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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Mr. Stripeypants wraps his feline body, a curled half moon in front of the space heater. Liz is still sleeping. Out on the deck, the bear chimes I purchased in Ely last July ripple with the wind. The sky is dark. It’s 50 degrees. Later in the day, the wind will pick up, the air will drop into the twenties. November darkness refuels my passion for the Arts. It’s a chance to reflect, to take stock of my life. Not the long term dreams and goals I harnessed as a twenty-year-old. But the smiling clerk in the grocery line at Byerly’s, lunch alone at Como Park, the smile in my lover’s eyes — minutes that end up creating years. I am grateful for each moment.

I used to dread change. I thought it meant the loss of loved ones, the fleeing of love, abandonment. Now I welcome what is fresh and new, the unplanned. Change means I don’t have to cling to what I have lost. Change means I don’t have to stay stuck where I am — emotionally, spiritually, physically. Change means I am willing to face the future. Change means I don’t have to like something or someone to accept them, or forgive. Change means the body breaks down, the mind remains stubborn, the heart swells with appreciation. Change. I am grateful for change.

Thank you to family, friends, readers, teachers, patrons of the Arts. Because of you, my life feels rich and full. Happy Thanksgiving.



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Gratitude Writing Practice 2012


A is for altitude, the steady climb before the peregrine’s dive. B, let me not be brittle, but open to the opportunities life has to offer. C is for centered, concrete, creative, cushion. D, that last cool drink of water from a mountain stream. E, grateful for all the Elizabeths in my life. F will always be for family and friendships, for those who have stuck with me, even when I hit my bottom. G, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. So much to be thankful for. H reminds me not to hurry. Slow down. Watch for the edges. Hypocrisy, emerald hedges, the hollow bone. I, irresistible words. Letters, dots, dashes, the incurable love affair with language. J is for justice, judges, journey work. The realization that I can’t control what is just and fair. Acceptance of the slow turn of arbitration. Solomon. Did he have it right? K is for the keys to the passage, low island reef at high tide. Keystone, quoin, foundation, groundwork. L for the lionhearted, those with courage, grace under pressure, the fearless who inspire me. M, morgue, decay, melodrama, the things we leave behind. Laurie Anderson reminded me, it is in times of death that we experience the most intense feelings of love. Anyway, N is for nesting, nudging noxious thoughts away, purging what is not useful to living a full-hearted life. O, owing a debt of gratitude to those who serve humanity. Out-of-the-way places where I can be my true self, unmasked, unafraid of a face-to-face with my own shortcomings. P is for play, paper, Mr. StripeyPants, Kiev, parables forming nuggets of truth. Q, there are Questions, there can never be too many questions. Quandaries, crossroads, quagmires, quests. A call to action. R, rest, solitude, unconnected, unavailable, alone. Remember, reverberate, don’t be too rigid. S, steady, slow, steadfast. Grant me the serenity. Sugar, shug. T, the topple of empires built on shifting sands. Trounced by the tough and true-hearted. U is for unburden, unbroken, unbound. Underdog, under the weather, underestimated. V, vivacious, high-spirited, don’t play your cards so close to the vest. W, the winsome and wise do not dismiss what is wistful and wintry. A windfall comes your way. X is for seeing through the xenophobic, just in the nick of time. Y, yearning for solitude, receiving a yen, unwilling to be the yes woman, corralling the yowling, howling courage of my youth. Z, life is a zigzag of faithful moments laced with bad decisions, and wretched zaniness. A short walk through zoological gardens of wonder, a long conversation. Listen. Listen.


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-related to posts: Gratitude Mandala — Giving Thanks, This Thanksgiving Weekend, Make A Gratitude Journal, A Simple Gratitude List, gratitude haiku (orange), The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List

-posted on red Ravine, Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, 2012

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The gift of time. Rocking in a white porch chair, drinking Stash Fusion Green & White tea. My stomach is full on residual Thanksgiving, a small feast for two (plus two cats). I am grateful for those who checked in on red Ravine while I took a break. It started as a short week away from the Internet, and turned into boots on the ground living—time for Liz, for my brother’s visit to Minnesota, for Mr. StripeyPants and Kiev. I checked in with my family on Facebook once in a while, but rarely fired up the laptop during the week. It was refreshing to take time to think, to sit, to be.


Unconnected.


