Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Vagary of Gravery

With the Thanksgiving feast and Black Friday behind us and the weekend still stretching ahead I’d like to take the opportunity to relay one last holiday food disaster story.

I should begin by explaining that I come from a long line of women who have pulled off Thanksgiving cooking capers worthy of anyone’s holiday blooper reel.

I could go back for untold generations but my personal knowledge of this familial gene begins sometime in the late 50s with my Grandmother. She was mashing the Thanksgiving potatoes and inadvertently used eggnog instead of milk. It’s one of those rare clear memories I have from childhood: the look on her face the moment she realized what she had just done – shock - followed immediately by convulsing laughter as she tried to explain to my mother and two aunts what she had done. When the three sisters finally comprehended her explanation they too collapsed into the giggles. After stirring in a bit more salt and butter they were piled  high in a bowl as there was no time, or potatoes, for a do-over. I don’t remember how they tasted but I do savor the memory of the story.  The error was masked with copious amounts of gravy, everybody’s favorite Thanksgiving food group.

Image result for vats of turkey gravy

You can imagine my surprise when, over a half century later, I discovered that  somebody actually had a recipe for this potato dish:

St. Anthony's Eggnog Mashed PotatoesSt. Anthony’s Eggnog Mashed Potatoes: 60 years later the Internet proves again there’s nothing new under the sun

Then there was the time in the 60’s when my mother stuffed her 20 lb. turkey with her famous dressing. (side note: it was not only acceptable to put the ‘stuffing’ inside the bird way back then, it was expected – the food police didn’t arrive on the scene with their horror stories of e-coli poisoning until sometime in the late 70s. However even then cooks across the land were admonished to never, ever stuff the bird the night before due to pathogens lurking in the fowl cavity. Hence all the 5:30 AM kitchen capers.) But back to my story: she popped that behemoth in the oven and cooked it for hours. Checking in around the half way mark she noted it was browning rather quickly, basted it and popped it back in. At the next basting, now 3/4 of the way through the cooking time, it was REALLY browned.

It was at this point that my mother discovered that instead of hitting the “oven” button after setting the temperature she hit the BROIL setting.

Related image Nice try with grapes and currents: nobody will notice that the turkey has lost its white privilege

Dinner was delayed that year, as the turkey bottom was allowed to catch up a bit with the turkey top, and the meat was a bit dryer than usual. The error was masked by copious amounts of gravy.

So you can see why every girl in my family was trained in the art of making copious amounts of gravy, as you never knew when it would be required. This proved to be a valuable skill that came in quite handy when we started spending Christmas at my in-laws. Mind you, this was a family of 9 children that over time expanded exponentially with spouses and grandchildren along with an ever changing band of other odd – in both senses of the word – blood relatives, non-blood relatives of relatives and strays with nowhere else to go. I’ve mentioned frequently that my MIL was a saint and this was just one of the reasons. Her normal holiday headcount was between 35-45. But for all her good points, and they were many, cooking was not her strongest suit. And her mother had clearly failed in teaching her how to make enough gravy for an entire battalion. What gravy she made was first rate but there was simply never enough. It always ran out long before the masses had all been fed.

And that’s how I came to be known as the Gravy Queen. I don’t remember when I was first brave enough to volunteer to take over gravy detail but it was decades ago and I’ve been at it every Christmas since. I used to make it right in the humongous turkey roaster that my MIL cooked her giant turkey in.

A vintage Magnalite special covered roasting pan

Now days SIL uses the same pan but rests the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onions, so the roasting juices need to be strained before the gravy making can commence. I pulled out the old pasta strainer from its normal storage spot among the multitude of assorted pans in the cupboard of the old homestead, now occupied by BIL and his wife. It was already nestled in a large pan so I placed both of them in the sink, to prevent splatters, and proceeded as usual to strain the drippings. Imagine my horror upon discovering that the “pan” under the strainer was actually…another larger pasta strainer. Nothing is ever as it seems in the second generation Raj household. I should know that by now.

Despite having just poured all the precious bodily fluids down the drain, all I could do was laugh, which set off my sisters-in-law and a couple of assorted nieces who were also in the kitchen. It was Thanksgiving déja vu.

