Holiday reading

During our Thanksgiving feast I got the giggles about the recipes I'd discovered by accident in Joy of Cooking while looking for the turkey instructions. "You know," I told the guys,"I found this great recipe for armadillo." This led to what would be called a "challenge" in Scrabble. I got out the reference volume, and indeed there was a recipe for armadillo. Also muskrat, raccoon, beaver tail, porcupine, possum, squirrel, rabbit with chili beans, and woodchuck. Clearly, this was new material for a holiday dramatic reading. Yes, I know, not every family needs a reference library for a holiday meal!

A few years back the guys and I went to Fredericksburg so that we could spend Thanksgiving climbing Enchanted Rock. Our motel was next door to an emu farm. We stared at the emus, and they stared right back at the same eye level. It was a bizarre Thanksgiving moment, and makes the holiday memory hit parade every year when we baste the large bird.

I always travel with a reference section in the back seat. Who knows when I might want to identify a bird, lizard, or butterfly? Where would I be without my Roadside Geology of Texas? A dictionary is good, too. Sure, this might have something to do with my husband calling me , "obstinate and recalcitrant" on a trip while we were still married. And there I was library-less and wondering if "recalcitrant" had something to do with deposits on teeth! Never again will a vacation go [further] down the tube for want of Webster's.

You will have to look up the armadillo recipe for yourself. This is my grandma's recipe for Ginger Creams:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease two 11x16 cookie sheets.

Heat and stir in a large saucepan
1 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. Crisco or oleo
1 c. molasses

Remove from heat and stir in
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon

In another bowl stir together
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda

To saucepan add 1 c. boiling water, then stir in flour/soda mix to make a stiff batter. Pour into cookie sheets. Spread and bake till done. Check with toothpick after 10-12 minutes. Let cool.


Sift very well and measure
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

5 T cream or milk

2 T Crisco
1 T butter
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t salt

Add 1/2 c. of the powdered sugar to the Crisco mixture. Alternately blend in the scalded cream and the rest of the powdered sugar until it reaches a nice spreading consistency. Let sit a bit, then cut into squares.

For 1/2 recipe of Ginger Creams use 2/3 recipe of frosting.

Take a walk in the fall leaves or winter snow, then eat!


News from the education fornt

On a sad note, the high school marquee says "THANKSGIVING BRAKE 11/26".


Little Rabbit Foo Foo

On Monday a three year-old was singing music from Sunday church:

All night, all day
Angels bopping over me my Lord.


I found a new way to get little kids to practice with scissors more than just making snips around the edges of a piece of paper. Because I am feeling magnanimous, I will share it, but you must be willing to make a complete fool of yourself.
1. Visualize a hula skirt.
2. Give the kids long pieces of scrap paper (about 18x6").
3. Don't give them the scissors yet.
4. Demonstrate the cutting of the paper (in this case to make a macaroni feather for Yankee Doodle's hat).
5. As you cut you must narrate, "Now I'm going to cut and cut and CUT and cut and cut and cut and CUT AND CUT and cutncutncut almost to the end".
6. Switch to your very best opera singer imitation and repeat step 5.
7. Switch to your cheatin' heart country western voice and repeat step 5.
8. Switch to your Mickey Mouse voice and repeat step 5.
9. Go into your tired Little Blue Engine voice and cut all the way to the top of the mountain so the boys and girls on the other side will have toys to play with and good foods to eat, and repeat step 5.
10. Pass out the scissors. [Make darn tootin' sure they are Fiskars, or else why bother?]
11. Fade into the woodwork and listen to little kids imitating your imitations as they cut that whole piece of paper...
12. ...and another one...
13. ...and beg for another...
14. Let them know how terribly sorry you are that you must collect the scissors so they can go home, but promise them in your Transylvanian accent that they vill get to cut again real soon!


Today a kid told me that he had gotten a flu shot, so his mom bought him a "nactivity scene". Is that the one with ninja turtle wise men?

Goober and Cletus have tried another exorcism of my Evil Blinker. $36 for the latest attempt, but $64 for the rental car. I am sad to say the Enterprise employees who helped me were May and December Texas university graduates. They asked if I wanted to supersize the compact car I rented.


Down and across

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for
Iago, Othello villain
Elon, N.C. college
Enid, Oklahoma city
Eli, Yalie
Edina, Minneapolis suburb
anil, indigo dye
Etta, James of jazz
tse, fly half
Ott, Giant legend
Alou, diamond family...

Without them what would crossword puzzles be?

With gratitude to Will Shortz and Maurice Chevalier.

Linky in love

I can't remember how that saying goes about being lucky in love, unlucky at cards... Anyway, with the help of my teen webkid, I have working links on my blog, not just dead ends.

Unlunky at cards?


