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I’m exhausted.

And I didn’t expect this feeling at all, this sense of such accomplishment, a profound feeling of gratitude coupled with a sneaking sense of…..I don’t know, shame, I think. Last night I had the phenomenal privilege of being a part of something that went to my very core, as a blogger first, but also as a person, and a child of God. I don’t talk about that faith here, not much at all, but last night it was profoundly stirred up and I need to address it. All of it was good, just so you know.

This post isn’t about food, nor does it contain a recipe although it will contain a few ingredients needed for vast humility and sheer humbleness. There will be links to bloggers in Minnesota, a wide net that’s been firmly cast. If it doesn’t interest you, I won’t be offended if you click away.

But last night, yes. It started at a restaurant, a dimly lit back room that quickly filled with 40 bloggers from Minnesota covering all walks of life. Organized with aplomb by Melissa, of The Marketing MaMa, it started racing through Twitter way back in early December and I signed on. Because that’s just what you do when opportunity knocks. The door opens and you walk through. Although I’m not so sure I walked. I think I was forcibly thrown, but in a good way. So good that I couldn’t even sleep after it was all over, despite my physical and emotional exhaustion.

I was excited for the event, but being that I am slightly introverted, also a tad nervous. It was helpful to walk into the room and be recognized immediately. It surprised me to hear fellow bloggers gush their appreciation over what I do. I was humbled to hear their thoughts on my blog, my recipes and photos, to hear them say “I’m SO glad to finally meet you!” and see warm, engaging smiles all around. Bloggers are like that. We may not share the same passion for our content- the Moms who blog vs. the people who are enraptured about food vs. those who eloquently talk about kitchen sciencebooks, holistic health, personal motivation and so on. But we all share the same gene that compels us to sit at our computers and forge an online presence, to follow others through Twitter. To connect. Bloggers connect and then when we finally do meet face to face, it’s like meeting a best friend you never knew you had. It’s impossible to stop talking. And thankfully our mouths can work as fast as our fingers.

(me on the right, then clockwise Melissa, Jen, Liz and Molly)
photo courtesy of Jen

I knew in my heart that this event was going to move me, in some way, and I still am not certain of outcomes or potential, but it’s there. Seeds have been planted and the trickles are only beginning. I am filled with the possibilities, even if I’ve just made new friends and connections. It was apparent that something big was in the works. Forty people just don’t come together, these days anyway with crowded schedules, young children and busy-ness, on just a whim and a promise. People look for gatherings that have significance and although I know we could have all sat in that restaurant for hours chatting, exchanging cards, ideas, web strategies, blog template ideals (that old Blogger v. WordPress option never fails to rear its head) but we had a bigger goal and that was to do volunteer work for Feed My Starving Children.

Back in December when this whole idea was born, and the volunteer aspect of it sealed, no one could have predicted that we would be specifically packing meals for the earthquake ravaged people of Haiti. What happened to them was so awful that it’s beyond words or feelings. Knowing that the 64 boxes of food we put together was going to land among the shattered buildings and broken population of that country made the outing that much more meaningful. Listening to the tutorial at the beginning of our shift there, and seeing the photos of the children that the meals ultimately help and it was all I could do not to break down into tears. I’d heard of this organization for years but I’d never gone. I have no idea why. Now I can’t wait to go back. One member of our group, Trish, posted the most profound entry that tells the tale better than I could ever imagined. She simply nailed the impact of what we were doing.

We stood together in groups, and scooped portions of food into bags, while upbeat music played in the background and dance moves were practiced. It was noisy and glorious, but somewhere along the way, the impact of it all landed inside me with a thud. There were the images of poverty that we’d seen, and the ones I knew about in my head but refused to acknowledge. There was the long-playing tape of my own financial stresses, something my husband and I have dealt with now for more than a year with no end in sight. Yet, it all came together in it’s own earthquake of awareness in my mind, and with the knowledge that I, as an inhabitant of one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, I am monumentally rich and prosperous compared to those who would be receiving this food we were making, and none of them- NONE– would ever even know the tiniest fraction of comfort that I do every day. For them, one scoop of food was a lifesaver, a means to stop the tears of sorrow. And for me, I cry about the economy and my inability to land a job to help alleviate our ongoing financial stress. We sometimes can’t sleep at night because of it, but I can go to my cupboards and prepare a meal, and I’ve gotten really damn good at making something from the most meager of ingredients, and I usually can eat three times a day without fail. I have experienced hunger but I have never, ever been starving. I have never known my body to devour itself as a means of survival. I have struggled in my lifetime, I have known dark times and long periods of my own poverty, my own lack of nutritious food, and I’ve been an unhealthy skinny girl due to it all, but I have never been swallowed alive by my own body in a last ditch effort to survive. And I’ll never even come close to that, ever.


