4th thought for Thanksgiving…..Breathe

I got a little “out-of-breath” yesterday. Focusing on the tasks at hand, I almost didn’t take time to enjoy what I was doing.

As some of us gear up for the “busy-ness” of food prep; Look up, look around, smile at whoever else may wander in and out of the kitchen and enjoy.

Yesterday I prepped a pan of regular dressing, cornbread dressing, made the fresh cranberry sauce, made the compound butter for the chive biscuits, went back to the grocery store for a few details I missed, and found a pomegranate. I know, random huh?

I brought the Pomegranate home because my youngest had wanted to try one. We took the time out to figure out how to get the seeds out of the maze. It was so incredibly juicy that the “hitting” technique just got us a face full of red juice. At one point we were laughing so hard, my son decided to be silly and lick the juice off the cutting board.

It was worth the extra clean up. It was worth interrupting the cornbread dressing to take a minute or two with my 19 year old that still wants to spend time with me.

If you like fresh cranberry sauce, I made some yummy stuff yesterday. It was so easy, and ended up so pretty.

Juice of 1 orange
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Bring the water and sugar to a simmer, dissolving the sugar.
Add the cranberries, and orange juice bring to a boil until the cranberries burst.
Reduce the berries to a simmer, add the cinnamon and salt.

Simmer till it reduces by half, and is a lovely thick consistency.

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3rd thought for Thanksgiving

It’s Monday, the grocery stores are filled to the brim with Turkey Shoppers, foodies, and the lost.

It’s always amusing to me to see the easily agitated in the grocery store. They are generally herding a small flock..the ultimate picture of a failing multi-tasker. Try as they might the little Crunchers elude, and antagonize, and successfully get on that parent’s last nerve.

I came across such a lovely woman earlier today. The funny part of this was she was completely oblivious to the fact that she was in a crowded grocery store, and got mad at me that I was trying to move past her as she yelling instructions to her teenager in the next aisle. It didn’t occur to her that she was blocking the whole seafood aisle, and no one could pass through to poultry, or that there were 7 or 8 of us stacked up waiting to get by. I said “excuse me” 4 times as I eased closer trying to get her attention. The two little ones with her were spinning the steering wheels on the Shopping cart car in a mad attempt to race away. You would not believe how difficult it is to describe to a teenager 20 feet away the type of red pepper you need them to find, how to bag it, and how to find the product code so they can use the conveniently provided label maker in the aisle.

As she berated me for being in a hurry, the crowd behind me that hurried to file past in my wake, gave me nice applause.

Poor woman…I wonder what it must be like to have so much to deal with that you get so distracted to the glaring obstacle that you become in public? Still….she was obviously stressed, and could have been treated a little better.

In hind sight, I wish I had just tapped her on the shoulder, and asked if I could get by.

This is the season for kindness. Yes, people get stressed and weird, but I could not say that I could do better than she with her load of love-able distractions. I could have been more sensitive.

I’m grateful for lessons. I’m thankful for Moms who are attentive and instructive to their children. I really hope that mom has a good evening and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

So I hope that if I’m in a similar situation, I can show a little more grace….as much as I liked the applause.

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2nd Thanksgiving week thought

Today I’m grateful for fresh venison.

The thing with being a part of a hunting family, is that we really use what we harvest. We manage the land we lease, we work with the wildlife bureau to manage the wild herds to prevent over population, and to make sure the herd is not over hunted.

I’ve found that just about any recipe that you can find for lamb will generally work with venison if additional fat can be introduced to the recipe with olive oil, bacon fat, or beef fat.

I really enjoy our venison. It has pushed my culinary creativity to new heights. So here’s the latest lovely dish.