Recipe for Seven Dollar Squash

Went shopping for the autumn still life, and I found a magnificent turban squash with a tangerine red bottom and lumpy dark green top. I snapped it up, along with eight severely varigated gourds, one basic acorn squash, two mini-pumpkins, and a six-pack of Indian corn. Got home and looked at the receipt. Damn yam and squishy furthermores! That magnificent turban squash weighed in at 5.15 lbs., and cost $1.49/lb.! Clearly, this was not a squash to be discarded at the end of the painting exercise. This was a squash with expensive tastes and powerful friends.

After trying to give the squash away to everyone at work, I hauled it home along with the other still life veggies. I explained the situation to Steven's lunch gang pals. One of the guys responded in that newly deep sixteen-year-old voice, "No vegetable is worth seven dollars!"

Days passed. I started hiding the gourds like Easter eggs, but without the plastic grass. A roving herd of high school juniors passed through long enough to ponder the Indian corn. They put an ear in the microwave, and lined up to watch the show. It wasn't as good as nuking marshmallow Peeps, but it was entertaining enough for two sequels.

Despite these diversions, the responsibility for the Seven Dollar Squash weighed heavier on me each day. I resolved that Friday I would bake it, feed it to the lunch gang, and be free, free, FREE! Ha-ah-HA-HA!

Upon carving the turban squash in two, I was relieved to find it was orange. Its power over me had grown to the point I expected cosmically-charged fluorescent pickle green. I scooped out its guts, but it still strove to lure me over to the Dark Side. I cut the halves into rough sections, and placed them in a Pyrex pan lined with foil (not a coffin of Transylvanian dirt). I gave each piece a pat of butter and sprinkled it lightly with ground cloves. I looked for the brown sugar in the cupboard, but could only find a lonely honey bear bottle full just to the knees and crystalized. [Parental warning: Open the lid of the bear bottle before nuking it for thirty seconds. Wear oven mitts to remove it from the microwave, then squirt it on the evil squash with vanquishing farting noises. Ignore all comments.] Cover pan with more foil. Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for two hours. That is when the high school gang arrives. Since I am my mother's daughter, the squash will not be tender at the appointed hour. It will still be hard as a rock. The teenagers will get off easy without having to consume the magic squash potion. They will not have to contend with Lewis Carroll and the Mad Turban.

I don my pale green pants, and holler, "Oh save me from this turban squash with honey bear inside it!" I bake and bake and bake this Seuss squash. I bake it, then I fridge it. There's nobody around to taste it, and I'm starting to hear voices of Gary Oldman, Vincent Price, and Bart Simpson taunting ... taunting. The hidden gourds are singing the "Oompa Loompa" song hour after hour in California raisin voices.

And then the Durst acquittal hits the news. I've already gutted the squash, cut it up in sections. Can I get away with dumping it in the bay? No. A Seven Dollar Vegetable Must Be Consumed. Clean your plate. There are starving children in China.

Morning dawns after yet another sleepless night. I know what I must do. I scoop the squash sections into a large bowl, and pour in the liquid from a small can of pineapple. I mash it up with the mixer. Put it in a well-greased baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar (yeah, I know, it was just hiding behind that 1982 bottle of Karo syrup) liberally, and dot with more butter. Cover with foil again and bake at 325 degrees along with a nice rump roast. Make a colorful tossed salad, and some broccoli with cheese sauce for returning college students. The squash is vanquished. Viva le $7 vegetables!

I'm thinking about teaching figure drawing next...


Preparing for Thanksgiving

The preschoolers have really enjoyed having a autumn still life in the classroom, especially when I let them touch all the gourds, squash, pumpkins, leaves, and baskets. They have explained to me that I should put apples, little pumpkins, and "Vivian corn" in the "cornucoconut" for decoration.


Paintbrush envy

This update in the celeb gossip column--Maurice will be going back to France tomorrow because he received a recording contract! After hogging all the painting action in Intermediate Art today, Maurice, that skinny, pointy-haired paintbrush, has lit out for the falsetto big time. It's a good thing, too. Maurice's cousins here in TX, Fluffy and Muffy, were seriously miffed that Maurice was making kids forget to use big brushes for big jobs. Muffy had been handling the day-to-day paint jobs while big sister Fluffy had some R&R in Hawaii. You know--get a tan, put some space between you and the preschoolers, breathe the tempera flowing out and the watercolor flowing in. Most of the year Fluffy is in the trenches teaching small children not to use her like a mop, a toothbrush, (or a weapon), only to be cast aside unrinsed and unloved. Fluffy deserved a break, but had to rush back to entertain that pipsqueak visiting French cousin, Maurice. Muffy had hoped to be in charge much longer. Muffy is a mid-sized brush, not really ready for the big jobs, yet too pudgy for the fine details. As an apprentice to Fluffy, Muffy never gets the freebie tropical vacations, or the cutesy-wootsy preteen fan club of little Maurice. Who could blame Muffy for harboring those fantasies of plaster of Paris overshoes...


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