Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Different Version

Well, this is downright embarrassing... right now, most people who write something masquerading as a food blog (although I'm not completely convinced that's why you're here) are either in the kitchen hurriedly preparing delicious homemade accompaniments to the perfectly roasted turkey or are already at the table, surrounded by dear friends and family, just about to dig into said complements.

Yet... here I am - spending part of my Thanksgiving afternoon sitting at our computer still thinking (and talking, quite frankly) about our recent jaunt up to New York City. Admittedly this is actually a tradition in the loosest sense of the word - as for the past hour or so, I've had one eye on the annual Dog Show (that we always manage to watch in some shape or form) and the other... here with you.

It’s just that I’ve had Wicked on the brain ever since we saw the musical and I thought perhaps one way to transition from Wicked music all-the-time to Christmas music all-the-time (officially acceptable after today, right?), was to finally getting around to sharing this. After all, we all know that the best way to get rid of a song stuck in your head (as Wicked's Defying Gravity and For Good have been - not that I'm complaining), is to sing it loud and clear... er, right?

Regardless, I won't bore you with details except to say that I wish it weren't over... and that I'm fairly certain any Christmas music lulls will be filled with the sounds of Wicked - and I'm okay with that.

Now for that turkey...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Late Addition

I'm cutting it close, I know I am... and not only that, but I'm doing so in quite an unorthodox manner to boot. I'm not here with a fancy pumpkin pie recipe, variation on stuffing, or innovative way to roast your turkey. And you just might never have had a batch of these on your Thanksgiving table before... but that's all about to change.

Before we proceed, however, I have a bit of a confession. I've hid these from you - sure I hinted at them after the night Amber introduced us but I should have been more upfront... and the anger will only worsen once you've tasted Joy's super soft Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cookies and realize what you've been missing.

But wait! There was a method to my madness. I was waiting until you were so over planning for the obscenely large feast that we will all indulge in next week (are you hosting?) and craving the sight of something other than your usual Turkey Day fare (and the luckiest in the bunch might have even one last can of pumpkin in your pantry).

So sure... I might have waited a little too long, but I'm not worried... because even though only a few days stand between us and Thanksgiving, these cookies will slide right into your schedule, and I promise you won't even notice the difference... well, unless you count the fact that after your first taste of these light-as-air but deeply full of pumpkin-flavored cookies, your life will never be the same.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This is the Day

It was inevitable, I knew the day would arrive - and to be honest, the thought of it looming was starting to haunt me as I knew it just wasn't feasible that I might make it through a holiday season stress-free - so today was a good a day as any. There I was toodling along with my can-do holiday attitude, not a care in the world... and then the switch flipped, just like that! But oh... oh yes, I remember how yesterday felt so clearly!

Speaking of yesterday, let's go back there... both literally and literally. As for the former, yesterday was when I snapped these shots of the new addition to our Thanksgiving decorations.

Literally speaking, this pineapple with a fabric turkey head (that's a technical term, for those of you taking notes) harkens back to a time when I actually didn't know the stresses of the holidays... yes, I was 3-years old but who's counting. A turkey similar to the one here graced our family Thanksgivings every single year and my table has felt empty without one... until this season. The same season that, early-on, saw me carefree and even encouraged thinking "I can do this Christmas season" - and then in the span of a quick day, gobbled me up (chuckle chuckle) in the feeling of "Thanksgiving is next week... NEXT week? What will I bring to a pre-holiday dinner... what about a gift for our holiday hosts... what will I make for my work potluck this Friday? And Christmas cards... baking ahead of time? Or perhaps, this year, more like 'barely in time'".

Yup, it's begun all right.

Luckily, though, as much as the holidays can engulf me in a crazed, stressed whirl, being surrounded by family and friends during this season can just as quickly melt all of that away... even if but for a moment. And I plan on enjoying those moments (even if some of you already have dozens of cookies baked and stockpiled in your freezer... you know who you are).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gone... and Forgotten

I'll be the first to admit that a mere few weeks ago, I was in the middle of an unusually strong case of the "summer-entertaining-burn-out" blues. I've been 'there' before, though, and as such, am quite familiar with the antidote: the discovery of some exciting new recipes, with their ingredients perfectly matched to our local grocery stores' sales. The coming together of two things so fortuitous is guaranteed to wipe out my "over-entertained" doldrums.

But I couldn't start with just any new recipe... goodness knows (am I the only one who says that?) that at any given moment, there are a bajillion recipes out there calling my name.

I decided I was fresh for a revamp of how I think about (and serve, for that matter) appetizers when having friends over for dinner. So often I am stuck in the crackers and yummy cheese or baked dip world that I can't see easy, fresh alternatives. Leave it to (guess who!) my mom to right my ship.

My mom has (in my opinion) mastered the art of incorporating new and unusual recipes with her steady stream of trusty go-tos (even though they are goodies, don't you dare call them "oldies"!). I, on the other hand, go hog-wild in one direction or the other.

