Monday, November 19, 2007

Holiday Musings

Karen's Magazine Perfect Holiday Turkey

Pet's Amazing Green Thumb at Work!
 

Pet

What happened? One day we’re suffering through 90-degree weather and all of a sudden the flowers are gone and we’re in full holiday mode. Me, I have my first decoration – My beautiful red amaryllis has bloomed, planted early this year. I love growing them around the holidays and then transplanting to the garden where they bloom again in May. Since the flowers might not last until even Thanksgiving, I planted another one, white and pink. The Christmas cactus usually blooms around Halloween. Didn’t this year. Does that mean it might actually bloom at Christmas, or will it skip this year?

Karen

I love both amaryllis and Christmas cactus but for some reason my gardening green thumb doesn’t transfer over to certain houseplants. I can nurse them along but they never bloom for me and don’t grow. So I’m jealous of you obvious talent. I’m still taking down Halloween, as it’s such a big deal at my house. Have three large containers worth. I actually have very minimal decorations for Thanksgiving. I put a nice copper leaf wreath up on the front door and on the dinning room table is a large turkey centerpiece that has been passed down one too many times and could definitely use a makeover.    

Pet

Tradition here is to start decorating the great outdoors on Thanksgiving Day. Up go the ladders, out come the lights and even on this country road, the competition starts. Who’s lit up the most! I like lights in November and December because here we have so little of the natural ones. I don’t go hog wild and climb the eaves putting up icicles and blow up Santa. Lights on the bushes, candles in the windows and wreath on the door satisfy my limited decorating skills. Maybe the neighbors are thankful Christmas is coming. Or getting in shape for black Friday super shopping the custom for the day after eat-a-lot day. Me? I’m still thankful for all those delicious leftovers. 

Karen 

Well, in basically season less LA it’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit with no clues from Mother Nature. We do get clues from every store we enter. : ) But somehow the spirit doesn’t strike till much closer to the big day. Of course you do have the one neighbor who wants to be first on the block to be festive. We always laugh at the guy down the street who starts putting up his Christmas lights while he’s taking down his ghosts and skeletons. One thing I find a pleasant surprise for people season deprived like me is the occasional tree whose shock of fall color stands out amongst the palm trees like it’s almost florescent. And I’m thankful to the previous owners of my home who were also East coast transplants. They planted two maple trees and three liquid ambers so I have my own little piece of fall leaf heaven. I think of my fellow transplants whenever I’m greeted by a lone stand of fall color. We share that moment of nostalgia from our childhood. One thing I’m not nostalgic for is the conflict at the dinner table that happens when a certain Aunt has a bit too much of her favorite rose. This reminds me she’s headed this way in just five days!

Pet

We have a story we tell every year around Turkey Day. Many years ago, when Grandpa Louie was alive and kicking, after Mom laid out the feast, he stood up and announced, “No scrambled sauce.”  He’d been a long time resident in Brooklyn, NY, but still spoke with an Italian accent. No one understood what he meant. We tried to get him to explain but the best he could come up with was “The red stuff.” Since he couldn’t translate the missing dish into his native tongue, we decided whatever was something unique to the U.S. So we got him a bottle of ketchup. Making a face, he pushed it away. “Scrambled sauce,” he demanded. We went ahead with the meal, ignoring grandpa until half way through little old sixth grade me got a brainstorm. “Cranberry sauce. We forgot the cranberry sauce.” After we rushed the red stuff from the fridge, the old guy smiled broadly and dug in. And to this day you know what we call that jelled delicacy.

Karen

Cute story Pet. I have a classic turkey story. One of my cousins had just married and was so excited to show off her new cooking skills she volunteered to do Thanksgiving that year. Well, I have to say the family had their reservations but we didn’t want to deflate her honeymoon hangover so we went along with the idea. When we got to their cute little house the place smelled fantastic. She had really gone all out with the decorations. Little ceramic turkeys lined the center of the table highlighting her pride and joy the real turkey. Its skin was the most beautiful golden brown. We couldn’t wait to dig in. As we passed the yams and the stuffing around the table, my Grandfather started to cut into the bird. Just as he was about to place the first piece of turkey on the platter my brother started laughing. The turkey was still raw inside. Not only that but my Grandfather noticed something sticking out of the cavity and pulled it out and it was the bag with all the innards. My brother was now on the floor. My cousin, holding back tears, ran for the front door with her husband following right behind her. After that day, my poor cousin gave up cooking for good. 

