Traditions

Every Culture, Every Holiday, Every Family has traditions.

It is those traditions and memories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy about the holidays .  But , I’m gong to encourage you to create a new tradition for your family. 

One of the things I started last year, is my Christmas Puzzle.  I bring it out the day after Thanksgiving and set it up on my coffee table.  I work on it a little everyday, or when I’m sitting watching TV.   The goal was to see if I could finish it by Christmas.  It helps past the time and counts down to the holidays.  This is a good past time, if you have Children.  It uses their mind and gets them from in front of the TV or video game.  It also helps past the days that they are anxiously waiting for Christmas.

Last year I finished my puzzel at least 2 weeks before Christmas.  So this year I bought another one.  I’m starting it today, and I guess I will be trying to finish them both before Christmas.  It’s a nice thing to share with any company you have, over the holiday – Because anyone can join in.

Share any Christmas Traditions you and your family celebrate.  It’s all about sharing good feelings and time with those you love. 

Day 1 of Puzzle – Check back for Progress

28 Days til Christmas

36 Days til 2012

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Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Black Friday

Black Friday – The day after Thanksgiving where American retailers have turned what could have been a civilized and relaxing day into a crazed frenzy.  Just my opinion!   I do realize there are some people who live to stand in line, camp outside a closed store door in the cold, leave the Thanksgiving feast early to take a nap so that they can get up at the “crack of dawn” or earlier, midnite, to fight for the 3 extremely low priced items that stores have used to bait you out of  your warm home, and into their stores.  Ooooookkkkk,  I’m venting a little, partly because I work in retail, and though I’m sitting here writing now.  In a few hours, I will be serving the public to 9:00 p.m. tonite.

So enough on that.  If you are home and need something else to do.  Let stay in our festive mood.  Thanksgiving is over – 1 down 2 holidays to go.  Christmas is just a month away.  Let’s be a little more domestic.  Today is good for cleaning the house. You don’t have to cook, you have all those Thanksgiving leftovers.  Then bring out the Christmas decoration.  If not the tree the little stuff, like  . . . My Christmas coffee mug.  My Christmas Dish towels.  My Christmas Glasses.  The little things that help make the holidays special.

Another task I like to do on Black Friday is address my Christmas Cards.  Yes, Christmas Cards!  I am old school like that.  I don’t mail anything the rest of the year.  I don’t even know what a postage stamp cost today.  But I will be sending out Christmas Cards.  For me there is nothing like going to the mailbox in December, and getting a envelop that doesn’t have a clear window with your name in it.

Christmas Traditions – there are many things to do that help you count down and get ready for the holidays.  This time should be fun and festive.  Embrace it enjoy it.  Baking, Decoration your tree, Holiday Movies, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah gifts,  or Zwanza Celebrations.  Wow there is so much we will have to talk about in the next 30 days.  Lots of Post ideas.

Finally – I know this is a

Happy Hour @ 1102 Day

I don’t have a prepared cocktail for today.  I would suggest a good bottle of wine though.  But the next 5 Fridays there are some awesome holiday cocktails, that I’ve found.  So take a break and if you must go out,  head to the liquor store to stock up for your liquor cabinet.  Vodka, Rum, Brandy, Bailey’s – this list goes on.  All that cleaning and decorating – I’m going to need a cocktail. 

Classic Mojito

Enjoy your holiday weekend – Back to serious holiday blogging tomorrow! 

 

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Well, it  was just the beginning of the month and we were starting this countdown to the holidays. As always we sit here and say “What happened to the time?”  Well, if you’ve been following along, today should be easy. 

Now, I’m single and live alone, so all this cooking and prep has been only for me.  There no big gathering, no family or friends coming over to share this meal.   So this is how I spend my day, and I get to share it with you.  

I start my Thanksgiving Dinner early in the day.  I eat it in stages, I graze all day long.  This keeps the festivites going and I have something to look forward to every hour.  Today, I’m going to take you with me.  I will be updating the post every few hours with the next course or so.  I’m posting a little later because I slept in.  I was also up to 3:00 a.m. baking pies.  But I get ahead of myself.  So pictures in a hour of two.

First Look - Still in the Oven

9:00 a.m.  I woke up and smelled my turkey.  I figured I better check since I had slept late.  I opened the oven and the picture shows what I saw.  It smelled good, and was done.  I pop it back in for about 10 more minutes with the top off to brown a little more and did a quick baste with my buttery pan drippings.  When I took it out I was going to try and lift it with my turkey prongs, and the wings just fell off.  Wonderful, no need to mess with perfection.  I set it on the stove to rest, and since the wings were just falling off the bone anyway I figured I’d give it a taste.  Oooooh,  Turkey doesn’t need wings anyway, so I ate the other one.  I guess that was breakfast.

