gc_givethanks_1Back in October, Mom and I started talking about Thanksgiving. For YEARS Thanksgiving was at my Mom and Dad’s house. Even after my husband and I got married (the weekend after Thanksgiving!) Thanksgiving was still at Mom and Dad’s. (For a long time, my in-laws lived out of the country making a Thanksgiving swap very difficult and costly.)

My sisters and their spouses and all the cousins would come. It was great–crazy, but great!

As the years have passed, things have changed. We no longer head out for Black Friday sales. With demanding jobs far away, we are not able to gather everyone together like we used to do. I wish it could be the same. I guess change is just part of life.

One year we all loaded up and went to Liz and Trey’s in Texas for Thanksgiving. Another year, flying out to Virginia to be with Nana and Bud was fun and different. A couple of years ago we all headed to Laura and Brent’s new house near Fort Smith, AR.

In the 22 years that Chip and I have been married, we have NEVER had Thanksgiving at our house! I’ve never even made much more than mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. So, I asked Mom and Dad if they would come to our house this year and teach me how to “do” Thanksgiving. I invited the sisters, too. Remember those demanding jobs? Too bad they can’t come. : (

While Mom and I sat on the plane on our recent trip to Baltimore, I got all the low-down for Thanksgiving 101!

There will be several blog posts. Most of them will come after Thanksgiving, obviously. Be sure you save your favorites on Pinterest for next year or even for Christmas!

The Pies!

Yesterday I made my pie crusts. Here is the recipe I use. Of course, you can use store-bought if you like.

cubed butter

The hardest thing about making a homemade crust is hauling the food processor out of the closet!

Food Processor

I got to use my fancy pastry mat that my hubby gave me for my birthday.

pastry mat

The dough has to chill. That’s why I made it yesterday. Then it has to warm back up a little before you roll it.

roll pie crust

Perhaps it needed to warm up just a little more!

working hard

Gather all your ingredients–pie helper optional!

pie helper

Mom uses the Pumpkin Pie recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin! Well, that’s easy enough!

Pumpkin Pie recipe

Mix the dry. Mix the wet. Mix together. Follow directions on the back of the can!

dry ingredients

dry ingredients mixed

eggs

add pumpkin

add wet to dry

add milk

Once you finally have your pie crust warm enough to be rolled, make sure it is all even-no lumps.

testing for evenness

Place the crust in the pan and crimp the edges. Of course you can get all fancy with your edges if you like. We chose regular crimping.

pie crust in pan

pie crimping

pie fluting

prepared pie crust

Then fill the pie crust with the Pumpkin Pie filling.

filling the pie shell

pumpkin pie filling

almost there

baking pumpkin pie

I know you will be SHOCKED by this…but this was my first Pumpkin Pie! Had I made one before, I would have known to use the deeper pie pan for the Pumpkin Pie. I also would have known how careful one must be when transporting the unbaked Pumpkin Pie to the oven! Almost didn’t make it!

My first pumpkin pie

Looks pretty good.

The Pecan Pie…well, it was my first Pecan Pie as well.

The Pecan Pie recipe is on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle.

Pecan Pie recipe

Check out this newfangled bottle. There is a measurement mark for one cup right on the bottle. I used it. I didn’t like it. I was afraid I would accidentally use too much. An easy way for less-mess-measuring is to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray prior to filling it with the sticky syrup.

easy measuring

So, we followed the directions on the bottle, mostly.

pecan pie filling

The directions said to stir the pecans into the syrup mixture. Well, we had recently been watching a cooking show where the guy made  lovely rings on top with the pecans. Oooo, yeah! Let’s make it fancy!

fancy pecan pie

That was all well and good and time-consuming, however, we had lots of leftover pecans. I didn’t want my first Pecan Pie to not have enough pecans in it!!!

So, I had the “bright idea” to chop up the remaining pecans and kind of poke them down in those empty spots.

Don’t do that.

more pecans

Our pie went from fancy and beautiful to looking like someone had already chewed it up!

ugly pie

It got a little scorched in the oven even though I covered it with foil. Not sure why part of my crust flopped over.

Fingers crossed that it tastes good!

cooling pies

So how do you make a Pecan Pie that looks all fancy and still has the right amount of pecans in it?!

Stay tuned…more Thanksgiving 101 to come. I’ve already chopped celery and onions and made the cornbread for the dressing.

I recently returned from my first-ever trip to Baltimore, MD.

WOW!

