Thanksgiving

Les Cochons dans une Couverture

I’m guessing there’s no exact French translation for “pigs in a blanket,” but when I served these Prosciutto Palmiers at Thanksgiving, one guest said, “They’re like fancy pigs in a blanket!” Which I took to be a total compliment because who doesn’t love pigs in a blanket?

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Not only were the cochons delicious, they were also super easy, and I plan on making them again in December for my book club’s hors d’oeuvres party and cookie exchange.

Prosciutto Palmiers

  • one box of puff pastry (make sure it’s made with butter)

  • 1/4 c honey mustard (or make your own mix of Dijon, honey, and a glop of mayo)

  • one package thinly-sliced prosciutto (about 5.something ozs)

  • 1 c grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tsp water

Allow the puff pastry to thaw in the fridge. Taking one sheet at a time, roll it out a little, into a slightly larger rectangle. Spread lightly with honey mustard, nearly to edges. Place prosciutto slices to cover rectangle, one layer thick. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll carefully and as snugly as you can from the outer, long edge to the center line on one side. Then do the same for the other side. Cut the rolled pastry in 1/2” slices with a serrated knife and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Mix egg and water. Brush palmiers with egg wash and bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Serve at room temperature.

Our youngest guest’s post-Celebrity overload

Our youngest guest’s post-Celebrity overload

Hope everyone’s holiday was a wild success. We did end up playing Celebrity, which I posted about last week, and the fun of it more than made up for the crock-pot of Mable Hoffman’s corn stuffing balls which I totally forgot to plug in. (I told everyone to pace themselves and popped them in the oven. When seconds came around, the stuffing balls were ready. And tasty!)

Pace yourself, this holiday season, and feed your family good food.

Fun and Games for After Dinner

Apart from eating like there’s no tomorrow, other Thanksgiving traditions might include flopping on the couch to watch football or going for a walk before flopping on the couch to watch football. Maybe you watch Planes, Trains & Automobiles to get in the spirit and because you can’t recall another movie set at Thanksgiving, off the top of your head. Maybe you even lift the ban on Christmas music after dinner or pop in the first Christmas video. Basically, it’s all about stalling until you have enough room in your stomach for the pies.

What the table might look like, if you have decorating genius, which I don’t. [Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash  ]

What the table might look like, if you have decorating genius, which I don’t. [Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash ]

I wanted to offer more possibilities, since Thanksgiving often gives families permission to be a little cheesy or to guilt teenagers off their phones. You may have too many around your table for board games, but if you have anywhere from 6-25 folks, give these a try:

Celebrity

  1. Cut up paper into uniform, smaller pieces. (Like an 8.5x11 sheet folded into 1/16ths. That is, folded in half four times and cut.)

  2. Give every player a handful of the pieces and a pen.

  3. On each piece of paper, the player thinks of a celebrity. You can set rules for how a “celebrity” is defined. We usually say someone at least one other person has heard of. Write the name on the paper, fold it in half, and put it in a bag.

  4. Once everyone has thought of several celebrities and put all their names in the same bag, you are ready for Round One.

  5. ROUND ONE. Divide into 2-3 teams. The play rotates among teams, and, within a team, the play rotates among the members. When a team is up, their player has ONE MINUTE to play. He pulls a piece of paper out of the bag and describes that person to the group until they guess it. Passing is not allowed. For example, if the name is Bing Crosby, you could say, “He sings ‘White Christmas.’” If you don’t know who the celebrity is, you could say, “The first name is a kind of cherry. The last name sounds like the TV comedian who was charged with drugging and assaulting women.” If the rest of his team guesses the name, the player throws that name off to the side and pulls another one out of the bag. He does as many names as he can get his team to guess in that ONE MINUTE. Then play rotates to the next team.

