There is a lot of menu planning, food shopping, and prep to do for Thanksgiving, even if you’re hosting a small group.
Now’s a good time to confess I hate dislike the term “Friendsgiving”. I feel it makes it seem less than, like a conciliatory celebration. We’ve been hosting friends, their friends, and their aunts since 1996, and it is no less a Thanksgiving than one spent with a family of origin. End of rant.
The real reason I am here today is as a public service announcement for the often forgotten tasks to do this week that will make your holiday less hectic.
Restock bulk herbs and spices. Beat the crowds in the bulk aisle by shopping during one of your lunch breaks this week.
Take those knives to get sharpened. You may have a ceramic sharpening doohickey at home, but nothing beats a professional sharpening.
Iron any table linens if you plan to use them.
Schedule grooming appointments for your dogs. Your guests will thank you. Just keep your fingers crossed they don’t get skunked between now and next Thursday.
This is how our neighbor Julia began her sentences when she was making a point. She was usually pointing a finger at me too.
When we first bought our home we had a lot of work to do, we installed central air, pulled up carpeting, refinished the hardwoods and seemed to have a paintrush in my hand Friday-Sunday. We stayed in our rental in Austin for a month, and drove out here every night after work and on the weekends to work. I would leave work, go by and grab Roscoe and head out to the “new house”in Elgin. Our meals were mostly of the drive-thru variety.
One Sunday morning during that month Julia invited us to come by for lunch at noon. We cleaned ourselves up and head on over at noon. She had been cooking all morning for us. She’d made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, rolls, and chocolate pie. We were blown away at such hospitality and knew we’d made the right move to this small town. We love telling that story to people who wonder why the hell we moved from Austin to a small town who’s claim to fame is sausage and bricks.
While we were getting excited for our first Christmas in our new home, I’d noticed she had all the candied fruits and nuts to make fruit cake, but she’d recently taken a fall and said she wasn’t up to the task that year. I’d never made one so volunteered to help her. Once the fruit cake was baked, she covered it with cheesecloth and pulled a plastic wrapped bottle of Mogen David from her deep freeze, unscrewed the cap and drizzled it over the top. Julia was a good Baptist woman so I assume this bottle had been in her home since I graduated high school in 1983.
The next morning, I walked next door to give her the molasses I’d picked up for her at HEB, so she can make her rolls. Mind you she was moving in a week and was hell bent on baking rolls for her family’s holiday meals. She’d tried to substitute with the sorghum she had, but she said they tasted nasty. She told me that she started baking her rolls every October, and just put them up in the freezer until they came by to fetch her to spend the holidays with them. She was really sad that she wouldn’t be able to do this anymore.
Julia gave us the buffet that is now the work table in my print studio. She gave me her yarn tote too, though it fell apart years ago. She crocheted, she said it was her constant companion and reached for it beside her chair every night when she was watching TV, much the way I do with my knitting.
In September of 2007 Julia was beginning to pack up her to move into assisted living close to her son and his family. She was a few months shy of her 90th birthday and had been living alone since her husband Roscoe died in 1993. She was a pistol, and lived in that house since before ours was moved from San Marcos and plunked down next hers in 1950.
As we were getting closer to actually inhabiting each room of our home, and hanging artwork and family photos, Julia was next door taking hers down.
We miss her being next door, but luckily the new owners are great neighbors and renovating the old house to reveal its original beauty, they love it as much as Julia did.
I only wish I’d remembered to ask her for the recipe for those rolls…
Serve this spread with the usual crackers, spread on a sandwich in place of a slice of regular cheddar. I promise it will not disappoint.
Makes 4 Cups (recipe easily halved)
2 cups jalapeño jack, shredded 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded 1/3 cup chopped pimentos 1/8 cup chopped pickled jalapeños 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s is my favorite) 1/4 sour cream Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon chili powder Pinch of cayenne Pinch of sugar
Combine all ingredients in a standing mixer bowl. Mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment until creamy and the pimentos are well distributed. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.