There is so much to see and do in downtown Baltimore!

I was there for the Sweet Adeline International Competition!

Baltimore Welcome

My chorus, Top of the Rock, was invited to compete in the Harmony Classic portion of the contest! For those of you unfamiliar with Sweet Adelines–it’s a BIG DEAL!

The entire week was full of activities and contests. However, I was unable to stay the whole week, so I had to do my touring FAST!

We arrived late Sunday night. Our first rehearsal wasn’t until Monday afternoon, so we had time for a little exploring!

breakfast sandwich

Breakfast was at Potbelly. We discovered Potbelly on a trip to Houston a couple of years ago. They have yummy breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. They are very reasonably priced, which is a good thing!

I saved my little Potbelly bag just because it had a “P” stamped on it. Yes, I’m a nerd!

Camden Yards

Our hotel was right down the road from Camden Yards–where the Orioles play baseball! My husband is a big baseball fan, so I had to snap a couple of pictures for him!

Oriole Park

The Baltimore Inner Harbor was really cool! Tons of restaurants and shops. I would have loved to tour the Domino Sugar plant! Boat tours of the harbor were available. Some of my friends took the tour and said it was great! I just didn’t have time.

Domino Sugar

This was not their tour boat. I guess it could have been though!

paddle boats

Some other friends hit the National Aquarium later in the week. I picked up some t-shirts for the kids at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Hard Rock Cafe

The McCormick World of Flavors shop was a fun little shop in the Inner Harbor, lots of Old Bay seasoning! Mom and I enjoyed the salt sampling we did there. Our favorite was the lime salt. I asked if they had any other samples we could try. One of the gals working there is a cupcake maker. She brought me some samples of her frosting. They weren’t bad. Here is a link to her Facebook page.

McCormick World of Spice

Off to rehearsal-the reason we came! Weeks prior to our trip, chorus members exchanged words of encouragement and small gifts with a Secret Sis. Look what my Sis gave me at the big reveal–a Baltimore scrapbook! What a unique and thoughtful gift! She included all kinds of scrappy Baltimore goodies in it. Thanks, Becky! You were a great Secret Sis.

secret sis

At one of our rehearsals several of us decided to dress alike–unintentionally.

black shirts

Later, we all dressed alike–on purpose this time!

with mom

Why do we girls always squish our faces together in pictures?

about to hit the stage

stage ready

friends

red costumes

in the lobby

Can you tell we are excited to hit the stage?!

bus ride

We did GREAT!

Guess what? We came in 3rd place–IN THE WORLD!!!!

Bronze medal

You can see for yourselves…

I have a couple more tidbits to share with you from my trip so stay tuned.  I can’t wait to go back to Baltimore one day when there is a little more time for exploring!

I did make it home in time for Senior Night with my girl! I even managed to make it though without tears.

senior night

NEWS: Pork Chop Tuesday gets great “product placement” on TV’s longest running program. ; )

Check it out!

Thanks, Ryan Kravitz, for sending this for the archives!

Be sure to take a look at the Why “Pork Chop Tuesday” section of the blog.

The weather has been beautiful the past few days!

Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 50s make for good walking weather.

I never use ear buds when I go walking. I like to hear everything around me–like cars!

I really enjoy hearing the leaves rustle in the wind and squirrels scamper up tree trunks.

Morning walks are a good way to sort through all the junk rattling around in my brain. Sometimes I even go on prayer walks and pray for the people in the houses and schools I pass along the way.

The other day, I decided to snap a few pictures while on my walk. I have actually done this before in hopes of starting a blog series. Well–here is your first installment of “Scenes from a Walk”. We’ll see if it becomes a series or not.

cracked sidewalk

When I was a kid visiting my grandmother, my sister and I would get bored with “grown up” talk. The city park a couple of blocks away was a welcomed escape. I loved climbing on the sidewalk that had been displaced by tree roots.

I reminisced about those days and climbed on the concrete just like I used to do. What you don’t see in this picture is me almost doing a face-plant about 10 steps past the broken sidewalk! Unfortunately, the car whizzing by didn’t miss it!

beginning of fall

We are just starting to see a little fall color here in Central Arkansas. I love it!

autummn leaves

fall leaf

architectural arches

I like seeing other folks’ fall decorations.

fall porch

pumpkin cut outs

skeleton cutout

Are you seeing fall colors in your neck of the woods?

Is your house ready for trick-or-treat festivities tonight?

Mention the city of New Orleans and you will conjure up a plethora of images in folks’ minds.