And I stood there, in front of these ingredients, trying hard not to be repelled by the smell of the chicken powder, which was making me think of Rice-A-Roni. I was imagining the children that would be served this and thinking that they probably didn’t care, that it was likely they felt joy and excitement that a meal was being given to them and here I was, trying not to breathe too deep. Although I participated in the laughter around me, my heart really felt like it was breaking. I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed of the way I pity what I perceive to be inadequacies in my own life. I have so, so much; we’d left food on our plates at the restaurant, and I thought of the food items at home that I sometimes throw out. And I recalled all the complaining I’ve done about our own situation and the anxiety of it- or at least what I think of in terms of anxiety; the means I’ve gone to stretch our food dollars to cover the entire month. The meals that are simple, but nutritious and whole. I can work miracles in the kitchen. But my life, and my comfortable home and furniture, functional clothing, proper shoes, the heat and air-conditioning, our vehicles….it’s all luxuries that people in half the world can only dream about, if they even can envision such a thing.

Then we all gathered in the warehouse for a photo.

And as we dispersed, I saw several members of our group praying over the boxes of food we had created. And I walked away. No wonder I couldn’t sleep last night. I was being stared in the face by my own shortcomings and it wasn’t all that pretty.

My perspective has been monumentally shifted and I am grateful for the process. I alone could never have accomplished such a thing as the events of this night. I alone couldn’t have pushed myself into such discomfort. I could have never shown myself such levels of extreme, from the highs of connecting with these amazing people, meeting the faces behind the Tweeps and blogs and personalities I’ve grown familiar with, to the crashing lows of feeling so much shame over my self-imposed fret when really, my life is pretty amazing in comparison. And I’m glad not to be the only one who came away with a renewed perspective, a sharper focus. Forty hearts came together and gave selflessly and although it broke something in me, it also started building something else. And I’m thrilled to be a part of it. That door opened and I had no control over how mercilessly I was pitched through it, but thankfully it was hard enough for me to be able to stand up and take notice.

Thanks everyone…..you’ve done far more than you can imagine. I hope this is the first of many gatherings.

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I think everyone is trying to eat better for their health, and subsequently, their pocketbooks. Information abounds in money-saving tips, grocery shopping tactics and ‘Quick! Fast! Cheap!’ meals are everywhere.

I’m thrilled that Springtime, and the return of fresh produce is commencing. It changes the whole tone of what happens in my kitchen, and on our plates. There are sweet baby lettuces that need barely a gasp of fresh squeezed lime juice and a tiny drizzle of balsamic, rich asparagus stems in a quick sputtering stir-fry and tiny crisp radishes dredged through a bit of french sea salt. I keep dreaming about main-dish salads of smoky grilled vegetables. I long for summer cherries, melon season and corn plucked from the field that morning, dew still clinging to the leaves and tassels. It can’t come soon enough. I long to retire my soup pot and clean out the oven; bye bye rutabagas, thick skinned squashes and heavy braises. Nights may still need those extra blankets, but this girl’s in the mood for new food.

I’ve started to move a little from winter’s heavier fare to quicker, simpler and more varied eating, mostly by fulfilling my current hankering for anything cabbage related. This isn’t the most spring-like of offerings, but it’s cheap, chock full of excellent nutrition and it keeps like a trooper in the fridge when properly wrapped. I’ve been a fan of cabbage since I was a little girl. It was one of my Mom’s continual offerings. She would chop up an entire head of green cabbage, place it in the ‘cabbage tupperware’ (reserved only for that use) and then pour on some Good Seasons Italian dressing and grate a bunch of pepper over it. The cover would be pressed into place and she would shake that thing like crazy. I can still hear the sound of all that cabbage being tossed around. Cabbage makes me think of her and I still love it with little else besides that same dressing, doctored in my own fashion, tossed with a handful of chopped almonds for crunch and extra flavor, although there’s far more to this humble vegetable than most people ever realize.