Pet 

Cuz shouldn’t have become discouraged so easily. I had many a disaster before I became the master chef that I am today such as the mocha icing for a lovely angel food cake. The recipe called for three tablespoons of coffee. I merrily measured out that amount of instant coffee granules, never realizing until the taste test (alas, on the party table) that they meant brewed coffee not the instant stuff. Whew, was that ever bitter. Aren’t you glad we can get asparagus year round now? Our favorite meal is leg of lamb, roast potatoes and asparagus. I know, sounds more like Easter than Thanksgiving or Christmas, but outstanding any time. Here’s how I do asparagus: snip off ends and wash asparagus. Keep whole even though you might have to steam in a frying pan as I do. After the spears are crisp/tender, drain water and season with lemon pepper. Put one-tablespoon butter, two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and one clove of minced garlic in custard cup and zap in microwave for 45 seconds. Add dash of lemon juice and pour over asparagus. Leftovers from this original recipe work in salads.

Karen

That’s funny as I had the same problem the first time I made mocha frosting. My excuse is I’m not a coffee drinker so I had no idea what a difference it would make. Asparagus and I have had a very rocky relationship until I turned about 30. Then all of a sudden the flavor I once hated, suddenly became one I enjoyed. Maybe my mature taste buds had something to do with it. : ) One of my favorite things to make for Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce. I love the way the berries pop when you heat them up. I just follow the directions on the bag of fresh cranberries except I add two big tablespoons of real maple syrup. Gives the sauce a nice taste and mellows out the tang from the berries. I’d rather stand before a firing squad than eat cranberry sauce out of a can!

Pet

If you ever tasted Dean’s slow cooker pork roast with cranberry sauce, you’d know why they make that stuff. Goes to show you there’s a reason for everything. Like out of this world pork roast. Bet that dish would be even better with real maple syrup added. The delicious food we indulge in around the holiday is only symbolic of the spirit of giving abounding this time of year. And I don’t mean putting on shin guards and helmet and joining the throng on Black Friday or other frantic shopping days. Scratch cranberry sauce represents the season better. Then again, I often talk to food, and the groaning table talks to me. Holidays past come rushing back to me from tastes and aromas of delicious dinners consumed with agreeable companions. Off to breakfast now at a new restaurant in a nearby town that serves the best eggs benedict. Would you believe $4.75 with hash browns? Do you think I need professional help for my love affair with food?        

Karen

Most people do. : ) That’s why people gain an average of five to ten pounds during the holidays. After all, when you have nothing but parties and dinners for two months all revolving around food, how can you not want to indulge. For me, a confirmed chocoholic, next to Valentines days this time of year can’t be beat. I think I put on five pounds from my increased chocolate consumption alone. : ) And don’t get me started on all the amazing desserts this time of year. With all this talk of food, I’m going to grab the hubby and head off to our favorite breakfast spot where the chocolate chip pancakes are to die for.  

Pet

No wonder we put on weight. We even go hog-wild at breakfast. Most folks either skip that meal or go with a bowl of bran and a banana. I could go nuts heralding my favorite breakfast meals. MMMM, how about a pasta omelet. Enough about food. Let’s return to the spirit of the season and wish everyone on the World Wide Web a fantastic holiday season. May the sights, sounds, and of course, tastes, be the best ever! Happy Holidays from the Transplants, Karen and Pet.

 

  

3 comments:

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Man, look at you guys...all holiday'ing along in style! Me? I'm still planning for some major Black Friday shopping and then I'll think about holiday decor or cooking =)

BTW, TAG! I have tagged you for a meme over on my blog: http://donasarkar.blogspot.com/

Have a great day!
Dona

ShawnaMoore said...

Mmmmm. Dean's slow-cooker pork roast with cranberry sauce sounds delicious, Pet! You're making me hungry, and I'm trying to be good and make amends for all the Thanksgiving splurges ;) Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, ladies!

Shawna Moore

Fran said...

Isn't it funny how most of our traditons center around food. I wonder how you can live in America and NOT be fat! But at least we're all happy.