Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 25 Christmas Gifts

Dearest festive readers,

I have exciting news!!!

I've trying to dream up a way I could give every one of my beloved readers a gift for Christmas, and I do believe I've hit on the perfect plan.

This December, every day until Christmas there will be a new download posted for you on the blog.  Either something I've created myself, or a link to another blog or website that is hosting a delightful FREE download.

What'll it be?  I've already got a big sackful of of treats for you, and I keep finding more ... free e-books, special Christmas crafts for the kids, Advent calendars, even some downloads so unique you can print them and give them away as gifts!

I'll keep posting my regular blog posts, but at the bottom of each one will be a special link with your daily gift.  And as they appear on the blog, I'll keep the whole list collected right here.  Check this page frequently for gifts you may have missed and to find bonus links that won't appear anywhere else on the blog!

Watch the blog posts in December for a new downloadable gift every day until Christmas!  

Wishing you cheer and good tidings,

Mrs H

Look for Rosie the Snowgirl ...
she always shows up when there
are new downloads to be had! 

Kick-off Bonus Link! 

Tsh Oxenreider at SimpleMom has a few ideas for budgeting this Christmas, and has created a handy downloadable budget spreadsheet.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Gift

Dear reader,

Thanksgiving behind, Christmas ahead.

Time to count our blessings ...

We already have so many.  

An author once challenged us to start a list of "one thousand gifts," things in our life that we can find beauty in, thankfulness, presence.  The list grows and grows as we far exceed one thousand gifts!

What are you thankful for?  Keep the list going ...

filtered water with ice cubes, refreshing

fuzzy socks

my husband starting Christmas music while I'm in the kitchen

squinting when the sun is too bright

oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar, shared with my husband on cold mornings

twittering birds just outside my window, cheery no matter how early the hour

caramel tea from a tea boutique my cousin took me to

washing the dishes in hot water, from the tap

the creaking, crackling sound of the house breathing when the wood relaxes with the morning sun

counting the stars, again and again,

Mrs H

Friday, November 25, 2011

Leftovers Live On: Turkey Burrito

Dear frugal reader,

What a blessing it is to have leftover food filling the refrigerator!  If you're like us, you love those leftovers like nobody's business because they mean feasting for days.  But be on the alert - -

Don't let that leftover turkey go boring!  

Here's another wrap-and-roll recipe for leftover turkey that wins big points around our house ... I'll be preparing this by the weekend, that's for sure!  Be sure to check out our fresh recipe for Moo Shoo Turkey Wraps to make sure you feed your crowd over the long weekend.

Have you ever made a turkey pillow?  Last year, using printed
fabric from my mom-in-law, Chickadee and I put together a fat,
fluffy bird that would never make it to the dinner table ... despite
being fully stuffed with, well, stuffing! 

Turkey and Bean Burrito 
If you so desire, drizzle into your burritos a little Louisiana Hot Sauce, some homemade spicy ketchup, or some enchilada sauce!  

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 pint diced tomatoes
1 - 2 tablespoons chopped chiles or pickled jalapenos or you can purchase a can of tomatoes with diced chiles in it
2 tablespoons lime juice or the juice from one small lime
4 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken
1 pint pinto beans, fresh-cooked or canned, rinsed
6 tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded Monterey, pepper Jack, or cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded green cabbage (one small cabbage, or less than half large cabbage)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in garlic, cumin and chile powder and cook for 30 seconds or until the spices release a fragrant scent.  Add tomatoes and lime juice; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until onions are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in turkey and cooked beans and continue cooking until the mixture is heated through, approximately five minutes.  Fill tortillas with the turkey and bean mixture; top with cheese and shredded cabbage, roll, and enjoy!

Thankful for leftovers,

Mrs H

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P.S. If you're still in the mood for an old-fashioned turkey sandwich, here's a recipe that looks pretty amazing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thanksgiving Song

Dedicated to the littlest sister, my Chickadee

The Thanksgiving Song

Aa is for Apple Pie, a holiday feast tradition
Bb is for Broccoli Salad, I love it, who doesn't?
Cc is Cranberry Sauce - to forget is perdition!
Dd is for Deviled Eggs, prepared by the dozen.

