Thanksgiving Week - Life ... It's Why We Cook. Blog at - 208745

Life ... It's Why We Cook.

Thanksgiving Week 
Dec. 1, 2010 8:52 am 
Updated: Dec. 2, 2010 5:00 pm
Three days before Thanksgiving.
A dreary day. It’s very dark and raining but the temperature is an unbelievable 64 degrees.
The deer hunters are whining that they have no snow to track their deer. Oh, well. Looks like they have to be real hunters this year. If they don’t know how to track without snow, they shouldn’t be hunting.
What memories of past Thanksgivings could I dig out of this old brain?
The earliest I can remember was when I was quite small. Maybe, 7 or 8. My mother was out of routine. She was making lots of different things. It was my older brothers who had the job of keeping me and my younger brother away from the busy mother. I couldn’t understand the quantity of food or being kept away from Mom. Then Dad came in with Grandma and she distracted me away from the mystery in the kitchen. When we were called to the table I was amazed at all the things displayed upon it. I remember the big turkey and lots of colorful dishes but I cannot remember what they were. I got into trouble when I stood on a chair to take it all in.
Another very memorable Thanksgiving was when I was stationed overseas. The detachment was small, only 60 personnel, and very isolated. If anything happened we had to make our own decisions about how to handle it and hope the powers that be would concur later. The kitchen was staffed by a Sergeant and two civilians. One civilian was an assistant to the sergeant and the other was a helper that took care of everything menial. I had to work the midnight shift and when we got back to the detachment I could smell things that just didn’t fit the typical military diet. I was very tired so I hit the sack without further investigation. It was 10:30 AM when I was awakened by the kitchen helper. "Sergeant want you in chow hall, now!" I jumped into my clothes, grabbed my rifle and headed for the chow hall. As I left the building, I saw there was more armed men heading there too. We used tactical maneuvers entering the chow hall, not knowing what was there. When we entered the chow hall, the sergeant yelled "Stand down! There ain’t a war here! Lower your weapons and clear ‘em!" Turns out the helper was too excited about the Thanksgiving meal that they had prepared. The sergeant knew if we slept we would only get scraps of leftovers for our Thanksgiving. He had us awakened so we could be the first served. Our meal was given to us an hour ahead of everybody else. And the food was fantastic! The sergeant was always taking care of his troops. When I was transferred back stateside, I made a point of going to him and thanking him for his exceptional efforts at every meal he prepared. In my opinion, they couldn’t hang enough stripes on him for his work.

Two days before Thanksgiving.
Just put on my third batch of vegetable broth following the suggestion of Fight the Fat Foodie. This batch is a couple of gallons. So far, the total yield is at 28 pints. That’s over $28.00 I won’t be giving to the grocer. I like that! The savings is likely much more because I haven’t diluted the broth. My wife and I like the rich flavor of it as it is, so diluting is probably not going to happen. My guess is, it could be diluted 50/50 and still be richer than the commercial broth.
I’ve found if I keep the vegetable scraps in a gallon size zip bag until it is full (about four days), I will get a yield of eight pints. I dump the scraps into the large strainer, steep it in our large pasta pot with enough water to cover the scraps and let it boil for around 15 minutes then let it simmer on low burner for three hours then turn off the burner and let everything set until the broth has cooled. Once cooled I’ll put two cup quantities in one gallon size zip bags and freeze it. I’m going to can the next batch so I can make a comparison of taste. The canned batch will have 1/4 tsp of salt per pint. That shouldn’t affect our reduced salt intake too much. (I hope!) Our reason for canning instead of freezing is we don’t like the expense of the zip bags. All of our canning jars and rings have been with us for years and owe us nothing. The lids are less expensive than zip bags, too. I never realized how much scrap is generated by paring and peeling. This is a little tip that is a big plus! Many thanks to Fight the Fat Foodie!

One day before Thanksgiving.
We traveled to Columbus, Ohio with the parents of our daughter in law. We very often travel with them because we get along fabulously and the trip becomes a six to seven hours when it should be around four and a half hours because we are always finding things to do and/or places to eat. We hardly notice the time increase because we are joking or seeing things to talk about. Our arrival was ushered by lots of hugs, some squeals from the granddaughter and prancing and dancing by the grand dog. (Doubtless, he was expecting treats he doesn’t get when we are gone.)

Thanksgiving Day.
Our son prepared the traditional feast and did a darned good job! Everything came together as planned. Afterwards, our daughter in law laid out munchies for the rest of the day. My wife had baked apple pies, pumpkin pies and whole wheat bread- enough to last through Sunday morning.
I followed the advice of the healthy eating gurus and took everything in moderation. I enjoyed the tastes of everything but that moderation BS was difficult to stick with.
Our daughter in law- a University of Michigan Graduate (a tough thing to be in Columbus)- had to watch the Michigan/ Ohio State game. She held the Wolverines dearly through the entire game and was very disappointed that they performed so poorly.