New Orleans

There is yet another dish that is identified with The Big Easy–Bananas Foster.

Brennans-New-Orleans-by-Dean-Ennis-feature

Here is a little history I found on a New Orleans visitor’s guide.

In the early 1950s New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan’s Restaurant, challenged his chef, Paul Blange, to include bananas in a new dessert. It was Owen’s way of promoting the imported fruit. At the same time, Holiday Magazine asked Owen to provide a new and different recipe to include in an article on the restaurant.

And so was born Bananas Foster, a decadent dessert named for Owen’s friend, Richard Foster, a local civic and business leader. Today, Bananas Foster is served at Brennan’s and other fine New Orleans restaurants. Each year, Brennan’s flames 35,000 pounds of bananas for the famous dessert.

I recently had a wonderful dinner with my quartet and our spouses. (You can check out our Hyper Octave Facebook page here.)

dinner party

Donna and Jim really put on a spread for us–complete with fresh flowers and candlelight.

Jim made Gumbo with delicious andouille sausage and shrimp. Our salad was mixed greens with avocado and orange slices. That’s Jim’s homemade Orange Vinaigrette you see on the table.

We all enjoyed the dinner and felt like we needed a crane to move from the table. Then, Donna announced dessert!

Could I stuff in any more food?!

Bananas Foster?

Why,YES! Some room suddenly became available!

We all moved to the kitchen for the dessert “show”. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to feature another guest chef!

Jim started by melting a stick of butter with 1/2 cup banana liqueur.

melting butter

banana liqueur

While Jim took care of the pan, Donna feverishly peeled and quartered 8 bananas.

hostess

bananas

Into the pan with the bananas!

cooking bananas

Add a dash of cinnamon and the brown sugar–TWO cups!

brown sugar

brown sugar and bananas

Oops! Wait! The brown sugar was supposed to go in BEFORE the bananas! Donna moved fast to remove the bananas. The brown sugar needed to caramelize a little before adding the bananas.

recipe rescue

Let that cook up in order to thicken a little.

caramelizing bananas

Add about 1/4 cup of rum…

Bacardi

and light on fire!

Jim did move his pan out from under the cabinets–just in case.

flaming bananas foster

Unfortunately, none of us thought to turn off the lights until the flames had disappeared. You can kind of see some blue flames in the picture above.

As if all the sugar and butter were not enough, a scoop of vanilla ice cream finished off the dish!

desserts

Bananas Foster

Oh! It was so good! I wanted to lick the plate!

I enjoyed every bite–all 490 calories, not including the ice cream!

Yeah–I went walking the next day!

Thanks so much, Donna and Jim. You treated us like royalty!

Bananas Foster

serves 8

  • 1 stick of butter (could probably get by with 1/2 )
  • 1/2 cup banana liqueur
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 8 bananas, sliced into 4 quarters
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • Vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in pan with banana liqueur.

Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Allow to caramelize a bit.

Stir in bananas until warmed. (Not too long, you don’t want mushy bananas.)

Warm the rum for a few seconds in the microwave.

This is the time to turn off the lights for added drama!

Add rum to the bananas–immediately light on fire.

After alcohol burns off, serve with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle some of the sauce on top.

It’s funny the things you save.

I was recently going through a stack of papers, okay–recipes, when I came across this…

Kindergarten Kaleidoscoope

This was the weekly newsletter sent out by Megan’s kindergarten teacher–2002!!! Yes, I have a senior!

We loved Union Elementary. It was a small school in the country. We moved back to Arkansas right after school dismissed for the summer. Our only experience there was Kindergarten, but we loved it!

I remember the Fall Fun Fest. I remember the kids being excited. Grammy had sent Halloween shirts. They arrived just in time for the Festival. Megan wore her orange headband. Of course, Katie had to have one too, even though she hardly had any hair.

halloween sisters

kindergarten party

scary face

moon

scary face 1

Oh, we had such fun! We were so busy having fun, there was no time for pictures. Seems like Chip was helping some of the other Dads with some of the games. I was doing good to keep up with the kids.

On the back of the weekly newsletter was a recipe. That is why I saved it, of course!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pumpkin Maple Sauce

Some of our weekend plans got cancelled. The air was cool and crisp. It was the perfect day to try out the Pumpkin Pancakes recipe. It only took me 12 years!

Pumpkin Pancakes topped with nuts

from above

We took advantage of the weather and enjoyed breakfast on the porch. Ahhh, fall!

