Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Menus and Pie!

I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of this type of day for the next 2 weeks or so.  The food delivery came in.  A trip to the bloodwork lab was required.  And the normal stuff happened around me.

You saw the list yesterday.  It wasn't cheap.  And it took a long time to put away.  Fortunately, I'd been preparing for 2 days, and had the refrigerators nicely cleaned out and organized.  All is well; remain calm.

Now, on to the important stuff: menus!  Here's the next 10 days, excluding Thanksgiving. You'll note that next Friday and Saturday are identical.  That's right; the visitors will all get the same food.  Then I don't have to be smart enough to make 2 sets of plans.

The numbers in parenthesis behind each day are how many people I expect to feed.  Tonight has changed; it's up to 7, as is tomorrow night.

And here's Thanksgiving's tentative menu.  I have the feeling I've forgotten some Thanksgiving foods.  Fortunately, 2 of my daughters will be here this weekend, and can help me think.  I'm betting Ryan will have suggestions, too.

Not mentioned are all the secondary foods for the week: waffle batter, quick breads, hot dogs and sandwich materials for snacking throughout the days....

Oh, Karin, I'd use your beef stock to make some nice French Onion Soup, or maybe use a little to make the dip for French Dip sandwiches.  I'm actually thinking of making French Dip on Sunday the 30th instead of stew.

Last night, I decided to get a head start, and make up a dozen pieces of pie crust dough.  They keep in the freezer for a long time, and if I am going to make a mess of the food processor, I might as well make it worthwhile. 

Then, my dearly beloved was very unhappy about having to go for bloodwork, so I promised him a "practice" lemon meringue pie.  No egg yolks, just egg beaters, so it contained no cholesterol  He was a happy man, indeed.

And I was able to make him wait long enough for his pie that it had time to set up, and hold its shape after I cut it!  Hooray!

That's all for this installment of Marjie's Holiday Circus.  If I have time next week, I'll post.  Otherwise, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  And remember, no matter how harried you feel, you won't have about 22 people milling about your house, so it won't be as difficult as it might be!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Drive By Posting

I got my food order in today.  You can see from the different colored inks that it was revised several times, including while I was ordering.

And, yes, I was so scatter-brained that it took Eric reminding me that I'd already ordered parsley to get me to cross it off the list the second time.

Menus to be finalized tonight, and posted tomorrow.

Meanwhile, time to make pie crust - about a dozen, I think - and start the "dust and flush" routine.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday: Bread

Of course, I'm combing through my cookbooks this week for ideas for Thanksgiving Vacation Cooking.  Yes, that's all capitalized.  Yes, The Cooking is an Event.  Yes, I plan for weeks.  And, yes, I expect to wrap it up by tomorrow morning, so I can order food tomorrow afternoon, take delivery Friday, and let the Cooking Event Begin!

Somewhat over 20 years ago, I bought my first bread machine, when an employee suggested it to me.  It was bulkier than the ones sold today, but it gave me the confidence to learn to make yeast breads.  When faster machines that made bigger loaves came out, I bought one.  I think I've had that one for nearly 15 years now, but it went kaput a couple of weeks ago.  No matter; I'll use the dough hook on my stand mixer.

Anyway, after I'd had that very first bread machine, I found The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German.  It fell apart about a year ago.  Oh, let's be fair; it's been falling apart for years now, but having more than half the pages loose, and the back cover disconnected, made me need to find a solution: the 3-hole punch and mini binder!

 This book has recipes for white, wheat and specialty breads, along with recipes I found elsewhere and scrawled in here so I could find them again "some day",


sourdough breads, including instruction on making your own starter,

sweet breads,

and using the bread machine to make dough, to be formed into different things.

This book enabled me to figure out the formula for bread (1-1/2 cups liquid, 1 or 2 tbsp yeast, 4 cups flour, 1 tsp or more salt, plus sugar, fats, eggs or whatever for flavor and texture).  And nowadays, I really just use my bread machine as an enclosed mixer, so its lack really doesn't harm my bread making efforts.