Pimento cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
Pro Tip: While you can certainly use pre-shredded cheese (and I have in a pinch) your spread will be creamier and the shreds less separated if you grate your cheese with a box grater.
1 In a Caprese Salad. This is my favorite lunch (and dinner) all Summer, every Summer. What tastes like Summer more than sun-warmed homegrown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil drizzled with sweet balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil? Nothing. IMHO. Summer in every bite.
Pro tip: Peaches, or any stone fruit, are the perfect addition to this salad. I’ve tried peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots. A – m – a – z – i – n – g.
“GAME OF SCONES” Cheese/Butter Spreader. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham
Also, because I cannot wait for GOT Season 8. C’mon already. Cue the opening credits, jam, and clotted cream.
“OLIVE U” Olive/Pickle Fork. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham
Because OLIVE U… and picking up pickles and olives with your fingers or toothpick is barbaric.
Ready for Hogeye. photo by Stacey Van Landingham
Please come visit our booth at the Hogeye Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 27th. My crew She Creates Union will be selling original designs and hand made items. Be sure to check out our new website Emma created SheCreatesUnion.org.
Festival attendees who sign up for my email list will be entered into a drawing for a “Mind Your Own Biscuits” Spreader. You don’t have to be present to win, but you do need to to sign up in person. I’ll be drawing for the winner Saturday night at 11pm.
View of snowcapped Mt. Hood from Hood River, Oregon.
It’s Fall Y’all
While our anniversary trip to Oregon was unseasonably bright and sunshiny, we returned home to a cold and wet central Texas. Go figure.
Once again, I teared up and felt a tug at my heart when leaving the Pacific Northwest… I guess your heart can have more than one home. And perhaps it’s because during this trip I couldn’t help but think about my father and how he drew his final breaths near the Gorge, mostly alone. While in Portland I was able to visit with an old family friend who was always a friend to our father, even when it was difficult for others to do so. So grateful for Ron being in our lives, and being there for our father near the end. Sadly, Ron was in the hospital when we were there so we didn’t have the time to explore the coast and visit as I’d hoped. I had a lot I wanted to hear about, and to thank him.
It seems appropriate that I put pen to paper and write him a letter.
Chicken vegetable soup with cilantro jalapeño pesto.
One of the best things about coming home to soup weather is, you guessed it, soup. I wasted no time making my favorite blustery day chicken vegetable soup. Recipe coming soon. .. don’t miss it! Sign up below to receive this recipe, shop updates, and more.
I’m getting close to finishing my Find Your Fade Shawl… home stretch! I really love the color blends and am really digging the WS (that’s the wrong side for non-knitters) of this knit better than the right side WS (that’s the right side for the same folks I mentioned earlier in this sentence). The blend appears softer on this side.
Any knitter can tell you, half the fun of going on vacation is planning the projects for the trip and hunting for local yarn stores and yarns. I picked up some locally dyed yarns in Hood River and Portland by Knitted Wit and LavenderSheep in colorways that resemble the gray rocks, bright lichen, and the pumpkin warm glow of fall foliage of the Columbia River Gorge in October. This domestic targhee in Moss by LavenderSheep will be a pair of Appleseed Mitts found in this MDK Field Guide.
I have wanted to stay at this lodge F O R E V E R. It lived up to my expectations andante more. You may not know this about me, but I am madly in love with the design of WPA and CCC parks projects. The grounds and interior everything was made by artists and artisans. Being the homebody that I am, reading and knitting by the huge fireplace in the main lobby was pure bliss, but it the breakfast with a view the following morning was what I was most excited about.
Could not have asked for a more perfect way to spend our anniversary.
Lost River Sessions
His rainy week has me thinking of previous press trips to Kentucky, it always seemed to rain in those foggy hills near Bowling Green. One of the best things about western Kentucky, aside from Mammoth Cave National Park, barn quilts, and a Cracker Barrel every exit, was tuning in to WKU radio, the local public radio station from Western Kentucky University, and discovering Lost River Sessions. This series on WKU PBS features mostly local Americana and Bluegrass artists. If you’re a fan of this music as I am, treat yourself and check it out. Here’s one of my favorites with Lilly Mae, who is like Dolly Parton with a mohawk. Enjoy! I just recently started streaming WKU at home. You should too.
