Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gobble Gobbler

     Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  The stress of Christmas shopping hasn't begun yet---no standing in line at 3:00a.m. for dolls that burp, hiccup and pee in their pants.  I get enough of that at home . No maxing out credit cards that suck the life out of my finances and take the majority of my adult life to pay off.  No blinking lights synchronized to hip-hop Christmas music or re-gifting of moldy fruit cakes from 2009.  Does anyone actually eat those things?
     Thanksgiving is the day for cooks to shine and foodaholics to weep in gratitude.  It marks the beginning of a season where calories are ignored and food babies are conceived.  Everyone gathers around the t.v. to watch the Macy's Day Parade in the morning.  Little do they know that by evening when they waddle out of my house, they will closely resemble those giant floats hovering over Central Park.  There's a reason stuffing is called stuffing, and I don't think it has anything to do with the pilgrims.  None of them sported the nickname "Butterball" after the feast.  Only Americans feel inclined to gobble, guilt free, mass quantities of poultry, starch, gravy and sweets on this special occasion.  And a lot of people eat it twice in one day, because everyone knows that afternoon football marathon just wouldn't be the same without a leftover turkey sandwich, beer, and a side of re-heated, mashed potatoes.  Finish it off with a slice or two of pumpkin pie and you've had a traditional Thanksgiving holiday.  Too bad we can't attach pop-up timers to our stomachs like the ones that come with our turkeys---at least then we'd know when to stop stuffing our faces before our stomachs explode.
     For my family, Thanksgiving starts early with coffee and mimosas, while my husband makes the raw turkey dance in the sink (too many mimosas) before he washes it.  The bird is always a large one---my husband searches for weeks for the perfect turkey---one the size of an ostrich.
     Once the bird is in the oven, I put the family in charge of peeling the potatoes while I fix the other side dishes and sneak a piece of pecan pie.  Once on the lips, forever on the hips?  Who cares, it's Thanksgiving!
     The mob that I call my extended family arrives in the afternoon and the gorging begins.  There is enough food on the table to feed a Third World Country.  Football is on but the room is unusually quiet---no one has the energy to yell or cheer for their team because they're already in a food coma.
     I pack up the leftovers after everyone leaves and wonder as I always do, why there's always so much lime jello salad left.  Probably because every year someone makes a comment about it resembling something that came out of The Hulk.  It may look gross, but it tastes great, and it has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.  Maybe I'll pass the recipe down to my grandkids and rename it Hulk Jello Salad.
     The next day I know better than to step on the scale.  It actually cringes when it sees me enter the bathroom.  Looking in the mirror, I notice the gobbler that has grown on my neck overnight.  I'm even more convinced that I am a distant cousin of the turkey when I lift up my sleeves and see giblet arms.  No need to contemplate the stomach---I already know that's the final resting place of the stuffing and mashed potatoes I ate the night before.  Time to lace up the sneakers and hit the jogging trail...well, maybe after one more slice of pecan pie.


3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup whole pecans
1 pastry shell (homemade pie crust is best but store bought will do)

Mix all ingred. except pecans. Spread pecans on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour in the filling on top of the nuts. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted in pie comes out clean


3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingred. and place in casserole dish. Then make the topping as follows:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 stick butter, melted

Combine ingred. and sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.  Serves 6.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Vultures Are Waiting

