The Costco of Whole Foods

Some people have Disneyland. My “Mecca” besides the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, is Whole Foods on North Avenue. More expensive than it should be, people go there to eat with their eyes more than with their mouths, unless you wish to spend at least $50 on groceries for just a few items. Its location in River North in the middle of a hip, trendy neighborhood, directly off the Red Line, is safely situated for beautiful commerce near the Chicago River. This Whole Foods is more of a destination than it is a grocery store.

Some people use IKEA in similar ways: a destination shop for ideas and thoughts rather than a place where a person buys that much that often. Luckily, a little further down North Avenue is Stan’s market. I have never been inside that place, but it looks of the same feel and caliber as Family Fresh Market in Jefferson Park. Both of them are local markets with less-expensive produce of good quality.

Bring a foodie in Chicago is less about actually going out for food and seems more about knowing the addictive experiences for groceries. An apple is an apple is an apple. But a Granny Smith from a local producer in Wisconsin or Michigan versus California or Chile could be different based upon soil, rain, and  distance. The longer I live in this town, the more concerned I become with what goes into my body.

Out in the suburbs, there are less expensive chain markets like Butera. Within the city are markets that in some cases have been around since the 50’s, and others that grew with expanding populations. The Edgewater Historical Society put on a small exhibit about grocery stores in Edgewater back in its heyday.

Food is big business overall. Overuse of corn and GMO wheat makes Jetsons food for Flintstone bodies, (got that line from a friend) and I prefer Flintstone foods. I want to rediscover what my great grandparents ate. Their generation did not get sick as fast or had as many allergies as we do. I will admit that my great-grandmother was sick more often than not, but her health problems do not appear problematic for me or my generation within the family.

I do better following the Word of Wisdom, which is the LDS health code. My family adopted and adapted various recipes for use over years, and due to addictive behaviors in previous generations, I believe that wine was not a part of our cooking regime anyway. My grandmother did not cook with it, my mother did not cook with it, and I do not cook with it. I started The Mormon Gourmet with my sister dealing with the phenom of wine-less cooking.

Because of the natural understanding that most of the world has when it comes to food, it is a great simile-and-metaphor allegorical apparatus for teaching principles, and deals more-closely with religious teaching. Anyone who controls the food supply controls the world. Control water, salt, sugar, and food fat, and you control how the world thinks, literally influencing molecular-level thought processes.

I care about GMO in that I have too many friends who are sicker than they should be because of what big businesses do. Grow food the old-fashioned way, and let it take effort. Bigger is not always better. Training food to grow faster than needed is not right. Allow the time needed for food to produce the minerals and vitamins otherwise deficient in fast-growing bumper crops.

It’s not a case of exercising ourselves to death. It is a case of being able to afford properly produced food for less than the prices that Whole Foods charges for the Disneyland atmosphere. Branding is a huge incentive, and I can see how people may shop here simply for the appeal of the social climate.

Instead of the Obama’s making PSA’s about exercise, help smaller farmers bring products to market on a local basis. Allow anyone to develop their own seeds. Be proactive about lessening hybridization, and continuing heirloom quality items with low-end antique-shop prices. Junk costs less, and that is why people eat it. America’s economy is in a horribly bad state and health care costs would decrease if there was less controlling and more promoting tax cuts for better quality and better-run food product producers. Want to put America back to work? Give incentives for micro-farms, and you will see more people learning agriculture and less worries about Wall Street issues. We worry when we cannot feed our families nutritious food due to the costs associated. Keep America healthier by giving tax breaks for buying ground and farming it- by normal people with other day jobs. Instead of micro-parks, make parts of parks accessible for farming. Small, community-run places where people can have soil and ground. One person can be the main groundskeeper with care for tools and upkeep on water lines, but otherwise, people can do their thing with limited restrictions. Producing produce and making seeds and productive farming should be rewarded, not mandated against!