Click on the "breads" category to the right to see some of my past creations from this (and other) cookbooks.  Now I have to decide what breads I'll be serving during the next 2 weeks!

I'm linking this up to Louise's Cookbook Wednesday; go check out some of her other contributors!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Garden Tuesday: The End of The Color

This was taken Friday around 7AM, before the sun had gotten high enough to illuminate the entire tree behind the house.  The tops of the trees looked to be ablaze against the dark sky!

Sadly, it's been raining the past 2 days.  Most all of the leaves are down now, but I'm not venturing outside to take pictures and return with cold, wet feet.  Sorry.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2014

James Beard's Mushroom Sauce

While reading my James Beard Menu Cookbook, I noted that in the back he's got general purpose recipes.  One of those was for a Mushroom Sauce.  My dearly beloved loves mushrooms, as do many others in my family.  (Longtime readers already know that I don't eat fungus, but I'll feed it to my hungry hordes.)  I decided to give it a try with the meatloaf I made on Thursday.

This is what the inimitable Mr. Beard wrote, back in 1965:

 I updated it a bit, to have less cholesterol - a real necessity in my household.  It was very well received, and I was urged to save the remainder to go with the leftover meatloaf.


(1) small can mushrooms
1/2 cup hot chicken or beef broth OR
      1/2 cup hot water plus 1/2 tsp chicken or beef base
2 tbsp soft butter, cut in small pieces
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp powdered milk
1/2 cup skim milk

Put about 1/2 cup mushrooms, butter, flour, chicken or beef base and milk powder in the food processor with the chopper blade.  Turn on, then add the water (or broth) and process for 1 minute.  Add the milk, process one minute more, then pour into a pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes over low heat, until it thickens.  If desired, add more mushrooms (because my can was bigger than Mr. Beard's suggested 3 ounces), and heat one minute more.

I've decided on ham for the "Meet the In-Laws" dinners, and I'll be serving much larger batches of this mushroom sauce with it.  The rest of the menu is still in flux, but I'm working on it!

Also, as introduced to me by Louise, this will be my entry to Joyce's Cook Your Books!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday: More Menus

Last week, we began the quest for a menu for a "Meet the In-Laws" dinners.  Today, we continue that quest while participating in Louise's Cookbook Wednesday!

Aside from Craig Claiborn's menu cookbook, I have one penned by one of the most revered American chefs ever: James Beard.

 This one was published in 1965.  It includes suggestions for adult beverages to go along with each meal, often cocktails and one or more wine selections.  This quirky thing endeared this cookbook to me especially, since it reminded me of my maternal grandmother.  That tiny little woman could pack away her drinks like nobody's business, and still walk steadily on 3" heels.

Anyway, on to the menus:



I don't want to eat a heavy meal between 3 and 4PM.  So the goal here is to reach a compromise and make our guests feel welcome, even as I make 15 other people eat much earlier than we like.

And, to prove the ultimate genius and versatility that is James Beard, he even has a menu for a gathering of teenagers.

OK, so all of his suggestions are rather stereotypical.  But there is a good reason for stereotypes, especially with teenaged boys!

So, I will keep you updated on my menu progress!  Meanwhile, Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day, once known as Armistice Day.  It's time to remember our soldiers and sailors, present and past; I'm sure many families, like mine, have veterans somewhere back in the line.  To those who are currently serving, thank you.

This book seemed appropriate for Veteran's Day.  I just bought it a few weeks back, and happened to pick it up to read last week.

by Jamie Ford
copyright 2009

It's 1986, and Henry Lee, whose wife of 30 years recently died, happened upon a crowd at the Panama Hotel in Seattle, where the long-forgotten belongings of Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II, have just been found.  The hotel's been boarded up all of these years, and a paper parasol being displayed causes Henry to recall events of forty years earlier.

