Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Being Thankful

Last Saturday's farmers market in upstate New York.

The bounty of the season, something I can be so thankful for (several recipe links below).
Stirring the wet ingredients
Combining all the ingredients.
The making of an apple cake (recipe here).
Cranberry Sauce (recipe here) - this year, I added one grated apple, and I liked it.
Before baking - note, I am no pie expert
Pumpkin Pie made with condensed milk (I used a store bought unbaked pie crust, and this time, I even waited until it was at room temperature to unroll - as I didn't do last year, and I learned the hard way never to try to unroll a cold unbaked pie crust ever again).

I am thankful for being able to have Thanksgiving at home, that we have the money to buy the feast, and that we have a warm house filled with love.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Thanksgiving Memory - #FlavoursomeTuesdays

A while back, in 2015, I shared the below memory with you of my young adulthood, when my spouse was in the Air Force, and we were spending our first military Thanksgiving, together with other people serving, away from home.  At that time, I couldn't find the recipe for my Memory Pie, which is a soybean pie (no, really, please keep reading) that tastes like a pumpkin pie.

But, thanks to a decluttering project, I have found the recipe.  This was my second copy of the cookbook - I had worn the first one to shreds.

So what happened when I found the recipe?

I offered to make it, but my spouse took one look at the recipe, and said "no". When we went to our local supermarket, I couldn't even find dried soybeans.  So I am not going to bake a pie for you.

I will leave you, instead, with a link to the recipe, which is available online.

But I will not leave you with the pie.  Just a memory for FlavoursomeTuesdays, a weekly meme started by two bloggers.  Here is my memory:

It was the mid 1970's and we were over a thousand miles from home.  It was my spouse's first Thanksgiving in the military.  He was undergoing technical training in Texas.  And he had friends in his class, all of whom were far away from home, too.

For the most part we were in our late teens or early 20's, but among us was a slightly older man.  Sgt W. was from Iowa and he was a soybean farmer.  As I recall, he had joined the National Guard and was training with my spouse's Air Force class.

Sgt W. had never eaten a soybean.  He had never sampled the crop he grew.

In the mid 1970's, soybeans weren't common the way they are today.  But I had become an on and off vegetarian in college, and I had fallen in love with a couple of books - Diet for a Small Planet and Recipes for a Small Planet.  As I wasn't working at the time, and my spouse was making the tiny salary of an airman, money was tight and we used the methods explained in this book to stay healthy.  We ate whole grain homemade breads, bean and rice casseroles, and even dishes made with the healthy soybean.

In one of these books was a recipe for a mock pumpkin pie made with pureed soybeans, pumpkin pie spice and other ingredients I can't remember (nor could I find the recipe in a long Internet search last night). 

My spouse invited several of his classmate friends, including Sgt W., to Thanksgiving dinner.  And, an idea hatched in my mind.  Why not make something with soybeans for him?

We had a turkey, and other items no longer remembered.  It was one of the happiest Thanksgivings I remember, because we were all away from home but not lonely, and I remember our companionship much more than I remember the food.

Except for one thing.  When I served my "pumpkin pie", Sgt W. dug in, and said he liked it.  So did everyone else.  I even liked it, and I don't like pumpkin pie.

So I admitted to him that his "pumpkin pie" was really soybean pie.  And he didn't seem to mind.

I wonder what he said when he returned home to Iowa when his class was over.  We never saw him again after that.

I don't know where Sgt W. lives today, or if he is even alive.  Sadly, I  know at least one of the young men at that dinner passed several years ago.  So I don't know if W. remembers the young woman he had Thanksgiving with, in an apartment near an Air Force base in Texas in the mid 1970's, and the soybean pie she served him.

If you are out there, Sgt. W, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Garg at Metanoia at #FlavoursomeTuesdays.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Songs of Thankfulness #MusicMovesMe

Today, on this Music Monday before Thanksgiving in the United States, our theme is "Tunes with the word "Thankful/thanks or about Thanksgiving or tunes about what you are thankful for."

This year, it is more important than ever to be thankful - for family, or health, or even for our very lives, in a world that is in such turmoil.