I combined roasting and stewing techniques for this recipe:

Venison roast
Savory roast starts with kitchen basics. If you have some time to put some love into this Venison, you’ll end up with a lovely Sunday Dinner.
INGREDIENTS
2 to 3 pound venison roast
6 slices of bacon chopped
4 tbsp olive oil divided
3 medium carrots
1 large red pepper
1 large onion
Button or Cremini mushrooms 1/2 lb
3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 bottle dark beer, Shiner Bock if you have it
1 cup beef broth

potatoes
2 pounds of red potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Trim Venison of any silver skin or other fat. Season the venison with half the salt and pepper. Coat with flour shaking off any excess.
2. In a large heavy bottomed pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil till it gets ready to smoke. Sear venison well on all sides. Pick a pot that has a tight fitting lid, or get some foil to cover.
3. While venison is searing:
4. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
5. Chop the onion, red pepper, and carrots to bite size pieces. Keep them uniform so they cook evenly.
6. Quarter the mushrooms.
7. Remove the rosemary and thyme from their stalks and chop. If using dry herbs, 1 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp thyme.
8. Remove your evenly seared meat from the pot.
9. Add the chopped bacon, and cook till crisp. Remove from pot.
10. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and cook your veggies till the onions are translucent.
11. Add the remaining salt and pepper to the veggies along with the rosemary and thyme.
12. Add all the meat back to the pot. Add the beer and the beef broth and bring to a simmer.
13. Cover the pot, and place in the oven to cook low and slow for 2 hours.
14. When the roast is almost done. Start your mashed potatoes. Clean your potatoes, put them in a pot, cover them with water, add some salt to taste and bring to a boil until they are fork tender. Takes about 20 minutes.
15. I use medium sized red potatoes, or Yukon gold. If you have big russet potatoes, you can cut them up to make the boiling go faster. If you like to peel them, please make your potatoes as you like.
16. When the roast is done, remove from the oven and place the pot back on the stove top. Remove the meat from the liquid onto a cutting board, and cover with foil.
17. Combine your Flour and butter ingredients in a small bowl. I use softened butter, if the butter is too hard, give it 10 seconds in the microwave. Add your flour and combine into a paste with a fork.
18. Bring your liquid up to a simmer and add your Flour butter paste stirring as the liquid thickens.
19. Slice your venison across the grain and add it back to the liquid that should be a lovely thick consistency, along with any juices from the meat.
20. When the potatoes are done, drain them of their cooking liquid. Add your milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash away.
21. I serve this in a bowl, potatoes on the bottom, with the roast on top. Enjoy.

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Thanksgiving week

This is the week that we gear up for family, food, travel, TV specials, and the like.

I love Thanksgiving. I was so excited when the weather turned, the ugly Mosquitos were driven off, and I got to put on a sweater! My prayers were heard.

As a little girl in Ohio, I always loved the little song “over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we go”. Although we lived in the suburbs outside of Cleveland. We did have to cross the Black river, and my Grandma lived on a street that accessed Cascade park that had lots of trees, so that had to apply to the song somehow, right?

My grandma left home as a girl with her sister Crystal from Sutton, WV to work in a rich family’s house. My Grandma was 15 my Aunt Crystal was 17. Aunt Crystal worked upstairs with the children…which might explain why she never had any. My Grandma worked in the kitchen, which made her a fabulous cook. I can still smell the aroma of the green beans, and the absolute bliss of the tangible fragrance of my grandma’s yeast rolls. She would put together her rolls over two days. Her technique for creating the rolls was all by feel. She would let the dough rise in the fridge over night. These beautiful clover leaf rolls were a vision to behold, melt in your mouth, and the perfect bread for our Thanksgiving feast. Thanksgiving was always awesome at my Grandma J’s house.

I certainly don’t have the hardships to write a story like “The Help”, but I heard the stories of the adversity, the challenge, the poverty that my Grandparents went through. I stand in awe and I’m so grateful that they never gave up. Their creativity and perseverance inspires me.

They never settled for less than their dreams. My Grandpa learned airplane maintenance in WWII, moved his family out of the coal mine camps in WV, to Cleveland to work at Ford in the early 50’s. He built his own airplane, and saw it fly. He built it in the basement of their house. It was so cool to go to the basement to see what was going on with the airplane. It was a bi-wing, single engine, prop. He used a Volkswagon engine, and painted it yellow. He was so excited to see it fly! When he retired he played his music, and traveled. He played the guitar, banjo, violin, mandolin, piano, and trumpet. My Grandma was able to stay at home and raise her 4 children. She quilted, played golf, walked every day, cooked, gardened, traveled with Grandpa, and participated in all of her grand children’s lives.