There’s my soap-box without extreme passion or activism. I’m just trying to stay away from HFCS while being uncertain about conversion factors in recipes for sugars I haven’t tried yet (agave or maple syrup) and attempting better sugar intake while increasing water. Heaven help us as we re-learn the ancient art of true self-reliance: not asking everyone else to grow things for us, but figuring out how to do it ourselves again. I am not advocating a removal of grocery stores, but instead, tax incentives for installing communal green houses and making that a standard part of apartment living unless a doctor authorizes otherwise due to pollen and similar issues.

I don’t want a Jetson’s lifestyle. I like technology, but prefer to keep my food old-fashioned. If it worked for the Flintstones, it should work for me, too. Here are the thoughts of a 21st century Renaissance girl and urban farmer. Make any Metropolis a greener city by creating roof top gardens and see how they do!

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Kindness

When I think about the people who have helped me out over the past few months to multiple years including my Church, it would be incredibly dumb for me to leave anyone out when they needed things.

There are a lot of people who need things- I need a job, and am looking for one. In the recent past, I have received a lot of kindness from others. There are bills to pay, and tears to mend, but I have a roof over my head and I have food.

I believe in Jesus Christ, and I know what the teachings there are. For all of the help that others give me, it’s time to give back. I was talking with a friend on the phone today and noticed that he seemed envious when I mentioned making home-made macaroni and cheese. I didn’t have the box version and looked it up. Simple, common “peasant” food.

Instead of hearing tones of wishing that he had a homemade something, he was simply envious of the food itself. That should never have to happen. No one should ever go hungry. I don’t care how idealistic that may be in varied areas of the world, but were people to not only put their money but their time and their resources where their ideals are, there would be less problems.

I did some minor digging and found out more about the situation. There are a lot of people who he does not trust, and he has really good reasons for it. He has had a really hard life, and emotionally needs people who will act as the family that either does not or cannot help him now. He trusts me, and I’m never saying his name here. He has a lot less pride than many people I know, but his name is un-necessary. I thought about my excess of food now- how I got it, I’m not entirely sure. Just haven’t eaten it down yet. Immediately, thoughts of what to do came to mind, and it was time for action.

Most of the Sunday School classes that I go to teach this stuff, and teach that acting on the commandments is the best way to live them. If the only faith that you preach comes from your mouth, you haven’t lived enough yet. I’m not trying to get into heaven on works. I’m trying to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ. Perhaps it wasn’t a mistake that part of my reading this morning dealt with the miracle of feeding 5,000 from five loaves of bread and two fishes. God walks on water and he feeds people who are hungry in whatever form that may be.

So, this kid will be coming to my apartment, more than an hour by mass transit from where he lives. He has few people to almost no one to turn to, or at least feels that way. I’ve definitely been there and usually am there. But I also know in Whom I trust. “In God we trust” isn’t some old motto that people stick on paper money to take up inking space. It means that we believe in a little less arrogance and a little more kindness. There are some times when people will not accept help from the people directly around them unless they are open to receiving it, and I want to help. It’s what my mother would have done.

The plan tonight is to make sure that he is fed this evening, give him something for tomorrow, and that he has bus/transit fare to get home again. I never saw myself in a parable until making extras of macaroni and cheese and just trying to make sure that he had something in which to cook things.

Our Church has functions in place that when they work should help with this sort of instance. People should be looking after each other, but it does not always work perfectly. My car works, but the registration barely expired. Cannot chance a ticket. I have more than 400 pages of reading I need to finish for one or both grad programs. There are plenty of other things that I could be doing, but I’m sitting here writing a blog post to help mentally process this blessing that came to my life.

This is the first time in a long time that I have the means and God provided the ability to pay it forward. There was a movie of a similar title back in the 90’s or early 2000’s and followed a bunch of people as their lives intertwined in ways that otherwise were completely unconnected. This man is my friend, and whether or not the blessing will lower because of posting about the action online or (and the following is what I hope) inspire others to reach out and TRY it, too- it doesn’t matter what the end result is. God let me serve someone without even leaving the house using means that He gave me in the first place. God’s doing is genius.