It's going to be a hard Thanksgiving time for some families in the rock n' roll world; more on that a little later.

Anyone who has a best friend is so fortunate.  I am thankful that I have a best friend.  My first song is: Queen - You're My Best Friend.

To my spouse, who is a huge Led Zeppelin fan - Thank You, from Led Zeppelin II.

We Gather Together, a hymn we used to sing in public school (yes, public school) every Thanksgiving, in the elementary school I attended in New York City.  Guess I'm dating myself.

And one more - Thankful 'NThoughtful by Sly and the Family Stone.

And now, to the sad music news of this week.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist for the band AC/DC, passed away from dementia at the age of 64 - the same age as I am.  His older brother had died earlier this year.   Blogger Angel's Bark blogged an excellent tribute to Young.

Here is one of my favorite AC/DC songs - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, from 1976.

Mel Tillis died yesterday at the age of 85.  I am not that much of a country music fan, but I mourn the death of a great musician.  Here, from 1978, Coca-Cola Cowboy.


As I write this post, David Cassidy, of Partridge Family fame, is in ICU and is not expected to survive much longer.   Cassidy, 67, was suffering from dementia, but also had a drinking problem for years.  He was hospitalized Wednesday suffering from liver and kidney failure, initially put into a medical induced coma, but is now conscious and with family..

Here, he covers the song Cherish, done by the Association in 1966.

Join Xmas Dolly, the Conductor of this Musical trip and her other Conductors:   Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  & Rockin’ conductor Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !
Don't miss this train when it leaves the music station!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Some Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving 2017 in the United States will be November 23.

Did you know that the American celebration of Thanksgiving is intertwined with our Civil War?

United States Civil War country - looks so peaceful now
With increased interest in the Civil War due to the controversies (sometimes descending into violence) over Confederate monuments, it is well to return to our roots for a moment.

This is Abraham Lincoln's October, 1864 Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving, 1864.

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, made a declaration of Thanksgiving in 1865.  He had issued earlier ones, mentioning specific battles.  This was a more general Thanksgiving proclaimation.  Ironically, the date he set turned out to be less than a month before the fall of Richmond, Virginia (the Confederate capital) to Federal troops.

Back in 2011, I wondered how the first Civil War Thanksgiving (1861, our first year at war with each other) was celebrated by the troops on both sides.

In1861 there was no national Thanksgiving.  Every state set its own date.

Thanks to another blogger, we have a good description of how Thanksgiving was celebrated by the troops in 1861.  Some of the foods are those we would gobble (pun intended) down today.

The troops had a lot to be thankful about.  Similar to the Thanksgiving dinner our troops get today (if at all possible, according to location) the troops on the designated Thanksgiving Day for their locality got special rations, and the chance to eat "real food":  turkey, potatoes, and even oysters.

And, for those of us from New York, a description of the Soldier's and Sailor's Thanksgiving.  The military still continues this tradition with troops serving away from home today. (And, on Tuesday, I will blog about our first Thanksgiving with my spouse serving in the military).

So, if you celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday - give thanks, and ponder the history of this holiday.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, I left a career that I had been in for 20 years, with 10 of the last 20 years spent at the same employer.

A job I had liked at one time had fallen apart, so much so that, over a nine month period. almost everyone in the small office I worked in (around 13 people to start) had quit.  I was one of the last ones to go.  I had clung to that job for dear life.

The next four months changed my life.

My last day of work was on a Tuesday.  The next day, a Wednesday, I waited with my elementary school son at the bus stop for the very first time, and watched him get on the bus.

Over the next four months, before I got another job, what did I do?

Two former co workers and I spent one day a week (when her condition permitted) with a friend and former co worker who was terminally ill with cancer.  It was a humbling experience.  Sadly, she passed away three months after I left that job.

I volunteered at the elementary school my son attended once or twice a week.  I spent much of my volunteer time in the school library.  I had thought strongly about becoming a librarian when I was younger, and it was a pleasure to be there.

I was able to shop in stores when they were empty.

I exercised at the YMCA.

I spent time with my son as he had four months with a stay at home Mom.