I stopped all my practices for a month, including red Ravine. Since 2001, I have done at least two yearly practices, one writing, one visual, each beginning in January and ending in December. Writing practice, haiku, haiga, renga, BlackBerry 365, the Great Round mandala series; I stayed true to them. I honored them. This year it felt like all I was doing was trying to keep up with the many practices I had taken on, my agreements to others, my commitment to myself to keep going for a full year. I made it January through September. It was freeing to choose to take a break rather than force myself to continue.

But I miss this place, this creative space. Something I learned when I stopped doing my practices was that a part of me went into hiding. I am not happy when I am not taking photographs, writing, painting or drawing. Last night Liz and I watched A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. Lady opened up in a short interview. She said her song, “Marry The Night” was about the moment she made a choice to give her all to music. Right or wrong, up or down, her first relationship would be with the music; she would be true to herself.  It is another form of befriending the Black Dog, the dark shadowy side that comes with deep exploration of your writing or art.

When I listened to her, I knew she was right. It takes great sacrifice to marry the night. And part of the ritual is to know when you need a break. Near the end of the silent workshops with Natalie in Taos, there is a short meeting with her in the round. We sign up on a sheet of paper taped to the zendo wall. Five or six at a time, we slow walk to the cabin at Mabel Dodge Luhan, take our shoes off, sit in a semi-circle, candles lit, in silence, and Natalie goes around and checks in with each of us. Almost every time, there is one person who says they don’t want to write anymore. Natalie inevitably responds, “Then don’t write. Take a break. See if you come back to it.”


Those words are as important to me as the day at my first workshop when she told us to plan on at least two years of Writing Practice before stopping. Oh, and don’t quit your day job.

If you are listening to your teachers, good advice sticks in your craw, and rises to the surface when you need it. The list of things Natalie has taught me over the years would fill a notebook; I bring each one out as I need it, and practice those I believe will make me a better writer, a better artist, a better person. Sometimes I fail. And that is okay, too.


At the one month mark away from my practices, I started adding them back in, one at a time. I added Writing Practice first and continue to write with my online group. I am grateful they have stuck with me. After a little over two months away, the next thing I am adding back into my practices is red Ravine. I have noticed that I am happiest combining writing and art; red Ravine is a good venue for the collaboration and synthesis that happen between the two. I want to look at restructuring, infusing the past with a burst of new life.

It is Thanksgiving weekend and I have much to be grateful for. I will take time to make my yearly gratitude list and begin work on another mandala. I have not been tossed away. The work continues. Positive effort for the good is the best practical response to a hungry world. I am grateful to be back on the page, thankful you are still here. The silence doesn’t scare me anymore; it is filled with light. The wind bristles and becomes her own wingman, sailing to the next stop. The best I can hope for is a gentle landing.


-posted on red Ravine Friday, November 25th, 2011, Thanksgiving weekend, an edited Writing Practice

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The Turkey Who Lived, the story of Azul as told by the girl who loved her most,
© 2004-2009 by Dee. All rights reserved.




She was a blue so light she was almost gray. Jim got her at Miller Feed Shop in Albuquerque’s north valley after first buying and then losing a white baby turkey to a hawk. That turkey, we were later told, would have eventually grown so big that its weight would have broken its legs.

But Azul was a lean heritage turkey. She was made to roam fields. And roam she did. She had an easy relationship with our dogs, who seemed to know that she was as much a part of the family as they were. And she was docile with the girls, which put me at ease. A man I once worked with told me that you should never have turkeys around small children, as the turkeys would see the kids’ shiny eyes and peck them out.

Azul became famous ’round these parts. We lived within walking distance to the elementary school, and my daughters’ teachers regularly took their classes on field trips to our house. Twenty or so excited kids would stand at the fence around the bird pen to see Azul and the other turkeys, along with our chickens and Roosevelt the duck. We even had two bunnies, Diamond-in-the-Rough and Snowball, which if we could catch (they burrowed tunnels from the pen out to the yard) we’d let the students pet.

But Azul’s fame derived mostly because she survived an attack so severe that her innards were exposed. She had flown into the neighbors’ yard, not knowing that their dogs were unfriendly. Immediately a Bassett Hound and German Shepherd cornered and jumped her. The daughter was inside alone but had the wherewithal to call the police. She then went outside and chased the dogs away from Azul until Animal Control arrived and took the wounded turkey to the village offices.