I hope that he does not read this and get embarrassed, but knowing him, he might be okay with it. Sincerity goes leagues with people, and that is why this matters.

Healthy, “Boutique Food” at McDonald’s

I do not normally eat at McDonald’s. I prefer grocery stores if time permits. When I was younger, I had a small time when I was addicted to their hamburgers based upon the pickles alone, but they changed their suppliers, and the craving went with the change. Today, in a quest for AC and free wi-fi, I went and looked at their menu for options that were inexpensive and maybe decent for me. I am not under illusions that McDonald’s will be great food. It’s what you eat when either it’s a craving, you don’t know the area (McDonald’s is consistent at least), or something like that. It’s not “first choice” food. However, it’s less expensive than Starbucks (also home to free wi-fi), is open later, is closer to where I live, and I am lucky that people typically leave me alone here. There are zero pretensions. It reminds me of Wal-Mart, and in different areas of the country they are linked inextricably.

The menu, while copying whatever sells in an area, lacks less-expensive options of the veggie nature. I am not a total food snob. I rarely shop organic on purpose (honestly, yeah for the earth, but wash your veggies, people), and it’s not like I expect McDonald’s to be or supply organic stuff. It’s more like, my body does better on veggie-based products. This year I’ve spent a lot of time eating as inexpensively as possible. Strangely enough, that means produce and so I look for the cheapest and best quality. To quote people at a business conference, if you stick to the outer perimeter of the grocery store, you are likely to do better than if you head to the center aisles. It was not like this when I was a kid, but that was the ’80’s. People still cooked instead of watching the Food Channel.

My neighborhood does not have a Trader Joe’s, does not have Whole Food’s, or anything similar. I do not want to drive to locations that have those places just because gas is super-expensive. Instead, I have local grocery stores with less-expensive produce. So, you use what is available.

I know that McDonald’s has a massive coffee menu, imitating Starbucks. Why don’t they offer humus and chips, too? They do offer apple pieces and some salads, but the salads are more expensive than the burgers. I disagree with this.  And there is only ONE fish offering on the menu, and it’s fried. I realize that you know what you’re getting when you go there, but my complaint today rests in the fact that I’ve been trying to eat as healthy as is possible given present circumstances. No, I’m not a vegetarian. I will admit to craving seafood more than almost any other substance, but I will eat ham, bacon, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and if there is an interesting meat substance that I haven’t tried yet, I’ll give it a whirl. However, instead of massive meat portions, produce is king. When I cook, I prefer to use meat as a carmelized flavoring agent. Spread about, flavoring the item versus a piece of meat, bread, and then set produce that gives few, if any nutrients whatsoever.

This McDonald’s is full of families. I always wondered where families went for fast food. My preference is Wendy’s or if I want a good burger, Five Guys is king. Stuff that is worth the intake for the experience of taste-bliss. People walk out with bags like they’re carrying contraband or the kids eat food and the Moms stare into space.

I want the food to be top quality, yes, but make the veggies options more appealing. Salads are hard to eat in grab-and-drive fashion. Why aren’t there wraps with veggie basis? Put them on the dollar menu, or make them $2. Use squash for the main body element along with the lettuce, carrots, and tomato. Zucchini or squash are extremely inexpensive, and avocado is great stuff. Or are they afraid of being accused of becoming Carl’s Jr? Six dollar burgers are worth it.

Also, why is the orange juice more expensive than soda? Which is better for you versus which leads directly to epidemic obesity and diabetes? And why did Florida cut down all of the citrus trees that belonged to private citizens? NOT good. I will admit to drinking soda here and there (Sprite, orange, grape, root beer and mocktails), but since I found a container that works better for me, and better regular city water, I drink water non-stop. Cannot help it in this heat. Further, I am learning that added salt is not always a bad thing, so long as you are the person adding it. Salt could have its own blog post alone. Sea salt and kosher salt are fantastic, but without it, I notice that my mind literally feels shaky if I do not get enough.