     My daughter convinced me to watch The Rachel Zoe Project on the cable network, and as I'm staring at these twenty-one-year-old, anorexic-looking models, I'm thinking two thoughts: 1)Someone should tie these girls down and force-feed them doughnuts, and 2) Was I ever that young? Right now I feel more like something an anthropologist unearthed from King Tut's tomb. My brain is still stuck in 1981 but my body has fast-fowarded into a new century populated by people with graying hair, pot bellies and elephant skin. Is this really the generation I was born into? What happened to disco balls, leather pants and Boy George? If someone had told me thirty years ago I'd be spending my weekends in the backyard using a pooper scooper, I would have laughed in their face. My husband feels the same way every time he gets behind the wheel of our prehistoric mini van that should have been shot years ago to be put out of it's misery.
     For the most part, I'm young at heart. But some days I feel like it's time my kids wheel me into a nursing home and spoon-feed me soup. I'm already getting flyers in the mail pestering me to buy burial plots and to join AARP. Just the other day I was on the walking trail with my husband when I noticed a vulture following us overhead. He circled for a mile or two, just waiting to see which one of us was going to croak first. My husband raised his fist to the bird and shouted, "We're not dead yet!!"
     And what's up with the age spots? I never had spots on my skin, then suddenly I woke up one morning looking like a leopard. I rushed over to the dermatologist, convinced that I had some weird skin disease. She just chuckled and said, "Welcome to middle age!" Now the spots are all over me---enough that if I get bored, I can play connect-a-dot on my skin. Some dots are larger, some smaller, some are lighter while others are darker. Some are the size of Africa. By the time I'm eighty, I'll look like one giant, brown, age spot, because all of the dots will have connected. Then I'll just look like I have a great tan without even trying.
     My eyes have also gone to hell. My mother promised me when I was little that if I ate my carrots, I'd have good eyesight. She lied. I'm blind as a bat, and if I'm not careful, I may end up hanging upside-down in a tree with my new, furry, winged friends.
     The lack of energy is what kills me. I used to be like the Energizer bunny until my batteries corroded. I've heard that fatigue is common with menopause, but come on, my sleep patterns could rival that of Sleeping Beauty. Except I don't wake up to a kiss from a prince...just dog slobber and the sound of toilets flushing. Mega doses of caffeine are the only reason I'm still standing on two feet at the end of the day. I am a human percolator.
     The thing that really makes me feel old is the contents of my nightstand drawer. When I was newly married, that drawer contained candles, gels, lingerie and all sorts of naughty items geared for fun. Opening the drawer now, the first thing I see is a tube of cracked-heel foot cream. Next to it, another colorful tube of antifungal cream. What else? A bottle of magnesium, aspirin, lip balm, a calorie counter and the crumpled wrapper from a chocolate bar. There's also a container of foot pads and ear plugs, a broken pair of reading glasses, nose spray and a mouth guard. Sounds like a shopping list for a convalescence home. I suppose I could throw in a few pairs of Spanx, support hose and some high-heeled orthopedic shoes to make it more an eighty-year-old.
     Time to embrace the vulture years!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Devil Juice

     Devil juice can be defined as: "Juice made from a winery in hell, designed to create multiple personalities in those who imbibe by introducing their alter egos to the general public."
     My husband is an avid beer drinker, but once he switches over to the dark side of wine, he becomes a different person.  Just like a woman with raging hormones in the throes of menopause, his mood can change drastically.  I never know which alter ego of his I will be dealing with---McBastard, Cuddle Bear, Sleepy from the Seven Dwarfs or a Teletubbie.  These personalities don't kick in until he has uncorked his second bottle of red wine.  He could paint the house, wax the car or install new plumbing and not remember a thing in the morning.  Sometimes he morphs into Jimmy Hendrix and plays air guitar to Purple Haze, while other nights he dons a cat mask and dances to the Meow Mix theme.  I don't worry too much about his alter egos as long as he's not scratching in a litter box, marking his territory or trying to lick my ankles.
     My husband claims that devil juice alters my personality as well.  He says that I change from lamb to lion to human gummy bear after a few glasses of vino, which has convinced me to buy cheaper wine and dilute it with ice water.  Gross, I know, but we can't have two comatose adults in the back yard.
      Years ago we owned a gift basket shop and were fortunate enough to come across case loads of good quality champagne at a discount price from a local wine dealer.  Most of the bottles ended up in our kitchen cabinets instead of in the baskets they were intended for.  A close friend of ours who bought several cases called it forget-me-not champagne because she woke each morning after drinking it not remembering what she did the night before.
     We have plenty of wine that could sport the same forget-me-not label.  Wine comas rob you of chunks of time you can never get back, until one day you find yourself crawling around on all fours in a video on YouTube.
     After enough glasses of devil juice, my husband is convinced he's the next Iron Chef.  He fixes weird sandwiches like bologna with garlic croutons or peanut butter, jelly and roasted turkey, then tries to get everyone else to eat his creations.  Guy Fieri he is not.  Vino turns me into Paula Dean---I want to slather butter on everything.  Some of my tastiest concoctions were created after a few glasses of devil juice---problem is I consumed major calories and I don't remember what I ate, only that it was more difficult to zip up my jeans the next day.
     You would think two middle age adults would not want to lose track of precious time by blurring their weekends with devil juice.  There's just something not right about a man in a cat mask drinking wine.  Next weekend he's changing his own litter box.
      What can I say?
      The devil made him do it!


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