Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving


Ginormous Rib Roasts and Smashed Senatorial Cakes: Favorite Food Memories

This month’s Real Simple has an article from my favorite food blogger from the Washington Post, Kim O’Donnel.  She writes about “10 things cooking has taught me about life” and tells the stories that taught her these life lessons.  I wish I could link to it, but it’s in the hard copy of the magazine only.  Highly recommend checking it out (and it’s a great issue all around — lots of good holiday tips).  This got me thinking about my favorite food-and-cooking related memories.  I don’t have any pithy anecdotes to convey life lessons, but it is fun to think back to good times with food.  These are some of my favorite memories in no particular order, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list:

  • My grandmother Mama Grande buying a rib roast so huge she had to saw it in half to fit it in the oven.  The next time we visited her, did she buy a smaller rib roast?  No, she had installed a humongous industrial size oven.  The look on her face in this photo is priceless.  She prevailed over that rib roast, but it was close.


  • My grandmother Murr’s chicken fried steak.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a piece of steak pounded flat, breaded and fried kind of like fried chicken.  I have lots of fond memories of holidays at her house when she would make this for us with white gravy, slices of white bread and green beans.  What a meal.  I think I need to recreate that at some point in the near future.
  • My mom making homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage links on Christmas morning, always eaten well after we reveled in what Santa brought us for a couple of hours.
  • My dad making chile con queso before having people over at the house.  This is part of the getting-ready ritual, just like cleaning the house.  Only my dad can make this chile con queso with that certain something that makes it addictive.  I can see that old yellow crock pot sitting on the counter with a big bag of tostadas — about half the batch would be devoured by our family before the guests arrived.
  • This Thanksgiving, cooking with my mother-in-law to get food ready to take to the family gathering. I love holiday mornings when everyone is just lounging around relaxing. We did our cooking, a lot of food actually, but it was a really relaxed morning and just fun hanging out time.

So, here’s to fun food memories over the holidays.  I know we will make many more.

PS — Just remembered another funny one, more of a mishap.  When I was a young Senate staffer, my office sent me to pick up the Senator’s birthday cake from the fancy bakery that had iced his grinning mug on the front of the cake.  Well, the box slid off my passenger seat and half the cake and the Senior Senator’s face were smashed in by the time I got it to the office.  WHOOPS.  Talk about mortification.  We used some toothpicks and plastic spoons to perform reconstructive surgery before the guest of honor arrived.  Somehow I survived that one and managed to stay there another seven years.  Good thing the power-that-be had a sense of humor.


Thanks and Giving

Thanksgiving is a good time to think about people who can’t be with their families and friends on this holiday because of the sacrifices they’re making or have already made to serve our country in the military.  Don’t forget to say thanks to those who’ve served.  Here are a few links to good organizations if you’re interested in donating. 

National Veterans Legal Services Program — This organization is run by my father-in-law, so I’m partial.  They have a great program called Lawyers Serving Warriors to provide free legal representation in disability, discharge and veterans benefits cases to service members and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Also, all of the following organizations get four stars, the highest rating, from Charity Navigator:

Fisher House Foundation

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

Army Emergency Relief

Operation Homefront

National Military Family Association

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

Air Force Enlisted Village

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Special Operations Warrior Foundation


What to take to Thanksgiving Dinner?


I’m going to make a couple things to take to my husband’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration.  My job is a side-dish and a dessert.  I picked two things already posted on this blog:  Roasted Root Vegetables and Alayne’s Pumpkin Bars.  Why these recipes?  They’re both easy to scale for a crowd, fairly simple to prepare, tried-and-true recipes (so no ugly surprises the day of the party) and I think both dishes have pretty broad appeal.  Also, I think these items will travel fairly easily in covered dishes. We’ll see how it goes!



Put on Your Thanksgiving Game Face

Raise Your Game: Thanksgiving Edition from the Washington Post provides great tips about how to take typical Thanksgiving foods to the next level. Below are some examples from the article — good practical ideas, I think. Check out the full article for details on how to:

1. Make your mashed potatoes fluffier by keeping the potatoes dry before mashing.

2. Make the taste and color of your cranberry sauce richer by using brown sugar instead of white.

3. Use flavor enhancers such as wine, shallots, garlic, liquor and chile peppers to make your gravy more interesting.

4. Use a streusel topping for sweet potatoes instead of the infamous sticky-sweet marshmallows.


Week-long Recipe Hiatus

Well, we’re off to visit family and friends for the next week, so I won’t be posting any new recipes for a little while.  However, I will be putting up some posts about getting ready for Thanksgiving, setting the table, making the right amount of food for holiday parties, strange vegetables, anti-snob wine appreciation methods and a few other topics.  So, happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!

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