The older I get, the more I notice that what I put into me makes a huge difference in how I feel and what I feel. I am glad that the newest jeans that a friend gave me are starting to fall off without my trying to keep them on. It could be the cut of the jeans, but I hope that it may be summer weight loss. I miss in-door tracks where I can listen to my music as I walk around climate-controlled areas in the same direction as everyone else, so I never really see who anyone else is and I can take my time and not care about whether anyone is judging me.

I’ve always had issues with gym class, and now I am lucky that for my occasional spurts at exercise, they tend to pay off. I miss circuit training. That was fun, but I prefer free. I can’t walk in my neighborhood alone very far without feeling completely out of place. Usually that means that it’s time to move, but in my case I think that it means that it is time to find a nice little indoor gym somewhere and not worry about the other ramifications, or else to find a good path by the lake. I do not have enough discipline to do work-out videos on my own. I also miss dancing. It’s been way too long since I knew anyone who could swing dance, especially West Coast style. It’s flirty, sexy, and just plain pretty. I’m not thinking along the lines of Dancing with the Stars of anything similar, but just something meant to have fun, and be fine with it.

Church dances when I was younger were incredible. People upheld standards and it was like having a teenage club, no smoking, no drinking needed. People dressed to dance, but not exposing skin, and nothing super body-hugging. And yes, it was great dancing. We had smoke machines, lasers, lights,and/or projected videos, a games room, decent food, disco ball(s) for effects, and massive FANS including the building AC cranked at max. If the windows in the building weren’t fogged to oblivion, it wasn’t good enough. The heat in those dances was amazing. It was normal to have upwards of at least 300 people in attendance. Those were my “glory” days. Haven’t found them again, but that’s okay.

My nostalgia notwithstanding, there are good ways of finding exercise, and maybe I will be stuck joining a gym. My schools are far enough away that I may have no choice. Not looking forward to it. I could walk miles along the lake and be happy with it. Gyms? *groans* Yeah, you don’t stick with things that don’t make you happy, and gyms… just don’t. Meat markets that smell bad. That, and I can’t stick to them to save my life, minus circuit training with only girls.

I refuse to run. I don’t have a need to do that. I need to find something around here that will work. In the meantime, I will take my daily multi-stairs and worry about the rest of my life. I’m just glad that I have the miracle shoes that let me walk for miles without pain. Without them, this would be much harder.

Be Our Guest: Chefs of Wine Country Trattoria

Recent holiday travel brought me to Disneyland in Anaheim, California where I went with friends to relax. On the way to the resort, I heard nearly fantastic tales of a particular chef who made dining at the Wine Country Trattoria a magnificent adventure. The friends with whom I traveled have extensive lists of allergies which occasionally prohibit them from eating many foods that are not always allergies for other people. There are also more-common allergies, but akin to second tier technical support, their food issues usually go beyond the go-to solutions typical for allergies. As mentioned in an earlier post, I follow a diet sans coffee, alcohol, tea, and even cola products although I do not share their allergies and sensitivities.

According to the friends, Disneyland has a policy with dining that when describing allergies and similar issues, diners talk directly with the chefs. Considering the chefs run the lines, keep up with orders, keep charge of food purchases, handle schedules for timing kitchens for prepping courses for reservations and walk-in’s when the dining room gets slammed, (and front house defers to them and follows orders with military precision), this is a big deal. I have no personal experience with internal workings of professional kitchens, but one of the friends of our trio worked with back and front house for sixteen years. A Food Network junkie, I learned a little from watching the different line-kitchen shows, reading Michael Ruhlman books (The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef, and The Reach of a Chef), and watching Ratatouillie. My experience comes from four generations of fantastic cooks and bakers who sold pies to department stores and sold candy across the East Coast, growing up cooking at home and with Church functions, and trying food from LA, NY, DC, and Chicago learning what is good, what to expect, and what works.

 

“Yes, Chef!”

