Category Archives: Thanksgiving

A History of Transparency – or, Pecan Pie

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‘Tis the season, and I thought you might be interested in the humble beginnings of one of America’s favorite holiday desserts.

Transparent, or Syrup, Pie, has been around the US for eons – it uses the most basic of readily available ingredients and even the poorest usually have them on hand: eggs, butter, and a sweetener in the form of whatever’s local (honey, maple, sorghum, cane, molasses).   The Industrial Revolution came along and the US began to have a surplus of corn, and of course, we had to figure out what to do with it, so,  at the beginning of the 20th century, a cheap liquid sugar was invented using cornstarch, by the Corn Products Refining Company – and they called it Karo. 

In the late 1920’s-early 30’s an executive’s wife (of the heretofore mentioned Corn Products Refining Company) made a transparent pie using Karo, and added pecans.  Notice the wife’s name is not in the history books.  As usual in a capitalist society, let’s create that need then fill it!  The CPRC began heavily marketing KARO pie and an American staple was born. 

This same pie, with added cream, is called syrup pie.  It tastes (no WAY!) creamier and more custardy, but is still extremely similar to transparent pie taste.  It’s a little runnier and you need to adjust your solids to your liquids if you’re going to try this avenue.  A great way is to substitute only egg yolks instead of whole eggs as the yolks contain less water than whites.

My bottom line is – if you like historical recipes, go ahead and try Karo Pie (google google google!).  But if you really want a great tasting Pecan Pie, use an original sweetener – my favorite being maple – but that’s for YOU to decide.  I also add bourbon because I’m, well, me!

The Kindness of Strangers and Last Minute Shopping

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If you have someone on your gift list that has everything and is very hard to buy for, consider Heifer International , a well vetted (by not only me but the charitable community) wonderful non-profit that helps people help themselves.  I’ve been donating in my parents name for several years.  The first year it was a goat (private joke – they never got it – but my mom used to call me a goat whenever my young adult choices were less than desirable to her).  This year I donated a “Flock of Hope” in their name – various chicks, goslings, etc. that will help a family or female (your choice) feed themselves and provide sustainable income.

‘Tis the season of Thanksgiving AND giving…though in reality that should happen all year. While traveling home from down south last Sunday on a trip that took almost 11 hours instead of 6, I was amazed at all of the “evil” drivers after surely, they were all coming from their bounteous tables of love, and heading home full of gratitude as well as stuffing…  I know I am grateful for the best meal I think I’ve ever had at Thanksgiving – it’s amazing how good it can be, as my brother says “when nobody plans and everybody just pitches in and brings what they love”.  I am grateful for being able to stay in my brother’s new house and for meeting his new girlfriend.  I am grateful for my sister making me laugh.  I am grateful for being able to see her “I just returned from Colorado and even though it’s 70 degrees and sunny,  I’ll be damned if I’m not going to wear my snow bunny outfit that makes me look so CUTE!”  I am grateful for my brother and sister in law’s good humour and generous spirit, and for being able to visit with their son, my nephew, and enjoy his charisma. I am grateful for my almost 16 year old Pug, Oscar, behaving like a 2 year old the entire week.  I am grateful for working not one, but TWO puzzles with my mom and dad!  The puzzles really had us feeling stubborn.

What I’m most thankful for, though, is the kindness of strangers.  I don’t share much in common with Blanche Dubois (well, maybe her flair for the dramatic and hopefully, her eloquence), but one thing we ALL share with Blanche is that we “have always depended upon the kindness of strangers”.   We all like to think we’re an island and we “can handle it” but make no mistake, the kindness of strangers, whether you’re aware of it or not, has helped you along your way.

I’m a dingbat, but I expect the best of people, and I’ve found that when you expect goodness, people deliver.  Twice this “season” (fall) I have either left my purse in the grocery cart or in a public bathroom.  Both were promptly returned to the register untouched and unharmed.  What amazed me most though, was leaving the scene of an unusually large catering for 170 (a favor for a good client) and KNOWING (hint hint, string theory) as I maneuvered the cart containing chafers, fuel, stands, platters, bowls, baskets, hot boxes,  tablecloths, bags, etc. that I was in over my head (or under the cart as it will soon seem).  I’m Wonder Woman right?  Why would it occur to me to have help there?