Normally, with injuries that grave, Azul would have been put to sleep. But when the mayor of the village saw our daughter, who with Jim had pulled in seconds behind Animal Control, crying her eyes out when she saw how gory Azul looked, the mayor ordered Frosty, the head dog catcher, to rush the turkey to a local veterinarian. This mayor, who was also a sometimes-actor in Western films, then told Jim that the village would pick up the cost.

Lo and behold, Azul pulled through. She went on to live a relatively long life, giving birth to and raising three or four poults, a combined 20 to 30 turkeys.

Just a couple of weeks ago, however, Azul went missing. We looked high and low for her. She was always the leader of her flock, until this past year. We were down to four turkeys, one being Azul. The two males had plucked out large patches of her feathers. We let her stay outside the pen, being as how she roosted high in the trees to sleep.

One night we heard a commotion and chased off whatever it was that had come around. The next day Azul was gone. There were no feathers, no sign that she’d been taken or hurt. We searched for her for several days, thinking she might have laid eggs underneath brush and was hidden, safe and sound.

We still like to think she just flew high up into the trees where we can’t see her. But she was old for a turkey, and in our hearts we know that she’s gone for good.

Here is the story that Dee wrote about Azul back in 2004, just a few weeks after Azul was attacked by the dogs. Dee was 8 years old, and Azul was just over a year. I’ve corrected typos for ease of reading.



The Turkey Who Lived



One fall day, my dad, M., and me were shopping at K-Mart. We got a lot of stuff. Finally we were headed for home. When we turned on Mockingbird Lane, we saw the Animal Control leaving the road. My dad had a feeling something was wrong!

When we pulled up at our green gate, my dad saw a note left from the Animal Control which read “Your turkey has been attacked by some dogs next door. Sincerely, Frosty.”

My dad told us and I cried, but then I said, “I’ll kill those dogs!”

We met up with them [Animal Control] just in time. Before my dad got out of the car, he said Azul might be dead or dying. While my dad talked I could not tell if Azul was dead or alive, so I got out of the van and went to my turkey and cried when I saw her.

“We will put her to sleep,” the man said. “No!” the mayor said, “you will take her to the vet.”

So they did. The vet stitched her up. We had to put red medicine on her for a week. Now she is better, as if it never happened.





In Memoriam



azul azul and baby in fall

fall humps goodbye azul





Azul and her flock on red Ravine







Postscript: Even though she’s no longer with our flock, we are grateful this Thanksgiving holiday for having had Azul in our lives. She taught us that turkeys were not just some dumb bird you eat once a year. They’re regal and sociable. They’re funny, and most of all, they’re tough.

We’re also thankful today for our family (including the furry, feathered, and scaly), friends, our readers, for nature, writing, art, and all that inspires us.

Happy Thanksgiving, QM and Liz, and both your families!

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Liz Really Liked It!, BlackBerry Shots, vintage recipe card, November 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

It’s almost Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude for our many blessings. And a time for good food. I walked over to the fridge this morning and under a Morton Salt “When it rains it pours” magnet was this faded recipe card for Chicken L’Orange. Liz’s mother (oliverowl) mailed it to us after a discussion on Memories, Writing & Family Recipes.

She told us that Liz’s maternal grandmother, Frances Oliver Biggs, loved that Liz liked the Chicken L’Orange. So much so, that she handwrote her comment on the back of the family recipe card she sent to Liz’s mom:

Does Liz remember the recipe for “Chicken L’Orange” that her Nana sent me? I still have the card in my recipe box. At the end is her comment, “Liz really liked it!” (Sent after Liz’s visit to CA.) It is probably similar to what you had on the Cornish game hens.

My contribution to yesterday’s meal was Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad (OLD family recipe) and a Cranberry Sauce that had orange juice and a whole jar of Orange Marmalade cooked with the fresh berries!

Now the recipe card with Liz’s grandmother’s handwriting hangs on our fridge. I told Liz I want to try Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad this year. It reminds me of my family’s version of Jell-O salad with whipped cream. Below is the recipe that Liz’s mom Marylin dropped into the red Ravine comments.

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Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad

 
 

1 large box of Lime Jell-O
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 14-15 oz. can crushed pineapple, including juice

 
 

Take the cream cheese out of the fridge, so it begins to soften. Prepare the Jell-O, using 1 less cup of water than the recipe calls for. Chill it until it begins to thicken, but don’t let it solidify, or you’ll have a mess!

