November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving dinner recap...

So as we discussed a few posts ago, this year we went off script and had dinner out.

I am sorry to report, it was not well received by any of us.  To be honest, I was surprised - because this particular restaurant is a very good one with fabulous food, usually.

Man-Child and I both ordered the Thanksgiving dinner and The Husband ordered off the regular menu.  The Husband's meal was up to par - Man-Child and I were disappointed.  It appeared that they slapped some deli turkey on a plate and covered it with watery gravy.  The look Man-Child made when he tasted the collards (seriously?  Collards for Thanksgiving?  Is that a thing?  It isn't for this family.) warned me off even trying them.  About the only thing we enjoyed were our carbs - the bread was perfection as were my mashed potatoes and his sweet potatoes.

Even the dessert was a bit of a disappointment.  Some sort of cranberry/apple cake, which although it was moist was extraordinarily dense.  They would have been better off serving a Mrs. Smith's pie.

I don't want to come across as ungrateful - I'm not.  This place was open and serving nomads like us, it was a holiday for them too, yet there they were.  And The Husband was stress-free this year - which is why Man-Child and I didn't complain. 

So, if we do this experiment ever again, we will choose another restaurant - although normally, I would heartily recommend this restaurant.  But I would suggest that places that offer Thanksgiving dinner might want to look at what they are serving and compare it to their usual menu.  If the Thanksgiving menu is of such inferior quality to what they would normally serve - then give the staff the day off and let them enjoy the holiday with their family and friends and let people like us find other accommodations.

It's a good thing we had the pie waiting for us at home - that part felt right.  And, as an FYI, using the single pie recipe (and doubling it - because I couldn't decide between chocolate or cherry) works MUCH better than trying to make a three pie recipe into a single.

Despite our lack of complaints, The Husband must have felt sorry for us as he is currently in the kitchen making a small turkey dinner.  Man-Child whispered in my ear that is was a "guilt" turkey - I had to stifle a giggle.

November 20, 2017

Cream Cheese Pie

Since it was requested from my last post (okay, it wasn't actually requested, but Suburban Correspondent was curious...) today I will tell you how to make a cream cheese pie.

This pie (or more specifically three of these pies) has been a staple for Thanksgiving since I was a child.  And you should realize this does not technically fall under the term "Baking."  Instead it falls under the term "Mixing Up a Few Things and it Works."

You should also realize, my mom was not a baker - so it's no wonder this was a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple.  Generally, we had chocolate, cherry and blueberry.  Occasionally, a lemon one would sneak in.

I have found this recipe which claims to make one pie.  The directions I have make enough for three and I figured I would spare you the drama of trying to make only one from that - of which I have consistently failed.  I'll probably use that recipe this year instead.

Without further ado - you will need:

1 9-in graham cracker crust
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp of vanilla
1/3 cup of lemon juice
filling of choice (as stated earlier, usually chocolate pudding, cherry or blueberry pie filling)

Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice and vanilla.  Pour into piecrust; top with filling.  Chill until set (I usually make these a day ahead and that seems to be okay).

As I said, "baking" it's not - but it IS easy, quick and delicious.  And obviously, a favorite of Man-Child's.

November 18, 2017

A different Thanksgiving this year.

Long time readers will know that generally, every year we host Thanksgiving for dear friends that are also far from family.

This year, those friends - who are close enough to be considered family - are going "home" for the holiday to celebrate and deal with family issues.

This news wrought much havoc in this household.  Not that we begrudge them for not being here - we are so happy that they will be going home and dealing with the issues that must be dealt with - but...this leaves just the three of us.  And while The Husband loves to cook, a full-on Thanksgiving meal for three is just too much to ask of him and, honestly?  Cleaning up a full-on Thanksgiving dinner for just three is too much to ask of me.

So I threw a wild and crazy idea out there figuring it would wither on the vine.  I suggested that we go out for Thanksgiving dinner.  The Husband was on board, surprisingly.  We figured the sticking point would be Man-Child.  This boy man is ALL about tradition...and food.  He agreed, albeit reluctantly but he warmed to the idea.

Last weekend, I began casting around for local restaurants that would be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and found quite a few.  What I wasn't expecting?  That most of those would already be full of reservations.  Who knew?  Going out for Thanksgiving is a "thing" here.  Luckily, I was able to secure one of the last available reservations in town.

After making the reservation, *I* began to have reservations.  So I texted Man-Child asking if he wanted me to make a dessert - you know, just to hold onto a piece of tradition.  His response?

So, it's nice to know that at least ONE tradition will stand this happens every year - no matter what complicated math I use to divide the recipe, I will end up with enough filling for three; never fails.