But this time, armed with this slightly sweet and secretly savory Pear Soup, I couldn't have gone wrong either way. This new friend and I got acquainted the night before our dinner party (make-ahead dishes = my best friend), and well, let's just say I almost had to make a second batch (good thing the pears were only $0.58/lb.). And then, when I thought it couldn't get any better, out popped the Blue Cheese Bruschetta accompaniment.

And in an instant, my "summer-entertaining-burn-out" blues were gone... and long-since forgotten.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Liberty Enlightening the World

As it turns out, holidays aren't just the days that we have off of work, or the ones that are celebrated with large amounts of food or the giving and receiving of presents (so I told myself as I got ready for work this morning knowing that well-over half of my counterparts around this Capitol city that I call home were still fast asleep - "at least I'll get a seat on the Metro" was my only consolation).

On my short trip into work, I had an attitude change... though admittedly, it's not hard for me to embrace a day that honors our servicemen and women, past and present. Once I put my selfish bitterness of wanting a day off behind me, I was able to see much clearer.

I thought about all of the freedoms I have thanks to the service of our brave men and women - those that I all too often take for granted. I'm recently back from a short trip to New York City where we climbed our way up into the crown of the beautiful Lady Liberty; there just isn't another place on Earth in my humble opinion that elicits the emotions that a few hundred steps up a small, winding staircase conjure up about this Country... our home.

I might never have had the same experience with our fair Lady that those who were greeted by her at the end of a very long journey in which they risked their lives to come to our great country had, but we all enjoy the same limitless opportunities and freedoms that she stands for. Those that our founding fathers dreamed into place and those that we as citizens have the responsibility to protect... which, throughout history, has meant that some of our loved ones must be sent into harm's way. It is for those people that we have this holiday.

Who knew so many thoughts could come about during an undisturbed metro ride; and, lest you think otherwise, my ramblings here aren't meant to induce a conversation about immigrant rights in the grand US of A or military involvement... it's just me here, folks.

Though you can't go very far where we live without a reminder of why today is a real holiday, for many, sadly enough, Veteran's Day is just another day... and for those lucky ones, 'just another day' that they don't have to go to work. That's not to say there aren't many companies and people who don't go out of their way to make today special - but somehow, I think most of us miss the real meaning of this important day.

Today during my lunch hour, I was fortunate to have a chance to get involved in an effort to support military families but understandably not everyone has something so convenient. Perhaps, then, just look around... a simple "thank you" to a veteran or active duty military, or the family of a serviceman or woman, works just as well.

Now... off my soapbox - am I the only one who didn't know that the Statue of Liberty's official title is "Liberty Enlightening the World" and that her right foot is raised symbolizing forward movement? Both little (known?) facts are quite fitting however... and even more so on a day that commemorates those who fight for our freedom at home and abroad, bringing that sense of liberty with them.

THANK YOU to all those who have served, are serving or are family of the military sacrificing here on the home-front. We are more grateful than you know.

**Important info regarding crown access (and seriously, you want to get to the crown): It re-opened to the public on July 4, 2009, but for only a limited time - so run, don't walk and reserve your tickets!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Doing My Part

Heading into this fall season, I detected a bit of unexpected trepidation. Sure, at the outset, everyone who could was proclaiming how excited they were for the changing colors and cooler weather (which are certainly a package deal along with their autumnal cousin). But lurking beneath the exuberance was word that there was a shortage of the worst kind... and could the timing have been any worse?!

Given the situation, it seemed like one could respond in one of two ways... 1) run out and buy up every can of the beloved Libby's before anyone else could, no matter the price or 2) search high and low for every fall-ish non-pumpkin recipe.

So what was my personal response? I opted for... actually both. Since trips to three different grocery stores left me empty-handed, I turned to option 2). My search turned up this amazing looking Praline-Apple Bread - and the result? Dare I whisper that we didn't miss the pumpkin one bit?

Now that's not to say that I won't be back with some pumpkin recipes in the near future (subsequent trips to re-stocked grocery stores served me well) - it is autumn, after all. But you can bet this apple bread is in the queue - just doing my part to keep from driving up the price of our precious pumpkin (or... just an excuse to eat more of this delicious bread).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

In the (Fire)house

In a certain house of a certain brother of mine... (fire) trucks reign supreme. Of course, every bit of this was expected - after all, if nothing else (but adorable, smart and inquisitive), my nephew is predictable... certainly when it comes to matters as important as building things and moving vehicles (of the large variety).

So as you might guess, Charlie's 4th birthday wasn't the first time he'd requested a visit to the local fire station. And (apparently) they were only too happy to oblige - phew! I suppose they knew the possible wrath headed their way were they to have responded otherwise

Would you believe that firemen and women are incredibly gracious hosts? I was taking notes! They provided helmets for each party attendee, a hosted video about their profession and life inside the fire station, the kids got to try on their suits, and the climax... the opportunity to climb all over each of the different vehicles. It was at that point that I thought our Charlie had died and gone to heaven.

However, the excitement of the morning, sirens and all, only lasted so long - after all, once he realized there were more presents left to open at home, firemen and their trucks were a mere delay.

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