thanksgivings of yore


When daylight saving gives us an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday night, and the days suddenly grow so short that I wonder why it’s 9:30 p.m., look at the clock, and realize it’s still 5 p.m., I know it’s time for the holidays. I’m not one to want Christmas to come right after Halloween, and I enjoy the time it takes to move from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s. But Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be, for some reason.

When I was young, my family went to my aunt Kathleen & uncle George’s house for the day, along with their kids, my aunt Colette, and uncle Squire. My mom was “famous,” I guess you could say, for her pumpkin pie, and this is the dish we would bring to the Thanksgiving spread. Although I loved the food and the people at the time, looking back, it was really the night before Thanksgiving that was especially endearing.

For the four pies that would ultimately come from the oven, my mom would start prepping right after supper, pulling out cans of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. She mixed the ingredients in the large stainless steel pot we owned, the only thing big enough to hold all the ingredients. There was a real science to the spices, taste-testing for the right combination after each dash here, teaspoon there. Some years we had pies that tasted heavily of cloves; other years, nutmeg sparkled on our tongues.

After the filling was perfected, it was time for the crust, which was the best part for us kids, and the worst part for my mom. My siblings and I would gather around as we watched her crumble flour, salt, and Crisco between her fingers, then add water until the dough stuck together. We helped get the pie plates ready, which I never remember her buying and that she still uses, by swirling Crisco on the bottom and sides with a napkin, making circular patterns until we were told to stop.

Meanwhile, my uncle Squire always came to our house the night before Thanksgiving to make his contribution to the dinner: cranberry-orange sauce. Because he was a bachelor and didn’t have much of a need for kitchen gadgets, he didn’t own a blender, a necessary accouterment for making cranberry-orange sauce. My dad, of course, was in the kitchen as well, inputting commentary when necessary and generally making fun of my mom and uncle. So there we were in the kitchen, my mom, dad, Squire, and one, two, three, or four kids.

Our countertops were old and not the best for large-area food preparation, so my mom used a piece of laminate, which was a remnant of countertop cut for a sink (something I realized much later in life). After my dad pulled it from its cubbyhole and placed it on the kitchen, my mom prepared for the most difficult part of piemaking: rolling the dough. After cursing her dough and yelling at us to watch out while she flipped the crust from the surface to the plate, my mom let us have the leftover pieces to mash together and play with. After begging to cook our mini-pie creations, mom made us toss our dough in the trash.

But the best was yet to come: It was time to slip the pies into the oven. Baking four pies took time – two batches of prep and hour-long baking for four pies – and of course, small children had to go to sleep to prepare for the next day’s festivities. We were tucked into bed while the pies baked, the smell wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom where we would be lulled to sleep by the scent of pumpkin and spices. It was the best night’s sleep of the year.

word wednesday: luddite

i’m pretty open to new technology. i tend to be an early adopter of some things (see: internet dating, expensive tvs, facebook). other things, i refuse to touch. like ebooks. it’s just not the same! you can call me a luddite when it comes to kindles and other ereaders. luddites are people who are opposed to new technology.

so where does luddite come from?

back in teh early 1800s, the economy in england was pretty horrible, and technology was threatening textile workers’ standard labour practices. the workers had spent a lot of times learning the craft, and were afraid the machines would replace them. so the workers, led by one ned ludd, rioted and broke the machines that would automate textile work. 

the rebellion actually lasted for five years – mill owners were shooting protesters! eventually the military came in to put down the movement. 

this is short because i’ve been cooking all day and i’m off to the wishbone run tomorrow morning, so i’ve got to get myself to sleep. zzzz.



review tuesday: a change of plans

i was going to review john green’s new book, “turtles all the way down,” but it’s been a couple weeks since i finished it, and i have a much more pressing thing to review for you: THANKSGIVING FOOD.

first, just know this isn’t my first rodeo (i think you know that). second, know that i really ENJOY doing this. i’m not sure why. but i just do. 

tomorrow i start the work. i’ll do a lot of prep cooking tomorrow because there’s no timeline, and i can just do it willy nilly. which means i end of doing a lot more cooking tomorrow than on thanksgiving itself. 

day before

i’ll brine the turkey. i use the pioneer woman’s brine and i get organic cage-free turkeys (not fresh – they’ve been frozen). 

i’ll make a couple pies. this year, it’s pecan and pumpkin cheesecake. (!)

the DRESSING. this is everyone’s favorite and it’s always the first thing we run out of. i think i’ll make a double batch this year and see how it goes. 

cranberry-orange sauce. we do the cold version. i tried the hot version last year, and people weren’t as impressed. it’s like we need something cold and tangy to go with everything warm and homey. 

i’ll cook the squash and get it in a bowl. the day of, we’ll throw in some butter and brown sugar and stick it in the microwave.

sweet potato casserole. this is something that we never had growing up, and one year i decided to try it out. SO DELICIOUS. so we’ve been making it ever since. it’s easy to warm up, so we’ll make it the day before.