Dreaming of Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole now!
This year our Pi(e) Day Social was a great success. Lovely pies and reasonably good people. Image courtesy of @dchav_
And speaking of pie…I found myself needing a super quick piecrust because my frozen pie disk had taken a bad turn during a power outage. Though conventional wisdom tells me it’s unwise to try something new when entertaining, I decided to give this quick pie crust a try. I scoffed at the claim that this piecrust is revolutionary… but am now a convert. The crust is kind of shortbready, buttery, flaky, and so easy. Perfect for single crust pies. You can buy The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbookhere.
I find it hard to find sprouts in the small amount I need, so felt it economical to try sprouting my own. I found these on Amazon. I believe these are radish, lentil and some other guys.
I am just about to bind off this lovely poncho in Rowan Felted Tweed and am itching to start something with Euroflax Linen, maybe this tunic or another wrap.
Sharing your bounty. While planning your spring garden, plan to plant just a little bit more to share with your local community food bank. Contact them first, but many of your local organizations will gladly accept washed, home grown produce to offer their clients. Ample Harvest has a Find a Pantry button on the top of their site to help you find a local food bank or soup kitchen that would love to accept your produce and eggs. If you live in Elgin you can donate food here.
1. Fall. My other favorite four-letter word. I can’t help it, but as someone who grew up in cooler climes than my new found home in central Texas… once the calendar ticks autumnal equinox, I’m ready to whip up large bowls of oatmeal and wooly ponchos.
2. Fleabag. So smart. So funny. So sad. So good. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is brilliant.
3. Magazines. Not just because I work at one either. Whether I subscribe or pick up at the newsstand, I rarely crack them open immediately, but tend to stack them up on a side table until I have a quiet hour or two to savor the glossy pages with a cup of coffee.
4. This Podcast… Becoming a Badger. Firstly, I love anything about badgers. Frances the Badger is my spirit animal. Secondly, the story of the french comedian and his struggle with his humor not translating is very funny. Perhaps funnier than him. Someone should pitch this to Netflix for a series… full of obvious gaffs, awkward moments, and witness shame. Then finally the rat hunting terriers in NYC. My favorite part is when the interviewer asks Paco’s owner, “What’s his way in?”, and he answers, “He weighs in at 32 pounds.” Thinking she wants his fighting weight. Priceless.
1. Geek Love. The author Katherine Dunn passed away this week. I cannot tell you how this novel ruined everything I tried to read afterward for quite some time. It was as if I’d tasted the most perfectly tart rhubarb pie and everything after was Pop Tarts. Warning, the wild tail (pun intended, spoiler alert) in this book is not for the faint of heart. It appears nothing she did ever was. She was one of my heroes. I love this story in the Willamette Week.
2. Pick Your Own Damn Blueberries. It just wouldn’t be time for Memorial Day Weekend without me mentioning these bad boys. I do believe I may have just found the perfect name for any pick your own farm. Each year I reach out to Bill at Chickamaw Farm and Ranch in nearby McDade to see how close they are to picking. As of this morning, these are still a couple weeks form being ready to pick. Bill says, “Berries are out there just waiting for the rain to quit and the sun to shine hot and long. I figure in a couple o’ weeks at the most but stay tuned.” Cannot wait. Call before you head out 512-567-3456.
3. An actual finished knitting project. I have not been my usual knitty self these past months, so it feels so good to finally complete this incredibly basic garter stitch shawl. The yarn is Mountain Colors, 4/8’s Wool in Harmony Rose.
4. I recently found these incredibly helpful cheat sheets for knitting shawls without any real pattern in mind…hence the above finished shawl. She also has some lovely patterns. You will want to download these PDFs. 5 Basic Shawl Shapes and 5 Basic Shawl Shapes in the Round. Find many more helpful tips and lovely patterns at Laylock.org
5. This recipe on Pinterest. I am craving a fried chicken sandwich and this. Seriously.