Saturday, November 17, 2018

Snow and Recipes


Not much snow but enough to put an end to a few lingering blooms and to make it feel like the proper season. 

And for Misty, who asked, some of the recipes from yesterday's post.


PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE  (from The Southern Junior League Cookbook whose recipe also calls for caramel sauce drizzled over the pie along with the whipped cream and almonds but really, there's wretched excess, which this pie is, and there's a step too far.)
 ¾ c milk
2 c canned pumpkin
1 ½ c brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp ginger
¾ tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
5 egg yolks
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 c cold water
5 egg whites
1 ½ c heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 10” baked pie shells
Caramelized almonds (see below)
Whipped cream for topping (1 cup heavy cream, dark rum or vanilla, a very little sugar)
***
 Heat milk with pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Beat egg yolks slightly and add hot mixture gradually to yolks. Mix well and cook in double boiler till thick, stirring constantly.
Soften gelatin in cold water and add to hot custard. Stir till dissolved. Cool till it begins to thicken.
Beat egg whites till stiff but not dry. Fold in custard. Cool a little but not until set.
Whip cream, fold in the 1/4 c sugar, then fold cream into pumpkin mixture. Chill till very thick then pour into baked pie shell. (I do all this the day before Thanksgiving.)
Before serving, top with whipped cream flavored with dark rum or vanilla and sprinkle with caramelized almonds.



CARAMELIZED ALMONDS (also terrific as an ice cream topping)
 ½ c sugar
1 c slivered blanched almonds

Stir in heavy skillet till sugar melts and caramelizes. Spread on greased cookie sheet. Break apart when crisp and store in airtight tin.

 

BA’S CRANBERRY GELATIN SALAD
(I know, gelatin salads are so Fifties. But this is really refreshing as a part of a heavy meal , crunchy with celery and nuts and tart rather than sweet. Ba (my grandmother) served it with a dollop of mayo -- which I still like but usually forgo because calories.)

2 TB gelatin
½ c cold water
1 c boiling water
3 TB sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ c lemon juice
1 c crushed pineapple
1 ½ c cranberry sauce
1 c finely chopped celery
½ c chopped pecans

Soak gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Dissolve in boiling water then add sugar, salt, lemon juice, and pineapple. Allow to cool but not congeal. Add cranberry sauce, stirring thoroughly. Add celery and pecans last pour into mold which has been rinsed with cold water and not dried. Chill till set. Serves 8



Friday, November 16, 2018

Getting Ready . . .


Rain, rain, and more rain. Perfect weather for getting a jump start on Thanksgiving cooking. We are having our feast on Wednesday as Claui has to work on Thanksgiving.


On Wednesday I made a gallon and a half of turkey broth from wings and backs.  This will be used in the gravy and the dressing. On Thursday I made sweet potato rolls, bagged them up and stuck them in the freezer. On T day, it'll just be to thaw and heat them. 


I also made quite a lot of cranberry sauce -- some for the table and some for my grandmother's cranberry gelatin salad which I'll make on Monday. (I also copied and printed out the recipe which is almost illegible from fifty-odd years of use.)


Another recipe that needed copying was the pumpkin chiffon pie -- the recipe that makes pumpkin pie worth eating. It's too early to make that -- but I may make and freeze the pie crusts this weekend and I can do the almond brittle ahead too.

More turkey backs got roasted so I would have the drippings to make my gravy. (A gravy which turned out so good I had to stop myself from consuming a bowlful.) Into the freezer it went to be thawed and heated in a crockpot on The Day.


And I chopped celery and onions and sautéed them in butter. They'll go into the dressing -- which I blush to say is Pepperidge Farm - one cornbread, one regular. I've made my own before using homemade bread and homemade cornbread and it's never been as good. Possibly memory plays a part here -- Pepperidge Farm was the basis for my mother's and my grandmother's turkey dressing.


Of course others will be bringing their own additions to the feast. There'll be more  than we can eat and the leftovers will be delectable.


This cook will enjoy the whole thing even more since so much will be done ahead of time. 

 And who knows, maybe there'll be sunshine.

Addendum as of 10 pm -- I'm not sure if it was snow or sleet but I walked barefoot in it for my health.




Thursday, November 15, 2018

Josie Is Eighteen Months Old!






A note from one of Josie's staff: She's not a baby any more. Technically a toddler but more and more a little girl. She's having fun saying words -- she recognizes far more than she articulates but she's getting the hang of copying what we say. (Got to be careful of the language we use.) 

She's recognizing colors, some numbers, some letters (M and O are favorites) and the written words Josie and cat.  And she's helping when I try to dress her. As a matter of fact, she loves to help -- to pick up things or put back things (long may it last.)

She has a few music videos she loves to watch with me on my laptop (Wheels on the Bus and Where Are the Duckies? play in my head at odd moments.) And she has found that by saying "Anmals!" she can get John to put her in his lap and show her pictures of animals on his computer.) 

We are making a conscious effort to keep screen time to a minimum. When she asks for Wheels of the Bus (by doing the hand-circling thing that accompanies the song,) I tell her we will watch it after lunch, and she accepts that. I think that understanding delayed gratification is a big deal for someone who's just 18 months old.

As her mother said to me recently, 'I know I'm biased but I think she is incredibly smart and pretty much perfect in every way.'