apricot coronne, a technical challenge from the great british baking show, will be breakfast. i’ll make it the night before.

day of

for a snack/lunch, i’m making a squash galette with bacon. it’s so yummy! and filling, so it should be enough for everyone if we have some cheese and other snacky stuff with it.

then we’ll pop in the rolls – i just use bread dough from the freezer section and make pull-apart rolls. 

spatchcocking the bird. if you do it this way, it takes a little over an hour to roast, which is a-ok with me. 

throw on the potatoes. 

put in all the things that need to warm up – dressing, sweet potatoes, squash

this year we’re trying a parmesan cilantro corn dish instead of green beans. we’ll see how it goes!

then time to cook the brussels sprouts – just fry them up in some bacon. 

bird comes out and time to make GRAVY. 



then it’s time for DIE HARD.

someday sunday: GREECE

since two of my etymology posts were greek related, you may have ascertained that i am interested in greece and greek mythology. i even took a greek language class in college (ó dikaeopolis!)


i want to go see all the ruins, learn about the history, catch up on all my mythology. and who wouldn’t want to go see this?


so my favorite youtube yoga teacher, lesley fightmaster, hosts a yoga retreat in greece every year. i would LOVE to go to that. there’s a yoga shala D:


some day! 


happy caturday!


poor ralf has some respiratory problems. he has asthma to being with, and i was reading that stress can axacerbate asthma. well, he’s been having these issues since stan arrived, and stan’s awfully stressful. he might also have a cold on top of that, so his wheezing sounds pretty horrible. he seems to be ok the rest of the time, but he doens’t sound great. i think i’ll give it another week and see if he gets a little better. stan gets fixed on wednesday, so maybe he’ll calm down a little it.

foodie friday: a christmas cookie catastrophe

i’ve written about my nose issues. they haven’t really resolved themselves. i’ve taken a round of antibiotics for sinus problems that i got from my dentist, and since then, i feel like my sniffer comes back for a nanosecond, then it’s gone. perhaps the future bodes well in the olfactory department. 

until then, there are a lot food-centric holidays approaching, and my taste buds are crying. i should be relatively ok through thanksgiving, as savory foods seem to be ok for the most part. i’m not worried about the turkey, slightly worried about the dressing, but mashed potatoes and squash should be ok. pumpkin pie will be…ok…sort of. at least it’s not chocolate, which seems to be the worst of the worst, along with vanilla cake. 

but christmas? that has me worried.


i looove making christmas cookies. and EATING them. they are delicious! 


and why would i go through all the work of making cookies if they taste like a compost heap? disgusting. and i’m not making loads of cookies just to give them all away and not be able to eat any. what’s the point?


i’m especially worried about crack balls (photo above). these little guys are delicious. i might give them a try and coat them in something other than chocolate – i don’t know if almond bark would work; i’d have to give it a good ol’ sniff to see how it makes me feel.

so, i think i’m going to try some of my faves that i think might be ok: eggnog snickerdoodles and ginger molasses cookies. i know i can’t make the peanut butter blossom cookies. they’ll be gross. perhaps some spritzes might be ok. i’ll just have to make a half batch at a time and see how it goes. 

this nose blows.

ps: i deliberately did not post yesterday’s post to twitter. if you want to read it, feel free to click through to the homepage and check it out. i didn’t need it to be “discovered.”

deviating from the script

today is supposed to be throwback thursday, but due to some recent news, you get a politiblog.

first, i am furious at al franken. second, i am furious that suddenly NOW, finally, people are listening to victims (like, why did it take this long). and third i am furious at myself because i’m struggling with al’s work in the senate being a priority to his actions prior. 

furious at al

in case you haven’t heard, today al franken (mn senator and political superstar for various reasons, which will be touched on below) was accused of sexual misconduct by leeann tweeden. she and al were on a USO tour in 2006 and were rehearsing when he suggested they rehearse a kiss. she said ok despite reservations, and it made her uncomfortable. there is also a photo where he is grabbing at her chest (but not touching) and smiling at the camera. 

i expect some dumb stuff from my jr. senator because of his SNL days. i think it’s to expected that when you have a background that includes a raunchy comedy show in the 80s, there’s going to be some weird stuff and drugs you did. 

but to abuse the consent of a woman to this extent is pretty awful. (YES, i feel like trying to pick up 15-yr-olds in a mall is more awful, but that’s another politiblog). so, i am furious that he did this. 

furious at … now

why has it taken so long in the history of people for men to finally be held accountable for their actions like we have seen in the past couple months? victims of assault and harassment are finally being believed and the perpetrators shunned. there’ve been MILLENNIA of this kind of abuse, and it’s just now that we’re seeing some resemblance of accountability. 

while this is happening on a very visible, celebrity stage, it makes me wonder what will happen at a local, personal level. will victims of domestic abuse see what can happen if they speak up and demand repercussions? will women stop staying with men who call them names and emotionally degrade them? will MEN stop the violence? (ultimately, it’s up to the abusers to stop abuse.)

