Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't worry, you're not tagged...

Joy from Joy of Desserts tagged me for this Thanksgiving Meme.

There are only two easy rules:
1. Post these rules when you participate in this meme.
2. Link to the people you tag as well as the person who tagged you.

Here we go...

1. Which do you like better: hosting Thanksgiving at your home, or going elsewhere?

Hosting myself. Though if I had an opportunity to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I love the cooking, the smells, the guys watching football...

2. Do you buy a fresh or frozen turkey? Organic? Free-range?

Eh, I get whatever's on sale. Though in the future, I will avoid Wal-Mart's meat like bubonic plague.

3. Do you make stuffing or dressing? What kind?

Well, dressing is one thing Steve's pretty clear on: he likes Stovetop. However, due to some recent dietary changes, Stovetop Stuffing is not an option. I'm making dressing myself this year for the First Time Ever. I'm excited!

4. Sweet potato pie or Pumpkin pie?

Sweet potato. Maybe with a touch of whipped cream (AKA "calf slobber" or "lickdab" in the house of Kennedy) (that would be my family, not the President. I have no idea what they call whipped cream.)

5. Are leftovers a blessing or a curse?

Definitely a blessing. Mmmm, leftover turkey and mac n'cheese...ooh and don't get me started on the ham rolls. Though I doubt they count as leftovers if you go rescue them from the fridge an hour after dinner.

6. What side dishes are a must-have in your family?

Patti's mac n'cheese. Oh, and her green bean casserole. HAM ROLLS. Apple rings (though I'm the only one to eat them). Mom's yummy mashed taters.

7. What do you wish you had that might make Thanksgiving easier?

I'm with Joy on this one. More space. And a maid for dish washing. And a convection oven.

8. If/when you go to someone else’s house for the holiday, do you usually bring a dish? If so, what is it?

Last year was the first year I didn't cook Thanksgiving dinner. We went to a church member's house and had a lovely meal. She asked me to bring dessert and I prepared a Lemon Meringue Cake and an Apple Pecan Pie. That cake was so darn good I could have eaten it all myself before dinner. God bless Martha Stewart. And Swiss meringue. And lemon curd. Mmmmm.

9. What do you wish one of your guests would bring to your house?

Strawberry rhubarb pie. Ooh, and more ham rolls never hurt anyone.

10. What do you wish one of your guests would NOT bring to your house?

Bologna salad. Please, don't ask.

11. Do you stick with a particular menu from year to year, or do you mix it up?

I like the traditional stuff: turkey, sweet potatoes, etc, but I do like to add new things (like cream puffs for dessert this year! Woot!

12. Is Thanksgiving a religious or secular holiday in your home?

Neither. It's a day when we gather with family to enjoy a meal and each other's company.

13. Share one Thanksgiving tradition.

Tradition has sort of gone out the window, what with us being away from our families so long. You'd think in the last seven years we would have come up with some traditions of our own, but alas, it is not to be.

14. Share one Thanksgiving memory.

Our last Thanksgiving in Kentucky, we were busily packing for the move to Memphis. We took just a little time to eat an adequate, though small and hastily prepared meal for the two of us when there was a knock at the door. Our pastor and a church member stopped by to wish us a good holiday and to bring us a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Their thoughtfulness was so very appreciated.

15. Name five things you’re thankful for.

1. Family
2. TWO days off work (sorry, I couldn't resist)
3. A new nephew to meet once we get back to Michigan
4. The means to provide a meal and a home and the loved ones to share it with
5. My dear hubby, who supports me in everything without question (and who has promised to clean the house, including the toilets, while I cook dinner).

Since I recently went a little tag-happy, I'll leave it up to you. Do it or don't but let me know if you do so I can check out your answers...

Friday, November 21, 2008

He Loves Me...

...and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. If any of you really knew me, you'd wonder why too.

He's stuck with me through it all - for better or worse, in sickness and health, rich and poor, mean and with morning breath...

I don't deserve him and yet he acts like loving me is a privilege.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cream Puffs

Pate a Choux, used to make cream puffs for the church ladies.
Recipe courtesy Mr. Brown


* 1 cup water
* 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
* 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 5 3/4 ounces flour
* 1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
* vanilla pudding
* milk
* 1 cup chocolate chips
* 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil water, butter, and salt or sugar. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes. With mixer on stir or lowest speed add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing.

Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe immediately into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Raise oven temperature to 425. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

Prepare pudding of your choice (I used Jello vanilla) with 3/4 of the liquid called for. Load pudding into piping bag fitted with star tip. Using the hole you created to let the steam out, pipe in enough pudding to fill the cream puff.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler with oil. When completely melted, dip tops of each cream puff in chocolate and allow to cool before devouring.

Makes about 4 dozen.

This was so frickin easy I didn't even want to take credit for them last night. Everybody loved them...I think they'd taste good frozen, too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not much of anything

Yesterday at Wal-Mart I put my hand into something smelly. It was in the chicken. It was kinda like...It smelled like...Well, let me put it this way. If the bloody flux has a smell, this is it. The smell is STILL on my hand after numerous hand washings and I just can't take it...Note to all readers: When in Memphis, avoid the poultry case.
I had a dream. No, this was a real dream. A dream where there were hundreds of people standing in a room together, counting down to some great event. Five...4...3...2...1...and then Steven woke me up. So here is the question: Was my waking up the "great event?" And if so, how cool is the human brain that we can know the exact time we'll be woken? Or (and this is surely more likely) did Steven interrupt what was going to be some profound pronouncement, like the meaning of life? Darn you, Steve!
Now that you're all sufficiently lulled, this is a meme! HAHAHAHAHA! And if you're reading this, you're tagged! HAHAHAHAHA!

Retiredandcrazy sneakily gave me this to do, and so I am sneakily handing it off to you.

This is the "seven things" meme. 7 things I plan to do before I die, 7 things I do now, 7 things I can’t do, 7 things that attract me to the opposite sex, 7 things I say most often and 7 celebrities I admire.

7 things I plan to do before I die

1. Have kids
2. Visit the Holy Land (though I'm more than a little nervous about this)
3. Celebrate my 100th anniversary with Steve
4. See the giant redwoods
5. Save someone's life
6. Adopt a dog
7. Adopt a child

7 things I do now

1. Remember every stupid thing I've ever said
2. Cook and bake up a storm
3. Hate my job
4. Teach kids Sunday School (and love it)
5. Drive too fast
6. Work too hard
7. Get paid too little

7 things I can’t do

1. Play the piano (d'oh)
2. Talk in front of more than two people without blushing
3. Wait til we move back to Michigan
4. Throw things away
5. Hold my niece and nephews :(
6. Stop checking my email
7. Go to the circus (can't stand the clowns)(or the imprisoned animals, but that's another story)

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex

1. Big hands (to hold me)
2. Blue eyes (to stare at me)
3. Cleanliness (to combat my packrattiness)
4. Braininess
5. Muscles
6. Morals
7. Honesty

7 things I say most often

1. Is it 4:30 yet?
2. I don't want to go to work today.
3. Hello, can I help you?
4. Mr. Brown says...
5. Dear God
6. Good Lord
7. God help us

7 celebrities I admire
(these are all because of incredible talent, I know nothing of their personal lives)
1. Kurt Vonnegut
2. Roald Dahl
3. Stephen King
4. Shel Silverstein
5. John Steinbeck
6. Alton Brown
7. Tim Burton
You're tagged, dang it! Get to work!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Further proof that my parents are the coolest (as though we needed any more proof):

They sent me real, live, made in Michigan saltwater taffy!

AND my brother sent me Michigan cherry coffee.

AND some of the nephews are sending leaves from the tree outside my parents house. We just don't have good Autumn here in the South.

Think they're trying to tell me something?

44 days and counting. Michigan here I come!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Food, Family and Forgiveness

Thanksgiving: It is what you make it. It doesn't matter to me that there are only three in my family on Thanksgiving. I cook like Julia Child herself is coming to dine. I learned how to cook at my mother's side and got a few more wrinkles in my culinary brain when I moved to Kentucky and got my first taste of "Southern" cooking. Working in a tiny college kitchen serving dinner to ravenous scholars was quite an experience. What better guinea pigs are there than guys that'll eat anything as long as you put enough ketchup on it? If the food was bad they ate it anyway, if it was good they thanked me extravagently. While the lunch cooks were pulling out pre-packaged frozen food, I was poring over The Joy of Cooking and delighting in the thought that anything Stouffer's can make, I can make better.

