Sunday, November 30, 2008

A SPAM-ish weekend

On Friday, I spent the day getting everything back in place after Thanksgiving. While I worked, I had the TV tuned to the BBC channel's marathon of Monty Python shows. I dearly love the Pythons.

I sat down to take a break and caught the the Spam sketch. I adore Graham Chapman in a dress and dowdy hat clutching a purse on his lap and shrieking, "But, I don't want any Spam!"

This takes place in a dingy cafe that serves large amounts of Spam with everything on the menu. All the while, a group of Viking patrons are singing, "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, wonderful Spam, glorious Spam!"

Later on Friday, my daughter Cindy (from outstate) came for a visit along with her teenage son and her two granddaughters, 4 and 5. They helped me by eating Thanksgiving leftovers for supper.

On Saturday morning, I made pancakes for breakfast. Since I didn't have any bacon or sausage, (and turkey for breakfast is just out of the question) I opened a can of Spam, sliced and fried it. The two little girls were just nuts for it! They had never eaten Spam before and gobbled it up with gusto.

They obviously have Viking blood. I am sooo proud!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Fresh Outlook on Christmas

At Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, the family and friends gathered at my dining room table were discussing how different Christmas will be this year. With the economic climate so uncertain, we all agreed to cutback on gift giving this year.

Today is Black Friday--the day when the shopping madness begins. We will have none of it! This year we will practice restraint and limit our spending (except where the little kids are concerned). We are in a recession, people are hurting and no matter how good your income is,
flamboyant, luxurious gifts are just plain tacky.

What I find surprising is that everyone is so up-beat about it. The anticipation of a frugal Christmas and giving simple, homemade gifts seems to really inspire everyone. So, this year, the trendy thing to do is Cheap Out!

Who'd of thought!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

God bless Cool Whip!

What can I say about the blessings of Cool Whip? There it sits in the fridge in it's pristine white container--so easily accessible. You can drop a dab on your chocolate pudding cup, peaches or Jello, then sit back and revel in the sensuality of it all.

Back in the "pre-Cool Whip" days, having a creamy, fluffy white topping on your dessert was a luxury reserved for special occasions like having company or Sunday dinner. It required planning ahead and precise timing.

First, you had to remember to buy the whipping cream. You had to keep it cold in the refrigerator and keep the family from sneaking it into their coffee.
Then, when you made your special meal (probably mashed potatoes with chicken or roast beef) you had to remember to wash the potatoes off the beaters right away. If you forgot, the dried-on potatoes would screw up the timing to the point of desperation.
So, you had the beaters clean, the bowl and beater at the ready, the cream in the fridge.
You could sit down to eat with your guests. When the dinner started winding down, you had to jump up to make the whipped cream. (If you whipped the cream too far ahead of time, it would "weep"and collapse.)
After you put the chilled cream into a deep bowl, you could start the process. If you had an electric mixer it didn't take too long, but if you only had a manual "egg beater" it was a lot of work.
The tricky part was to whip the cream to just the right consistency without doing it too little or too much. Too little and you wind up with sloppy topping or too much, you have extra stiff topping larded with bits of butter.
After you had achieved the optimum of beautiful fluffiness, you added the sugar and vanilla.
If all went as planned, it was ready to serve at this point. The servings of dessert (say pumpkin pie) had to be lined up and ready for the piece de resistance--a dollop of whipped cream and trotted to the table immediately.

The memory of it leaves me breathless!

Now, with our ever-ready tub of Cool Whip, we enjoy the extravagance of beautiful white fluffy stuff without all that stress. (OK, so Cool Whip will never replace the epicurean delight of real whipped cream, believe me, I can deal with it!)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving looms large on the calendar

Yes, it's only five days until Thanksgiving--that annual orgy of cooking and baking. This is the meal where you assemble your loved ones around the table and they eat in twenty minutes the food you labored over for hours and hours. And, I always enjoy it.

The menu has not changed much since I was a kid--we're very traditional.
We have Roast turkey and stuffing (Pepperidge Farm)
Salmon for the vegetarians
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Green bean casserole (Classic recipe)
Sweet potato & apple casserole (Recipe below)
Jellied cranberries (Canned)
Dinner Rolls and butter
Relish tray
Pumpkin pie and Cool Whip

Here is my recipe:
3 large peeled and cooked sweet potatoes
OR 2 large cans sweet potatoes
3 medium apples (I use golden delicious)
2 c apple juice
1/2 c brown sugar (optional)
3 T cornstarch

Peel and slice apples and then slice sweet potatoes to uniform size. Alternate layers of each in a casserole dish starting and ending with the sweet potatoes.

Take 1-1/2 of the 2 cups of apple juice and put in small saucepan. Add the cornstarch to the remaining 1/2 cup of juice and stir till dissolved. Bring the juice to a boil and stir in cornstarch mixture till it's thick and smooth. (Add more juice if it's too thick.) Add sugar, if desired.

Pour the apple juice mixture over the casserole and settle. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. This can be made ahead of time and reheated. This is a no-fat recipe.

Friday, November 21, 2008


No kidding! "Meh" has just been added to an English dictionary. According to the sources, the word grew in popularity after a Simpson's episode back in 2001. Homer suggests a day trip to Bart and Lisa as they're watching TV. They just respond, "Meh", and keep watching. The word hopped over to England where it has been embraced by language experts.

So here it is, the word we've been waiting for, the perfect response to those annoying, half-
hearted questions there's no all-purpose answer to. Just look how quick and easy this is when you're on the fly:

"How do you like the new TV season?" ...Meh

"How's it going?" ...Meh

"How'd your garden do this year?"...Meh

This word really fills a gap in our vernacular. Up until now, we have been restricted to only polite and positive comebacks like "OK" or "Fine". Now, we have a negative option when we want to be more honest. We can just say "Meh". I, for one, love it!

MEH: Interjection, expression of indifference or boredom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How does your house smell?

OK, I really don't fact, I can't smell much of anything. I can clean the cats' litter boxes without a whiff of unpleasantness. No kidding--if my house smells or your house smells, I don't
know the difference.

Yet, we are daily bombarded with TV ads for home air fresheners. Here we are in a recession and folks are worried about getting through the Christmas season, and what do they want us to buy? Air Wick, Febreze and Glade! Products promoted as the smell of happiness.

Aroma therapy for the masses!

C'mon folks, food shelves are going begging for donations. It's time to get our priorities straight.
Let your house smell like your own cooking and baking (or whatever) and give the money you save to the Food Shelf.

Next time: Meh