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Cruciferous vegetables-like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale-are rich in a variety of compounds that have been shown to slow cancer growth and development in a number of laboratory studies. Other larger human studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers. (from the Living Strong Living Well website article ’11 Cancer Fighting Foods)

Cole slaw is a very favorite dish of mine as well, only I am not one to beam and shout over most recipes, drenched as they are in a mayo based dressing to the point of giving the term ‘limp and soggy’ a run for its money. Although that tastes pretty darn good on a pulled pork sandwich, from the end of a fork it doesn’t resonate quite so beautifully. Coleslaw needs to be made and eaten quickly. It’s one food where ‘leftovers’ in my fridge tend to cause immense shuddering and a wrinkled nose.

The whole idea of coleslaw has changed dramatically in my mind, thanks to the endless food blogs that pour out every variation of the stuff. It isn’t just about the cabbage anymore, and by definition, if it adds something more, is it still just humble coleslaw?

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This recipe evolved from several sources and plenty of inspiration. It mixes green and red cabbage, jicama sticks, garbanzo beans, cooked bulgur and chopped almonds, with a few cool cucumber slices on the side for color and crunch and in return, it promises you a plate of superb antioxidant protection, a powerhouse of vitamin C, omega-3 fats, whole grain goodness and loads of crunch. It sticks with you long after the fact too, with an amazing amount of fiber that leaves you feeling satisfied and full without being too overbearing. No one needs food to continually outstay its welcome; these days we want a good meal without wishing for a sofa and pillow afterwards. And it’s so good that it won’t take long for you to turn a lovely pile of vegetable goodness into a near  bare and heavily appreciated empty plate.super-cabbage-salad1-004

This is also a perfect offering for the blogging event happening over at Mele Cotte- Cooking to Combat Cancer. Chris is now in Year Three of being cancer- free and calling all food bloggers to offer up recipes with cancer-fighting appeal.

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There is no shortage of good people around me fighting with everything that they have against the ravages of cancer, and this event can help everyone arm themselves with good tools to put in their pantries and tummies that will offer some support to a body that is constantly exposed to an wide range of harmful properties. I owe an enormous amount of my well-being and overall health to the foods that I eat; whole foods, plenty of vegetables and fruits, lean meats, whole grains, nuts; it’s all there. I stepped up my efforts to make our meals even better over the winter, and we were rewarded with only a smattering of illness that took little time to disperse. While food itself isn’t the only way to stay healthy, it’s one good tool you can use to help your body be at it’s very best.

Super Slaw Salad
by Kate

1/4 head of both red and green cabbage, shredded or chopped
1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. cooked bulger
1/2 c. (approx.) of thinly sliced jicama
1/4 c. chopped almonds
Cucumber slices
Dressing of choice

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss to mix, adding dressing to taste and seasoning with fresh cracked pepper or a dusting of good sea salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

KATE’S NOTES:
Obviously, endless variations on this abound. It’s almost silly to make a cut and dried recipe out of it. I would have added carrots if I had some. Shredded apple would be delicious. I love the addition of shredded bok choy and napa cabbages to my slaws also. Vary the dressings too for a different flavor profile, like an asian style with sesame seeds. Change up the nuts, the beans or the grain.

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I’m not surprised that baking is a soothing enterprise for me. It calms and centers me and usually it’s because I always feel my Mom’s presence when I bake. She gave me my baking gene and my love for all things flour and butter and it channels my inner child to get out my K5 and open the pantry. This time of year is especially hard for me, as Christmas was such a favorite of hers, but I find that the very act of cookie making can be like entering a zen mode and it takes some of the grief away to see all the delightful baked discs on my counter, and feel the spirit of my Mom’s beaming proud smile.

Plus, I just HAVE to get my cookie in to Susan!!

foodbloggacookielogoFor the second year in a row, Susan of Food Blogga is hosting this event and getting a mountain of responses in return. Last year I was ambitious and submitted three recipes, but this year I have only this one. But I have to warn you, this is a killer cookie recipe.

May I present the Lemon Ricotta Cookie.

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This cookie in it’s basic form, was a winner in the Holiday Cookie Contest held by our local paper. Although I love the idea of a cookie chock full of ricotta cheese, I imagined that by adding the tart and heady scent of lemon that it might just add something magical to this recipe.