Then it was time for coffee.  I brewed a pot.  Logged on to FB, (had to cook in my Cafe World kitchen as well ), and then had a 2 hour Skype conversation with my BFF.  We discussed cooking, this Thanksgiving and I watched her cook.

Since we had a two hour conversation, and that fact that she lives on the east coast, at some point she suggested that it was time for a cocktail.  (Heck, it’s always 5:00 o’clock somewhere)  So we decided to share a glass of the Wine that we made when she was here in Phoenix this summer.  EXTRAVAGANZA.   (To find out more about how we made this wine check out these two links.  One from my travel blog:  All Roads Lead to . . .  and my Daughters Blog:   Travel Jonez. )

Next will be my first course, which will be a soup.  Be sure to check back to see which one I decided to make.

4:00 p.m.  I had my Soup .  I made the Buttermilk Squash Soup, and it was absolutely delicious.  I will post the receipe next week, it is definitely a keeper, and I get my first point on my soup quest.  It was light and a good flavor and the cumin butter made the dish.

Corn Pudding

After this course I watched a Thanksgiving Movie “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving”.  It was a cute movie and a good way to spend the afternoon.  I then put my corn pudding in the oven, along with my extra dressing .  It came out just fine.  It was piping hot and I wanted to dig in – but I was still full from the soup.

Front Oven - Back from Turkey

After my Movie I figured it was time to carve up that Turkey.  I did that nibbling all the way.  I took the stuffing out of the turkey put it in the bowl that in the back of the picture.  As you can see it’s too small so I nibble off of that as well.  So when I should have been eating dinner, I was just full from nibbling.  I made my gravy which turned out perfectly – no lumps at all.

Perfect Gravy

About 7:00 p.m. I made my tiny plate.  Now I’m stuffed, but still

wanting my dessert.  Either way I’m posting the dessert pictures, and I will have it later with some coffee. 

Pecan Pie & Sweet Potato Pie

Either way I would say Thanksgiving 2011 was a success and I have many things to be thanksful for.

Enjoy the slide show of all the pictures below.  One holiday down 2 to go.

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Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Turkey

 

I’m always amazed to hear people talk about  their difficulty in cooking a turkey.  It’s just like chicken only bigger : )  Well slight exaggeration there.  I also find it interesting how many people say “Aaah, I just get sick of it” – Well, hell, I eat chicken at least 3 day out of the week !   I enjoy Turkey for that week or 2 that it is around for Thanksgiving.

So back to our bird.  It is the poster child for the American Thanksgiving Dinner.  Believe it or not, its easy to cook.  Here is my surefire way to cook your turkey –  no fuss method – and guranteed for you to wake up to a house smelling like Thanksgiving.

Preparation:

Frozen turkey in Pan to Thaw in Refrigerator 2-days

1.   Make sure your turkey is thawed out. 

   o  Wash him

   o  Be sure to take the packets out of the neck cavity.  (I cooked my first turkey with them inside.  lol) and sprinkle salt in the large inner cavity.

2.  Oil Him Up – you can use oil or butter.  It’s the holidays so I use butter.

   o  To add some flavor and that Thanksgiving aroma.  Mix Thyme and sage into your softened butter.

   0  Then rub the butter all over your Turkey.  Give him a good massage.  Be sure to get the back and the creases around the wings and

Put in Fridge for Slow Thaw

legs.  (This will ensure that nice golden brown coloring as well as add flavor.)  Put your turkey in his roasting pan, and put him in the frig.

3.  The last thing you do before you go to bed Wednesday night bout 11:oo or 12:00 . . . .  Put your turkey in the oven, turn the heat to about 250 degrees and GO TO BED!

When you wake up you will smell that wonderful turkey/thanksgiving smell coming from the kitchen.  Get up peek at your bird, make some coffee.  If  you’re an early riser and he’s not brown enough, leave him in a little longer.

Take him out the oven.  Just sit it aside and let it rest.  If you’re only cooking for you this is the best time to steal that piece of crispy skin.  If you’re preparing a dinner for guest.    Before dinner show him off and then carve and put meat on a platter for serving.  

Your oven is free for the rest of the day for all the other dishes you are making.

