Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bloggle Bloggle!

Happy thanksgiving my friends. I write this from Albany, NY, home brother Lee and family. My mom is here too.

Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories:

-As a kid, all the family would congregate at 333 Dawson in Glendora, California for a huge feast at Grandpa Oscar's. Often the kids' table is the sucky place to be, the red-headed step child of tables. But in this case it was the ONLY place to be. We were set up in the 3 season porch and left to our own devices. Every finger was covered in black olives and mayhem and knock knock jokes and armpit farts ruled the day. Oscar could magically cook a 30lb turkey in 3 hours, there was jello without nuts, at least 5 flavors of pie. I could count on endless games with Onry & Robinhood.

-When we were a little older and the Mc's had moved to Utah, we rotated Thanksgivings with our sisteresque cousins the Bodens. Mom always made turkeys out of mesh & candy corn. I do it now with my guys. Best lesson learned from GiGi? Don't mix your pie flavors.

-Our first year in Phoenix, Grandma Jean & Grandpa Larry came from Denver & Scott & Kerry from SLC. I awoke on Thanksgiving morning to find half the contents of my fridge on the counter and when I opened the fridge, EVERY BOWL I owned was in there, filled to the brim with jello. Strawberry jello with walnuts and cranberries and shredded carrots and cans of fruit coctail. It was my worst nightmare but I could not stop laughing. This has happened to me every holiday we do with Grandma Jean. She needs her some jello.

-Another Grandma Jean memory: one year we flew out there on Thanksgiving. We arrive and are served stale blueberry muffins she has shoved in her purse from her last trip to the Country Buffet. No turkey. No mashed potatoes. Just stale muffin.

-The year we were in China was a wonderful feast. There was no turkey readily available (turkey in Chinese is "fire chicken" btw) so one of our students whose parents had a meat business told us they could locate a turkey. They showed up with gizzards and maybe a wing. Luckily we had also roasted chickens. My family always had lemon merangue but there's no lemons in Northern China. So we made an orange merangue pie. Dave and I were so sore after making that pie. We had to whip the duck egg whites by hand for AGES to get it stiff as we were without an electric mixer. Our British friends hosted the event and had a huge banner up that read: "Merry Thanksgiving all Ye Colonists!"

-As my brother Lee is in Abany, we get together for holidays from time to time. Lee & I always make the mashed potatoes and gravy and always say the same bad puns every year. Our all time favorite: as I start cooking the drippings in the pan, Lee announces that I will "rue the day." After that all the jokes are just gravy until we start to talk turkey.

Happy holidays and if you're not in a turkey coma by tonite, you did something wrong.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Go Team Hobos!!!

All the 6th graders at Chenery Middle School have to do community service. It's a great opportunity for kids, and I wanted it to be meaningful for Jonah. His friend Bekkah is volunteering at a nursing home, and other kids are working at a food pantry. I thought about taking him to a soup kitchen, but they can be so depressing and I'm not sure Jonah is ready for that.

I went to a soup kitchen once and haven't quite recovered. Although that's more because of my dad than any of the people getting a meal. Here is my account that I shared in my eulogy at dad's funeral: 'My favorite food story with dad took place on their mission to inner city Detroit. They were scheduled to do their weekly shift at the soup kitchen and mom insisted that I go with my father, feigning fatigue, shoving us out the door. We get there, in the middle of the ghetto, with all manner of homeless people from the purely down and out to junkies and hobos. As the people came down the line, dad would greet each one uniquely, such as “Yo brother, what’s up?” or “Word to your mother” or “Give me five my man,” with accompanying hand gestures he’d probably memorized from thugs on Law & Order. I couldn’t watch. I admit I switched to dish duty so that I wouldn’t have to witness the looks on the faces of the people that my sweet dad was trying so hard to connect with. Or watch someone stab him. Truly the Lord was watching over him and keeping him safe.'

Then I thought about the Special Olympics. The preschool & elementary school Jonah went to have been "integrated," meaning the kids with special needs aren't segregated to separate classes but blended in with the "normal" kids (really, who is "normal?"). And Jonah has always been drawn to these kids (or vice versa). One time in first grade he went to a party for a girl with cerebral palsy and when I got there I realized he was the only one there without a handicap (or at least without one recognized by the board of education). I got all verklempt watching Jonah in the midst of a water fight. And thru my tears I couldn't tell who was "special" and who wasn't. And when I was pregnant with Bea and we anticipated some type of birth defect, I used to lay awake at night and wonderful what event my little girl would participate in at the Special Olympics. PF has volunteered several times, Ray Ray & Boo ran the bocce ball tournament one year, and back in our BYU days, Dave, his brother Scott & I helped with some Provo based events (the highlight for me was that Scott put "Bob Frapples" on his name tag). So this is a cause that's near and dear to us in a roundabout way and that's why I encouraged Jonah to do something for the Special Olymics.

So Jonah has created Team Hobos to participate in a 5k on December 6th. Jonah says, "If anyone wants to join our team I'd love having more people to walk with us or you can go to the website and donate to the Games. Go Special Needs!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Mom's Orange Rolls

So this past week I was so honored to have one of my recipes featured on my dear foodie friend Becca's blog and thought I'd share her post. She is a really gifted chef, and since my idea of hot breakfast is chocolate milk warmed up in a sippy cup, I think my reluctance to share this recipe is understandable...

Becca writes:

I believe in a lot of things. I believe in being nice. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in Hot Breakfasts. As my daughter G used to say, "for real life, I do." However, mornings are tight at our house. The bathroom is in heavy demand, people are practicing instruments, almost all major appliances are up and running. Speaking of running, I am usually back from my run and instead of running on the street, by 7:30am I am running around my house barking orders to play the right note, start the dishwasher, or get out of the bathroom. So, given the morning craziness, my strong belief in Hot Breakfasts suffers dearly. Enter Fake Cinnamon Rolls.