First day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday.
The ladies were up and running long before the gents even thought about getting out of bed. All three are avid shoppers and thoroughly enjoy exploiting all the bargains and sales people.
The guys stayed close to home and entertained the granddaughter. We left around 9:00 and almost had the stores to ourselves- if we wanted them. That was the first time I have seen Columbus so inactive. Typically, it’s busy even in it’s off hours. To mark the occasion of having no wives to supervise us, we had a very delicious (and greasy) fried hamburger with real deep fried fries.
Dec. 1, 2010 12:36 pm
The Michigan hunters can do like the Arkansan hunters and set out some "bait" (i.e. corn, salt licks, etc) and just wait for them. But you can't call it fishing here. Oh, no. Its still "hunting." :P Kudos on the vegetable "stocking," the hamburger binging, and your memories of Thanksgivings past and present :)
Dec. 1, 2010 1:33 pm
Hi Mike, another great blog. It sounds like you were blessed with a lovely Thanksgiving,and family. Isn't it nice to look back and realize what wonderful people you've had in your life?? That sergeant sounds like an angel. Heres wishing you and yours a blessed holiday.-Toni
Dec. 1, 2010 1:51 pm
LOL! Promise not to tell but my deer hunters had a deer in the tractor shop the day of Nov 13th. Our BF, Alan, only worries about it being to warm of weather when he hunts, he definately doesn't need snow to track. :) Sounds like you had a wonderful time over the holiday and thanks for sharing. Gotta share back-thanks so much for the pumpkin pickle recipe and have you tried Mother Ann's suggestion for cranberry sauce(Travelin Turkey blog)? I did. YUM! Now gotta check out FtFF blog. He has some great stuff to share too!
Dec. 1, 2010 4:14 pm
Hello, David! The Michigan hunters bait, also. The last I heard was that it is illegal but there is some way around it. Thank you for the kudos!
Dec. 1, 2010 4:16 pm
You might get away with calling him an angel, toni Jo. If I did I would have my uh hmm kicked to uh hmm and back.
Dec. 1, 2010 4:20 pm
Hi Cat! You are very welcome to have the recipe. I was very surprised that you prepared them for the roundup and very pleased with the comments. I took the recipe out of my blog because it is copyrighted material. Turns out it was OK because I gave proper credit to the publisher. I'll repost it next fall- the Good Lord being willing.
Dec. 1, 2010 4:26 pm
What a nice blog! I enjoyed reading of your week. That's great you and the in-laws all get along so well. I've known my son-in-law's parents for close to 15 years (he's only been my SIL 2-1/2 yrs.) and while they are very nice people I'm not sure I'd want to ride in a car with them for 4 hours. Your sergeant sounds like he was a super guy and took care of his men. I can only imagine how tough it is for your DIL to live in Columbus and be a Mich. graduate!!
Dec. 1, 2010 4:55 pm
Thank you, Mother Ann! I am very ashamed that I cannot remember the name of that sergeant. Yes, he did take exceptional care of us. He was the kind of man that could look at your eyes and read your soul. Nobody could pull anything on him. My DIL took a lot of spirited (competitive) fun for at least two months leading to the game. I feel for what she must endure as a fan of the losing team.
Dec. 1, 2010 7:30 pm
Glad to hear you had a great Thanksgiving Mike!
Dec. 2, 2010 4:16 am
Thank you, Magnolia Blossom! Your reunoin with your son was a great event, as well. Thank you for sharing it.
Dec. 2, 2010 8:15 am
Baiting deer? Oh please say it isn't so!! Great blog Mike, a stroll down memeory lane is enjoyable, I felt like the ghost of Thanksgiving past looking over your shoulder as you told the story:)
Dec. 2, 2010 10:47 am
just read your comment in my blog-Welcome Back, I thought I was missing on some of your wit and words
Dec. 2, 2010 5:00 pm
The only thing less sporting than baiting deer is to "hunt" them while they are fenced up. It's disgusting. Instead of saying they "hunt", they should say they slaughter. Thanks for the compliments, gramma!
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Mike Harvey, daPITA

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Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

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Dec. 2008

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Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Gourmet

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About Me
At age 16, I began cooking when my mother was injured in an accident that kept her off her feet for five weeks. At first, my repertoire was fried hot dogs with pork and beans, boiled hot dogs with macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. After a couple weeks of this, my younger brother was the first to protest and demand variety and my dad was quick to support him. That was my first cooking challenge, learning to plan a meal. About that time, mom returned from the hospital and from her bed, began teaching me things like roast beef, fried chicken, stews and all the sides and trimmings. In 1967, I married and my wife designated herself as the cook and this continued until 1999. It was then that I (voluntarily) began cooking again. At some point, I realized that I was having fun and began searching for recipes that were more challenging and interesting. I found AR and used it's recipes for a long time before registering and later becoming an active member.
My favorite things to cook
Soups. How can I go wrong? They are a great way to use up leftovers and those veggies that are approaching the end of their usefulness. They are always an original recipe. Roasts and steaks are favored, also. Getting the right "doneness" and choosing appropriate sides for a tastey and attractive meal is a continuing and always evolving menu.
My favorite family cooking traditions
If creating impulsive menus and recipes is a tradition then, (I guess) we have a tradition. A new tradition is developing. I have a fruitcake recipe that, I believe, is near perfection. I make it just before Thanksgiving so it is aged enough for the Christmas/ New Year holidays.
My cooking triumphs
Without a doubt, my own recipe for a Reuben Sandwich. It has been a demanded item for many years and I shared it in my AR blog.
My cooking tragedies
Too many. I have been able to throw them out and have something new before my wife gets home. Most of the time, anyway.
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