  6. ROUND TWO. Once all the names have been played in round one, all the pieces of paper are returned to the bag for the second round. In the second round, you have the same celebrities, but this time the player can only say ONE WORD to get his team to guess the name! Be careful picking your word! Many painful minutes have whiled away when the player blurts out a word that no one can connect to the original name. Taking the Bing Crosby example, you could say, “Cherry.” If your team was paying attention, they should be able to make the connection. Again, do as many names as you can in a minute, and then play passes to the next team.

  7. ROUND THREE. Once again, all the names are returned to the bag. In this round, you still have one minute, and this time you must ACT OUT the name, like in Charades. No sound effects or talking is allowed. For the Bing Crosby example, you could pretend to sing into a microphone.

A couple parting thoughts on Celebrity: when you come across duplicates, toss them. Don’t make names too easy, or there’s no challenge.

This guy would be a good name to put in the bag, if you could remember which pope we’re on.

This guy would be a good name to put in the bag, if you could remember which pope we’re on.

In the Manner of the Word

Another fun one for the whole group. You send one person out of the room at a time, and the remaining folks decide on an adverb. Say, “emphatically.” Then you call the person back into the room to guess the adverb. How? Well, the guesser can turn to any person or people in the room and get help. For example, they could say, “Jim, brush your teeth in the manner of the word.” And Jim would have to do his best to brush his teeth emphatically. If the guesser has no clue what Jim was trying to convey, he could turn to others and say, “Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ray, talk about football in the manner of the word.” Kathy and Ray would go to town, doing their best to talk about football emphatically. You keep going until the guesser guesses the adverb correctly.

Tip: don’t make it too easy, because most of the fun is in watching people try to do ridiculous things in the manner of the word.

Aunt Kathy, Uncle Ray, and thousands of friends, watching the game in the manner of the word

Aunt Kathy, Uncle Ray, and thousands of friends, watching the game in the manner of the word

Have a great Thanksgiving, all!

The Thanksgiving Countdown

Thanksgiving always seems to come at the exact right time—meaning, when everything looks pretty grim. This year is no exception, with its wildfires, its everyone-hates-everyone-else politics, its what-else-can-go-wrong-with-the-Mariners-now developments. It sounds like we could use a holiday about gratitude and gathering with people we love (or are supposed to love) to share a meal.

Nice pic, Priscilla.  [Photo by  Priscilla Du Preez  on  Unsplash  ]

Nice pic, Priscilla. [Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash ]

What’s on your menu? And what can you get started on now, to relieve the actual Day? So far I’ve got rolls and green bean casserole in the freezer. Cranberry sauce made. Pie crust dough standing by.

We’re a one-oven house, so I’m thinking of trying two sides in the slow cookers: mashed potatoes and stuffing, and I’ve farmed out the spinach salad to guests.

Join me in giving this Mable Hoffman recipe a try?

Mable Hoffman — if you have a crock-pot, you’ve got one of her cookbooks somewhere

Mable Hoffman — if you have a crock-pot, you’ve got one of her cookbooks somewhere

Mable Hoffman’s Corn Stuffing Balls

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 c chopped celery, with leaves

1 17-oz can creamed corn

1/4 c water

1/8 tsp pepper

1 tsp poultry seasoning

2 c (or 8 ozs) herb-seasoned stuffing mix

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 c butter, melted

In a bowl, combine everything but the melted butter. Form into 8 balls. Place in bottom of a slow cooker. Spoon the melted butter over the stuffing balls. Cover and cook on LOW 3.5 - 4 hours.

***

I was originally going to make a corn casserole recipe I saw, but then I considered the oven real-estate shortage and changed my mind.

Happy week-before, folks. Oh—and one other last-minute tidbit: at QFC last week, I saw turkey-shaped butter! That is, butter which had been shaped in plastic turkey-shaped molds. And it was real butter, just cream and salt. I’m not crazy about adding more plastic packaging to the world, and the kids will surely fight over who gets to whack off the turkey’s neck, but maybe the butter-turkey can absorb some of the political aggression around the table…?