Ee is for Eggnog, as winter sets in ...
Ff is for Frog-Eye Salad, which is really quite nice!
Gg is for Gravy, rich and brown,
Hh is for Ham, that pig spiral-sliced.

Ii is for Iowa Pea Salad, a frozen concoction.
Jj is for Jell-O Salad, layered or creamed.
Kk is for King Arthur Chocolate Cake, a true confection;
Ll is for Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake, rich as you dreamed ...

Mm is for Mashed Potatoes, piled creamy and high.
Nn is for No-Fuss Cherry Pie, a juicy delight!
Oo is for Olives, with fingers to ply,
Pp is for Pumpkin Pie, an honorable right.

Qq is for Quick 7-Cup Salad, fragrant of cherries.
Rr is for Rolls, soft and tender.
Ss is for Stuffing, the meat and bread marries;
Tt is for Turkey, that poultry of wonder!

Uu is for Upside-Down Pineapple Cake, ¡ǝɹɐlɔǝp I
Vv is for Vanilla Ice-Cream, a pie-slice topper -
Ww is for Whipped Cream, to include this is fair.
Xx is for Xylitol Sweetener, a new-fangled offer;

Yy is for Yams, candied to the brim ...
Zz is for Zwiebach Pie - without which, this dinner is sin!  

Now you know your recipes, next time won't you feast with me?! 

Thanking Him for blessings and wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving, 

Mrs H
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Thanksgiving Special

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, 
visit our new blog platform at www.farmandhearth.com 
to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Gentle Reader,
My mind drifts back ...
To a Thanksgiving day not too long ago ...

By the time I wake up, the smell of slowly simmering turkey has already wafted up the stairs and into my bedroom.  We didn't get to bed until well after two A.M., and the house is still and hushed.  Mom must have gone back to bed after putting the turkey on.  I shuffle downstairs in my bathrobe and peer into the kitchen, quiet and cool now where last night it was a whirling hub of chaos.  The counters are lined.  Stacks of Tupperware filled with Bob's Red Mill whole wheat rolls - little triangles of dough rolled up like croissants and baked to a flaky, tender goodness.  Bags of marshmallows that will go into yams, frog-eye salad, and seven-cup salad.  A hand of bananas to slice and add to that last salad.  Rows of olives, pickles, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes in jars.  Sacks of potatoes, ready to be washed and peeled, boiled, mashed.

The turkey roaster is on a folding table in the dining room, pushed up behind the couch which has been moved and turned from its usual position to make room for many hungry people.  It's filled with turkeys on roasting racks, and a few inches of water in the bottom to keep them moist.  I peer through the glass window in the top of  the lid and see bubbles forming, glistening fat oozing.

Back in the kitchen, I open the fridge.  There isn't room to slip another slice of cheese in there; as the door swings wide, a bag of eggs, peeled and slick, oozes from the shelf and tumbles down; I hastily replace it.  There are the two containers for frog-eye salad, ready to be mixed and churned with fruit.  Mayonnaise, mustard for deviled eggs, an almost-completed layered Jell-O salad - last year it didn't have time to set properly and turned multi-colored, so this year we're taking precautions.  A glass bowl of pink strawberry Jell-O beaten with cream and cream cheese has a tight lid of plastic wrap - Mandatory makes it her mission to wrap it so tight, it looks invisible.  There's a plastic bag of strawberries tucked nearby, ready to top it just before dinner.  A few tubs of whipped topping are ready to frost the Jell-O, and I steady a wobbling bottle of whipped cream that threatens to flop from the door.  I can see, through the frosty-white of the Tupperware, that there's a decadent pie on the bottom shelf, half-buried beneath containers of sour cream and bags of lettuce and a few boxes of butter.  That reminds me ...

I open the freezer, and sure enough a quart of ice cream comes flying out to welcome me and another tumbles and hits my foot.  Yes!  Sugar will be had this night.

I can hear the bunk beds squeak, which means the other girls are waking up.  I flap my way back upstairs in my blue bathrobe and hurry to get in the shower before they preempt me.  By the time I emerge, everybody is awake.

"Nate - where is your other shoe?"  He says he doesn't know, and Mom says to get up and start walking, start moving things until he finds it.