I believe that I am living a good life, have goals, passions, and talent because of what I learned from my Grandparents. I’ve only mentioned one set at this point. But brevity is the soul of wit.

This is the week for giving thanks. I don’t know that I would have any sense of family, or tenacity without my Grandma and Grandpa Jackson. Grandma is 97 this year, and stopped making Thanksgiving dinner just 2 years ago…she’s an amazing woman.

I’m so thankful for so much, and I will take this week to express it.

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In celebration of “Selfie being the word of the year”! Here’s my post work out Selfie!

Exercise is SOOO good for you. If you can’t hear the whine implied, I’m whining! In August I started a new routine. It’s intense circuit training for 20-40 seconds with a 40 second rest in between. Each 30 minute routine has a kicker at the end that lasts from 3-5 minutes of all out busting your butt with no rest in between.

I’m really happy with the improved tone in my legs and arms. I dig the quick intense routines over going to the gym for Zumba, or power pump. I’m throwing in some yoga on my rest days, and we can’t leave out the 3 mile walks with the puppies when I’m home. Looking at how I’ve increased my activities, I’m really happy that I’ve kept with it.

The next step in this evolution is to complete the Circuit 30-35 minutes then do an additional 30 minutes on the elliptical.

Tell me what’s working for you! Tell me how you keep motivated. What’s your favorite post work out refreshment? I’m stuck on milk. It’s what really works for me.

Tell me how you avoid the post work out whining.

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Mosquitos in November

The thing about living in the near tropical south, is that fall is fleeting, winter comes and goes without notice, and without a really good freeze, you get bugs.

We didn’t get the freeze we needed last year to kill the bugs. Walking the dogs this morning around 7:30, I got bit, and bit good by vicious Mosquitos. I’m not talking about the little sneaky black ones. Those teeny, tiny, sneaky, less than 1 centimeter, pests were not in sight. It was the totally creepy 2 centimeter khaki brown ones. These little monsters make your skin crawl, because you can hear them coming. They will buzz you like Tom Cruise buzzed the flight tower in Top Gun. The buzz is creepy, and will cause fear. I got those dogs moving when I heard them. I wouldn’t be the only target.

So I’m looking for the wind to change. Instead of blowing the humidity and heat up from the gulf, please blow is some chilly winds from the north. I’d like to walk without having to donate blood to the Mosquitos, and I think it would be awesome to wear a sweater this Thanksgiving. Plus my puppies, they need some respite from those blood sucking monsters too. After all, the dogs have to walk.

I’d also like to turn the air conditioner off for a little bit too.

A short but sweet wish list for the holidays.

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Sweet sweet baby

Just taking some time to express gratitude for time with my little nephew. He turned 1 last week and we went for the party.

Upon arriving at my brothers house, we found that everyone was sick. Due to the nature of the illness (projectile vomiting and diarrhea) the party was cancelled. My nephew Jackson started the fury, and by the time we left 3 days later, that bug made it through all of us.

I hadn’t had a stomach bug in years, and I had forgotten what it was like…..I have decided to avoid all illness going forward.

We still got some sweet time together. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a baby grow, explore, and develope.

Can you believe this sweet boy spread so much havoc amongst all his relations? 11 of us got sick from this little dumpling. We Nick-named him Typhoid Jackson. I don’t think he will live it down. Maybe it is more accurate to say my Sister-in-law’s sisters won’t ever let him live this down. Poor Nikki is 8 months pregnant and was taken to the hospital for safe keeping. She made it through safely. He will be Typhoid Jackson for life. Poor kid. He may need Aunt Wendy to come rescue him from time to time.

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Self empowerment

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It’s amazing how quickly people settle for status quo, then complain about their situation. Little do they realize the power to change things is in their own hands.

Don’t let fear of change make you stay where you are miserable. And for heaven sakes, if you don’t want to change, don’t make everyone around you miserable with your complaints.

Choose to be happy, and if that means change, then just do it. Life is too short to be miserable.