Saturday, November 29, 2008
In years to come, I shall have to refer to this as "the year I learned to delegate." I have always prepared most of our holiday meals on my own because our children were young, my husband dislikes cooking, and our guests had to travel in from afar. The good thing about this is being able to plan the menu to suit myself, and making things just the way I like them. The downside is that it can get a bit lonely in the kitchen, when everyone else is out in the other room yukking it up and having a good time. Everyone was always good about offering to help, but I may have had a bit of a control issue, for it sometimes made me kind of crazy to have a bunch of people elbowing for space in my tiny kitchen. I am getting over that.
This year I sent out e-mails ahead of time, asking each person who was coming to tell me what dishes were vitally important to their enjoyment of the holidays. My side of the family has always tended to try different recipes each year, so we never got too attached to one way of doing things. When I decided to try a Tex-Mex version of turkey and dressing, they were begging for the recipe. John's family is more traditional. I fixed the same thing for them the following year, and got a 30 minute lecture on how to properly smoke a turkey. I understand where they are coming from though, for I know many other people who feel it is just not Thanksgiving if they do not get their usual dressing, made just the way dear old Mom always did it.
So, when my e-mail replies came back saying "we really like our turkey smoked" and "I've always loved Priscilla's special dressing and giblet gravy" and "I love those special frozen rolls my wife always buys," I found myself thinking, "Well, why the heck not?" I put hubby and B-I-L in charge of smoking the turkey, S-I-L in charge of making her traditional dressing and gravy, nephew in charge of making a couple of his favorite vegetarian dishes, son in charge of assembling his hot curried fruit compote, and daughter and niece-in-law in charge of decorating and setting the table. They sent me their grocery lists so I could have the ingredients on hand, and all that was left for me to do was to make a couple of desserts in advance, and bake the rolls and mash the potatoes at the last minute. In between, I just got my butt out of their way, and joined the group in the other room that was yukking it up and having a good time. Why didn't I think of this years ago?
Oh yeah, in case you are wondering how the great turkey experiment turned out? Well, I think it's going to take the guys a couple of years to adjust to dealing with a smaller, leaner bird. If they had just slept in a couple of more hours, instead of getting up before dawn to start the smoker, the turkey might have ended up a tad juicier. The flavor, however, was excellent, and I might even be able to get a nice pair of shoes made out of the skin!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Here's my latest to do list (click to enlarge), and I have one thing to add to yours: Don't forget to leave a comment before Sunday evening, if you wish to be included in this month's drawing. You can enter up to once a day, and it doesn't matter if you have won before. This month I am throwing in a little something special from a local producer, in addition to a wonderful book.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I rediscovered an old truth recently, something that had slipped my memory in the years when I was earning enough to afford a cleaning service twice a month. It came back to me in a flash just the other day - heavy cleaning requires music!
I only listen to music in the car these days, primarily because I would need an instruction manual in order to operate John's system down in the bat cave. However, just as I was trying to gird my loins and summon up enough energy to whip the house into shape for our holiday guests, I suddenly remembered that John had loaded a bunch of music onto my computer a while back. I clicked on the I-tunes logo, and was amazed at the selection. It was like having my own little diner-booth juke box!
I decided that some real hell-raising music would be called for on this occasion, if I was to keep my momentum up, so I selected Gretchen Wilson and Toby Keith. It may have taken me a bit longer than usual to complete my tasks, but it sure was a heck of a lot more fun. Why did it take longer? Because every time one of my favorites came on, I found myself two-stepping my way through the house with my mop or broom. Had a heck of a time hanging on to their belt loops!
P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment if you wish to be included in this month's drawing!
P.P.S. Many thanks to www.ssqq.com for the above image.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Did I tell you about the "turkey adventure" we are undertaking this year? If you have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (and I sincerely hope you have), you probably remember the chapter describing what it takes to raise those mega-breasted turkeys you see in the supermarket. I have been feeling rather guilty about those poor sex-deprived birds ever since. So, when I heard that there was a family in the area who raises turkeys naturally, I came straight home and called to place my order.
They slaughter them all on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which was yesterday, and we went to pick ours up at their meat locker late afternoon. It is on the small side, weighing in at just 10 lbs., and it sure isn't any big-breasted butterball, but boy, is it ever fresh! I'm just relieved that all signs of the slaughtering process had been cleared away before we arrived, and that the turkey carcass was relatively clean, though somewhat drippy.
I'm not sure if I was actually smelling blood on the drive home, or if it was my over-active imagination. The turkey was in a plastic bag, which had then been placed in a closed cooler, but I drive a mini, and the cooler was sitting right behind me. Plus it was cold and drizzly, so we had the windows shut and the heater on. All I know is, I was ever so glad to get out and breathe some fresh air when we finally made it home. John would never have let me hear the end of it, if that turkey had made me barf.
GIVE-AWAY NEWS: I've decided to throw in a couple of locally made goodies, in addition to your wonderful book, for this month's give-away. Just leave a comment telling me you are interested, by Nov. 30th. It doesn't matter if you have already won - you can still put your name in the hat. Also, I'm willing to let you comment up to once a day between now and the 30th, so the more times you visit, the better your odds of winning!