I know we're going to church because Nate can't find his other church-shoe.  I'm wearing fall colors, all my favorite browns and oranges.  I hear a throaty rumble and look outside.  There's a low, red Ford Probe pulling into the driveway.  My sweetheart is here to pick me up for church.  We're not married yet, but an engagement ring on my finger speaks of a promise for that coming spring.  Two sisters come merrily with me and we stuff in the car like sardines, crackling paper bags of canned food and cake mixes for the food bank on our laps, between our knees, poking our faces with sharp corners.  My sweetheart is wearing his white jacket and Stetson cologne.

Church service is only an hour long.  We sing hymns of thanksgiving: "And now let the weak say I am strong; let the poor say I am rich - because of what the Lord has done for us!"  When I was little I thought they said "wheat," not "weak," and I can't help but picture a tall sheaf of wheat, strong.  Everybody brought donations for the food bank and they flow down the aisles in long rows like the Magi, bringing their gifts to lay at the altar.  We stay to help sort the food on the pews into sections - canned soup here, paper products there.  Even though it's all supposed to be non-perishable, once somebody donated a frozen turkey, so we can't let the food sit in the church without going through it all.  Everybody is excited and happy, somebody is taking pictures, Dad is still talking with Howard in the back, and eventually we leave and head back home.  Mom gets home first, and she calls my cellphone - can we stop and pick up a bag of brown sugar?  Mr H and I stop in the grocery store by the church; they're open for a few more hours.  He pays for the brown sugar.

The house is fragrant!  Lights are blazing - it's cold outside, but it's so warm inside we leave all the doors open!  There are candles on the table, and the littlest ones made turkey place-card holders which crouch patiently in a basket on the lazy susan.  There's no room for dinner plates on the table just yet - it's still a busy workplace!  Mom is issuing orders, the girls are spinning about beating things, chopping things, blending things.  Friends are piling into the kitchen, eager to help, especially eager for samples.  I'm trying to mix the frog-eye salad, and Mandatory is slicing boiled eggs in half for deviled eggs and trying to slap away the many helpful hands that try to snatch away the broken pieces.  It's always my job to make the deviled egg filling, so I hurry to finish the salad.  I know Mr H loves deviled eggs, and Mom made extra this year so he can have plenty.

Mel-Bel is peeling potatoes in the kitchen.  Some friends from college grab extra peelers and they join her.    Mr H rolls up his sleeves and starts peeling potatoes.  There are about thirty pounds of spuds to be boiled, and Mom has already started one pot.  Peels are flying!  Everybody looks in the kitchen doors and laughs because it's so funny to see five people trying to stand at the sink and peel potatoes.  Nate is ordered to bring in garbage bags to collect the peels.

Back in the living room, all the furniture is pushed back up against the walls.  The boys are unfolding tables that we use for school and Reb the Rebel is bringing clean tablecloths up from the laundry room to cover them.  Dad walks in and somebody asks him to help move the couch over.  A car pulls up outside, and Chickadee runs for the door.  "It's Grandma!"

Now it's really Thanksgiving!  All hands drop what they're doing and flood out into the frosty yard, ready to carry priceless treasures of food inside.  "Be careful with that!" she admonishes.  Uncle Kevin is with her, opening the trunk to reveal jewels, blanket-wrapped pots and containers.

She brought her turkey roaster, too, but this one is filled to the brim with forty quarts of stuffing.  There are a dozen Tupperware pie containers filled with peach, chocolate cream, lemon meringue pies.  I can see a little broken piece of crust in one of the containers and I'm tempted to whisk it away for scientific testing.  Uncle Kevin is carrying a stack of familiar yellow tubs with white lids, and I already know what's inside.  In the top is a lime Jell-O salad with cottage cheese and nuts, one of my favorite holiday treats.  The second one is a broccoli salad with slivered almonds and pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped.  The third one is a tossed green salad with chunks of lettuce and tomato and cucumber.  I never eat the tossed salad because there's always too much other goodness to eat.  Nate is giving Grandma a hug, and she passes him a square red tub with a white lid.  I know that's deviled eggs with shrimp - Mom is notorious for not liking those, but I like them, and so does Grandma, and she made a dozen.  Somebody thrusts a hot white CorningWare dish in my hands, wrapped in a towel frayed and soft with age, a towel I remember Grandma hanging on her stove for the last twenty years of my life.  It has a glass lid and I can see, through the condensation, scalloped corn underneath.  I run it into the house.  There are already stacks of tubs from her car in the foyer, and I weave my way through a maze of butter rolls, bags of crackers for topping the scalloped corn and more pickles and olives, stepping over a container with lemon poppy-seed bundt cake, peering down into a grocery bag to see a Corelle crock of baked beans staring back up at me.