Since I only have one mixer, I whip the cream and place it in a small bowl. Then I cut the cream cheese in small chunks and place them in the mixer bowl and beat it well. When the Jell-O is a thick syrupy consistency, I add it to the cream cheese and mix until they are homogenized! (You’ll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.) Next, the pineapple is mixed in and then the whipped cream, both at the slowest speed. Refrigerate until firm. Enjoy!

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We’re going to stop at the store today for last minute ingredients. What traditional recipes will you be sharing this Thanksgiving week? Are there any that have been passed down by your grandmother? Bob mentioned he’s making Aunt Annie’s Scalloped Oysters. ybonesy’s family always makes tamales for Christmas. And my family makes Southern Banana Pudding for almost every family gathering. Old recipes are invaluable to memoir writers. Family flavor.

Hope you enjoy Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad. And if you put together the two front and back photos of the recipe card in this post, you’ll have the Biggs family recipe for Chicken L’Orange — two great family recipes, one post. And any leftover turkey? Try Amelia’s Soft Dumpling Recipe.

 
 

Chicken L’Orange, When It Rains, It Pours,  BlackBerry Shots, vintage recipe card, November 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Post Script: The Morton Salt girl has always been a favorite icon of mine. She’s officially called the Morton Umbrella Girl and according to the Morton website, the slogan, “When it rains it pours” first appeared on the blue package of table salt and in a series of Good Housekeeping magazine advertisements in 1914. The slogan is adapted from an old proverb, “It never rains but it pours.”

You can read more about the history of Morton Salt, view vintage ads, and see the transition of the Morton Umbrella Girl from the roaring twenties to the 1968 image that we still view on packaging today. They’ve also got a recipe section with Winning Kosher Salt Recipes.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

-related to post: Reflections On The Other National Bird*

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My first and probably last food fight was a snowy Thanksgiving in Missoula, Montana. I was in my 20′s, and since my family lived half way across the country, due East, I formed community with other Montana transplants.

There was Bev from Ohio, K.D. from Los Angeles, Mary from Pennsylvania, Gail from Minnesota, Leslie from Iowa, Lynne from Idaho, to name only a few. Many of us came to Montana via college, the University of Montana, and loved it so much we decided to stay. Others followed friends out West. I had always dreamed of living in the West. One day I just did it; I picked up and moved.

The food fight was after a Thanksgiving feast:  big old Butterball turkey, smashed potatoes with skins, homemade gravy and biscuits, cranberries, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pies. Back then we all drank, so there was lots of alcohol around. I don’t drink much anymore, a glass of wine on occasion. But then it was different. I would return years later for a reunion of these same friends, and many had gone into recovery. It was good to visit with them sober and clean.

There were a few native Montanans in our group, friends who knew the lay of the land. Some grew up in eastern Montana, Billings, some in the western areas of Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena. I would end up visiting these places over the course of the time I lived there, skiing the valleys, hiking the mountains. I lived in a two-story yellow house on Orange Street near the tracks, when there were no strip malls on Reserve Street, just a series of grassy fields.

The food fight was a culmination of hours of planning, cooking, talking, eating, and playing live music. At the time, we had a drum set, McCartney-style bass, keyboard, and a whole array of random percussion instruments in a basket in the corner. We usually played music together on the Holidays, anything from Joni Mitchell to Neil Young to lots of bluegrass — it was Montana in the 70’s.

That Thanksgiving I ended up with mashed potatoes in my hair. Bev threw a biscuit that landed in a ladle of gravy and splashed up on to our shirts. There were cranberry stains on the table cloth that never came out. I remember those days in Montana as good times, even though we all had our problems. We acted, well, we acted like we had not lived as much life as we have lived now.

Food is a metaphor for substance, nutrition, community, family, and friendship. Food is used to show love and nurturing. Food is mother’s milk. Food is not to be wasted. But it’s not good to take oneself too seriously. A good food fight once in a while never hurt anyone. Still, in some places, food can be scarce.

I have often thought of working in community service over the Holidays, something like a soup kitchen or a food bank. I’ve never done it. But I’m keenly aware this time of year that there are people in this country who don’t have enough to eat. They can’t afford it. You don’t have to go to other parts of the world to see how people without enough money to afford food struggle to make ends meet. How people sometimes have to make choices between healthcare and food.

