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Second Thanksgiving

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Amy is taking an iPhone shot of my next bird. It’s a bit more browned. Better oven and more experience. Hey, you get better with practice. My soup sure did get better. (see previous post) And we made another breast (wings included) because there were 23 people scheduled to show. Note: about a pound a person – we did not need the extra breast. Other note: when all is said and done, it is the trimmings that make the meal.

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So the dishes that surrounded the meal and that were contributed by the guests really made it all great. I learned a new tradition – sauerkraut over mashed potatoes. (Hint: I could have done without ever knowing that.) I did stuffing on the outside – too heavy to transport a stuffed bird to a second location. It worked. I’m a crockpot (stuffing) fan now – not a crackpot. More family showed up and a good time was had by all. Dinner was scheduled for 6PM. We arrived at 6:08 and were the last ones in the joint. Do you think everyone was hungry? More family, more friends, more stuffing, success again!


Disaster Strikes – But I saw it coming…

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No, this is not the second Thanksgiving. Wait patiently; it’s coming in a few days time. This is the annual chestnut cake. I’ve not made it myself. So I had to improvise. The food mill was a cheap piece and barely was serviceable. Caveat: get a good tool if it is important to your project. Yeah, yeah. Hey, it’s a nice looking cake! And I got someone else to do the whipped cream. Yes, I’ve whipped it into butter once upon a time. But that is not the disaster. For a change but not extraordinarily, I don’t have an actual picture. Nice cake huh?

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It starts with the making. We prepared the soup near midnight the evening before. The next day was a full day’s ride to Elkins, WV. The soup was secure in the rear of the SUV in a pot with the lid taped shut. Insufficient for the task I might interject. You can see the disaster happening in slow motion already? In the dark, as I opened the hatch and moved the cooler, the pot beneath was precariously leaning on the edge and went on over. About two cups remained in the partially overturned pot. The rest was on my shoe, the bumper, and the driveway. (Note: see spot.) Salvage was not an option. Folks would have noticed road dirt not pepper in their soup. Off to the market on Thanksgiving eve. Yeah, it was a beat market. No, butternut squash, and then hours of cooking that I did not count on was a heartbreaking prospect. Acorn squash to substitute, until… light bulb – pumpkin! Yes, pumpkin puree for pie; it works. Substitution! And with the right seasoning….the soup was a success! Really, and not out of sympathy; I made it again, same formula and it was a smashing success two days later. And I will appreciate it if you don’t tell Jules about my improv soup recipe caper.

 


I Don’t Drink Coffee

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Never have! Don’t. Nada. No. Nope. It’s not coffee. It’s an eggnog latte. I don’t do latte either! Well, there are exceptions. This is exceptionally good stuff. First you need a good latte machine. Who knew? I’m stuck at Mr. Coffee. But you do things right and with good coffee and good ingredients…. A friend Margaret Whalen introduced me to Kona coffee decades ago. It’s from Hawaii – Kona and expensive as all get out. But that is the start. And then, what’s not to like about eggnog? It tastes good therefore it’s bad for you. Forgo the barrista designs. I’m in it for the taste and mouth feel. Ah! A new sin to repent.

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Sadly the machine suddenly quit. I’m contrite and swear to repent, now! The machine went to the coffee repair man with the hope it will recover and produce latte again soon. Meanwhile there is sadness on the counter. An empty space waits to be filled again.


Artichokes Have Flowers

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There is nothing picturesque about an artichoke in the market. You can barely make one out behind this flower. So you can imagine (maybe not) my amazement to see this flower and find out it was an artichoke blossom. Ok, if you’ve never seen an artichoke, just smile. I find that most people are unfamiliar with the vegetable and how to eat much less prepare it. There really isn’t too much to do. It’s what you season with that counts. Garlic or garlic and lots of bread crumbs, either way it’s gonna taste good. And no, I will not tell you exactly how to eat it. Look on the ‘net. Meanwhile this is an artichoke flower. Neat! I learned something too.


Pot Pie

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We were up in San Luis Opisbo. It was dinner, fast, before heading to the drive-in movie. IMG_6922Pot pie – it’s comfort food. I was in the mood. It worked well. Nothing fancy, it was still memorable. IMG_6920Add – fried artichokes – it was a California dinner after all. I’m surprised how many people don’t know artichokes. So, you can’t see the food. The artichoke is batter fried. About anything fried and battered is good. And the pie crust covers the pot. Yes, but you didn’t taste either. I assure you that this was good.


Chocolate Maya World

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Santa Barbara. It’s a beautiful city. California coast. Wealthy. Lovely downtown. Lots of shops. There was a full blown protest march in progress on the sidewalk. Live and let live. The protesters mingled peacefully with the shoppers. We were on for a short stroll before heading up the coast. Down near the beach we passed a little mall. I noticed this store. I see Godiva and walk by. But somehow this store had the right appeal.

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I’m also a sucker for toffee lately. Don’t read the recipe. It’s full of sugar and butter. It’s definitely bad for you. But moderation… I keep saying moderation. And then I eat another BLT. Well dark chocolate is my other sin. And the combination was too much temptation. We bought and ate some on the spot and then got a bag to go.

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We worried that bag and hoarded it all the way to the end of the trip. No sharing. It was our secret. Good to the last melted piece. It was a car trip. Sure, it was gonna melt.


It’s Not Bad

IMG_0464Jules did not make the cake because no one remembered her birthday. She made this in an inspired Martha Stewart moment. Six sticks of butter later – Voila! Looks good and I got to taste it too!

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Yes, Susie Homemaker. Too funny. Good cake. She had a stand mixer. Wow. Me? Pillsbury, Betty Crocker all the way…


Dim Sum

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How old are you? …and never been to a dim sum place. Well at least my daughter has gone but I did not know she liked it. She’s been in LA for a couple years and this is her second visit. I know because we did the first the day before. I never thought of it. Duh? Slap in the head! And for Jeff, it’s his first visit. We made a side trip to the bakery. Shhhhh… the Chinese can’t bake. Nice spontaneous image. Happy.

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And then dim sum. Here’s how it works. You stake out a table close to an aisle. And then you snag anyone who comes by with a cart/trolley. They are loaded with items and you choose dishes by sight and description. In this case it was sight because we don’t speak Chinese. Sorry. And then you load up and feast. Yes it is what is called ‘grazing’ and it’s grand. All sorts of good stuff. Oh! The price for this is a steal! Really. You really get a bang for your buck!


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This is a typical poor snapshot photograph of the family. The exposure is hardly worthy. But there is a sentimental value in its remembrance. We are gathered for dim sum at a restaurnat in Flushing. Periodically I would organize an outing. It seems we had food in common though my kids did not like the fare. My in laws, my brothers, my aunt and the assorted kids would all come. My aunt would come early to stake out a table – no reservations. We would eat ourselves silly. The restaurant is long gone. And we no longer gather in this grouping. Times change. Nostalgia is a funny thing. The photo is more valuable for the stories that have changed with the years.


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