oven and serve.

When I cook turkey I don’t do it right according to my Mom. Actually I don’t really roast the turkey because I cover the roaster. I don’t like dried out white meat. Actually I like the dark meat better than the white but I especially don’t the white meat when it’s dried out from being over roasted. My solution is to put the turkey in the roasting pan with the breast side down (no rack) add a little bit of water and then cover the roaster. The turkey is usually done before the recommended time and it just falls off the bone. Mom raved about how good the turkey was this year. I didn’t tell her how I made it – no need for her to know!

I had the Compadre mash the sweet potatoes and caught him trying to be too healthy by serving them up plain. Good thing I made him put them back in the pan and add some butter, cream and brown sugar to them. Wouldn’t want to have healthy food on Thanksgiving would we! My nephew, Peter, was recovering from having all four wisdom teeth out and so we deviated from the usual candied sweet potatoes. They were good – we might do this again!

I wish I had taken a picture of the feast before we dug in or even the aftermath but we were having too good a time to think of it. I’ll show you a picture of my table decorations though. These quilted leaves were made by my friend Jeanice. They provided entertainment for my guests because they are different on each side and so some people enjoyed flipping them over and making different combinations. Hi Dave!

I love having the feast at our house. It’s a lot of fun and I really don’t mind cooking for everyone. And the guys helped with the clean up so the house didn’t look too bad this morning! One more load of dishes in the dishwasher and shrink the table back to normal size and you’d never know we had a big party here yesterday. Now, on to the Christmas preparations!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guest post from John

This is a post from my son John. He's a bachelor and he's not afraid to cook! He reported later that the meal was great and it fed him for several days.


My mom gave me a slab of beef with no instructions on how to cook it. I've never cooked a roast or anything, but I'm willing to try new foods.

I went over my small cook book library on the phone with Mom, and confirmed the decision I had already made: find a recipe and try it. I chose a recipe from "Six Ingredients or Less Slow Cooker" by Carlean Johnson (CJ Books, Gig Harbor, WA --

Easy Beef Dinner

2 to 2 1/2 pound round steak (whatever that is)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
4 carrots, cut crosswise into fourths (whatever that means)
1 can (10 3/4-ounces) condensed French Onion soup

Trim fat from meat and cut into serving size pieces.

Place potatoes and carrots in slow cooker. Arrange meat over the vegetables. Pour soup over meat. Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Well I don't have a kitchen scale and I don't know how big a pound of beef is, so I'll step on my bathroom scale and then step on it holding the ziploc with the beef. Hmm, looks like 2 or 3 pounds I guess. Sounds about right. How big is a serving of uncooked meat? The recipe says 4-5 servings so I'll cut it into 5 pieces.

Looks like I only have one carrot. I'll just use more potatoes then. I like potatoes. 4 medium potatoes, 3 small potatoes, and one carrot -- same number of vegetables, should work. What does "crosswise" mean? I'll just cut it up.

Hmm, I have a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup. It's even 10 3/4 oz. I don't know of anything magical about "french onion."

So hey, I have the right ingredients, sort of. In 8 hours I'll see if "sort of" tastes good.

(Side note: I think I'll add "better potato peeler" to my Christmas wish list.)
Ed. This is John's cat, Abby. Anncrafts has no pets but her children make up for that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Have a Lot to Do

I’ve been feeling vaguely guilty about all the projects that I have started and not finished in all my different crafty pursuits. I went so far as to make a list this morning. Oh. My. Gosh.

Then there are all the things that I really, really, want to start! I started making a list….

I’m going to take some advice I got this weekend. I can’t remember which friend told me about her friend that has a rule that she has to finish two things on the UFO list before starting another one. I had been rashly considering not starting anything until my unfinished object list was worked way down. But I think I can do the two out one in thing. Yes, I know that the Compadre is reading this and he’ll be sure to try to keep my in line. Good luck, Compadre!

So here is one completed object. It’s a red scarf for the Red Scarf Project. Made out of Merino 5 by Crystal Palace Yarns. The pattern is the Cartridge Belt Rib from Barbara Walker’s 2nd Treasury of Knitting Patterns on page 21, a mindless reversible pattern perfect for scarves. It’s soft and squishy and I hope the former foster kid/now college student that gets it will love it as much as I do. My mother in law’s rule about gifts is that the best gifts are the ones you want to keep yourself – and this one I do want to keep, but give it I will. The red scarf project has extended their deadline until December 15 so I should have enough time to finish another. This is a UFO that has been on the needles since last year when I started it for the same cause- and didn’t finish in time. This one is the same pattern but I’m knitting it in sport weight yarn so it will be many more stitches before it’s done.

I’m also working on another scarf (must be a scarf phase of the moon right?). This one is for my sister. She commissioned this one a long time ago – last winter some time when we were at a yarn store together. She doesn’t knit. Hmmm, Mary, maybe you should learn some day. Anyway, this is a fun pattern to knit. It’s a free pattern that I got at Stitches with Style in Delaware called, “Not a Celebrity Scarf”, and it is really the same as the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf but with K2 tog’s instead of SSK’s. I’m using Universal Yarn’s Classic Worsted LP. I’m loving it – it’s a fast knit because you just want to get to the next triangle and then when you do you have to start it and so on… Looks cool in a long stripe like this yarn is too.

So it’s a race – which scarf will be done first! And will I start any more projects before I finish. Stay tuned!

And here is a picture of Abigail in her Halloween outfit, just because I'm her Grandma and I think she's sooo cute.