I know a woman, a single parent, who has five children, temps for work in a corporate office, and has no health insurance. It’s available to her through her temp agency, but by the time she purchases it for herself and her five kids, she doesn’t have a paycheck left. She told me she’s one of those people who falls between the cracks. She works hard but makes too much money to apply for additional support for health insurance.

When faced with hard choices, she chooses nutrition for her family. I guess that’s a different kind of fight — the fight for everyone in this country to have healthcare and plenty of food.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 20th, 2008

-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC – COOKING FIASCOS

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My mother-in-law made this…



Happy Thanksgiving, handmade card from Celia, Thanksgiving
2009, image © 2008 by Celia. All rights reserved.

 


                                                         …which made me think of this…


       
Hand Turkey, remembering how we used to draw turkeys when we were kids, image © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




…which kind of looks like this…(although not really)…



Gray Tom, one of tom turkeys counting his blessings before Thanksgiving, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




                                            …and which looks nothing like this!



Black Tom, glad to be the clever turkey he is, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






Will you be eating

             one of these handsome guys


                                   (well, not exactly one of them)

                                                                  this Thanksgiving??







*The Bald Eagle is the symbol of the United States, yet one person believed that the Turkey would have been a more respectable bird to represent our nation.

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Smile, You're On A Banana Puddin'!, Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Stirring the steaming, liquid vanilla pudding as it warms on the stove is kind of Zen for me. The silver spoon gleams and swirls through currents of milk and cornstarch. I stare, mesmerized.

Liz was bustling around the kitchen, dicing and dashing, mixing the Dijon, OJ, and honey basting sauce, chopping bananas, basting the naked Cornish hens, while I stirred, and stirred, and stirred.

It’s a meditative practice, stirring pudding. Anything can be practice. Cooking is grounding. Recipes provide structure. Food anchors us in detail. Natalie often taught us – if you want to ground your writing, write about food. The closer to your heart, the better.

I kept staring at the steam, lost in memories of all the times Mom would grab one of us kids to stir, and keep the pudding from scorching, while she hurried around the kitchen, trying to pull a meal together for our family of 8. I have a lot of appreciation for all the meals she cooked for us.

When Liz broke into the box of Nabisco “simple goodness” Nilla wafers, she smiled and pointed to the inside of the cardboard. There, printed in both English and Spanish, was the recipe for the Original Nilla Banana Pudding with meringue topping, the one that Mom talked about in her comment on Southern Banana Pudding.

           The Puddin' In Banana Puddin', Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.        Baste With Care, Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.         Chop, Chop!, bananas for banana pudding, Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  

I remember the old style pudding and the time it took to make it. In further research, I discovered that the recipe for original banana pudding with meringue (that’s printed inside our Nilla wafer box) can be found at NabiscoWorld, Original Nilla Banana Pudding. 

There’s also a page of Spread Some Holiday Cheer Nilla recipes that includes a Meringue-Topped Southern Banana Pudding that uses the boxed vanilla pudding (not Instant but Cook & Serve) that is in R3′s recipe post — Southern Banana Pudding – A Family Tradition.

           Basting The Birds, Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.         It's All About The Layers, Thanksgiving Day, November 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.         Thanksgiving Dinner, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Confused? Like I said, there are as many banana pudding recipes as there are families to make them. Each is unique, traditional for that family. It seems to me that as puddings and pies became more packaged and convenient, the recipes were slightly altered to adapt them to the additional speed needed to save time as women became busier and busier outside the home.

That’s my theory. So take your pick; try them all and see which appeals to you. Next time, I want to make the vanilla pudding from scratch, the Original Nilla Banana Pudding with meringue. Just like my Aunt used to make.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. A Holiday to count our blessings. To be grateful for what we have. Now it’s time to head off to my writing projects. I’m grateful for the simple gift of time. This day is just for me.

 
 

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, November 23rd, 2007

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Old family recipes remind me of the good parts of childhood. The smells are familar and warm, enveloping me in a giant culinary hug. The tastes are like ancestral footprints, distinct to each family, passed down for generations. (They don’t call it comfort food for nothin’!)

My 5 siblings and I have started pulling together Mom’s family recipes, many of which are Southern. She grew up in the South but has lived in the North for almost 41 years. Out of 6 kids, 4 of us lived in the South part of our childhoods, and 2 have only known the Northern climates as home.