i’m lucky in that i haven’t been in any sort of abusive relationship, but i’d like to think that if abuse would happen, i would be the sort of person to step away from that, no excuses or second chances. any sort of touching or groping that’s happened to me has been a) invited or b) consent by previous grope. so in my early 20s, this happened quite a bit, both from males and females, because it turned into a running joke. i didn’t see myself as assaulted; it was a joke i was in on AND perpetuated. others from the outside may view this as harassment, but i do not. if i were in my 20s now? i probably would not let this happen. (i know i wouldn’t let it happen as a 38-r-old!)

furious at myself

what i’ve been grappling with are my feelings surrounding all this. i voted for al. i’ve been a huge cheerleader of his in the senate. he champions net neutrality. i’ve watched him grilling people and getting answers. i’ve been proud to call him my senator. (seriously – the only thing i’ve disagreed with him on is his superdelegate vote for hillary, not bernie.)

and when i saw the news today, my gut just dropped. then clenched. i was disgusted by it and irritated and mad. and then i sit here and weigh what he did in 2006 against all the work he’s done in the senate. i feel like he’s a true asset to the senate from what i’ve read, sharp-witted, and dedicated to paul wellstone’s legacy. and i cannot discount that i feel like the work he’s done is bigger than the assault he committed, which is a HORRIBLE thing to think.

my mind keeps skipping back and forth: as a woman i know it’s important to believe victims and hold offenders accountable; as a minnesotan who voted for him, i think he’s done a fantastic job in the senate. are there other minnesotans out there who would do just as great a job? absolutely. but i still cannot discount the work he’s done. 

so i’m mad at myself for not immediately calling for his resignation. i’m very glad he fully supports the ethics committee hearing. i will be very interested to see what that will find. 

and as the next few days progress, i think my anger will diffuse, and the only thing left will be disappointment in al, all for the sake of a few yuks and his wanting to kiss a model*.

*so after i finished my post, i looked up to see what leeann tweeden is known for. she’s currently a radio anchor/personality, but in the past she’s modeled for the covers of playboy, maxim, and FHM. while this does not discount her allegations or excuse al’s behavior, my perspective of her has changed 180º because of her involvement in the “women as objects” industry. 

word wednesday: sycophant

today’s word of the day probably needs a definition for some people as well.

sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

aka, a brown-noser. 

we have another greek background word today (like clew’s greek myth background).

it comes from the greek word sykophantes, which is a false accuser or slanderer, but is literally translated as someone who shows the fig.

showing a fig was probably akin to doing the ol’ 👉👌 emoji combination (or in real-life combination, as i remember witnessing for the first time on the dance floor at first street station on 18+ night in 1998. someone was trying to get lucky.) (yes, liz, that emoji combination is inappropriate. 🙄 ) showing a fig was sticking your thumb between two fingers (think “got your nose”), which resembles a fig. a fig in those days was symbolic of the female nether regions (for help, sykon also meant vulva).

of course the politicians of the day were too good for such gestures (if only DT held himself to such standards) but lustily urged their followers to taunt their opponents with them (well, that’s something DT would obviously do). so in modern day french and greek, it means just slanderer, but in english it means an insincere flatterer. this shift happened over time, mostly because it’s portrayed as a kind of parasite, speaking untrue things or accusing for the gain of the approval of another. 



review tuesday: netflix

i was planning on reviewing stranger things today, but i felt like i should’ve watched season 1 again on top of season 2 to really review it, and i haven’t done that. i’ll say this about stranger things: steve kind of redeemed himself at the end of season one when he came in swinging with his nail-laden bat, but he REALLY nailed it this season. i think i’m a little in love with season 2 steve.

but i want to review netflix in general. i’ve been using netflix since 2003 when i got my subscription for dvds in the mail. oooh, it was fun getting my dvd in the mail! that red envelope in the mailbox was quite the excitement. this was, of course, back when i had the attention span to watch a movie in one sitting. 

when netflix announced that it was going to launch streaming, i hopped right on board. i always do like jumping on the new technology bandwagon. then when the plugin came for my ps3, that was even better. now i could watch it on my tv!

then when netflix came out with its own tv series (shame, kevin spacey, but HoC was fun at the beginning).

and while netflix has slowly been decreasing its library of offerings, and if you really want to watch a new release or somethign specific, you have to rent it from amazon or vudu, netflix is a great time waster. there are tons of documentaries, and generally if you’re looking for something to watch while you’re wondering what to do with life, they’ve got it.

occasionally there’s a new release, and sometimes you find what you’re looking for. and there is always the great time waster: spending hours just browsing netflix. 

right now i’m watching the latest season of great british baking show that just came available. 

i think about watching tv like i used to – watching an episode and having to wait a week for the next episode to come out. and then there were the reruns in the middle of the season before the second half of the season’s new episodes came out. ahhh! although that has its merits as well: there is something to the anticipation of waiting for your show to come on.

but, the instant gratification child in me is happy that i can binge watch everything.

so, with that, i’ve got to get back to watching GBBS.