But what to do now? Gravy, the great equalizer, appeared to be in jeopardy. Not to worry, the Gravy Queen will not let you down. Two sticks of butter, 3 boxes of Swanson’s chicken broth (low sodium, because it’s better) extra salt and pepper, the standard flour/water slurry (because roux is far too complicated for gravy in quantity)

Related image

whisk, whisk whisk, add juices from the resting bird and we had ourselves a big hunkin’ vat of gravy. Disaster averted.  Not as good as usual but pretty darned good if I do say so. And the hoards all agreed.

Image result for turkey gravy by the gallon

So what have learned?

Neither the turkey nor the potatoes are the key ingredient.

Barry, bagging potatoes for the homeless, Thanksgiving 2018

Take the gravy away and you’ve not nuthin’.

Image result for trump in afghanistan serving thanksgiving dinnerVSGPDJT serving up the gravy to our troops in Afghanistan, Thanksgiving, 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Trumping Thanksgiving

Much to the dismay of media-democrats PDJT visited the troops in Afghanistan yesterday.

To say his visit was well received by the men and women serving there is an understatement.

He may never be as eloquent - some men inspire with action – but mark my words: history will someday determine that Donald J. Trump is our Winston Churchill.

Two bold, fearless and completely correct men; both despised by the elite who surrounded them.

In President Trump’s plus column: he doesn’t smoke cigars or drink an Imperial Quart of whiskey a day. 

On a related note: Do you think it’s a coincidence that Thor, the bulldog, won Best of Show at the National Dog Show yesterday?

Image result for thor bulldog national dog show

Thor is a far cry from last years winner, a whippet.

Image result for whippet named "Whiskey

It’s like Trump replacing Obama

Thursday, November 28, 2019

But Thanks, and Thanks and Ever Thanks

For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Happy Thanksgiving! Let the feast begin: I suppose you’ll be enjoying your racist, white supremacist turkey.


Served up with a heaping side dish of white privilege,


leaving the less desirable, gnarly potatoes for the Native Americans.


What a shame; on that first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims and Indians gathered together to share a feast and to give thanks for their blessings which included a bountiful harvest. Now we can’t even play football together without bickering.

So wherever you are today gather to give thanks and share whatever food has become your family Thanksgiving tradition. I know people whose traditional holiday spreads include “side” dishes of lasagna, sauerkraut, pirogues, lobster, tamales, shrimp etouffee, falafel, fried rice, latkes and curries. In America’s melting pot just about anything can be combined with the standard turkey and dressing. Except oysters.

Oh I know - I can hear some of you now - fine, go ahead and toss some of those slimy mollusks into your dressing if you must. But please, also prepare another non-slimy dressing that’s more amenable to gravy. And aside from the abomination of oyster dressing, NO OYSTERS!

Sergey the Siberian concurs:

siberian at his first oyster dinner“Oysters? Nyet. If you don’t have caviar I’ll just have a drumstick.”

May you all have a blessed day. Enjoy all the food, friends, family – furry and otherwise – that make it special. I leave you with this comment, left by Janice the Elder (RIP) on Thanksgiving of 2012:

Sometimes Shakespeare says it best, and then I can add no other words:

O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!

- King Henry VI

I can no other answer make but thanks,
And thanks, and ever thanks.

- Twelfth Night

Raj and I are about to embark on trip #1 of the weekend to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and watch the Lions lose. I won’t be checking in until much later so everyone be safe out there!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Real Cliffhanger: Democrats Dilemma

To help you plan your week after Thanksgiving: The Democrats’ seditious proceedings will continue in the House Judiciary Committee on December 4th when they hold its first hearing on the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump (VSG).

Image result for house on cliff erosionJudiciary members convene to assess the damage

They face a Kabuki dilemma: do they move the house or rebuild the cliff?

House-Falling-Off-Cliff2I’m hoping they decide to rebuild the cliff

Totally different topic: I promised Lisa D my recipe for Rum Balls and totally forgot. Probably too late for Thanksgiving, but make them now and they’ll be properly aged by Christmas.