Oh, and she's an ambidextrous (though messy) eater.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Last of the Leaf Color


These were taken last Friday. Saturday night we had low temperatures and I watched Sunday morning a tree that had been bright yellow at sunup lost most of its leaves while the remaining ones were brown by midday.


Yesterday was a day of heavy rain -- I suspect most trees will be bare before long.


Still, it was beautiful while it lasted.


It's always a bit of a wrench to go from the golds and yellows, reds and oranges to  the browns and grays ahead.

But it's nice to see the contours of the land again, to find beauty in subtlety, to appreciate all that the season offers.


There's always another photo opportunity ahead . . .


Like this red-tailed hawk I spotted while driving down Anderson Branch. Luckily there were no other vehicles in sight and I stopped and caught him just before he took wing.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Across the Great Lake



I'd been looking forward to reading this ever since last summer at Wildacres when I heard Lee read a passage from her not yet published manuscript. I finally got my copy when she read at Malaprops last week and, oh, wow, this book is a marvel -- a many-faceted jewel of a novel, an intricately layered structure set forth in elegant, crystalline prose.  

"The more I relive that trip across the lake with my father that mercilessly cold winter, the less I seem to know who I am, the little girl I was then or the old woman I've become."

That momentous trip, when the five year old Fern accompanies her father on the railroad ferry he captains, is the centerpiece of the novel, with the working of the ship and the brutal winter conditions minutely observed, both by the precocious child and, in hindsight, by the old woman. 

But though the focus is on this single winter trip across the great lake, Fern's recollections range farther afield and it becomes clear that the events of that winter have resonated throughout her life. Love, bravery, loss, loyalty, guilt Was I a good girl? ---  all are reflected in the inner life of the child and the backward look of the old woman. The five year old Fern and the eighty-five year old Fern are both long thinkers, prone to see beyond the immediate, to make connections and look for meanings


After her time on the ship, a time filled with peril and culminating in tragedy, the older child Fern listens to her teacher telling the story of how the Great Lakes were formed -- volcanoes and tectonic plates and  glaciers and the Paleozoic ocean of two million years ago.

 "It was an interesting story but it wouldn't get you through the Manitou Passage or the Straits . . . or let you know that a starboard list coming out of port forbodes an unlucky trip . . ." and on and on Fern catalogues the things she and the sailors know, at last to conclude:

 " She knew a lot, my teacher, but the sailors knew more because they also knew that no matter how much you know, your ship can go down. And land is just as dangerous to navigate, I learned, because while you are at sea, back on land your mother can drown." 

The eighty-five year old Fern seems to be still trying to make sense of the past -- what happened on the ship and what happened on land. 

This is such a rich book, such an evocative picture of a particular time (1936) and place (Lake Michigan) but, beyond that, so universal a depiction of the human condition. And did I mention the beautiful prose?

"If children think of the past at all it is as a still life, a curiosity, a tableau. It is too much to ask a child to comprehend that the world went about its business moment by disappearing moment for billions of years without her. It's the sad shock of adulthood to realize what a short blip of time we inhabit."

Highly recommended.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day


. . .
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn? 

. . .




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Three Books



  In the course of my teaching/editing, I get to see lots of books in progress. Sometimes I even get to see the finished product.
Pick Your Poison by Becky Crabtree is the third in a series that began as the result of a prompt in one of my John c. Campbell classes. (I wrote about the first two HERE.)

Feisty middle-aged Stella is battling a pipeline threatening to take part of her farm by eminent domain. (Becky knows something about this, having been faced with the same problem on her West Virginia farm.) Stella takes to a tree in the proposed route, armed with supplies for a long siege. (Becky sat in an old Ford Pinto parked in the path of construction.)

Stella's evil brother is back too, working a con on a seemingly unspecting octogenarian in a nursing home. The two storylines intertwine to reach a satisfying conclusion. 

Becky has done me proud!


Another book I had a bit of an editorial hand in is Keepin' On, Walkin' On by my dear friend Aleen Steinberg.  Faced with a chilling diagnosis in middle age, rather than settle for life as an invalid, she began to walk. As her strength grew, she began to travel --  adventure travel that included hiking. climbing,  dog sledding, and rafting. Her fascinating tales of these travels in Nepal, Peru, Pakistan, Kamchatka, the Arctic, and Tibet are by turns inspiring and humorous. 

But the hidden jewel in these accounts is Steinberg's recognition of the common humanity shared  by herself and different peoples she met. As she says, "having to be understood through gestures, the unspoken language of eyes and facial expressions, . . . at times frustrating, but always rewarding when an "aha" moment  occurred , that sudden moment when the light of understanding shone in our eyes."


I can't claim any part in Under the Covers: Discovering the Crazy Quilt of Life by Luleen S. Anderson. (But it was sent to me by a former student at John C. Campbell who tells me:  "the chapter I started in your class (early June, 2015) is now 195 pgs and I hope to finish by year-end. Friends and strangers I meet are impressed I'm attempting a murder mystery, and I always give you credit!")

Dr. Luleen Anderson, the child of Georgia sharecroppers, grew up in poverty but was determined to be educated. A noted clinical psychologist, she is also a teacher and a writer. This collection of nostalgic essays about her early life paint a charming picture of life in small town Roberta and introduce a idiosyncratic set of characters. Funny and poignant by turns, Anderson's stories are inspiring.


And as I write those closing words, I see the common thread: Inspiring women, here's to them!