Pork Chop Tuesday on the porch

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • a little butter for the pan

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the wet with the dry.

Pour on a hot, greased skillet. Turn when you start to see bubbles.

Pumpkin Maple Sauce

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat ingredients in a saucepan until warm.

(The Sauce seemed more like a pumpkin butter to me. I bet if you added a little cream to it, it would be more “saucy”.)

Top with toasted pecans!

It was a dark and stormy night…

Hmmm, I guess that intro has been done.

We did have some storms last weekend.

Nothing says homecoming half-time show like soaked band members. There had been a sprinkle here and there. But half way through “Crazy Train” the sky just opened up! To their credit, none of the band quit marching until the drum major, my daughter, gave them the signal! Thanks to my friend, Sheri, for sharing this video. (There must have been another band parent sitting behind her while she was filming. Either that, or he was really excited to be in the rain.)

The next day was cool and gray–perfect for Corn Chowder.

Mom used to make Corn Chowder for us all the time when we were kids. As a new bride, 22 years ago, I knew I had to have the recipe.

tattered recipe

Here is the copy she gave me. Photocopied from what looks like a novel. I don’t know if her copy was a photocopy or she actually had it in a book.

You can tell I’ve had it a while by how the paper has aged.

For some reason I keep this recipe tucked in a cookbook. I suppose when I got it, I didn’t really have a stash of recipe cards or cookbooks. Seemed like a good enough place for it. I still know where to find it 22 years later! I probably put my hands on this recipe faster tucked in this cookbook than I could if it were in my recipe box! ugh!

The recipe is written in paragraph form. I’ll gather it all together in one place for you at the end–but first, some photos.

The first thing I did was cook up the 8 slices of bacon.

frying bacoon

I fried the bacon first so I didn’t have to dirty up a skillet in addition to my soup pot.

bacon

Set your yummy bacon aside while you proceed with the recipe. Do the best you can to keep your family from passing by and nibbling on the bacon. (Good luck!)

Of course you are going to save all that lovely bacon grease for later use–green beans, fried eggs, grits, etc.

bacon grease

The recipe calls for 12 potatoes! TWELVE.

Since potatoes come in all shapes and sizes, I found that measurement to be vague. I used about 6-7 cups. Yes, still a little vague but a bit more manageable.

cut potatoes

Next the recipe says to cut up 6 onions–SIX ONIONS! Good grief!

I used two. I actually had to have my husband cut up the second one for me. My eyes were watering so bad after one! I can only imagine my condition if I had to cut SIX!

I topped off my 8 cup measuring bowl with the onions.

Potatoes and Onions

Dump your potatoes and onions in the same pot you used to cook the bacon. It is perfectly fine if there is a little bacon grease still in there.

Add water to cover the potatoes and onions. I used about 6-7 cups. Boil until veggies soften.

Potato broth

Add the bacon, 3-3 1/2 pts. of milk, and a “tin of corn”.  A tin? What the heck?!

I’m sure that means a can of corn but what size???

corn

I used 4 cups of frozen Schwan’s frozen corn. Their corn is the yummiest! Four cups is probably more than “a tin”. I figured this was CORN Chowder. I would be okay if there was lots of corn.

By the way, 3 pints equals 6 cups.

Once everything is about to boil again, add 1/4 cup cornstarch that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup cold milk.

Finally, add a lump (approximately 2 tablespoons) of butter to the soup.

lump of butter

Salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of pepper in mine. I also added some leftover chicken I had in the fridge just to make the soup a little more substantial.

Serve it up in fancy orange bowls.

pouring soup

or blue. : )

filling soup bowls

I love these little crocks!

blue soup bowl

Aren’t they cute with their little lids on there?

orange soup bowl

I hope you enjoy this recipe–no soggy band members required!

 

Corn Chowder

6-8 strips bacon cut up and fried (I used thick bacon.)

6-7 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 medium onions, diced

6-7 cups water

4 cups frozen corn

6 1/4 cups milk, divided

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 Tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

(Optional-diced chicken can be added along with the corn and bacon.)

•In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. Save drippings for another use. Drain bacon on a paper towel.
•Add potatoes, onions and water to the pot. Boil until potatoes are tender.
•Add bacon, corn and 6 cups of milk. Heat until almost boiling.
•Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold milk. Add to the soup. Keep stirring to avoid scorching the milk.
•Stir in the lump of butter.
•Salt and pepper to taste.
Goes really nicely with salty crackers!

 

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