 If you are presenting your bird whole and want to take it out of the oven and straight to the table.  You can always put it in Thanksgiving day and do the old so many minutes per pound method.  But the slow cook method in that low 200 oven, never burns, never dries out and presents a done and tasty bird.

 

 

 

 

1 Day til Thanksgiving

32 Days til Christmas

40 Days til 2012

Published in: on November 23, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Cooking Prep – Slice & Dice

If you don’t want to spend all of Thanksgiving Day in the Kitchen, you better do some cooking prep.  If you watch cooking shows, they have all their ingredients laid out just waiting for them to dump in a receipe as needed.  Well, I don’t have a Sous Chef at my house, so I just have a slice & dice day.

Now this weekend I did finished off the rest of my Thanksgiving Shopping.  I went to the store with Menu and grocery list in hand.  I made some of my final menu decisions right in the grocery store, based on price and quality of ingredients.  I came home put it all away, and figured I’d done enough for the day.

 

So now it’s time to prep, to make my life easier and accomplish a little everyday after work for the next 3 days.  (Yeah, I started a couple days ago).

I chopped onions.  So many of the receipes I’m using call for onions, and I have 6 large ones, yellow and white to chop.  It’s a dirty job, but one I’ll be glad I’ve done when it is actually time to cook.   I need onions for my second course soup, for my stuffing as well as my vegetables.  Once chopped they can be put in containers (1 cup gladware for me), and easily dumped into my receipes when I’m cooking.

Yesterday after getting off work at 9:00 p.m., I made the corn bread for my stuffing.  I got to turn on the oven, instead of my heat – and I had one more thing prepared and in the fridge for my Cooking day. 

This evening,  I will roast my sweet potatoes, and make up the filling for my Sweet Potatoe Pies.  I will also mix together my corn pudding, and stuffing.  All this with some music in the background and a Dark & Stormy on the counter.

Dark & Stormy

Wednesday evening with 1 day left to cook.  I will bake my Sweet Potatoe and Pecan Pies.  Prep my green vegtables, and put my Mac & Cheese together.  Cocktail time – IT IS A HOLIDAY.  Now it’s time for a holiday movie, to wind down.      Yaawwwwnnn – I’m falling asleep one more thing to day . . .

 . . . to find out what it is.  Read tomorrows blog.  You won’t want to miss the STAR of this show!

2 Days til Thanksgiving

33 Days til Christmas

41 Days to New Years

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Fitness

We’ve spent all month talking about the feast that we are going to have in 3 days.  So I have to take this time to give some advice that will make you feel better, and spare some guilt. 

If we are going to pig-out and cheat during this holiday season, you have to at least continue some kind of workout routine. 

Now I have no intention of giving up the  potatoes, or vegtables smothered in cheese, definitely not the egg nog, the cookies, or the cakes.   I will have too many cocktails, too much food, and tooooo  many calories.  But I don’t want to have January first roll around and find out that the 15 pounds I’ve lost this year have come back home. 

So a simple trick – 30 minutes of exercise a day.  Period!.    I know it’s work, I don’t want to do it either.  It’s hibernation season.  Mother Nature is working against us.  It’s cold outside – It’s dark in the morning, it’s dark in the evening, and all you want to do is sit on the couch and eat comfort food.  Our body doesn’t let go of the calories so easily now, it is storing up for the long winter.  So we have got to fight against that, and burn at least some of the extra calories that we will  pack on in the 39 days we have between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Now if you are already going to the gym, and have kept up your workout routine, fine you can skip this.  But if you are like me, and the season changing has put you on stall, nows the time to step it up.  If you don’t go to the gym, burn calories wherever you can.  While shopping park at the far end of the lot.  Take a stroll around a level of the mall.  Do some window shopping, burn some calories and maybe get some ideas for the people on your Christmas Gift List.

Take a Walk.  While at work, use one of your breaks or lunch to walk.  Replace a cigarette break with a lap around the parking lot.  Take a sandwich or energy bar for lunch and walk instead of sitting and eating lunch.  I know I said 30 min every day,  But if you can get in a 30 minute workout 3 times a week, you will probably get through the holidays, maintaining your current weight, or just a couple pounds up.

Wait til the New Year to lose weight, now is not the time!  Just maintain, have fun and enjoy the holidays.  We’ve got New Years resolutions to add those new weight loss goals on.