Chef Frances Vogt (permission granted to use her name), Assistant Chef at Golden Vine Winery (Wine Country Trattoria) is a magician. She is Mickey from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice if the apprentice got it right the first time. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu-Paris, across Europe and the United States, Chef Frances is creative, spunky, warm, and extremely intelligent. She readily accepted the challenges of my friends and exceeded expectations thoroughly. Newer to the Trattoria, she also works with Chef David, a chef with a great smile whose eyes lit up and twinkled when hearing of a customer’s love of seafood.

Never over-done, Chef Frances is a natural legend in her time. A writer-friend from Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn once taught me that a person eats with their eyes before they eat with their mouths. She is right. Although one friend contemplated the Quattro Pomodoro this first night, Chef Frances chose an off-menu item for him. “Yes, Chef!” The normal lunch or dinner menu and World of Color Menus are solid and regular substitutions typically satisfy needs. Instead of Quattro Pomodoro, one friend ate a stroganoff of divine contemplative origin from Chef this night. The other friend had a beautiful chicken and vegetable menu dish, perfectly complimentary to the mushroom-tomato-Parmesan bruschetta appetizer, and the Fritto Misto from paradise. Calamari done right (not chewy but tender and delicate), mussels without a metallic aftertaste (with a tiny touch of sand, but I think that depended on the mussel), and yummy bites of beans and artichoke that left one not in food coma, but in trance of bliss. For the two seafood lovers at the table, sheer heaven.

My entrée was technically on the World of Color menu, but went perfectly for my mood. I did not know what to expect when opening up the menu to whatever the chefs felt like knowing my seafood obsession and personal preference against broccoli, but had a grand time. The scallops were perfect. Larger scallops (silver dollar size) are less chewy, lighter in flavor, and pack a less-intensive punch than their smaller cousins. Ocean scallop fibers are more like poultry if cut cross-grain while still retaining impeccable tenderness with fresh flavor. The balanced combinations between the seafood and tomato acid, combined with solid good spaghetti made me happy. Having eaten the World of Color menu item before, but not seeing it on the regular menu, it was coming home after a long day to a good meal with a perfect breeze on the patio, complete with soft Spanish music and soft (nearly sweet) water with lime. For this evening, the balsamic vinegar/oil and variety of glutenous and gluten-free breads were sweet and heady.

My dessert was the perfect chocolate chip cookie accent to vanilla ice cream. Reading Hannah Swenson books concerning the perfect chocolate chip cookie (buttery, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside), I wondered if such a thing existed, especially for friends with gluten and other sensitivities. All of the desserts brought out were edible by anyone at the table. Upon consuming the cookie at the end of my dreamland meal, the cookie tasted like the book’s description: I could taste the butter, and the crumb of the cookie was perfect for the texture of the ice cream. This was not just a cookie and ice cream. It had depth of ingredients and followed the meal beautifully.

Chef Frances asked our party to show her pictures from our night of “Glowing with the Show,” the current World of Color promotion. “Yes, Chef!” We took her request seriously, and back we came again the next day for lunch complete with pictures on smart phone. This time, Chef Frances made a guest a true pomodoro for the previous night’s stroganoff, then another guest the delectable arugula, fennel, goat cheese, and fig salad, and then my Tuscan Salad with grilled shrimp where Chef Frances used a light vinaigrette and portioned each of our entrees for diners who hadn’t had time for breakfast but still needed park time and walking ability.

Between us, we agree that Chef Frances deserves knighthood. Chef David increased in our mutual respect and admiration, and overall the experiences were magical. Going above and beyond is the mark for this restaurant, and we hope to patronize it for many years to come.

Cherry Limeade Pie: New Family Tradition

Due to popular demand (3 friends), I am posting this recipe. It is from the comments attached to Easy Key Lime Pie, and is great for anyone who has less than three to four hours to go from purchasing ingredients to assembly, baking, and serving. Depending upon the city, that includes commuting time.