While I cook dinner for my mini-family, I always think of my family in Michigan. Family has always been important to me, but never so much as when I left them behind. This is not to say that my husband and his brother are not my family, because they certainly are, but there is just something about waking up early with my mom and helping to get the turkey in the oven that can't be duplicated. Kind of like Mom's potato salad. I remember spreading out on the dining room table to make ham rolls (and eating about half before dinner even starts.) Sneaking apple rings and being found guilty with pinkened fingers. Trying to get the dog to eat the turkey innards.

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. First and foremost to God, who provides for us and protects us. I'm thankful that God loves me though I don't deserve it, that He forgave me when I asked for it, that he promises Heaven though I am not worthy.

Food, family and forgiveness.

This is Thanksgiving to me.

Submitted to Scribbit's Write-Away Contest

It's Official!

I do not like lamb.

Not only does it make your breath smell like baby poo, it just doesn't taste right.

Steve and I made lamb and barley stew the other night and while he was sauteing the carrots I was chopping up the lamb and we were singing the theme from "Lambchop's Playalong" and frolicking around the kitchen. (Note: be careful how you frolic with a ten-inch chef's knife in your hand.) I think it would have been excellent with beef instead of lamb.

I very rarely disagree with Mr. Brown, so maybe it's an acquired taste, like rattlesnake or hippopotamus.

Alton Brown's Lamb and Barley Stew (recipe courtesy of The Food Network)
* 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
* 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
* 1 cup barley grits
* 4 cups chicken broth
* 2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the lamb with the salt, pepper and flour.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add half of the lamb, and brown on all sides, approximately 7 to 8 minutes total. Remove the lamb to a bowl and repeat with the remaining oil and lamb. Remove the second batch of lamb to the bowl and add the carrots to the pot. Saute the carrots for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return all of the lamb to the pot along with the grits and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the lamb and grits are tender. Five minutes before the stew is finished, add the oregano. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve in bowls.

How about you? Do you like lamb? Hate it? Have you tried it? Should I try again?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Phone Etiquette

It seems that the rules of phone etiquette have just flown right out the window. People in my very own family are GUILTY as sin!

Names have been changed to protect their privacy, of course.

Incident # 1: Sam had to get some medical procedures done. Sam's wife, (we'll call her Suzie) called the insurance company to ask some questions about copays, coverage, etc, and was stonewalled. She was told that no information could be given out without the insured person's express, written permission. Sam proceeded to call back and yell at the customer service department. Sam's family member, who just happens to work in the health care industry, called Sam to snoot at him when she heard about his meanness.

HIPAA prohibits health care workers from sharing ANY information with ANY person other than the insured/patient himself. That means our hands are tied, folks. No matter how much you yell, scream, cry or threaten, we can be held legally accountable if the wrong person ends up with your information. So there.

Incident # 2: Lester has a bill that he doesn't believe he owes. He calls up the customer service department and says, "Look, dear heart, I don't owe this bill and I want to speak to your manager RIGHT NOW!

First of all, beginning a sentence with "look" or "listen" immediately puts the other person on the defense. We know we've got a live one on the line and *surprise* we're probably going to record your call for legal purposes.

Second, calling a person "dear heart" (which is the nicest way I could think of to say what I really mean, which is "idiot" or worse) is degrading to that person. It just makes them mad and if they can, they'll probably make this as tough on you as possible. You'll be routed you to 20 different people or left on terminal hold. (The same goes for doll, sweetie, honey, or any number of other names.)

Last, nine times out of ten, I know more than my manager. If you call me up and ask me to help in a calm and civilized manner, I will do my best to resolve your situation. Look at it this way, I don't want to be talking to you any more than you want to be talking to me. Why prolong our displeasure?

I could go on, but I'm not used to writing so much and it's weird. Maybe I'll continue another day.

Why do people not say "bye" anymore? It's starting to rub off on me now. I just hang up when I'm done talking.

Also, voicemail is not the devil. Leave a message, people! It's ok, leave one!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Take Me Away, Officers

One of the very innocent-looking people in this picture is actually GUILTY of a terrible crime (that doesn't involve wearing over-sized sunglasses). No, it involves the breakage of bones.

Ok, it was me. Well, Becky was there, too, but she's innocent.

It all happened late one night about a week before I got married. Steve and I took some friends out to play Whirley Ball (which is like rugby/basketball in bumper cars) and after we were done we were just hanging out in the parking lot, laughing and talking. Becky and I were sitting in Steve's truck (a Sonoma, identical cousin to the S10) and I was about to drive us home when I noticed Steven's friend, Bogie, hanging off the tailgate.