Holiday Rum Balls

Rum Balls Recipe


  • 3 cups crushed vanilla wafers: old fashioned way, rolling pin, new fangled way, food processor
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup rum – my family always used plain old Bacardi Silver but you could use dark rum or even spiced if that’s how you roll. Or you could use bourbon, in which case they’re bourbon balls of course.


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and nuts. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and rum.
  2. Scoop and shape into approximately 1 inch balls.
  3. Roll Rum Balls in regular sugar, confectioner’s sugar or cocoa. Store in a tin (old fashioned) or other airtight container (new fangled). They keep well for weeks, in fact they improve with age.

Also pretty when served in mini-cupcake liners.

Rum balls coated in both cocoa powder and powdered sugar arranged on a plate

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

We’ll Tell You When You’re Allowed To Have Fun

I see where some Democrats are reconsidering the wisdom of impeaching the President. Michigan Rep. Brenda Lawrence for instance said the other day: 'I don't see the value of kicking him out of office.' I don’t either.

Image result for a really big cow channel 7 newsKnickers the steer (not cow) towers over the field

But go ahead if you think you can.

Image result for a really big cow channel 7 news

Just don’t blame us for the collapse of the soaring economy - which the media insists doesn’t exist in the first place, all evidence to the contrary – when the big steer leaves the building.

And you can get back to doing what you do best…

…regulating everybody’s fun.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Err On the Side of Buzzards

Q. What’s the difference between the Schiff Show and a pack of buzzards?

Image result for animals vulture prey cartoon strike

A. Buzzards have ethics. They may eat you, but they won’t kill you in order to do so.

Always err on the side of buzzards.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

‘Twas the Sunday Before Thanksgiving…

…and all through the land not a soul was yet stirring, I blame broadband.

Bam! - just like that it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and that holiday feast isn’t going to cook itself. We’ve been at this for over 10 years now and over that time I’ve shared almost all my old standby holiday recipes with you. Some of the holiday recipes I’ve posted are very, very old indeed (Mom’s Souper Sloppy Joes and Mom’s Goulash for holiday-eve repasts) some just old old (my Best Ever Banana Bread and White Bean Chili) and some are relatively new (my sister’s irresistible breakfast Pear Gruyere Strata). This one is from my other sister; it’s a very special family holiday tradition around here: pecan pie.

Believe it or not there are some people in my family who don’t like pecan pie, for them there’s mincemeat and pumpkin - also made by my sisters. The mincemeat pie is a very fine rendition of the genre and the pumpkin is as good as it gets. But when I only have room for one my holiday go-to is always the pecan, smothered with whipped cream because pecan pie is not quite rich enough on its own.

If you are a pecan pie maker you will note that this version is a bit fussier than most and contains an ingredient that you don’t often see in modern pecan pie recipes: milk or cream (I use half and half, but I think my sister uses milk, don’t think it really matters). All I’m going to say that this is THE. MOST. WONDERFUL. PIE. ON. EARTH. Prove me wrong:

Old-Fashioned Pecan PieNot my pie, but trust we yours will look just like this…with the possible exception of the perfectly crimped  crust.

Terry’s Pecan Pie Recipe

1 unbaked 9” pie shell

½ c. light brown sugar

½ c. soft butter

¾ c. sugar

3 eggs

¼ tsp salt

¼ c. corn syrup

½ c. whole milk or light cream

1 c. (5 oz.) coarsely chopped pecans, plus 1/2 c. extra whole pecan halves (optional)

½ tsp. vanilla




Heat oven to 350 degrees


In a double boiler mix brown sugar and butter until well blended. Add the white sugar and mix well. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add salt, corn syrup, milk and mix well. Cook mixture over hot water for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove  from water . Add the nuts and vanilla. Pour into unbaked 9” pie crust and scatter the 1/2 c. whole pecans on top, if using.


Bake 1:05 hour in a 350 degree oven.

Note: #1 the pie filling will puff slightly while baking and shrink  back when cooled.

Note #2: It’s quite alright to use a Pillsbury–just-unroll-pie –crust. Even my sister who can make a-mazing! pie crusts with her eyes shut uses them. 

Yes, I know some people add chocolate to pecan pie but no, just no. Don’t do that.

And now it’s officially Thanksgiving open recipe day, post if you wish and feel free to do so all week.