My dear friend H introduced these to me a few years ago. She brought this towering gooey mess of Orange Rolls to Easter Dinner. I couldn't stop eating them. I took four just for myself. When my daughter asked me if there were any more of H's orange rolls, I lied and said, "I don't think so", when in fact there were about seven left. I wanted them all for myself. Whenever somebody reached for one, I gave their hand a dirty look. I resented H for not making these sooner, and I told her so. She said, "well, I didn't think you made things out of a can." "What?" I replied. "These are just canned biscuits dipped in butter, sugar and orange peel, then baked in a bundt pan." "Oh.", I humbly replied.
Fast forward a few years later. I make these fake cinnamon/orange rolls all the time. When I have an extra fifteen minutes in the morning, I pop these puppies in the oven and wha-la, the girls treat themselves to a yummy breakfast dessert (post scrambled eggs, mind you). And if any of you are grossing out that I in fact use biscuits from a can, too bad. I guess that means you can't come over and try one. Just kidding. I said I believe in forgiveness, and for real life, I do.
Marilyn's Orange Rolls (including a cinnamon roll variation)
3 cans prepared biscuits --Pillsbury Biscuits (buttermilk)
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
grated rind of one orange
Mix butter, sugar, and rind. Dip biscuits in mix, then stand on end around greased bundt pan. Pour extra mix on top (I add a bit of the orange's juice as well). Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
For Fake Cinnamon Rolls, I use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of orange rind. I also use 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, but be sure to watch closely because the brown sugar causes potential gooey-ness to drip over the pan.
Finally, I don't use all 3 cans of biscuits for my girls in the morning, I reduce the whole recipe and use one can, and bake it in any sort of small baking dish. Yummy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Best Witches

Several years ago my grandparents gave me a card that said, "The top 3 Reasons Why Halloween is the Best Holiday: You get to dress up, you get candy & no relatives come to visit." The wisdom of the aged.

I declared this a no new costume year and I basically stuck to it. Jonah was...I'm not sure what. He picked the canes up at a yard sale (like his mother, he's a big believer in having a "spare" which he loaned to Alex). He and some buddies got into the spirit of things with cans of glow in the dark silly string. If nobody answered, he'd spray a frowny face on the door. My response? It's called trick or treat for a reason.

The girls were witches because that's what we had. If I were a more highbrow mom I'd have had the girls chanting "Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble" and if someone asked who they were they'd say, "Duh, the 3 witches from MacBeth!" But I'm more of a Wizard of Oz gal so I painted their faces green and encouraged them to say "And your little dog too!"

We live on a very busy street so we headed to the "Mormon Ghetto" and ran into half our ward while trick-or-treating. Bea was delighted by the whole affair. She kept saying to herself, "This is all my candy!" She likes the unwrapping aspect more than the eating of it it would seem, as I keep thinking there are turds on the floor, but no, it's a gnawed on Milky Way or a Milkdud. The worst is the Laffy Taffy which you practically have to cut out of the carpet. To quote Ed Levine's tirade on bad candy: "I do not laffy when I get these. I sobby. I get depressedy. Because it gets all stucky to my teethy and doesn't even taste that goody." (for the full article go to )

One of the highlights for me is the great candy swap. My sibs & I would come home Halloween night and dump everything onto the living room floor, organize by kind, and then trade the stuff we hated for the stuff we loved. I'd always try to pawn off my Almond Joys and Milky Ways for Snickers and Reese's. My sister would trade anything nutty for Twix or Nestlee's Grand ($100,000 back in our day). I'd eat the good stuff first, and by December there'd be some random crappy candy forgotten in a box: vanilla tootsie rolls, a stale Bit-o-Honey, a Special Dark, butterscotch Lifesavers. My kids clearly have their favorites: Jonah loves Butterfingers, Georgia loves Kitkats, Bea loves lollypops, and Millie loves anything with sugar in it. Though I scoured thru their bags, I stole only two items year: Swedish fish and Nutrageous. Missing from their loot were some of my favorites like Baby Ruth & Bottle Caps which leads me to ask, are they not selling those anymore in "fun size," or did my kids just not snatch those out of the bowls? Abba Zabbas are all but extinct. Sigh.

Oh, a funny story about Millie. I got a call from the school nurse last week. Seeing that number gets me in a panic as all I think is LICE LICE LICE ANYTHING BUT LICE! But it was not any illness. "Camille stepped into some pudding at lunch," the nurse states all matter of fact. "I've cleaned it off as best I can but your daughter says she is 'too chocolatey' to go back to class." And though there is a box of clothes in the office that the kids can wear, my Princess refused to even try on someone's castoff pants. Nope. So I schlepped her over a fresh pair of jeans. When Georgia heard that Mills had turned down clothes from the nurse's box, she was incredulous. "But Millie, it's really awesome FREE stuff! You know my tie-dye Mickey Mouse t-shirt? I got that when I spilled paint on myself!" My little Hobo Georgie.

Since school has started Bea's watched her sisters head off to birthday parties and return with goody bags full of, well, goodies. This Saturday Bea was invited to a party and was just glowing upon her return. She insisted I take a picture of her with her hat and treats. I was thinking of not having any kind of party for her this year (the economy is also making this a no-big-parties year), but I may have to cave and at least pass out cupcakes and goody bags this month for her playgroup. I saved so much money on costumes, I'm sure there's some $ in the budget to celebrate my favorite 3 year old.