General Recipe Requirements:

  • Two 8-9″ pie pans (heavier is better for this recipe, but disposable also works.)
  • Oven (Any size, but not microwave.)
  • 3 bowls: one large one for mixing the key lime pie filling, medium for mixing graham cracker crust base (trust me, it’s worth it), small one for melting butter
  • Whisk
  • Trash can or Receptacle w/liner for discarded egg remnants/shell, cherry pie filling can lid
  • Spatula for scraping the bowl
  • fork for mixing up the crust
  • knife for cutting off the butter since you don’t need an entire stick
  • can opener
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 can cherry pie filling (whatever type or style suits you best; I prefer the most cherries I can get and typically buy generic versions on sale, with sugar added) Enough to top at least one 8-9″ pie +/-. It is more as a garnish that you add after cutting the pie and before serving.
  • 1 can of whipped topping (I prefer the Land O’Lakes heavy whipping cream because it is the real stuff, but if you choose to make literally real whipped cream for this, feel free. One half to one pint should do.)
  • 4 egg yolks; could be five dependent upon the size of the eggs, whites not required.
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz. variety)– you can always add more. This is to start.
  • 1 c key lime juice: Do not bother juicing limes. Go to the store and buy a bottle of Nelly and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice in the yellow bottle in the juice aisle. It is milder than traditional Persian lime juice and a little less potent. More refreshing than tart. At least use a half cup of the key west stuff and I have put in a 1/4 c of regular lime juice to substitute the other half cup as needed. Same result, less effort.
Crust:
  • 1 box of crushed graham crackers or Nilla wafers. I do not mind using pre-made graham cracker crusts (rub the inside of the crust with the ground cinnamon before adding filling and it’s almost comparable but not quite for substitution purposes). Most boxes of graham crackers will list the needed ratio of sugar, butter and graham crackers for making crusts. For use of this blog, the ratio comes from Graham Cracker Pie Crust. If crushing your own graham crackers, start with cinnamon graham crackers.
  • If using 2 c pre-crushed graham crackers, add up to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and perhaps a few shakes of ground nutmeg. If using fresh nutmeg, grate off 1/4 -1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg. Mix with the 1/2 c melted butter (I use the microwave for melting this, 5 seconds at a time) and 1/3 c melted sugar. 
Bake crust in a pre-heated 400 degree F oven for 8 minutes if you want. It matters less that the crust bakes ahead for this recipe since it is only butter, sugar and the dry ingredients.
Filling:
Start with the eggs in the large bowl and whisk them to make sure that the yolks break up. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and make sure that all elements blend well. Finally, add the lime juice and continue to whisk. The filling will not ever turn green. If you want the color of fake key lime pie, then add food coloring or grate in some zest (lime peel without the pith). Natural key lime pie is a light yellow color and needs no extra zest. The juice will curdle the milk and egg mixture akin to ceviche. That said, the pie still must cook.
The crust is the sugar, graham cracker crumbs, butter, and spices described earlier and then patted into place on greased pie plates. Recommendations to grease using either butter or spray. Either way is fine. Add filling to the pie plate(s) dependent upon how much there is of the crust base and the filling. Can make up to two pies dependent upon ingredient amount and how deep of a pie.
Bake pie for approximately 15-17 minutes or until the center of the pie does not jiggle much and is smooth. The idea is to cook/set the custard properly before chilling. From oven, take out and allow to cool a little. Place in fridge, covered gently with either dome top, inverted plate or other item that will not touch the nice glossy surface. Can be served from the cooling station fresh, but usually better a little chilled.
When serving, add whipped cream either to the top of the pie or to individual pieces. I added a light layer of whipped cream and then covered over with cherry pie filling when I last did this. When cut, I added more cherries because I wanted to. Serve however you like. Usually best with milk or similar acid-eliminating item. Lemonade is too much citrus for this drink. Water works well.
Eat and enjoy!

Holiday Traditions: Family History through Traditions of Material Culture

I might just be learning something in my Public History major. The term, material culture, from what Wikipedia says,[1] “refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations.” One interpretation can be that that means how the lace doily or the medal or the PUMPKIN PIE makes sense between people. My family is big on food. We are nowhere near Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving picture,
see right (don’t sue me for sharing the pic) but we do our best.

