For whom are you grateful?

Archived | November 25, 2008 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I sat there in the kitchen next to the radio reading up on tips for thawing turkeys. It’s probably only right that I let you in on one of my secrets: I’ve never before cooked a turkey. Nope. I’ve made turkey breasts and whole chickens and grouse and quail and pheasant before, but never a turkey. I was, frankly, hoping to skip a generation, that my kids would be old enough to pick up the ball once my mother got tired, but it was not to be. At approximately 4:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, I purchased a 22.5 lb turkey, frozen solid, biggest one I could find, to prepare for a small gathering of family and friends at the Sundberg table on Thanksgiving Day.
So I read through the instructions I printed after I Googled “How to Cook a Turkey” and I thought it would all be fine until I read that the bird must thaw 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 4 lbs. Which means I’m cutting it close. I may have to do the soak-it-in-the-sink thing, drain the water every 30 minutes, that whole deal. Thank the Lord for mothers. Even I, at my age, have called upon my mother, who plans to arrive early on Thanksgiving to make certain that I, in my inexperience, have all the answers I need to bring that bird to its proper glory.
Think of it, people. Where would you be if it weren’t for your mother, your father, your Aunt Anndee, your Grandma LaRae, or whomever it was who raised you up? For whom are you grateful in this week of giving thanks? And for what? This big ol’ turkey has got me going, alright. Got me thinkin’ of all the ways I’ve been blessed. I could never name ’em all in an hour or even a day, and those blessings keep on coming, like paychecks and rain.
Try one of these to serve alongside pie for a lighter dessert on Thanksgiving Day.
5 Cup Fruit Salad
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup coconut
1 cup mini marshmallows
Mix. Chill. Serve.
Pistachio Dessert
8 oz container of Cool Whip
1 small pkg pistachio pudding mix
1 can crushed pineapple
Mix together in a bowl. Chill.

Take a Few Risks Along the Way

Archived | November 18, 2008 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was, once again, a little stretch of calm on the wild way. With the election and winter’s arrival and the deer hunting opener all in the last week or so, it’s tempting to say to heck with it all and hole up in the kitchen and bake all night and sleep all day and leave the world behind until spring returns and people aren’t all bundled up and you don’t have to stare at a deer carcass while you wait for the light to turn green. It would be easy to retreat for these dark months and hunker down and just get through it. Lord knows there’s enough food in the pantry and wood in the shed to get to January at least.
The temptation is there, alright. But. When you’ve grown up in a place where frostbite and the flu are realities just weeks after you’ve been warned about heatstroke, you’ve had to learn to take a few risks along the way. Thing is, you take enough little risks, they start to feel commonplace and you forget what it feels like to be daring and put yourself out there or try something new.
I’m here to suggest we all avoid the temptation this time around. Instead of hiding out with this week’s forecast for snow and biting winds, I say get on out there and be in it. Lord knows there’s something for everyone. I know of at least seven lutefisk dinners this week alone. There’s the Turkey Bingo fundraiser over at the Community Center. There are a few craft fairs and the Advent fairs are starting up next week. It’s not too early to find a Christmas tree. Sidewalks are going to need shoveling, and some of them could use a good sweeping. Deliver some Meals on Wheels. Find someone who needs firewood and help them get it. Rake up the last leaves for your busy neighbor. Spend money you don’t have on someone you don’t know. Bake the best thing you bake and give it to the person who changes your oil or manages the grocery store where you shop or waits on tables where you eat lunch. The next time you think a good thing about a person, tell them that good thing. Go skiing, and if you don’t know how, learn. At least taste the lutefisk, for God’s sake. Do something today. Because you’re alive, and it’s today, and if you believe you’re an adventure waiting to happen, then you are. But you’ll never know, now, will you, if you just stay there in your house, all warm and cozy, wrapped in blankets, half-asleep, with one candle lit and not knowing for sure what time it is. Come on now. Get a move on.
Sweet Potato Bake
I’m making this one for Thanksgiving. Yes, I am. And you would, too, if you could have a taste of it right now. It’s something else.
3 cans (15 oz each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Dash nutmeg
3 cups mini marshmallows
Mash potatoes, butter and spices in large bowl until blended.
Scoop into greased 1 1/2 qt casserole dish; top with marshmallows.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes
until potatoes are heated through and marshmallows are lightly browned.

