a marvelous Thanksgiving

Many years ago my first wife Ruth and I hosted a small Thanksgiving dinner for friends without family in the area. Terry and I, however, have never hosted a Thanksgiving in our home. (We did cook Thanksgiving dinner at Terry’s mom’s house one year, but that is a different story.)

This year, as I wrote earlier, we volunteered to host Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law Bobbie’s sister and her husband were not coming down from Reno. Terry’s sister Julie’s son Race is overseas in the Navy, and Race’s new wife has her own family. So it only made sense.

We had some trepidation, but it worked out marvelously.

We told everyone that we would sit down eat at 2:00 p.m. and I called everyone together for grace at, if I recall correctly, 2:23. Not bad.

We had lots of help from my brother Brian and Bobbie, who brought dressing and chafing dishes. We were joined by my dad, Julie, Julie’s long-time friend John, and Julie’s almost mother-in-law Laura. Also present was Bobbie’s mother Phyllis. Sadly missing was our nephew Eric, who was home with a cold.

There was a lot of history at our Thanksgiving table. We had Terry’s Granny’s china, the expandable table that was so much a part of events at my Grandma and Grandpa Monaghan’s house over the years, and the silverware that Grandma and Grandpa Monaghan and Aunt Miriam and Uncle Johnny gave to my great Grandpa and Grandma Osgood.

The turkey turned out well. I also did mashed potatoes and green beans with Kalamata olives and slivered almonds. Terry did salad, Julie baked a pie, and Dad bought two more pies.

And you know what else? I made guacamole from scratch. The non-onion version of which, at least, was a big success.

And Tasha? Tasha was, for the most part, and I emphasize for the most part, well-behaved.

It was a marvelous day.

Sacred Music Friday: Come, ye thankful people come

First Baptist Church Asheville North Carolina

Happy Thanksgiving!

Very best wishes to you and yours.

thinking about good usage

I came across this statement in the Chicago Manual of Style:

quoteWhile common usage can excuse many slipshod expressions, the standards of good usage make demands on writers and editors. Even so, good usage should make only reasonable demands without setting outlandishly high standards.

They precede this by pointing out that dictionaries describe how language is used, and that “despite occasional usage notes,” their job is to be descriptive, not prescriptive.

I am a big fan of the American Heritage Dictionary and its usage notes, but the AHD is not holy writ. In his book The Sense of Style, Steven Pinker says: “When I asked the editor of the [American Heritage Dictionary] how he and his colleagues decide what goes into it, he replied, ‘We pay attention to the way people use language.’”

It’s good to have reference works like the Chicago Manual of Style to keep us on the straight and narrow with their reasonable demands.

on not taking Google for granted

Google certainly has become an integral part of today’s culture. All three of my go-to online dictionaries (American Heritage, Oxford Dictionaries Online, and Merriam-Webster) have an entry for “google” as a verb.

I was thinking the other day, though, about how valuable Google (or whichever search engine you choose to use) really is.

I was trying to figure out how big a turkey we should get for Thanksgiving, since hosting Thanksgiving is not something that we have done before. I quickly got my answer: a pound a person. Before online search you had to hope that the Joy of Cooking or a similar book on your shelf included advice of the subject. That or call a relative who had experience hosting Thanksgiving.

Similarly, I was trying to find out how to perform a specific function in Photoshop. Photoshop, as you know, can be maddingly arcane, and I’ve often been frustrated by the lack of help from the manual, and even from expensive third-party how-to books. But a Google search immediately gave me what I was looking for.

Here’s to not taking online search for granted.

leftovers week

Terry and I both enjoy cooking, as you well know, and many of the dishes we cook don’t foodsavernecessarily reduce to two servings very easily. That means leftovers. Those leftovers get sealed up with our FoodSaver and put in the freezer. The problem is that when you have leftovers in the freezer you really need to use them. Sometimes we forget to do that.

That’s why we declared last week to be leftovers week. We agreed that it was time to draw down our inventory. It worked out well. Here’s what we had:

  • Monday: enchiladas
  • Tuesday: lasagna
  • Wednesday: gumbo
  • Thursday: pulled pork
  • Friday: falafel

We’re continuing that plan this week in the days before Thanksgiving. (Yes, we had a lot stored up!)

Perhaps in the future we can create some balance and intersperse leftovers in between freshly cooked meals. That would be a Good Thing.

Sacred Music Friday: Lord of the Dance

Here’s an old favorite from my youth. This performance is courtesy of the choir and congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska. I have shared their videos before. I would love to visit that church one day, though I can’t imagine having occasion to go to Lincoln, Nebraska. Nonetheless, they obviously have a marvelous music program.


wise words from Julia

I was watching an episode of Sara Moulton’s Weeknight Meals the other week, and while cooking with her son next to her as he played the role of sous chef, she made a slight error from which she quickly recovered. She said:

quoteNever apologize, never explain.

Her son asked where that came from and she said it was Julia Child, and then repeated the statement in a proper Julia Child voice.

Based on my Google search, it appears to me that that is in fact a legitimate Julia Child quote.

Good advice for the kitchen.

enjoying my office

Shortly after we arrived here I wrote about my transition from a much-loved loft office to my ground-floor (read windowonly floor) office. I said that I thought I was going to enjoy it, and I have. The room has a lot of light, and because the windows face east and south, I am sensitive to the sun’s move south, as I wrote in October. As the days have grown shorter, I have realized that I need to close the blinds in the evening. I look right out on the street, and when it’s dark out passers-by can see right in.

But it is a comfortable space and I love it. Since the last photo I shared with you was taken before I had much on the walls, here’s a photo of my office as it is today.


we hadn’t planned it that way

What we hadn’t planned that way was two vegetarian dinners in a row last week. It just worked out that way. And that was a Good Thing given the amount of meat we’ve been eating.

Tuesday I made Jeff Mauro’s Turbo Broccoli Cheddar Soup from our favorite Food Network show, The Kitchen.

On Monday we had visited our local Middle Eastern market, which we first learned about when an employee thrust a business card into our hands at the October Harvest Festival. I picked up a box of falafel mix, a package of pita bread, and a jar of tahini sauce.

Wednesday I made the falafel mix, and though I’m not big on fried foods, it turned out well. Terry loved it. And we have enough for two more meals.

It’s nice, sometimes, to venture beyond the familiar.

And it’s good to prepare a vegetarian meal periodically.