Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Breakdown

I took on the responsibility of cooking Thanksgiving dinner last year. Our family is not large by all means, so I'm typically only cooking for a few people. This year, however, our adopted sibling Caren shared our Thanksgiving lunch (I don't remember ever eating actual Thanksgiving "dinner" ever in our family) with her son Trey, so I had a lot more responsibility with six people.

I'll just lend this advice: if you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner or lunch or breakfast or dessert, don't count on anyone helping you after you have volunteered. People may bring something, but are not thankful enough for what you're doing to actually wake their lazy ass out of bed before 8 AM to help prepare food.

OK--I'll take that back. After cleaning ice off of my car at 7:30, lugging 3 loads of "stuff" to the car (and I forgot more than several things and had to go back) I arrived at Grandma's house around 8:30 and she was up with a bushy tail, ready to help. Grandma loves to be around people and remains involved in anything to be involved in.

Mom also helped later with drinks and celery (which I bought, but had to use for the pimento dip) and helped prep for the turkey balls.

Here's a brief description of my day:

6:30 AM: "Oh my god, it's early. Why did I stay up late last night? I'm so tired. Erik will be up soon to wake me and I'm already up."

7:00 AM: "Wow, this coffee is strong."

7:30 AM: "Erik is usually up by now. I guess I'll pack up and clean off the car by myself."

8:15 AM: Mom sends me a text advising me that I should have the turkey in the oven by now.

8:16 AM: I advise mom that I paid for the food and no one has showed up to help so I'll get the cussing turkey in whenever the cuss I feel like it. I actually said "cussing" and "cuss."

8:30 AM: "HI, ERIK! I notice that, while you're usually up at 6:45 every morning including weekends, this particular morning you have decided to sleep IN!"

8:31 AM: (Erik turns back around and gets back in bed)

8:45 AM: (The turkey, thawed, spatters blood all over the table and floor. I find two rolls of paper towels to clean it up.) Grandma asks me what she can do to help and peels potatoes. Then she is happy to go watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and gives me play-by-plays from the living room.

9:15 AM: The turkey finally makes it in the oven after one trip back to get garlic that thankfully, even though it was from Walmart, was not molded.

10:15 AM: Mom shows up with soda and celery and starts chopping stuff.

10:30 AM: I call Erik, who has at this point actually gotten out of bed, to ask him to please bring the butter and chicken broth along with the pies and other sundries.

10:45 AM: I call Erik again to ask him if he has left yet. I also text Caren to tell her since she has not shown up to help as she assured me she would, she had very well better bring some cussing money. I did not say "cuss."

10:46 AM: Mom asks me if Erik is a melancholy personality and reminds me that since I confirmed he is, I had better not call him again lest he wait an additional hour on purpose out of passive aggressive spite. Mom knows about this because she's famous for the same behavior.

11:15 AM: Mom has gone outside to rake leaves. I have gone to get my rifle to wait at the kitchen table for Erik as we cannot make another dish until he arrives.

11:30 AM: The neighbors have called 911 as they have heard gunshots next door and witnessed a very pale red-head running down the sidewalk.

11:35 AM: Caren shows up with various sides including couscous and Gouda because she's a dirty hippy. She has also brought some fabulous turkey breast.

12:00 PM: Trey has found Mom's leaf pile.

12:15 PM: The turkey is still not ready. It is away from being ready by five degrees and I can't resist opening the oven door every ten seconds.

12:30 PM: I lie to everyone and tell them the turkey is at the appropriate temperature.

1:00 PM: We all gather around the table to pour gravy over vittles and as I'm eating Great Grandma Tinsley's macaroni and cheese and turkey balls with my own version of gravy made with wine, and I remember why I took on the responsibility in the first place...

...because the gravy only requires 1 cup of wine and Caren arrived far too late to share it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Prep--Running Out of Thyme

I decided that this year I would be very adult and prepare for Thanksgiving ahead of time. So, instead of discovering that only the extremely expensive organic butter is left on the shelves at Walmart two days before  Thanksgiving (and forget about evaporated milk, nuts, or anything else that you need for stuffing or sides) I shopped at least a week in advance and made lists.

The gravy is honestly my favorite item on the menu. It's only logical:

1. My gravy contains wine.

2. Gravy can be poured upon every other dish.

3. You can reheat it, adding more wine, and pretend it's soup as you eat it straight from the pot.

After a trip to the grocery store, I made a mental note that local turkeys could only be obtained if you made orders way in advance. However, I had presence of mind enough to visit one of my favorite wineries--Leo Grande in Good, VA--to buy their Chardonnay '06 which is rich with oakey flavors. It's perfect for cooking and, being a fan of dry whites, fantastic as an aperitif.

We love the proprietors. We talk about Woman's Day recipes and catch up on what we've been doing. If there is a better combination than pleasant people and beautiful scenery, I would like to know.

Our Rosemary turkey from last year was lovely and amazing, but Erik doesn't like rosemary so we were very happy to try the thyme recipes from this years Woman's Day. Included in November's edition was a bird recipe that enabled us to use all of our thyme for, not only the turkey, but also the biscuits and gravy.