After we moved from Georgia, Mom learned to cook favorite Pennsylvania dishes. And we grew up with a distinct blend of Northern and Southern cooking. I think we are all richer for it. My heart will always be rooted in the South, but my feet have been firmly planted in the high North for over 40 years.

I posted Mom’s Soft Dumpling recipe a few days ago. My brother, R3, sent the Banana Pudding recipe to me in an email. There aren’t many gatherings in our family without banana pudding on the table. It’s a family tradition. And, let me tell you, it’s not long before it’s all gobbled up!

Here’s Mom’s Southern Banana Pudding recipe, complete with R3′s commentary. It’s perfect for Turkey Day. It’s perfect anytime!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Southern Banana Pudding (by R3)

Banana pudding has always been a family favorite.  I am not sure where it came from but it doesn’t seem like a complete family gathering if we don’t have banana pudding.

The recipe is basically very simple.  The ingredients are bananas, cooked vanilla pudding (you need whole milk for this) and vanilla wafers.

I usually make a 9 X 13 inch pan of banana pudding because that seems to be the right amount for our family. I also use Nabisco “Nilla” vanilla wafers because they are the ones Mom always used. I have tried others but the taste of the Nilla wafers reminds me of home.

As for the pudding, instant pudding cannot be substituted for the cooked version. Not only does the instant taste “grainy” but you need the heated pudding to help cook the bananas and to infiltrate the cookies to make them softer. The bananas should have no green on them and be just starting to spot, so they are still firm but at their peak of flavor.


Shopping list:

2 – 3 packages of cooked vanilla pudding (depending on the number of layers and the fact that the portion sizes from packaged foods are getting smaller. No instant pudding! Use the real deal.)

1 – 2 boxes of Nabisco Nilla wafers (I used to be able to use one but the volume of cookies has decreased, and my consumption while I make banana pudding has increased!)

3 – 4 bananas (depending on how big the bananas are and how many layers you make. Bananas should have no green on them and be just starting to spot, so they are still firm but at their peak of flavor.)


Cooking Instructions:

Cook the vanilla pudding per the package instructions (using whole milk for the total experience).

While the pudding is cooking, place a layer of Nilla wafers on the bottom of the pan and top with a layer of cut banana slices (cut into disks). I usually use 1 to 1 1/2 bananas per layer.

When the pudding is cooked, pour about a third of the pudding over the sliced bananas and cookies. Make another layer of cookies and bananas and cover them with more pudding. If you have enough for another layer then do another layer of cookies and bananas ending with a top layer of pudding.

If you want to get fancy you can put cookies around the sides of the dish, pushing them in vertically and another layer on top.

Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight (this is an important step because banana pudding is always best if it ages overnight in the refrigerator).

The next day grab a spoon, a cereal bowl and enjoy (cereal bowl is optional).


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

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I was sitting in Amelia’s kitchen with the smell of Southern style chicken and dumplings pouring through my nostrils, when it occurred to me I should be writing her recipes down. I’ve never been much of a cook. But all of my siblings carry on the tradition of Mom’s cooking. That was in mouthwatering evidence on her 70th birthday last week, when all manner of Southern cuisine showed up on the birthday table.

Amelia's Yellow Squash, Central Pennsylvania, November 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved Each time I visit, I ask Mom to make my favorite “growing-up” foods, comfort foods you just can’t find in the Midwest. This trip, I asked for a pot of yellow squash (which I love), and found out the secret ingredients are butter, a dash of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of bacon grease.

After the squash was well along, Mom started the dumplings, I connected the dial-up at the kitchen table, fired up my laptop, and asked her to dictate the soft dumpling recipe (passed down from her mother), while I tapped her words into this post.

Soft dumplings are a big hit any season, but perfect for leftover Thanksgiving turkey. And since Mom’s a big fan of red Ravine, we had a good chuckle imagining one of ybonesy’s wild, New Mexico turkeys mingling with the steaming Southern dumplings.

When I got back to Minnesota and ybonesy mentioned that I should start posting Amelia’s recipes, R3 sent the banana pudding recipe (complete with his commentary), which I’ll post early this week.

But for now, plan ahead for those leftovers next weekend. Turkey and dumplings, anyone?


