Monday, November 1, 2010

November 2010

Volume 6 Issue 11

*** Random Thoughts

It’s unkind to play favorites but I think Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. For the longest Christmas was: time with family, Christmas carols, sugar cookies, the tree, the tradition, the food, and the Savior’s birth.

I still love Christmas. But as I get older, Thanksgiving has taken on more meaning. It’s a quieter holiday with such an earnest little purpose: to give thanks. I love that. I have more blessings than I could name. A day set aside to reflect on blessings and give thanks for them, that’s a good and wondrous thing.

From a more practical standpoint, Thanksgiving is hassle-free when compared to Christmas. It requires little decoration besides a pretty table. There is one day of cooking, one joyous day. It makes me appreciate the day more, having just the one to savor and celebrate.

Thanksgiving feels like a cozy, simple day. It puts me in mind of cozy houses perched on gentle hills with smoke rising from their chimneys, of men in warm caps running to the grocery store for one more can of pumpkin, of kitchens full of good smells and laughter.


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*** Great Quotes

“Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life... a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year - and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.” – Ray Stannard Baker

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air." - Eric Sloane

*** The Thanksgiving Table

The best turkey ever. I don’t mean to brag, but really, it is The Best Turkey Ever. We first made this last year for Thanksgiving. Two days later, my brother asked Jeffrey if he would roast another one for Christmas, and a tradition was born.

The recipe comes from the Food Network (Chef Alex and Aaron Sanchez made it). The brine includes honey, soy sauce, sage, molasses, and garlic. Besides brining, the recipe requires little else – just stuffing softened butter mixed with fresh lemon zest under the skin before roasting it.

Brown Sugar & Pecan Brussels Sprouts

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Praline Pumpkin Torte

Miniature Pumpkin Pies with Streusel Topping and Vanilla Buttercream

*** Weeknight Meals

Beef Ragu Over Spaghetti Squash

Loaded Alfredo, a healthy – really – and tasty version of the traditional favorite.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

*** Hit the Highlights - a few choice blog posts from last month:

Meditation on morning coffee

Savor this time of year

I love the State Fair

Fall bridal shower

Freezer Reorganized

Finally, there’s this:

It’s a wonder that I’ve slept at all since then.

*** Shameless Bid for Commerce

“Keetha DePriest Reed's "More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections and Recipes from Growing Up Southern" is part cookbook, part collection of wonderful essays on food, family and growing up Southern and altogether great fun...

I would very highly recommend "More Culinary Kudzu" to anybody who enjoys good food and good writing as well as to anybody who wants to find out more about the South. As for me, I only have one question left - how do I get invited to one of their family reunions?” – review by

*** Recommended Reading

Tim Gautreaux’s “The Missing” is one of the finest novels I have read. A reviewer on Amazon said it best:

“... he takes us for a lengthy ride on a ramshackle entertainment steamboat, making music and discovering his personal depths as he searches for a stolen child and his long-lost family. From small children to rotting-alive villains, everyone is real; … This is, quite simply, as good as it gets when it comes to quality fiction.”

If you haven’t yet read “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts” by Neil White, probably you should. White taught a writing workshop I participated in this summer, when I picked up a copy. I started on it a couple of weeks ago and finished it within days.

From Booklist:
“White was a successful magazine publisher in 1993 when he was convicted of fraud and check kiting and sentenced to prison in Carville, Louisiana. He knew he was facing 18 months without his wife and two young children; he knew his enormous ego and ambition had landed him in prison; he knew he had to figure out a way to save his marriage and somehow rebound financially. What he didn’t know was that the isolated 100-year-old facility at Carville was home to a leper colony of 130 patients.”

Last month I read Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It’s a quick read with fascinating glances into 1920s Paris, as well as into the lives of the author as well as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce.

Books I read last month are here.

*** Adorable Thing My Child Said

Him: Guess what?

Me: Chicken butt.

Him: MOM. That’s not even funny. Why do you think that’s funny?

(Not so much adorable as it is a sign of the times. When I was his age, my brother and I found “chicken butt” to be hysterical. Have things changed that much? I fear they have.)

*** Mississippi Writers Guild

The Mississippi Writers Guild sponsors writer workshops, conferences, writer retreats and reputable writing contests. Membership dues are only $40.00 per year.

The Mississippi Writers Guild is a non-profit association of writers from all over the state and is a growing part of Mississippi’s literary art landscape.

*** Calendar

November 13 – My son’s birthday! The last of the single-digits birthdays.

November 25 – Thanksgiving

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