What's your Thanksgiving looking like this year?

November 10, 2017

Quiet house...

Such a rarity, but here it is.  The Husband and Man-Child left for a weekend of male bonding.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Husband, of the Refuses to Relax and Unwind-kind, actually took his son on a weekend trip.  I know!  I'm as amazed as you are!

Well, if the truth be told, I booked the trip.  Because, of course, I did.  BUT, The Husband mentioned that it would be nice if he and Man-Child headed up to Smith Mountain Lake for his birthday - so like any sane and rational wife I took that to mean that I should just start scouting out a location to stay.

I found four possibilities right off the bat and forwarded them on - thinking, this is NEVER gonna happen.

And then?  The Husband said he really liked the one and asked if I would book it.  Between you, me and the wall, I about fell out of my chair.  And then, when I didn't immediately reserve the place THAT VERY MOMENT, he told me I should book it before someone else did.  (What alien life form had taken the place of my husband?  In conversations since, we have determined, if the action involves spending, I am the one to pull the trigger because it is in his DNA to not spend it - unless it's on unnecessary groceries.)

Little did he realize, no one - and I mean NO ONE - is headed up to Smith Mountain Lake in the middle of November.  Eventually, I booked the place and he was pleased.  He even said, "I'm glad you did because I was having second thoughts...particularly about the cost."  No surprise there.

And immediately after I booked the reservation the forecast changed.  Until recently, our weather has been rather warm.  As of today, the low tomorrow here will be 25 degrees, and we are significantly south of where the lake is located.  Seriously, who goes to a summer destination in the winter?  But, this is my husband - the man who is famous for going to a place known for their chicken and ordering the fish (and being extremely disappointed, I might add - when will he learn?!  Chicken place - order the chicken!).  He goes against the flow.

Now I sit in a house that is so quiet I can actually hear when the refrigerator kicks on and contemplating how I will spend my quiet time.  No television blaring.  No football.  No loud conversations about football.  Popcorn and wine for dinner.  Pure bliss.

Without a doubt, by Sunday I will be ready for them to be home - but until then?  Quiet - sweet, sweet quiet.

November 6, 2017

I get it...there are only seven more weeks until Christmas, but seriously?

Don't shoot the messenger!  I heard it on the radio the other morning.  I didn't believe them so I had to check for myself...and it's true.

Then and there, I resolved that I'd be AHEAD of the game this year - but honestly?  If I was going to be ahead of the game, I would have started before now.  But again, honestly?  Not having very many little people to buy for means that Christmas presents aren't nearly as much fun to buy as they used to be when Man-Child was small and you could FEEL the excitement ratchet up as the big day got closer and closer.

I especially noticed the change this year when we celebrated Man-Child's birthday.  There wasn't anything that he HAD to have, so I was at a loss when it came to buying his gift, therefore I left it in The Husband's hands because otherwise, he would have received cash - which, in retrospect, may have been a better choice.  Oh, he enjoyed and appreciated what he did get...but the excitement just wasn't there; on either end.

So I have started prodding people for ideas, much to their horror.  Didn't I realize that Thanksgiving was still on the horizon, they wondered; but what they don't realize is that in order to try and restore "the magic," and as the one who "does" the majority of Christmas, I need to start early.

Also, it will be easier on the pocketbook if I spread out the buying - so there you have it, if you need it, the practical reason to bring up the "C" word.

But today?  Today is where I drew a line.  Yes, I'll be starting my Christmas prep this weekend (although truthfully, I should have started a few weeks ago...) but Christmas carols? No.

We need to celebrate Thanksgiving before we start up with the Christmas carols.  Why, you may be asking yourself, is she bringing up Christmas carols?  Is she insane?  Maybe.  But maybe not.

At lunch today, I found myself in a local eatery and I heard the air conditioning kick on (because it's unseasonably warm right now) and then the music in the background finally was Elvis Presley singing I'll Be Home for Christmas and I was floored.  I hoped it was just a fluke but no, the next song was a carol, as was the one after that and so on.

So there I sat eating my salad and hearing Christmas carols - while the air conditioner was blowing - before Thanksgiving.  And that's just ridiculous.  And I, for one, applaud Target for taking a stand, of sorts.  They do have their Christmas area - usually toward the back of the store - but are keeping Christmas out of your face at the front of the store until after Thanksgiving.

So yes, I AM gearing up for Christmas as it's only prudent for me, but I'm not advocating Christmas Creep.  And having Christmas music playing on the 6th of November is far too early.  Far, far, far too early.