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Thanksgiving Traffic, News, and Weather

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If you're reading this post and considering when to head over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, I'm reposting these handy charts from WSDOT: i90ewed

if you head to the Tri-Cities, for example, today (on Wednesday, after school or work), and

i90eastthxgiving

if you go Thanksgiving morning. What the DOT doesn't mention is the weather report for the passes:

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Sorry for the eye chart there. The key details: lots of snow. As in, 100% on Thanksgiving Day. Therefore, you might trade traffic congestion for traffic congestion. I'm hoping the forecasters are wrong, like when they all freaked out about the Ginormous Windstorm to End All Windstorms that turned out to be less than your average stiff breeze.

In any case, pack snacks for the car, unless you want to arrive at your destination without the food you were supposed to contribute. And, speaking of contributions, my realtor Coco Fulton provided this year's pumpkin pie, thus checking one item off my to-do list. (I've replaced that to-do item with "replace tires," so we don't get stuck on the Pass. See above.)

pies

So much for the traffic and weather. On the Thanksgiving news front, in addition to commuting some prison sentences, President Obama also pardoned this year's turkey. And we can work off our food comas by seeing Moana, which opens today. There might be more news happening in the world, but this is supposed to be a Thanksgiving post...

Happy holiday and safe travels to all.

Thanksgiving Run-Up

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Just in time for the holidays, our outside freezer has busted. And, for complicated tax reasons, there will be no replacement until January. Truly a first-world problem, but, as I look at the crowding in my remaining side-by-side freezer, I can't help but pity myself. On the very first day of the Great Transfer I was digging something out of the bottom bin, and a loaf of bread that my daughter hadn't stuffed hard enough into the heap on the top shelf plummeted and knocked me silly. I guess I should be thankful it wasn't a frozen roast. All of which is to say, this Thanksgiving run-up I can't do my usual favorite thing of making lots ahead and freezing it. I did already bake the rolls (part of the overcrowding problem in the side-by-side), and the cranberry sauce is in the fridge because all the sugar would preserve it until 2018, but that's it.

Even the bundt cakes I had to bake for my oldest's swim team banquet had to be delivered to a friend's house for freezing:

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But let's assume you have a working freezer. That puppy can hold your rolls, your green-bean casserole, your baked or unbaked apple pie. You fridge, meanwhile, can stash the cranberry sauce, homemade salad dressing, and the best-ever "bean salsa" I found for you.

Freeze-Ahead Bread Machine Rolls

2-1/2 cups bread flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp softened butter

1 tsp salt

3 tsp bread machine yeast

1 cup warm water (nuke for one minute)

1 egg

Place all the ingredients in your bread machine and set on the dough cycle. When the cycle completes, remove the dough to a floured surface. Divide into 16 balls and set in a buttered 13x9 or 9x9 pan. Cover with a dish towel and let rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake rolls 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on rack.

Then load them in freezer bags and freeze until Thanksgiving. On that day, throw them on the counter to thaw. You can warm them up again in the oven, if there's any room in the oven. Otherwise, they're good to go! (I adapted this recipe from Betty Crocker's Best Christmas Cookbook, cutting the sugar and adding the whole wheat.)


Now, if you're anything like our family, Thanksgiving dinner isn't served until 2-3 in the afternoon, and you spend the day torn between wanting to eat a little (to take the edge off), but not enough to spoil the foodfest that awaits.

I have a solution. Around about 11, pull out this "bean salsa" that I recently got the recipe for.

Bean Salsa

1 can black beans, drained

1 can black-eyed peas, drained

1 can corn, drained

1 can white beans, drained

1/2 red onion, chopped fine

4-5 red or green jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

1 bunch cilantro

Dressing:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar (I would reduce this to 1/2 cup and see what happens)

1 Tbsp hot sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the salsa ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients and pour over. Toss and serve with tortilla chips.

Happy prepping.