I would like to bask in this moment of saying that I personally adore rosemary.

So, groceries--check. Wine for gravy--check.

Then I had the bright idea of making the biscuits the night before.

The only issue with this is that, this recipe is lacking. It needs buttermilk or some form of additional moisture. They are very dry. I had to sprinkle water on them on the big day.

But the butter was nice. I would like to experiment with both recipes. I am thinking less flour, more moisture, and butter molds.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pimento Pleasure

I would like to begin this entry by stating that it was destiny for me to name a baby that wasn't my own. It was only a matter of time before a brilliant and perceptive individual would realize my talent for creating and producing idealistic and creative nomenclature before someone took the bait.

That said, there are two conversations I distinctly remember from engaging in discussions with my peers at work: one was about baby names and one involved pimento.

The former occurred a little over a year ago when Amber, Sarah, and I were discussing "what if" scenarios in which we named our babies. I mentioned that, if I gave birth to twin sons, perhaps a both marvelous and miraculous set of names would be Derringer and Dillinger, a nod to the natural and God-given Southern pleasure in owning and brandishing firearms whenever the right or will fancies us.

How would I realize, without my afore mentioned prowess and affinity for naming invisible children, that a year later my coworker would permanently borrow my suggestion in giving birth to her son, Derringer Lee? She is a wise woman, wise indeed, for acknowledging that when this above-average child enters Kindergarten and any otherwise ordinary facility beyond, he would not bear the burden of having his name called only to turn his head alongside three other people who also bear hisa name?

Sarahs know the magnitude of this commonplace label. Wise Sarahs know it and resolve to provide their child with exemptions of such afflictions.

Here is a picture of said child for demonstration of two things: this is not a lie fabricated by yours truly in order to underscore prior assertion and I do hold babies--at least once in their lifetime.

Now onto blog titles.

Pimento for me initiated a question of simple truth: what IS a pimento exactly? Like so many things in life, I took pimento and pimento's name at face value and experience. Pimento conjured images of old people eating sandwiches--very orange sandwiches with a descriptive of cheese, but not the government cheese block I had grown so accustomed to eating. I had never questioned the pimento. However, in the boredom and monotony that is my job, I was forced in one of many food conversations to present the question--what the hell IS a pimento.

Research, my dear friend. It was only to my joy to discover that pimento is actually a pepper of a large, red, heart-shaped variety.

Please enjoy my shameless transition into a warm and fuzzy story that ties in both the food substance, friendship, and love.

November's edition of Woman's Day presented a lovely opportunity to prepare a recipe for warm pimento dip. Littered among the many holiday recipes, I considered that this dip would be a perfect presentation for our team meeting today. It's fairly simple and delicious:


  • 1 package(s) (8-ounce) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup(s) low-fat sour cream 
  • 2 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 jar(s) (6 1/2-ounce) pimientos or roasted red peppers, finely chopped
  • 6 ounce(s) sharp orange Cheddar
  • 6 ounce(s) Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Potato chips, for serving 
  • Pita chips, for serving
  • Celery sticks, for serving

  • directions

    1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the pimientos, Cheddar, Jack cheese, and scallions.
    2. Transfer the mixture to a shallow 2-cup baking dish and bake until bubbling and light golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve with chips and celery, if desired.

    I use real lemon juice. The leftover juice is kept in the refrigerator. I bought Stacy's Pita Chips and celery (which is not a worthless vegetable as I have heard in the past--it is high in lutolin, a nutrient high in antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties) to accompany my creation.  

    However, I forgot the serving dish I purchased at The Dollar Store for $2.00. I really need to invest in

    So today, I had to leave early for a doctor appointment. I wasn't able to attend the team meeting. Bummer. I'd have to take this delicious concoction home with me.

    During lunch, my friend Amber mentioned she had seen my appetizer on Facebook. She asked what it was and if she could taste it. I told her it was pimento dip. She made a face. I told her that when I thought of pimento, I thought of elderly people eating white bread with orange filler. She said she identified with that but she would be willing to try the dip anyway since I had mentioned how delicious it smelled and tasted.

    Upon sampling the dip, she advised me that it would be a tremendous shame if the people on my team didn't have the opportunity to taste it. I shared with her that I didn't know anyone on my team very well and didn't feel comfortable asking any of them to take the time to heat the dip and make the presentation of veggies and pita chips. She said that she would be more than happy to take time off the clock to do it for me if that was all right with me. She then took the time to take a picture with her phone and proudly text me her presentation.

    I started this blog with the desire to make and share food and experiences and to document the undertaking for others.

    These are the moments that cause me to consider the frequency of my blogs. We so often notice the slights and disappointments in life--how often do we stop to recognize and endorse the kindness and selflessness of others? Do we pause to consider how we've touched a life or invested ourselves in others?

    I didn't get to share this recipe at the team meeting in person but in this blog I share life experiences that I cherish in my heart.

    How fitting for a blog about pimentos?