3 days til Thanksgiving

34 days til Christmas

42 days til New Years

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Second Course – SOUP

I encouraged you all to try a new dish for Thanksgiving.  Well my new dish is going to be a Soup.  I love soups especially in the fall.  They warm me up, are hearty and fill me up and are usually low in calories.  But other than broth soups, I really don’t have much luck with them.  So, I’m going to look for a soup for one of my Thanksgiving courses, one that I like and can perfect.  So let the search begin.

I started on the internet of course.  Looking for something that had a fall theme and that I thought  would work well with my Thanksgiving menu.

Buttermilk Squash Soup

This Buttermilk Squash Soup caught my eye.  Now they always have the squash soup receipes around Thanksgiving, and truthfully I

haven’t found one I’m really crazy about, but once again I’m drawn to this one.  Probably because it has one of my favorite spices in it Cumin.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

This next receipe features another of my favorites, Ginger.  I love the sweet smell, and the spicy bite it can add to your receipes.  It also has curry which I love, and a tofu like crouton that is used as a garnish.

When at restaurants, French Onion Soup  is always a favorite.  I always say I’m going to try to learn how to make it at home.  Though it only seems to be made of a great broth with onions in it.  It always looks like a complicated thing to make to me.  Just fear I guess.  Well I did find this receipe for an English Onion Soup that used many different types of onions.  I will probably not try it for Thanksgiving, but I am saving it, because it is one of those soups I am determine to learn how to make.

English Onion Soup with Sage & Cheddar

 If I’m going  to be good at making a great soup, I can’t leave out another old favorite.  Broccoli Cheddar Soup. 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

So, you’ll have to wait and see which one ends up on my Thanksgiving menu.  Plus after Thanksgiving, I will have the makings of a great stock, in my turkey carcas.  So, I will have plenty of time to try out all of the receipes.  So I guess, today is my day to start my cooking prep.

Countdown Continues

4 Days til Thanksgiving

Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (2)  

Happy Hour @ 1102 – Vanilla Dark & Stormy

Now you didn’t think I was going to let that Ginger Beer go to waste.  But I’m probably finishing it off this week.  From here on out nothing but holiday flavors at Happy Hour.  But til then – enjoy this cocktail.

Directions

Combine 2 cups dark rum with 3 cups ginger beer (not ginger ale), the juice of 4 limes and a tiny splash of vanilla extract in a pitcher. Serve on the rocks with lime wedges.

Published in: on November 18, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Holiday Movie Premier

 I’m excited – Tomorrow I take in my first holiday movie of the season.  The long awaited premier of Breaking Dawn starts.

Now I realize that if you are not a “Twilight” fan, this will all seem silly.  But I got hooked on this saga – not for the movies – but because of the books. 

Stephenie Meyer wrote these 4 books and this wonderfully detailed story of vampires, werewolves (shape shifters), and a high school girl and her family.  An wove it into an amazing love triangle that captured my heart and imagination like no series of books has done since Emma Harte.

The series also depicts extradinary love, between friends and family.  It speaks to getting over your differences, even if they are century old conflicts, understanding your enemies, and working together for a common goal – In this story the love of another person.

In addition to all of the supernatural characteristics of the non human species, this is a story that was a  page turner in all four 600 plus page books.  An even then, as I read I couldn’t wait to get to the next one and was sad when the story ended in Breaking Dawn.

The movie is my opportunity to see if hollywood captures on the screen, what my minds eye imagined. 

In preparation for what I plan to be my holiday movie kickoff day, I rented Eclipse,  the previous Twilight Saga movie, and watched it 2 weekends ago. 

Then last week I re-read the 754 pages of Breaking Dawn to refresh my memory.  It was just as captivation the second time around.  I sat up late nights reading til 2:00 a.m. (when I knew I had to work in the morning), because I just couldn’t put it down.  I cried like a baby, at all the sad parts like I didn’t know how it was going to end.

The only difference, I didn’t have the sadness when I finished because the story was over, and I wasn’t going to be in Edward, Bella and Jacobs lives tomorrow because . . . .

Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. I’m going to re-live the drama on the Big Screen !   I CAN’T WAIT ! ! ! !

 

Published in: on November 17, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Countdown

 

Walt Mason
For hearts that are kindly, with virtue and peace, and not seeking blindly a hoard to increase; for those who are grieving o’er life’s sordid plan; for souls still believing in heaven and man; for homes that are lowly with love at the board; for things that are holy, I thank thee, O Lord!

11 Days to Thanksgiving

In all our preparation for the holidays – Lets not forget to show hospitality to our family, Socialize with our friends, and by all means when you read the quote, find something to be thankful for!

Published in: on November 13, 2011 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment