11.27.2014

press hard.



I'll only speak for myself here, I love a day (a season!) that inspires gratitude on all sides. I think back on the past years and I remember that first smooth stone, tossed into the pond. Gratitude. It slipped beneath the surface and the concentric circles formed and before I knew it, I was thinking harder about the things I am most thankful for. So, I'm glad I let that first stone fly ~ thankful.

If I decided to log my every thankful, we would be here all the live long day. I think, always, that time might be better spent living gratitude than writing every whip-stitch of it down. So, I'm making the choice to pen thankfuls on the inside surface of my heart, every day. I promise to press down hard when I write.

For today, I'll not attempt the unabridged list. Instead, I'll share some here-and-now, bright-burning highlights. I'm thankful that I'm spending Thanksgiving with my Family. Last year my heart was still a little fogged over. My family felt  incomplete. This year, I have new wrinkles and a new tinge of weariness, but what it means is that he is still here with us, and I'll take it.

 I'm thankful for unexpected surprises left on my door step.

I'm thankful for the cachepot of friends I have collected, the shiny new friendships and the weathered and worn. 

I’m thankful for soft, snowy days.

Hands that still hold mine.

Squeezy hugs.

Fresh journeys.

and answered prayers.

♥♥♥

I'm thankful for the hope of a new story.

I'm thankful that I am much more than the sum total of all my failures.

I'm thankful that Tom & Jerry humor transcends generations.

I'm thankful for the guy at the other end of the couch.

I'm thankful for the rattle and whir of a furnace, for air scented heavy with orange, for misbehavin' hair and flannel pajama pants. for puppies, siblings, extended family members, sons, the mothership and cinnamon rolls.

Count your thankfuls.

I hope all of you have a day full of love and laughter.

And remember - press hard.

 just sayin'.

cranberry chutney

24 ounces apricot preserves
¾ cup raspberry vinegar, or ¾ cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 ½ tsp raspberry preserves
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries, nasty ones discarded
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar (or vinegar and raspberry preserves), salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook – it will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching – for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. [I know that they’re ready when I hear one or two of them pop; that’s a good indicator that most of them must be getting pretty soft.] Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from the heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.

11.21.2014

make the moments last.



I was recently down south. It was all greens, bridges, blue skies and sunshine.  If you’re wondering why Savannah was completely out of shrimp and grits a few weeks ago… that was me.  I ate it all.  It wasn’t pretty.  Sorry.

Let’s go ahead and add “nervous breakdown” to the list of things I should never Google, or admit to Googling.  yikes!  But, I mean… if I have the foresight to Google it, does it mean that I'm probably not having one?  maybe.  Likely.  Don’t look at me.

Anyway, Fall...now we're talking.
I know I called fall, some time ago, but I tend to get a little antsy about these things.  I may have jumped the gun just a nudge, as we still had a few mid-seventies days to get through.  But seeing as the leaves are completely down and the first frost has come and gone and we've had several days in the teens and a snow storm, I just wanted to re-state for the record,  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

We're officially in full-on, fist-pumpin' winter fall. I've had hot cocoa afternoons, nights below freezing and blue-eyed skies.  My bed's sporting a thick blanket and a flannel covered duvet.  I'm knitting more socks, mittens and scarves. Boots are In, flip-flops are Out, and shorts have been retired to the back of the closet.  twice!

Well, okay then, pants plus long sleeves plus sweaters plus socks, boots, scarves and mittens all at once!  


So, Thanksgiving. The best Thanksgivings are those that stretch out for a solid 72 hours.

We're in the homestretch, but some of the very best lies in wait. How many different ways can you eat pumpkin in one week? A better question might be, how many times are you lucky enough to eat pumpkin in one week? And I haven't even begun to think about Christmas cookies...


I'm content here.
I'm wading around in dashed-off grocery lists, debating the merits of various non-pie pumpkin baked goods and desserts.

It's full of promise but slow and easy as a Sunday nap.

This is the season. This one, right here. It's where we are and it shouldn't be short-changed or over-shadowed. How can we possibly celebrate the day of gratitude when we're up on our tippy toes looking over its head?


I shall now hop down from my high horse.
You're welcome.

I know most of you don't feel as strongly about this sort of thing. Seasonal allegiance is one of my spiritual gifts, that's all.

Please promise you won't judge my early-Christmas-music listening. It's cool, dude. I'll come on out from behind my pre-Thanksgiving Christmas tree trees.

I decorate for Christmas like Liberace did bling.  Maybe more.  I don't understand it, entirely.  Partly, I think it's that leftover little kid love of anything shiny with the promise of magical. It takes me right back to six year old floating cloudberries, and sometimes when I wake up and realize it was just a dream, that those days are gone,  I can barely catch my breath. I'm pretty keen on sparkly, too.  I have an avalanche of boxes, that I unpack, singing carols in a whispery little falsetto. Just believe me when I tell you ~ scout's honor, cross-my-heart, crazy wins this round by a big ol' whopping landslide. I really get into it. Do my best to make the moments last.

just sayin'.


Pots of Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Cream Pie

CRUST:
1 (1 1/4 cups) sleeve graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter
FILLING:
1 can (15 oz.)100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Carnation Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk
1 (3.4 oz.) box vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice plus additional for dusting
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping
1 can (13.4 oz.) NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Dulce de Leche

 FOR CRUST:
COMBINE graham crackers and butter in small bowl. Spoon about 2 measuring tablespoons into each of ten half-pint canning jars, custard cups and/or ramekins. Pat crust down with back or side of measuring spoon.

FOR FILLING:
COMBINE pumpkin, evaporated milk, pudding mix and pumpkin pie spice in large mixer bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Fold in 2 cups of whipped topping.

TO ASSEMBLE:
WARM dulce de leche in microwave-safe bowl power for 15 to 20 seconds to soften; stir well. Spoon dulce de leche on top of each crust. Spoon in about 1/2 cup pumpkin filling. Top with a dollop of remaining whipped topping and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice. Keep refrigerated at least 2 hours before serving.

11.14.2014

dark side




I was listening to the radio on my way to meet my sister the other day and Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson came on. I immediately thought oh good grief... I don't have that. A dark side....


Orrrr...

Well I do have a couple of shall we say, issues?

For one, I don't like the way Chipolte rolls their burritos. I don't know why they can't just roll them like any normal person making a burrito would. Someone had to finally take a stand, so I gave the dude behind the counter my best Norma Rae speech. I'm pretty sure he completely agreed with me and passed it on to the higher ups who will take immediate action. Seriously, you just can't roll up a burrito this way and expect it to be an enjoyable eating experience.  

You just can't.


I have heard it said that a virtue and a vice are opposite sides of the same coin.  They are related and while I don't like to mix metaphors (I'm gonna anyway), I like to think of a vice as being the nth degree of a virtue.  The place where the virtue has become smug and self absorbed and likes to judge others.

I know.

Take for example the above story of the virtue of order, logic, and reason.. okay, that's actually three things that may or may not be virtues or in any way related with virtues but still they are really good things gone terribly awry.  I do have those qualities and on the face of it, they are good.  But when taken off the leash, they can easily develop into controlling, irrational and left alone in the parking lot with your wonky rolled burrito. 

Dark side.

I also have honesty, which is definitely a virtue.  Right? Honesty if not properly tended can show up as brutal honesty, or just plain mean.  That's never a good thing.  People say "you always know where you stand with that one".  I like that and take it as a compliment.  I think mostly it's meant as one but I've also been a witness to the visible flinching of someone as I try to explain why something they are doing, saying, wearing, etc. is just plain wrong.  Just trying to help.

Dark side.

I also have individualism and don't help me-ness.  What I like to call a spirit of independence, of I can figure it out myself-itude.

I want to be unique.  I want to do it the right way my way.  I want to accomplish things on my own. I don't need anyone's help. The nth degree of this particular virtue is probably becoming clear as you read this... I sound like a three year old screaming I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF.

That's one aspect of independence gone awry.  But the worst of it is that it wanes understanding for those who would admit that they need help.  It will view needing others as a weakness.  I am absolutely guilty of that kind of judgment.

It may be my darkest side.

I've been working really hard on this in the past few years and I can definitely feel my heart has softened.  I have a beautiful teacher, the hubs.

He is the opposite of me in that area.  He is the yin to my dark side yang.

On the positive side, I love comradeship and bonding and people and love and flowers and puppies and sharing. I will lend out my car, my money and my house. I will take in strays. I will literally give you the shirt off my back.  I will drive through the night to come get you.  I will give money to the guy with the sign.  every single time. I just can't help it.  

I buy girl scout cookies and magazine subscriptions and new band uniforms whenever they come by. I will donate to the food bank and homeless shelter. Fight, Pray for and cry over any abuse and injustice. I will make up the bed and cook you a meal. I'm not perfect but I try to be a compassionate person with a giving heart.  And if I forget, the hubs will show me the way.

Cause he loves me. Even in my dark side.

At this point, you may think he's winning but he's not because I've tallied everything up.  If anything it's a tie.  Or I'm a little bit ahead.

Dark side.

just sayin'.


corn and crab fritters
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 TBS chopped chives
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
salt 
1/8 tsp ground red pepper 
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3/4 cups corn
8oz. lump crab meat, picked over
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine flour, cornmeal, chives, baking powder, salt, and red pepper in a large bowl. Mix.
Combine buttermilk and eggs in a bowl and mix well. Add egg mixture, corn and crab meat to the flour mixture, stirring gently.

Heat a large skillet with 2 TBS oil. Heat till oil is hot and shimmery. Drop 4,  1/4 cup  cup batter mounds in the pan.  Cook on one side for 4 minutes until golden brown, turn and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Repeat adding 2 TBS oil to pan until all the batter is used. Keep in a warm oven.
Serve with tartar sauce.