In 1942, Henry, the 12 year old son of Chinese immigrants, is attending a private school in Seattle, as a scholarship student.  This causes the other kids in Chinatown to shun him, calling him a White Ghost.  The white students at school either ignore him or pick on and bully him.  His only friend is a black saxophone player, who plays on the street and sometimes in clubs for a living.  As part of Henry's scholarship package, he works in the cafeteria, helping Mrs. Beatty, a bruiser of a no-nonsense woman, to serve lunch, and cleaning up alone afterward.  Then, one day, a Japanese girl appears to help in the cafeteria.  This girl, Keiko, becomes Henry's only friend at school, despite the fact that he knows his father would vehemently disapprove.

Henry's parents speak only Chinese, and while they speak to him in Chinese, he is expected to answer them in English: "Use your American!" is his father's favorite phrase.  His father also makes him wear a button on his lapel which declares "I am Chinese," an ominous portent of things to come.  It is expected that Henry will go to school through 8th grade in America, and then "go home" to his father's village in China to finish his education - a place Henry's never been, for an education he doesn't want.  His father keeps track of Japan's defeats and victories in the war, because in his mind Japan is always the enemy; he fled China to escape Japan's bombings, after all.

Against this backdrop, Henry and Keiko become best friends; he meets her family and is treated kindly by her parents.  They walk home together each day, parting at the border between Nihonmachi - her neighborhood - and Chinatown.  They listen to Sheldon play his sax.  They behave like normal friends, even developing a pre-teen love attachment.

And then the internment order comes.  One day, Henry finds Keiko and her family being loaded on a train for a camp south of Seattle, and he's devastated.  Mrs. Beatty displays astonishing kindness to him, enabling Henry to find Keiko, and stay in contact with her through the war.

This book reminded me of Veteran's Day because of the lengthy descriptions of the rounding up of Japanese-American families, many of whom were second or third generation American born.  The attitudes of the soldiers working at the camps, the feelings Henry displayed, the eagerness of the Japanese-Americans to sign up for the US Army and prove their value to their country.  All of these things haunted me as much as Henry's loss, and the still-fresh hurt, 40 years later.  "His father had once said the the hardest choices aren't between what's right and what's wrong, but between what's right and what's best..."  And so had gone Henry's life.

So when he took his son, just graduating from college, to the Panama Hotel to see if Keiko's things were still there, his son, who wasn't particularly close or seemingly sympathetic to Henry, helped him to find what he sought - even though Henry didn't even know he was looking.

A moving story from beginning to end - and I cried through the last 30 pages or so. 5/5, enthusiastically.

So, Happy Veteran's Day, everyone, with an unusual salute to Veterans past and present.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Garden Tuesday on Monday

Early morning: the clouds were breaking at sunrise.

This afternoon: bright and sunny.  Some leaves on the ground, many more still on the trees.

Happy Tuesday, everyone, even though it's still Monday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday: Menus by Craig Claiborne

Louise has started a new thing: Cookbook Wednesday!  I decided to try participating, although I don't have exciting cookbooks like hers.  My first entry ties into a celebration we're planning hereabouts.

This is my New York Times Menu Cookbook by Craig Claiborne.  Jeffrey found it at a used book sale a long time ago, easily 10 to 15 years ago, and insisted that I buy it.

As you can see from this page, good old Craig list menus for every occasion, celebrations on this page.  Others include breakfasts, luncheons, holidays, parties, etc.

So what's so special about this page?  Who saw the movie Meet the Fokkers?  Yes, the Fokkers are coming to my house.  Shannon and her longtime boyfriend are officially engaged!  His parents and grandparents wanted to meet us, we are hosting first the mother's side, then the father's side, likely Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, for an early (3 to 4PM) dinner.  Now, to figure out what to cook!  Doesn't Craig's engagement party menu look good?  Of course, there's another menu cookbook in contention; you'll have to wait until next week to see it!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Colors and Voting

There are some colors in my yard, finally.  This is a great representative sampling.

And I voted.  I was voter #436 in my little town!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!