His huge and goofy smile told me he wanted me to drive him around the parking lot a few times, and so I happily obliged. After I stopped, I looked into the rearview mirror and SAW NO BOGIE. I, therefore, pealed out of the parking lot like the devil himself was chasing me. Unfortunately even though no Bogie was spotted, a Bogie was still hanging on perilously low. Imagine my surprise when Becky squealed for me to "Stop, Bogie's dead!" I stopped, Bogie was not dead, but he did have a broken wrist which is how our Best Man ended up in a cast on my wedding day.

I'm guilty and I take full responsibility.

Next up: How NOT to start a conversation if you want someone to help you out. HINT: Avoid words like "look" and "listen" as sentence openers.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Killing Time

When I'm not exercising with the Wii Fit (ever after known as "fitzercising" in my home, and by the way, I've lost three pounds), I love to watch movies. Lately I've been into movies that are decent, have a good message, and don't make me vomit from an overdose of corn. Without further ado (okay, maybe just a little more ado), here they are, in no particular order:

Pete's Dragon. Especially for this guy. I love the song about what he plans to do with all of Elliot's body parts after they kill the dragon. Oh wait, maybe this one's not so kid friendly.

And PLUS I just found out one of the hillbilly brothers is Kenickie from Grease!!! That's right, folks, if Elliot is lucky he'll get a hickey from Kenickie. Because a hickey from Kenickie's like a Hallmark card. AND it's got Red Buttons and Mickey Rooney who's always drunk!

Pollyanna. Because this one made my dad cry. He's been so insistent that I see it that I'm sure I'll find a copy in my Christmas stocking this year.

Well Dad, I watched it this week and even Steve was sucked in by Pollyanna's charms. I've found myself playing the "glad game" this week at work and I actually don't want to rip the heads off my boss and coworkers! (Well, not as much, at least.) Okay, I've never actually wanted to rip anyone's head off. Maybe just pull on it a little.

The Parent Trap. But not the crappity remakes. There's just something about Hayley Mills. This one's got Hayley Mills TWICE! In case you haven't seen it, there's a part when one Hayley Mills plays a prank on the other Hayley Mills by cutting off the back of her dress. Ever since seeing this as a kid, I just know someone's standing behind me waiting to disfigure my clothing (especially at church, I mean, gosh, those senior citizens are so devious). No really, I'm paranoid about this. Yet another reason that I'm weird, I guess.

Freaky Friday. But NOT the remake! The older version's got Jodie Foster in it, and who doesn't love Jodie Foster?

The idea of changing bodies with someone so you can see how they live is kind of intriguing, right? Though in my case I may not want to give trade back, especially if you morph into, I don't know, Oprah.

Really though, this is a great movie and Jodie Foster eats ice cream for breakfast EVERY DAY.

The Emperor's New Groove. Everybody, this is Yzma. Yzma, meet everybody. She's voiced by Eartha Kitt. She is devious (Yzma, not Ms. Kitt) and hilarious and with Kronk (her assistant/boy toy) they steal the show, in my not so humble opinion. Squeak squeakins squeak squeekers. (That's 'watch this movie, it's really great' in chipmunk language.)

Oh, and David Spade and John Goodman and Wendie Malick, too. I'm just realizing how many of my everyday expressions come from this movie. Man, I really need to get a life.

Singin' in the Rain. Alright, have you SEEN Gene Kelly? There is a reason that I watched this every single day for a few childhood years, and it wasn't the snappy dialogue (well, okay, I love the snappy dialogue). But Gene Kelly, people! He was awesome! Happy memories = Singin' in the Rain + mac n'cheese.

Let's see, good lines. Ooh, how bout "I can't make love to a bush!" from Lena Lamont or "I can't stand him." also from her or the whole Moses supposes his toeses are roses song. Ah, good times.

James and the Giant Peach. Because Roald Dahl is the man. Everything he wrote is worth reading, and this adaptation of his book is very well done. It's produced by Tim Burton and is made in his signature style (like Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas). It's funny and good and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of kid's movies are.

I say all this to get you to join Swap A DVD. Well, actually, I really wanted to post this blog, but what a great commercial for DVD swapping! Click to swap DVDs for freeeeee!