Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Bloopers

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving story? I'd love to hear about it in a comment. Here are two of my own favorites, now that we are planning for Turkey Day this week. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Turkey Blooper #1
Supposedly, one year Grandma made an especially beautiful roasted turkey, so she decided to carve it at the dinner table. As she carried it out to the dining room with everyone assembled in anticipation, it slid off the platter and bounced on the floor.

There was a simultaneous "Gasp!" as everyone thought the dinner was ruined.

But Grandma very calmly said, "Don't worry, I'll just go get the SECOND turkey."

So now the question is, was there really another turkey, which is actually quite possible? Or more likely, did she just put the turkey back onto another platter and dust it off a bit?

And was everyone looking forward to the turkey so much that it didn't really matter either way?

Turkey Blooper #2

The mother of a friend of mine got a fancy new stove right before Thanksgiving one year. She was all excited about using the Delayed Start cycle to automatically start the turkey cooking early in the morning. So she prepared the turkey the night before, put it into the oven & set the timer.

Several hours later, the smoke alarm went off and everyone grabbed a coat & ran outside. The kitchen was filled with smoke, but they didn't see any flames, so someone very carefully went back inside to assess the problem.

It turns out, she had set the stove to Self-Clean instead of Delayed Start. Even though they discovered what caused the smoke, the oven was now so hot, they couldn't open the door or stop the Self-Clean cycle. By the time they figured out how to trip the circuit breaker on the electric panel, the turkey was burned to a cinder.

Needless to say, with all the smoke and the burnt smell, they took the rest of the food to someone else's home for dinner.

Oh, yeah. They stopped to pick up a few pizzas on the way, but there was no turkey for them that year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FREE eBook - Keepsake for Kids

I had the pleasure recently to work on a simple keepsake booklet with my two friends, Nate, 9, and Colin, 6. They talked about their Thanksgiving dinners and playing with their cousin.

Even better, they drew charming pictures of their family members, houses, cars and lots of other things that interest young boys.

There are lots of keepsake books designed for grownups, but not many that children can actually enjoy. My goal is to make it fun for kids to start writing their own memories. By starting with a favorite holiday, such as Thanksgiving, they can preserve their own stories and some from their circle of friends and family.

Please see my website for a free downloadable eBook to use for the Thanksgiving holiday. I would love to get your feedback on how well it worked for you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gingersnap Cookie Disaster

Homemade cookies were always a favorite snack in our home. In addition to snacks after school, they were a welcome treat in our sack lunches. Whenever friends or family stopped by, Mom would start a pot of coffee (or two) and bring out tins of various cookies. By far the most popular were her chocolate chip cookies in a huge batch that had been doubled and then redoubled to a size appropriate to our family.

There was only one time that a batch of cookies was not completely devoured. As it happened I was the one (unfortunately) who made them. I was making gingersnaps, which are made with molasses, formed into a ball and then rolled into sugar before they are baked.

The delicious aroma of the baking cookies spread throughout the house and brought several eager young taste testers on the run. It wasn’t until the warm freshly baked cookies were sampled that we realized something was terribly wrong with them.

Apparently, my Mother had been cleaning out the kitchen cupboard that day. In order to wash the salt shaker, she had poured the remaining salt into a bowl. While she was out of the room, I spied the bowl of salt on the countertop and assumed she had left it for my cookies. I promptly set about rolling the cookies toward their doom.

As I said, that was the only cookie failure I can recall that someone would not eat, sooner or later. Even the dog wouldn't eat them.

1 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Butter or Margarine
½ Cup Shortening
1 Egg
¼ Cup Molasses
2 Cups Flour
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon each Salt, Ginger & Allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream Shortening, Sugar and Molasses.
Add Egg and mix.
Add sifted dry ingredients all at once and mix well.
Roll into 1" balls, then roll in Sugar (not salt, ha ha)
Place on cookie sheet and Bake about 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE: These cookies keep well in a sealed container.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Memories of Apple Picking

Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons with the start of the new school year, foliage beginning to change and the onset of cooler days and nights. One of our memorable pastimes was to pick apples in a local orchard.

We brought our own containers - a variety of boxes, bushel baskets and tubs. For consistency in measuring how much we picked, the orchard provided their own bushel baskets to use during the picking process, then the apples were gently transferred to our own. It was lucky for us that they could not measure how many apples we managed to eat while picking.

There was an especially bountiful harvest one autumn when my son Jason was six years old. He and I had recently moved back to my hometown after living in the "City", that is, anywhere north of Interstate 80, as far as my Dad was concerned. It was a beautiful cool, crisp day with the sun shining as we drove to the orchard with Mom & Dad.

The trees were just covered with a terrific selection of big juicy apples that year: Jonathans, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious and McIntosh. Naturally, we had to grab the biggest shiniest ones to taste test before we could begin picking.

As we moved from tree to tree, Jason delighted in running ahead to survey the next target and cry, "Wow, look at all the big ones on THIS tree!" It was so easy to get caught up in the moment of fun & discovery that the four of us ended up picking seven full bushels of apples.

That was a huge amount of apples for us or for anyone. Fortunately, I had an old spare refrigerator in my garage, so we were able to pack it full with the apples that didn't fit into our main refrigerators. With all that food stockpiled, we stuffed ourselves (as well as family, friends and neighbors) with all manner of scrumptious apple delicacies.

The delicious aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg filled our house almost every day. We had apple pie, apple crisp, apple cake, apple coffeecake and apple pudding. And still we had more apples.

We had fried apples, caramel apples, taffy apples, apple butter, apple salads, apple muffins and apple dumplings. And still we had more apples.

Jason took brightly polished red and yellow apples to school for his birthday treat, and for his teacher, too. For Christmas, we even hung shiny red apples by ribbons onto our tree. And still we had more apples.

We had enough apples to last us all through that Fall and Winter and into Spring. By the time we had finally finished eating all those apples, I realized two things: 1) an apple a day really does keep the doctor away because we didn’t get sick all winter long, and 2) I never EVER got tired of apples!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grandkids and Falling Leaves

I love the colors of Fall. Last week before the rains started, I selected a nice sampling of leaves from pale gold to bright yellow, soft pink to bright red and variegated hues to a deep burgundy. I carefully pressed them flat for a few days, then divided them between two envelopes for my grandkids some 800 miles away.

I enclosed a short personal note for each of them and sent the leaves on their way. I was really tickled a few days later when my son called so the kids could sing me Happy Birthday and chat about the leaves they had just gotten.

I reminded my son about how we used to lay a leaf upside-down onto a piece of paper, cover it with another piece and then rub crayons over the leaf to trace the raised veins for a simple little art masterpiece. He had forgotten about doing that, but he was glad to have a new rainy-day activity for young kids.

I miss seeing my grandkids as often as I'd like, but I enjoy sending them little surprises that we can talk about on our calls. Now that truly makes my day!