Magic indeed! While the cookie itself was pillowy, moist, tender and rich, the added element of lemon and the tang of a little zest gave it so much more character. It’s like the cheesecake cookies I made last year for this same event, but lighter and fluffier, and lately I just can’t get enough of anything lemon. And although I might be asking for it by consuming ricotta cheese, the stomachache I get from the dairy in these would be well worth it. And so far, it hasn’t happened, but I also haven’t OD’d on them either.


LEMON RICOTTA CHEESE COOKIES

For cookie:
4 c. flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (15.-oz) container ricotta cheese
1 tsp. lemon extract
2-3 t. fresh lemon juice + 1-2 t. fresh lemon zest
2 eggs

For icing:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk
Red and green decorative sugars, optional

Directions

To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and reserve. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat sugar and butter until creamy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add ricotta cheese, extract, juice, zest and eggs and beat until well-combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just until dough forms. Drop dough in small mounds on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are very lightly golden, rotating trays halfway through, for about 15 minutes (cookies will be soft). Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

KATE’S NOTES:
I initially wanted to make these an Almond Ricotta cookie, with almond extract and finely chopped almonds, and sometime I do intend to try out that version, but my almond extract had evaporated so I went with lemon. Be sure to really whip the butter and sugar for a while- the loftiness you achieve makes the cookie very fluffy. Thoroughly scrape the bowl at least once during the mixing of the cheese and egg; you want to really blend the wet ingredients well. The dough, while not very stiff, should ONLY be mixed until the flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix at this point. Once the flour is mixed in,  turn it off and give the dough a few turns, gently, with a rubber spatula in case there is any flour in the bottom of the bowl. I made two batches of this, and inadvertantly let both of them sit after the dough was ready. Whether it made a difference, I have no idea, but that’s what happened with mine. I did not use the icing.

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Oh. My. GOSH!!!

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I covered food holidays for the entire month of November, without fail for National Blog Posting Month. I researched, planned, experimented, baked, whipped, mixed, chilled, cooked, sampled and wrote my way through the month and let you know the results EVERY DAY! I faithfully sat down with my trusty computer and calendar every day and wrote whatever came out the tips of my fingers. Some days it just shone, other days it kinda fell flat. I misunderstood Scrapple and nearly started a war- Amy hon, thanks for lovingly and passionately setting me straight- and stared down a few recipes for a day or two before deciding I wasn’t interested in making them, preferring instead to just talking about them. I even toted my computer with me to church this morning and plopped myself into a WiFi hot spot afterward just to finish the month.

So today is National Mousse Day. I didn’t make mousse, although I could have but I have seriously- I kid you not-  spent the past four days cooking, baking and creating for Thanksgiving and then two family events happening over the past weekend, and quite frankly, I am really tired of being in the kitchen. I’ve basically exhausted my reserves for making food of any kind be it sweet, savory, tart or moussed and am really looking forward to a break. So are my stomach and thighs. I think they are happy that I didn’t whip together a large batch of rich chocolate-y velvet-like dessert. Whoever set up this last week of food holidays in November did not take into account arranging all that decadence- two pies, cake, french toast and mousse-  around the biggest food fest of the entire year.

But…..*sigh*…. I am DONE with my goal of completing the 30 Days of NaBloPoMo in food holiday fashion. It was really, really fun and I learned a lot. I also think I found some new blogging friends to hang out with in the big world of the Internets. I send ’round a big hearty ‘Thank You’ for coming to visit, make the nice comments that you all have and keep me motivated to continue. It wasn’t hard, but there were days that my fingers felt too idle for the goal, my brain too thick and unwilling to offer up its usual creative prose. But I did it. And it was great fun.

I’ll be idle for a while as I recover and re-group for December. See you soon!!

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This last week of NaBloPoMo has been a sweet one- literally. We’ve had Cake Day, French Toast Day, Bavarian Cream Pie Day and now…… National Lemon Cream Pie Day. Oh, and it’s also National Chocolates Day. You have TWO excuses to indulge in the sweet life, not to mention my enthusiastic permission.

With all the Thanksgiving festivities going on and getting everything together for that, I wondered just how much I wanted to prepare a few scratch pie recipes and I naturally took a ‘Bye’ on the Bavarian Cream, but curiosity won out for this Lemon Cream recipe, as lemon is one of my favorite dessert flavors. The only problem for this lactose intolerant kind of gal was the heavy cream. I wasn’t going to sub; I just wouldn’t be able to fully indulge.

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The finished pie wasn’t as firm as I wished (nor was the picture so stellar); I likely could have whipped the cream tighter but it had grown late on Wednesday evening after we all got into Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ from Netflix and I was tired and unwilling to get too involved in cream beating at such a late hour. For me, a new recipe will either end up fine or it won’t and I usually don’t stress. Once I understand how it will work, I can tweak it on the next go-round to make it better, and I knew my siblings would love it no matter what as they never get something like this, ever.

The lemon curd was simple and quick, and oh so very tart. But one little swipe across my tongue and I wished to turn my back on the whipped cream just to indulge in the curd. It was really amazing. I know it will be something I make again because I could envision it spread over muffins, or scones or on the French Toast I made for breakfast yesterday morning, or drizzled over waffles, sampled with a tiny little spoon…..you get the picture. I kept thinking about Lime Curd too and what a summertime treat that would be with fresh fruit.

The pie, like I said, was softer than it could have been, but the finished product with the fresh cream folded into the curd and mingled with a scratch graham cracker crumb crust was really a delight. Just seeing the looks on my siblings faces as they enjoyed their messy pieces was enough for me. I took a few bites to try it out, unwilling as I was to subject myself to a middle of the night stomachache from the dairy and I must say, it was divine. I can totally see Lemon Curd in my future. A lot.

Lemon Cream Pie

6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 prepared crumb crust  (see notes)

Combine the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest in a heavy medium-size saucepan and whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Add the lemon juice and butter and cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it is thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the lemon curd until it is cold and thick, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

In a medium-size mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon curd and scrape the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the filling is completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

KATE’S NOTES:
Make a scratch graham crust by whizzing one package of graham crackers in the food processor with up to 1/2 c. of sugar depending on how sweet you like it. Melt about 4-6 T. of butter (again, depending on your desired level of firmness) and mix with crumb/sugar mix. Press into a pie plate and refrigerate. Skip the sugar if you want; the crust will still taste fine.

Strain the curd well as you will get some cooked egg pieces. You will need to press the curd through the strainer with a spoon and scrape off the outside. Although I can’t prove it scientifically, where the recipe calls for the cream to be whipped to soft peaks, I think it should be whipped a bit firmer. The pie chilled for more than 24 hours and still was rather soft. Reduce the zest if you wish to have less tart curd.

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Endless speculation abounds about why battered and fried bread slices are called ‘French’ toast, but never is there an appropriate response to the question ‘Why is it called French Toast?’ What’s french about it??

Yes, it’s National French Toast Day. So let’s lay waste to the ongoing debate about the French-ness of French Toast.

The earliest understanding of how this dish came to be is to look as far back as the northern French Normans who created a dish called ‘tostees dorees‘  that was a battered and fried bread. It was similar to a popular dish in England in the Middle Ages that was named suppe dorate, and is considered a knock-off of the Normandy dish. Ironically, in France and Belgium currently, you can get Pain Perdu, loosely translated as ‘lost bread’. The egg mixure that is allowed to soak into the slices is a way of reclaiming old, stale bread, or lost bread and making it edible. So the Normans from France did apparently create a similar dish to the current manner of French Toast, but are they really the ones who should be credited with the discovery? According to many sources, the initial documentation of the dish is known to be at the time of Henry the V of England (1413-1422). Definitely NOT French.

There are dozens- I mean, dozens– of variations of this dish in all countries around the world:

  • Austria: Pavese (a medieval type of shield whose shape resembles a slice of bread)
  • England: suppe dorate (Italian for “gilded sippets”)
  • France: pain perdu (literally, “lost bread”)
  • Germany: Armer Ritter (literally, “poor knight”; the name is sometimes meant to originate from poor knights in Medieval times, having not enough gold to pay for meat, and thus eating old bread slices, coated with egg and fried )
  • Hungary: bundás kenyér (literally, “coated bread” or “bread with fur”) [<— mmmm, yummy]
  • Portugal: rabanadas or fatias douradas (literally, “golden slices of bread”)
  • Yugoslavia and some successor republics: прженицеprženice
  • Croatia: pohani kruh
  • Lebanon: pain perdu
  • Catalonia: torrades o croquetes de Santa Teresa (literally, “toasts or croquettes of Saint Theresa”)

And then there are so so many more that it seems silly to post them. It’s not French and barely can claim any French origin. But it is delicious. Especially with homemade lemon curd.

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I had a loaf of sourdough bread that I chopped up for croutons to put in my Thanksgiving stuffing and there were four good-sized slices left over that were just crying out to be made in Egg Bread. (hehehe- I’m not calling it by that name) The lemon curd-which you’ll have to come back tomorrow to read about- was just a perfect topping for the warm slices sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.

I know that everyone has their own manner of making Egg Bread and what goes into the batter but I’ll just tell you my version anyway. Eggs and milk (vanilla soy milk- ooooh yummy like a milkshake) and a tablespoon or two of cinnamon sugar and some fresh ground nutmeg. The sugar crystals in the batter help with caramelization. I have also made my batter from vanilla or banana yogurt with excellent results. I’m not really a syrup girl but I do like honey drizzled over the slices, or I spread them with fresh fruit, jam, apple butter or simply a little melted butter.

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Well there’s TWO days left of National Blog Posting Month and my November desk calendar is criss-crossed with hash marks as I have methodically checked off the days and their corresponding food holiday. It’s been a great deal of fun with plenty of good learning but I’ll tell ya, I am looking forward to stepping away from the computer for a while and re-grouping before getting back into something of a more normal blogging routine. For those of you who have stuck with me through this adventure, I thank you profusely and hope you continue visiting.

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Today is National Cake Day. I’m no cake scrooge, really- I love me a good rich decadent slice of cake. Or two.

It’s just that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m full up of plans to make my regular feast and I just feel like I should take a minute to inhale deeeeeply, stare down the end of NaBloPoMo and steer away from this holiday to be thankful and reverent for a moment about that holiday.

Plus I didn’t make a cake. Not for today, but recently I did make this one, and this one and they were stellar so they may have to do for now.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I mentioned that, right? Are you ready?? I’m getting there. Organization is the key for me to make this a fun and enjoyable holiday with the littlest of stress, so today I am tackling a To-Do list and getting myself together. I do many things to make it easier on myself because even with pretty good cooking skills, it doesn’t mean I want to be chained to the stove, my knives or vegetable peeler while my family sits around, wine glasses in hand and laughter rising ever higher. No- I want to be getting in the thick of that sibling love.

First and foremost, to make my oven as accessible as possible, I started doing my turkey on our gas grill about three or four years ago and I have never looked back. I use the indirect heat method, a double layer of disposable roasting pan and tin foil to cover the bird. I chop apples and onions and stuff the cavity along with pushing copious amounts of sage butter under the skin. I baste occasionally, but generally leave it be. Additions of mixed cherry and apple wood for smoking make the meat so succulent and flavorful that my siblings eyes roll back in their heads. And if I don’t make a HUGE turkey for plenty of leftovers, I am always disappointed because they eat like they’ve starved for a week to get ready. What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers??

Then there’s mashed potatoes. My family loves them, and the one year that I decided to roast them instead of mashing them, you would have thought I asked them to eat glass. They looked really ticked about it. So I make mashed because I really can’t stand to see them sad that way, although sometimes I just want to say ‘Ya know what?? You’re an adult! Deal with it!’. And yeah, it’s pretty easy to make them mashed. I plan to peel and cook the spuds today, then mash them and reheat them in the oven tomorrow.

For my vegetable, I am roasting garnet yams and carrots. Then I plan to mash those with chopped pears, shredded gouda, chopped nuts-probably pepitas- and then bake it off tomorrow as well. I use pear juice to flavor it, and may add in chopped craisins or currants. This is one of my favorite and easiest vegetable dishes. I do most of it today. It’s super delicious and healthy too.

Dessert will be a bowl of my famous Chocolate Pudding, and maybe a Lemon Cream Pie.

So that’s my holiday meal in a nutshell- pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. I love that the food nurtures my family, and the atmosphere in our house is so festive and fun when they’re here. I really look forward to it. I very thankful for them; that their health is good and they’re close by, and that we all enjoy our time together. I’m thankful for work to keep us busy and the love of our big huge loving family to keep our hearts full. I very thankful for all my wonderful friends, both here in town and those who lately I have rediscovered through the magic of the Internet (and Facebook). I hope your Thanksgiving holiday brings you many blessings of good food and wonderful family.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! May your turkey be moist and your smiles bright!

nablopomo21

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