Amelia’s Soft Dumplings


Sift together:

2 cups plain flour
3 tsp baking powder (make sure it’s not flat!)
1 tsp salt


Cut in 1/4 cup Crisco
Add 1 cup of whole milk (make a well in the flour, then pour the milk in; be sure NOT to use skim!)
Stir with fork (until like coarse cornmeal)
Mix until dry is all wet

Drop by spoonfuls into boiling broth
Cook 10 min uncovered, still boiling
Cover and cook 10 minutes longer on low (this steams the tops of the dumplings)


You can drop these into boiling chicken, beef, or turkey broth. Or for a sweet dumpling, slip them into hot stewed apples or blueberries.

Then, in Mom’s words, “Call Amelia!”


Amelia's Soft Dumplings, Central Pennsylvania, November 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved




Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. There’s one last thing I want to mention. The pots and pans Mom used last week were antiques, probably purchased when I was about 3 and we were living in Tennessee.

 

Of course, she has a brand spanking new set of cookware around the kitchen. But these are the ones she loves to use for her favorite recipes.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 18th, 2007

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Turkeys Greeting #1
Hey, look, it’s Mom, she’s home for lunch!

Turkeys Greeting #2
Hi, Mom, d’ya got anything for us? What d’ya got?

Turkey Greeting #3
What d’ya got there, Mom? D’ya got anything??

Turkey Greeting #4
She dudn’t got anything, let’s get the flock outta here.

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There comes an age when there are stains on the front of my sweatshirt when I go into work, when I don’t feel like working, when my mouth is dry and I’m thirsty, and my back aches. That age must be 52. There comes an age when I don’t care what people think about me anymore, when vanity takes a backseat to wisdom and sensibility, when falling in love doesn’t hold the same juice it once did – it’s merely another form of love.

There comes an age when you can count only on yourself though you are surrounded by good people, when standing on your own two feet is preferred to being taken care of, when writing might be the only thing that matters in your life anymore. There comes an age when hair grows inside the ears and tugs out the edges of the nose, when the fingernails grow misshapen and brittle, when the calluses take longer to brush off with the serrated file, when the gray outnumbers the natural colors.

There comes an age when you don’t get excited about the next romp in the hay, when love is more powerful than hate, when the irritation you feel from others is like the grain of sand in the oyster shell – producing a giant compassionate pearl. There comes an age when the most powerful people become the most exposed, when humility seems to go underground, and jokes from the ex-megalaughbuster, Kramer, are in poor taste and bad manner. What the hell was the ugly guy thinking?

There comes an age when the truth matters more than lying, when the color red becomes as popular in your life as it was at age 6, when fragility outweighs the need to get tough on love. There comes an age when strength is not measured in pounds on the benchpress, when clear sight has nothing to do with the clarity of the corneas, when visionary does not extend out past the 30 year mark.

There comes an age when humility and grace speak louder than fame and privilege, when money is something I want enough of without being greedy, when the good traits about men and women become the same damn thing.

There comes an age when I want to laugh at my mistakes and tout them as successes, when the snow flies in the face of reason, when I want to soar down the hill on a round disc of a sled and fall flat on my face in the freshly fallen power only to discover that my thirst has already been quenched.

There comes an age when silence speaks louder than words, when the tough get going and the meek inherit the earth, when the framers of the Constitution come back to us in Spirit and through the voice of medium, Lisa Williams, tell us they made a few mistakes – no those witches were not supposed to be burned at the stake. And, no, all the other 300 languages and countless races were not supposed to be wiped off the face of the earth when the first booted sole plunked down on the tiny piece of granite that is Plymouth Rock.

There comes an age when stinky cheese seems even stinkier, when a single glass of wine puts me over the age, when laughter is more important than sex. There comes an age when it’s harder to keep in shape, when the weight piles on over Thanksgiving weekend, when I don’t want to haul an evergreen home to celebrate the birth of Christ or spend the entire weekend baking turkeys and mashing potatoes. But I will watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There comes an age when Aquarius has passed and we’ve moved into Aries, when the fire puts out the watery flame, when the Fifth Dimension is no longer a singing group or the last parallel Universe, and What’s Going On never loses its punch.

It’s Thanksgiving week of 2006. I am restless and bored, old and feeling young. I am hopelessly forlorn and quietly strong. My heart hurts, yet I’m in love and full of hope and promise for the future. My stomach churns and the head says be quiet. I’m full. I’m empty. I’m alone. I’m surrounded by the best people life could imagine. I’m hopelessly lost. Yet I’ve found my true calling.

There comes an age. I have to let go.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

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