Mr H is running the show in the living room, now.  The boys have rearranged the furniture to a confusing disarray and he is putting it back in order, picking up little Chickadee under one arm and dragging her along screaming with laughter as he issues orders.  Every once in a while he looks over at me with his bright green eyes sparkling and he smiles.

But now suddenly there are too many women, and the boys are in the way.  Mr Happy, my little brother who towers over me at six feet and some change, proposes football.  The men all run into the street in t-shirts and jeans, throwing a football and shouting when a car is coming, standing aside and waving hello as the driver slows obligingly and waves back.

I head into the kitchen.  I look busy, but I'm not really working at all.  Everybody has aprons on over their pretty church shirts, their nice pants or new jeans.  Mandatory is draining olives for the relish tray, and she peers at me over her glasses and says, "You can make the deviled eggs now."

Mel-bel and Mom strained the potatoes, and now Mom is dumping blocks of butter into the huge metal bowl of steaming hotness, and taking a blender to it.  Mel is scooping peels into a plastic bag to throw away.  "Where's Nate?" she says.  "The garbage is full."

Grandma is in the kitchen now, smiling, fragrant with perfume.  She has on a silky button-up shirt but she is ready to work.  "These beans aren't quite done," she is saying.  "Remember that year we left them in the microwave overnight?"  And last year, we forgot the scalloped corn in the oven until after dinner.  It's tradition - every year we forget something.  But Mom has a list on the fridge now, color-coded and scribbled with notations, check-marks, and hieroglyphics that only she and Mandatory really understand.

JessBess is re-arranging the fridge, making room for the dishes Grandma brought.  I'm not sure what sort of witchery she employs, but everything is crammed in there now.  I take a fork and start smashing hard-boiled egg yolks in a Pyrex cup; the cup is never big enough, I always end up spilling some.  When I was little, I read in a cookbook that you used egg whites in deviled eggs, and I thought that meant the shells went into the filling.  Deviled eggs always held a place of magical mystery in my mind, and I could never puzzle out how they actually came together.  Now I know better.  I mix the smashed yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.  I spoon the filling into a plastic bag and cut off the corner, making a piping bag, and fill the egg white halves.  I sprinkle them with paprika.  The deviled egg tray only holds a dozen in the little indentations, but I keep adding them until there are over two dozen, and then I start filling another platter from the china cupboard.  The china cupboard that used to be in Grandma's house is in our dining room now, because when she moved it didn't fit in her new place.  We make good use of it - it's filled with sparkling glass and china ware.  But on Thanksgiving, it's almost empty.  The Princess House glass bowl that Mom always used to serve canned fruit and bananas is now filled with seven-cup salad, all the butter dishes are loaded with butter and scattered on the table, the relish tray with the divider in the middle has olives in one side, and little bread-and-butter pickles in the other.

Mandatory can't stop sampling the pickles, she's a sucker for them.  Reb takes an olive every time she walks by.  It's almost empty before dinner starts, and we refill it with the jars Uncle Kevin brought.  JessBess is roaring around the house like a whirling dervish, leaping on people for hugs and exclaiming over everything.  Mom tells her to stop running into things and start helping, so she opens the candy jar and starts picking out candy pumpkins to nibble on.

Platters are starting to hit the table now.  Nate and Chickadee are arranging plates and homemade place-cards, little mini turkeys made out of chocolate cherries and candy corns.  Dad has invited some friends over and they are in the living room, boisterous.  They brought bags of sparkling cider and some soda; JessBess has to try to cram it into the fridge.  Somebody says, "Put them in the motor-home fridge!" and she remembers the fridge out there is on, so she takes the soda outside.  Mr H and Mr Happy are sent to the grocery store for last-minute bags of ice so we can fill a cooler with additional drinks, and somehow they come home with more candy.  Mr Happy rattles a box of Mike and Ikes as he walks around and inspects the food.