Winter’s at the Door

Archived | November 11, 2008 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I listened from the kitchen this time around, where I turned out two rounds of fresh whole wheat bread, a batch of snickerdoodles, and a double batch of red pepper sauce to freeze for evening meals these next few months. Winter’s at the door and with the kids having been sick and all I’ve spending a bit of extra time in the kitchen. Mornings, too. A bowl of cold cereal might fill your belly, but when you’ve been sick, you need some hot food to get your energy going. So it’s been pancakes and sausage, or eggs with bacon, or cheesy hash browns and Spam the last few days.
Though I don’t know why I even bother with the toast. Seems the kids always leave their toast untouched. You really ought to eat your toast, I told them. I mentioned that somewhere in Florida recently a bodybuilder named Troy ordered French toast at a café and the last piece had an image of Jesus on it. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I asked them. “So what are you saying?” they asked. “If we don’t eat our toast, Jesus is going to show up?” No, I said. The toast just reminded me of that story, and I thought you might enjoy hearing about it. Makes a person wonder how much of what we see is what we want to see.
“Well, there’s a dragon in the floor of the bathroom at school, if you look at it right,” one of them said. “Our Phy. Ed. teacher, Ms. Nelson, has a birthmark shaped like a dolphin on her right arm.” The third one added, “When you lay on my bed you can see a horse galloping on the ceiling over by the window. Looks just like it.”
They left for school talking about how the cracks in the attic wall spell “Rog” and who “Rog” might be, and there lay a pile of uneaten toast. What’s a person to do? As I cleaned up the kitchen, I got to thinking about the image in the shower, the one eleventh tile up from the bottom on your left as you enter. It’s only the man’s face you can see, and the tile is slate, so you have to really look, and tilt your head a bit to the left, but he’s there. He’s wearing a white hat, and a moustache, and I’m thinking he’s Italian. Or French, perhaps. But not Norwegian. I’ve yet to see a Norwegian man holding a rose with his teeth.
Red Pepper Sauce for Chicken or Pasta
This one’s on the spicy side, a nice change of pace from the traditional white sauce.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup roasted red pepper puree (see below)
1/2 to 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
Simmer all ingredients for five minutes.
Pour over pasta or cooked chicken.
Serve bread with meal to soak up remaining sauce.
For red pepper puree: roast red pepper in a 450 degree
oven until burned and blistered, about 40 minutes. Wrap
in a clean kitchen towel and let steam until cool. Peel
off blistered skin; don’t worry if some is left on. Puree in

It’s Not Long Off

Archived | November 4, 2008 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’m not one to complain, but last week was one humdinger and I needed Saturday to be Saturday. The week began with a migraine headache which knocked me flat for three whole days. When I say flat, I mean flat. I don’t remember much at all except rainbow lizards and monkeys from Discover’s Planet Earth series which the kids put in before they went to school to keep me entertained all day, and talking on the phone with someone who insisted that I vote for “Al Franklin.” Who? I asked. “Al Franklin,” the man said. I remember smelling grilled cheese sandwiches and feeling little lips pressed to my forehead and a whisper in my ear, “Get better, Mom. We miss you.”
I got up sometime on Wednesday and things felt normal again by Thursday morning, when I drove out to my favorite walking place by the lake just outside of town. And wouldn’t you know, on that same day, during that same hour, some nutball got it in his head to break into my car by smashing my window. He took it all — my purse, my coat, my coupons. He even took the fresh muffins I was going to drop off at Lorena’s house since she’s been down with the flu. When I returned to my car and saw glass everywhere, I was more angry than anything, and drove to the police station, and reported his disrespectful butt to the police (yes, I assumed it was a “he”, and I was right), and wouldn’t you know, at that very moment the man was being apprehended by an Officer Tim? He pulled the guy over for a broken headlight, and found my purse, and my number in my purse and left a message for me on my home phone. Longer story short, I retrieved everything but my cash, about a hundred dollars, and the muffins, and can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the man who felt the need to steal something of someone else’s. For whatever reason.
Well, I managed to get the window replaced by Friday noon, and made it home in time to greet the kids as they came in from school. There were costumes to put on and Halloween parties to attend, but by dinner time it was clear that it would be a short night for all of ’em. And it was. Strep throat, the doctor said Saturday morning. Amoxycillin up the wazoo. Get out the Planet Earth series, I said. I’ll make the hot chocolate.
It’s been a warm few days since. Leaves have been blowing all the heck over, and the air has been curiously warm. “We still don’t feel better,” they said on Monday morning. You will soon, I told them. Be patient. Change is a ‘coming, and it’s not long off.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Serve this creamy, rich soup with your favorite bread, or on the side with some baked chicken.
1lb or more white mushroom, cleaned, quartered or sliced
1 T lemon juice
1 T butter
2 T minced shallots
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 T water
Minced parsley for garnish
Chop mushrooms with lemon juice. Melt butter in 4-5 qt saucepan and lightly sauté
Shallots on medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf. Saute over moderate heat
For about 15 minutes, or until liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
Add salt, pepper, cream and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for
20 minutes. Add cornstarch and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Correct
Seasoning and add more lemon juice to taste.
Serves about 4. Serve sprinkled with a little parsley.