Small departure from possible other blogs, you cannot get away with writing about Thanksgiving unless you talk about family traditions. That is where material culture comes in. The positive memories of Thanksgiving keep the tradition alive. Black Friday came AFTER Thanksgiving. Despite retail America’s reluctance to admit otherwise, Thanksgiving is a legitimate American holiday and it gets celebrated whether they want to jump straight to Christmas from the 4th of July or not.

My family has changed much over the years. Growing up, the basics of the meal composed most traditional dishes sans the sweet potato or yam dish because I’m not typically a marshmallows fan but I can eat them. I do not go after them, however. My family did not stick specifically to a tradition or custom because it was there (meaning part of the national holiday culture), but adapted it to our personal needs and requirements. I think that many families are like this. A tradition means something when it becomes personal. Besides, five sides in addition to the meat entrée and dessert was plenty.

Although my personal plans include traveling this year, I can mentally go through the entire meal and prepare it with minimal paper/online recipes. Thanks, Mom. This may be silly, but I am going to prove it. (For anyone with any questions or other ways of doing this, feel free to comment below the post. I’m always looking for fun recipes.)

Basic Menu:

Turkey breast (cooked breast side down, 15 min/pound, 325 degrees. Thermometer does not pop out. Safe, juicy, yummy, oh my word-good!) DO NOT SLICE turkey until it’s rested for at least 15 minutes to a half hour. Just don’t. Thank me later.

Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce (whole berry: Somehow that was better for you?) I don’t care if it’s generic. I just want some form of the sweet-tart concoction on the plate, and I don’t know that many people who want to make the stuff when it’s less-expensive to buy it. *shrugs*

Mashed potatoes with garlic powder and salt to taste (beat with a beater after mashing- makes a difference). You can add onion powder and pepper if you would like. My Mom made them with a little milk, and sometimes added parsley flakes. Simple good food.

Green bean casserole (One family member’s favorite, another despised it.) We make it simply: cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup (secret ingredient), milk, cut green beans. No onions needed for the top. Simply cover with aluminum foil. Because I’m the one that loved it, I got opening cans duty. After a while, it hurt your hands to make it, but I could live off this stuff.

Corn- niblets (open can, pour into bowl, nuke, add salt/butter if desired; life goes on).

Stuffing (we actually like Stove Top, although I now prefer whatever the type is that has chunks of celery and bread in it).

Some people have any number of other dishes to add. Pumpkin pie is Libby’s recipe, double the spices (triple if doubling the recipe), add a little vanilla, and make the pie crust from scratch. Honestly? Pie crust is not rocket science if you take about fifteen minutes and tastes fantastic. Just choose whatever you want and go with it.

That long explanation of my family’s food traditions for one holiday should help you to think of what your family does. If you were not commenting on traditions either mentally or to a coworker or family friend when reading the food part, I would be surprised. Food elicits passion. It helps establish communications and is a form of communication in itself. A good meal can settle wars. Other good meals start relationships. Humans bond in material culture over food. Think about this for a few moments, and then choose to write down your family’s specific holiday recipes.

It may be something small, but people writing down recipes (and especially family-modified recipes) are how a recipe survived in my family since the 1880’s and my Great (multiple times) Grandma Baker. I am not making up the name, and her chocolate cookie recipe survives, albeit in a slightly changed form. I have both the original recipe and my Mom’s modified form. If your family has a “secret” recipe, you don’t have to share it, but write it down. Although oral history is a valid, useful, and amazingly accurate way of communicating history most of the time, the numbers change over years. Make sure that your teaspoons and tablespoons or ounces and grams don’t get modified too far.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and write things down while the tradition-leaders still can make corrections. When they’re gone, they’re irreplaceable.


[1] I like Wikipedia. It may not be “scholarly” but I use it all the time because it works and helps. And the fact that anyone can review it makes it relevant.