Suddenly it seems like everything is almost ready.  The table is quivering under a load of platters and bowls, all swathed in towels and foil to keep hot until the last minute.  Mel has lifted the turkey from the roaster and started slicing it into thin slabs, and Mom is throwing tidbits of the meat and stuffing into the gravy as she stirs it on the stove.  "Nate, go tell your dad that dinner is ready," she says.  It'll be ready in a few minutes, but she knows it'll take the men a few minutes to make it up from their chairs and up the stairs.

As the turkey platter touches down on the table, lots of footsteps come tromping up the stairs.  Red-cheeked boys come blasting in the front door, still tossing the football from hand to hand.  "Food?  Food?"  Mr Happy is like a hungry-starved chick pecking for grain.

The girls are all peeling back foil and towels, and steam and rich aromas fill the air.  Everybody is hungry, everybody has been smelling this food for several days now.  Moist stuffing, crackly-skinned turkey, yams still bubbling in their caramel sauce, scalloped corn with the crackers crushed in, the deviled egg platter with a few suspicious gaps, jell-O salads with a spoon gouged in the middle, ready to be scooped.

And on every plate, a few pieces of dried corn, to remind us of the first meager years our forefathers spent in this country, abiding only by the Word and the kindness of strangers.

Everybody holds hands for prayer.  Dad, Mom, Reb, Mr H and I, Mel-bel, Mr Happy, JessBess, Mandatory, Nate, Chickadee, Grandma, Uncle Kevin, Dad's friends, us kids' friends, people who had no family or home close by for Thanksgiving that were welcomed by my parents to share in the bounty of our table.

Dad says grace.

Then, dinner.

Everybody grabs a plate and starts somewhere.  Before she can get anything on her own plate, Mandatory is sent back to the kitchen to find more serving spoons.  She comes out with ten and tosses them on the table.  Somebody spills a little gravy, but who really cares?  The candles on the table are shaped like corn-cobs.  They glow benevolently and flicker in the breeze because the window is open because the house is so warm with many bodies and many hot platters of food.  I fix a plate for Chickadee and myself at the same time, somebody else is fixing a plate for a little one with arms too short, and then a bunch of us troop out to the living room to squeeze in to the small folding tables and eat, elbow to elbow, with more bowls of salads and trays of deviled eggs and extra bowls of olives and pickles on our tables, too.  At first there isn't much talking, but soon the forks slow and the talking heats up, lots of stories and good-natured ribbing mostly aimed at people who aren't at our table to defend themselves, but loud enough that they can overhear from the next table.  Somebody spills their cider cup and Mandatory is sent back to the kitchen again to get paper towels.

Dinner is easygoing.  One by one the participants graduate from the table to the couch, groaning with the fullness of it all, but knowing that they'll be ready when the dessert comes out.

We relax; a VeggieTales movie is on downstairs, a Christmas movie, and the little ones are delighted.  Game boards come out.  A group decides to go for a walk to make room for dessert, and a bunch of us break out the scarves and sweaters and head into the cold, swinging our arms briskly.  It's good to feel the fresh air after the steaming kitchen for so long.  Chattering continues.  Future plans, plans for today, excitement about everything around Christmas time.

By the time we get back, more relatives have joined us.  There's rejoicing as they unveil more bottles of sparkling cider, unpack some more pies.  We set to work switching out the table from dinner to dessert.  Peach pie, cherry pie, lemon meringue pie, zwieback pie, blueberry pie, apple pie, chocolate cream pie, custard, chocolate cake, lemon poppy seed bundt cake, pecan pie, upside-down pineapple cake, whipped cream, fudge ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and of course several pumpkin pies.  We all swarm around the pies with joy, everybody excited about their favorite one, everybody wanting to try a few pieces here, there, sample this and that, sharing a bite with somebody.  It's okay if we can't sample everything tonight - we know that in the morning, we'll be eating pie for breakfast.  So we all sit around on the floor, at the table, on the couches, enjoying the presence of each other, enjoying the gratefulness and the plenty that the food signifies, basking in the glow of Thanksgiving.