So I’m on the cobblestone area of a sidewalk moving toward the curb where my vehicle is parked, in a not so great, dark neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m maneuvering slowly, the images and thoughts swelling in the back of my cortex…”this isn’t a great idea – I’m feeling the cart a little unbalanced, losing a little control…no no No NO NOOOOOOOOO! as it swerves away from me and all aforementioned supplies go flying off the curb and into the middle of the street.  Within TWO SECONDS I was swooped down upon – a man and a woman came running across the street, a car came out of nowhere and zoomed past my passenger side and zipped to the curb in front of me;  the driver flew out and I swear his feet didn’t hit the ground before he was gathering up all of my accoutrement and, along with the other two, was arranging it neatly in my cargo area.   I was so tired – my feet hurt so badly, had I NOT had the accident it would have taken me 10-15 minutes to load everything properly; with the fall and their help, it took all of 2.   Whooosh!  The Ninja Turtles disappeared.   Strangers, wherever you are, thank you!

Thawing Turkey

It’s crunch time!  Have a frozen turkey and not enough time?  Any bulk protein (turkey, whole chicken, roasts etc) is thawed more quickly and efficiently in water.  Sink not big enough?  Use the bathtub!  It takes a few hours, but that’s a whole lot quicker than 3 days in the refrigerator!  Don’t care about the science?  Stop here and just do what I say.  Want to know why?  Read on…

Thawing on the counter is dangerous because of the temperature “danger zone” from the outside in as the turkey begins to thaw.  Thawing on a low oven or in the microwave causes the meat to cook unevenly.  Thawing on un-coated aluminum is great (the best!)  for flat stuff like frozen steaks or boneless chicken breasts because of how heat transfers to cold stuff on flat surfaces.

Everything is made up of molecules &/or electrons, and they ARE heat.  Heat is NOT temperature.   Temperature is just our definition in numbers of how fast the molecules within a substance are moving.  Heat is simply the energy of moving molecules.  The more movement of the molecules, and the more closely the molecules are structured within a substance, the more heat. WATER has a much more dense molecular structure than air,  and is able to transfer heat to the frozen mass more quickly than air.

I am thankful for my readers!  Happy Turkey Day! – Lula

Turkey Refrigerator Casserole…Back by Popular Demand!

                                                         Lula’s Turkey Refrigerator Casserole

Rice, 1 cup

Salt, 2 tsp

Water, 2 cups

Butter, ½ tsp

Bring all but rice to boil, dump in rice, cook according to package directions.  Brown rice is a fabulous healthy alternative in this recipe.   While the rice is cooking, dice your veggies and shred your meat.  When done, dump rice into 1.5 or 2 quart casserole dish.

Bite size leftover turkey, 2C , Layer on top of rice.

Onion, diced, ½ C

Green Pepper, diced, ½ C

Celery, diced, ½ C

Mushrooms, sliced, ½ C

Broccoli florets, chopped small, 2 cups OR

Green Beans, fresh, 2 cups OR any combination of any
vegetables you have leftover or canned or frozen such
as corn, etc..  I wouldn’t try Brussels Sprouts, though!

Mix all together and microwave in separate dish 8-10 minutes, depending on your microwave.  Your largest vegetable should be cooked through.  Then dump all of this on top of the turkey. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream/Celery Soup, 2 cans

Sour Cream, ½ C

Cheddar Chs, shredded, ¾ C

Dijon Mustard, 1 tbs

Worchestershire Sauce, 1tsp

Cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp

Yes, I said canned soup.  Sometimes Lula must return to the south.  Mix all of this together and dump on top of veggies.

French Fried Onions

As many as you want, dump on top of casserole and bake uncovered until bubbling – appx 30-45 minutes.  If you are one of the rare households who doesn’t have these onions around during holiday time, crush a sleeve of Ritz or butter crackers and mix with ½ stick of melted butter and spread on top.

Lula wishes for your tastebuds delight!