And, most of all, I spent time with an incredible book called "What Color is Your Parachute".  I had first discovered this book after losing my first job after graduating college.  That job had barely lasted a year when I found myself laid off.  That was back in 1975, and I turned to that book a couple of other times in my life.  This time, I was serious about the exercises the book teaches you to "find yourself".  For the first time, I realized what really brought joy to my life.

I was eventually fortunate enough to find another job, one that used that favorite interest, one that was so obvious that I had never realized it.  I am still in that career field today, as I approach my 65th birthday.

So, recently, I was saddened when I discovered the author, Richard Nelson Bolles, who updated the book every year since it was originally published, had died this past March at the age of 90.

Can you imagine doing something you love until you are 90?  I am in awe of this man, as I start to think about how I will spend the next portion of my life.

Maybe one day, I'll write a book that changes the lives of millions of people.  As we used to say many years ago, "wouldn't that be cool?"
The road of life, courtesy of my "guest photographer"

Maybe tonight, I'll spend some time dreaming of the next chapter of my life, just as I did 20 years ago.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mid November Sky #SkywatchFriday

Mid-November, where I live in upstate New York, is a time when skies tend to be dark and gloomy.

But sometimes, the sun sometimes manages to peak out.  Yesterday, it did just that, soon after sunrise.
Minutes later, the sky colored up.
Meanwhile, the day before, birds gathered on a wire, against one of our more typical gloomy skies.

Join Yogi and other bloggers from all over the world for #SkywatchFriday, where you can see pictures of the sky from all over the world.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Talking Turkey with the Talk-Line

First, I have to make one thing clear.  It's not the Butterball Hotline, which I thought it was until yesterday.  It's Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, and it has been giving turkey cooking advice to people in the United States since 1981.
Our 2015 turkey
Why would Americans need to talk turkey? Because on Thanksgiving, it is traditional to cook a turkey, and - well, there are so many ways to prepare turkeys.

I've wanted to call the Hot..I mean, the Turkey Talk-Line for years, but my spouse, the family cook, has never needed turkey advice.

Comedian Stephen Colbert has made it a Thanksgiving tradition to call the Turkey Talk-Line with prank questions for years.  But here, he turns the tables and take a phone call.

By the way, don't take his advice.

Tuesday, someone I know was concerned because she had purchased a 28 pound (12.7 kg) frozen turkey for Thanksgiving (November 23 this year, in the United States) and had tried online research to figure out how long to cook it.  She had never cooked that big a turkey before.

Why don't we call Butterball? I asked.  "OK, but you start the conversation" was her response.  And so I dialed 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  The phone was answered quickly by a woman.

Upon hearing of the 28 pound turkey, the woman exclaimed, "oh, you will have such a beautiful turkey when it is cooked.  It will be golden brown; it will look like something in a Norman Rockwell painting!  It will look wonderful on your table."  Obviously, she sensed our hesitation.  But she was totally prepared with advice.

She took us through the process.  "You need to take the turkey now, today, and put it in your refrigerator.  It will take that long to safely defrost." Then she explained how to pat the turkey dry, take out the giblets (these turkeys are prepped and almost ready to go).  She gave us the oven temperature (325 degrees F), the fact that after a couple of hours we were to tent the turkey with aluminum foil, and the total approximate coking time (4 1/2 hours) for the unstuffed turkey.  And, she recommended we use a meat thermometer and what temperature the breast, or the leg, should be before you consider the bird "done".

She talked with us as if she had all the time in the world (maybe, a week away from Turkey Day, she did have a lot of time. But, on Turkey Day, her and her co workers will field about 10,000 phone calls). And again, she told us how beautiful that turkey was going to look on the table. After our questions were answered, she asked for only one thing - what was our zip code (postal code)?

We answered, and she said "Binghamton, New York.  Oh, I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania!" (that's about an hour south of us).  She closed by asking if we had any more questions (we didn't).

And so ended our conversation with the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

It did make me wonder who works for the Talk-Line, and if they enjoy talking turkey all day long.
So, an article about their experiences is quite fascinating, too, especially, when you get to the part about the 89 year old man cooking his first turkey.  It sounds like such a fun place to work, if you are a people person.

Have you ever used the Turkey Talk-Line?