Wishing you and yours the finest Thanksgiving that 2011 can bring,

Mrs H

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Riddle Me This

Dear thankful friends, for which I am deeply thankful,  

I am definitely thankful for the home my husband and I live in.  For the paychecks that arrive with regularity. I am thankful for the food we'll be sharing on Thanksgiving, for the innumerable miracles the Lord has used to provide for us, for the computer we use to check our e-mail and Facebook, for the family that loves us from far away and sends encouraging cards and messages.  I am for sure thankful for warm sunlight and long white drapes on the windows, for a country where electricity and roads are a given and churches that welcome and invite newcomers. 

But there's other stuff that doesn't leap out at me to be thankful for.  Like uncomfortable questions about the future.  Like missing family and hearth.  Living without furniture or my favorite spatula and all the comforts of home that we worked so hard to earn, that are still in boxes in storage back home.  Injuries and disruptions and upsets to our plans that seem confusing and nonsensical.  Why would I be thankful for all of that.  

But we who claim to be Christ-followers are supposed to be thankful people.  Well, I can still be thankful, because I have plenty of stuff to be thankful for, but I don't have to be thankful for that other stuff, right?  I can still be a good, thankful person because I am thanking God for lots of things ... I'll just leave some things in my life off the list.  That's okay, right? 

Keep reading.  

Imprisoned by the Nazis, Corrie could find it in her heart to be thankful for a few things.  But her sister Betsie believed the Scriptures required thankfulness for everything.  

"Fleas!" I cried. "Betsie, the place is swarming with them! ... Here! And here another one!" I wailed. "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!"
"Show us. Show us how." It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
"Corrie!" she said excitedly. "He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!"  ... In the feeble light I turned the pages. "Here it is: 'Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all...'" It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
"Go on," said Betsie. "That wasn't all."
"Oh yes:...'Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus."
"That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!" I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.  ... "Yes," said Betsie, "thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded.
"Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds."
"Thank You," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for--"
The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."
"Give thanks in all circumstances," she quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."  And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong...
One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.
"You're looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself," I told her.
"You know, we've never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room," she said. "Well--I've found out."  That afternoon, she said, there'd been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they'd asked the supervisor to come and settle it.  "But she wouldn't. She wouldn't step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?"  Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: "Because of the fleas! That's what she said, 'That place is crawling with fleas!'"

Excerpted from The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, pp 198

It's not always easy to be thankful for everything.  But that is what is required of us.

Riddle me this: what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Mrs H

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Leftovers Live On: Hot Turkey Wraps

Dear recipe-searcher and leftover-user,

In eager anticipation of leftovers after this Thursday ...

I've wanted to post this recipe for a long time, and I am not sure why I haven't done it yet ... but I love this recipe, and I know it'll be a hit at your house, too.  I am ridiculously excited to share it with you!

The first year we were married, I went on the hunt for leftover turkey recipes.  This was an exciting venture for me - usually, coming from a family of ten, we had enough leftover turkey for everyone to have some sandwiches, some soup, and that was about it.  It could disappear pretty quickly!  But with just my husband and I and a huge container of cold, cooked poultry, the world opened up ... and I didn't want to just eat one thousand cold-turkey sandwiches!

While browsing around, I found some recipes online that turned out to be keepers - I don't know where I found them, and they've evolved in their own ways since then, but they are delicious - amazing - perfection.

If you have a big crowd and you want to make some leftover turkey go pretty far, this recipe will do the trick.

These Moo Shoo Turkey Wraps are a fun Asian-American fusion deviating from the typical turkey leftovers you usually see, and they are astonishingly easy to prepare.  My husband and I whacked them together one night after Thanksgiving, using a huge wok from my grandma, and ate as much as we could handle.

Moo Shoo Turkey Wraps
Obviously, there is lots of wiggle room in this recipe.  Add some toasted sesame seeds if you like; I love to serve these with homemade (or storebought) sweet plum sauce!  To really go with the Asian theme or to avoid extra gluten you could use rice wraps, like spring roll wrappers, instead of tortillas.  If you like, you could use a bagged shredded coleslaw mix instead of a cabbage.  

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 ounces sliced mushrooms
4 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon peeled, grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed
16 - 20 ounces shredded fresh cabbage (one small cabbage, or less than half large cabbage)
1/3 cup water
2 cups shredded leftover cooked turkey
3 tablespoons soy-sauce
3 tablespoons (plus extra for serving) hoisin sauce
8 tortillas, warmed

In a skillet or wok, heat one tablespoon olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add mushrooms and saute 6 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.  Remove to a plate.
In the skillet, heat one teaspoon olive oil on medium-high.  Stir in green onions (reserve a small portion if you want to sprinkle some fresh on the wraps), ginger, crushed red pepper, and garlic.  Add shredded cabbage and cook 2 minutes or until cabbage begins to soften, stirring constantly.  Add water and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until water evaporates.  Cabbage should be tender-crisp, not mushy; stir frequently.  Stir in turkey, soy sauce, 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, and cooked mushrooms; cook an additional 3 minutes or until turkey is hot, stirring constantly.
Spread tortillas with hoisin sauce; top with turkey filling, extra green onions if you like, roll up and enjoy!  These are very juicy.  These are very delicious.

If any of my readers are vegan and cook meat alternatives like tofurkey, I'd be interested to hear your take on this dish with that replacement!  I haven't tried it yet, myself.

I'm hungry now!

Mrs H

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P.S. There will be another fabulous idea for leftover turkey for you on Friday!  Also, don't forget to pop your head in here if you're in the mood for soup ....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Remember the Cookies!

Dear fellow readers who have at times been forgetful, neglectful, and altogether regretful,

I share a dire warning to all busy cooks who will be bustling about this week preparing for Thanksgiving!

Remember the biscuit-cookies of a few days ago?

Well, that is not all that went awry that night!

While I was shopping for groceries on that fateful day, I was chatting via intermittent text with the mysterious Mrs. S.  She was relating to me an incident that had happened to her in the kitchen one time - she was making macaroni and cheese for dinner when she noticed the rich scent of vanilla in the air ... an aroma that does not usually accompany the savory Lactobacilli dish.  Upon further investigation she realized that the soy milk she had used was vanilla-flavored!

I chuckled at this amusing anecdote.  How could anybody overlook the fact that the milk was vanilla?  Impossible.  At the moment, I was buying almond milk - and in light of her words, I double checked the carton to make sure it was unflavored before tossing it in the cart!  This would add some smooth creaminess to our mashed potatoes that night.

Back at the homestead, dinner preparations were rolling along as they are wont to do.  I boiled a huge pot of potatoes, obligingly peeled by one of my gracious dinner guests, and dumped the steaming tubers into a bowl and mashed the ever-living love out of them with a fork.  I poured in some of the almond milk, some butter, some herbs, a little salt, a little pepper, beat them to a final fluffy pulp, and served them with meatloaf and gravy.

Mmm.  The rich scent of vanilla in the air.

Wait a moment ... Where was that coming from?

I took a forkful of the mashed potatoes.  Peculiar tasting.  I looked around the table (that is to say, I looked around the circle of menfolk sitting on the floor with plates on their laps).  Everybody was eating with the rapidity of a Last Supper and conversation was scant - generally proof that the food is good.

Oh, how quickly the prideful are brought down.  Oh, mysterious Mrs. S, how could I have found it in my calloused heart to laugh at you?

Grimly I went into the kitchen and pulled the carton from the fridge.  Beaming, the label proclaimed loudly that it was Vanilla Flavored!

I went back out to the "table."  Hunkering down beside my husband, I muttered, "do you taste anything weird with the potatoes?"

"Yeah," he said, "I think the gravy is a little funny or something."

I didn't want to mention anything and put the herd off their feed, but curiosity killed the cook.  "Does anybody taste anything funny with the potatoes?"

"They're great!" came the reply.

"I accidentally used vanilla-flavored milk," I confessed.

Thoughtful looks, slow forkfuls.

"Yep," said my husband.  "That's vanilla, alright."

Measure twice, cut once!

Mrs H

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