Thanksgiving

The fourth Thursday of November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

With so many changes in our family in the past few months, our Thanksgiving was quiet, with just spouse B, daughter T, and my dad Paco here for dinner. B did all the cooking – turkey, two kinds of dressing, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, acorn squash wedges, baked onions, and cranberry orange relish, with apple and pumpkin pies for dessert. It was a lot of food for four people, but we all enjoy having the leftovers. We are in the process of making turkey stock with the carcass and vegetables, something I learned from Nana growing up which has recently come back into food-fashion.

We ate midday here and, at almost the same time, daughter E was eating a Thanksgiving dinner, five time zones away, in London. She had made turkey and trimmings and pies for her daughter ABC, spouse L, and his parents with whom they are making their home. It’s nice that E and L want to keep some United States traditions to pass on to ABC, along with British ones. She is a dual citizen, at least until adulthood. It will depend on the rules in place when she turns 18, whether she will have to renounce her US citizenship to remain in the UK.

Still, she will always be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and remember the Thanksgiving celebrations of her childhood.

Italian week

ABC, at eight months, is adding new foods to her repertoire.

This week, she has enjoyed mushroom ravioli, bucatini with tomato sauce, and caramel panna cotta.

She was especially enthused about me sharing my panna cotta with her.

It’s not surprising.

After all, one eighth of her ethnic heritage is Italian.

Thanksgiving

Today, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. We are celebrating with a traditional turkey dinner with two kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, baked squash and apples, spiced cranberry-orange relish, and apple and pumpkin pies.

We are doing most of the cooking at our house and bringing everything up to Nana and Paco’s apartment for dinner. In past years, we either hosted them here at our house or joined them for dinner in the dining room at their senior living community, but Nana doesn’t have the energy to be out of the apartment, so we are bringing Thanksgiving to her.

We are very grateful to have Nana and Paco with us for another year of celebration and, for the first time, to have baby ABC with us! She is too young to eat any of the Thanksgiving dishes, but she will certainly bring many smiles to our day.

B and I are also very thankful to have both of our daughters with us. Given that E and ABC will be moving to the UK, possibly in the spring, we are unlikely to have them here at Thanksgiving time again for a long time, if ever. We are hoping that T will find a job in her field that is within driving distance, so we may be able to have her join us for the holiday on a regular basis, but, like everything in the future, it is a bit of a mystery.

But this Thanksgiving, six for dinner – with a baby being bounced on knees and cradled in our arms and playing on her floor quilt – is the perfect number, for which we are all filled with gratitude.

March 17th

Happy Evacuation Day!

B’s dad, who was a very long-tenured elementary school principal in western Massachusetts, used to do an announcement every March 17th about what an important day it was because, in 1776, the British were forced to leave Boston, which had been under siege since the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775 (which is commemorated as Patriots’ Day). In the days of dot-matrix printers, he even had little greeting cards printed for Evacuation Day, which, of course, involved a Minuteman and cannon.

He used to use Evacuation Day as an excuse occasion to gift his wife with flowers.

After he passed away in 2005, B and I took up the tradition of giving Evacuation Day flowers to Grandma, first having them delivered from their favorite local florist, and then choosing and delivering them ourselves after she moved here from Vermont.

Last year, daughter T, who was home on spring break from grad school, and I chose a planter instead of cut flowers. Grandma loved them and put them in the center of her dining room table, as she usually did.

We didn’t know that Grandma would succumb to a heart attack less than a week later.

We kept the planter there for a remembrance and a splash of color as we did the necessary work to clear out her cottage. Then, we brought the planter to our home.

Over the summer, T, who had just finished her MPS in conservation biology of plants, took over plant care and broke the planter into separate pots, as it was becoming too crowded. The African violet stayed in the original green basket.

When she left in late January for her Missouri job-on-the-prairie, the plants were looking healthy and a few weeks ago, the African violet started to bloom.
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So, this week it has many blossoms to remind us of the happy occasion of delivering flowers to Grandma for the family tradition of Evacuation Day.

Oh, and lest I forget, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, too!

taking down Christmas

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Yesterday, our church celebrated Epiphany. This is also the day when we usually take down our Christmas tree.

Because this Christmas was somewhat subdued for various reasons, we hadn’t taken any photos.

I did, however, ask B to take the above photo. The carol singers are ones that Grandma, his mom, who passed away in March, had made for us when we were newlyweds to match her own set. B made the church from a kit over thirty years ago. The little Irish church mice are of a similar age.

The barristers and tea cup collection are also inherited from Grandma, with some of the cups originating from prior generations.

The wintry photo is of Main Street in North Adams, Massachusetts and was taken by a shopkeeper sometime in the last decade. We purchased it from him and Grandma displayed it in her cottage at the local retirement village. All four of B’s and my parents came from the North Adams area and he and I grew up near there, too.

It seemed fitting to commemorate Grandma and our family roots in this special corner of our dining room this Christmas.

I expect it to be a new part of our tradition.
*****
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! It’s super fun, easy, and flexible. Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/09/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-9th17/

the return of a local institution

For many years, a favorite destination in our area has been the Cider Mill. Every year, from August sixteenth through December first, they make doughnuts and cider for sale. On weekends, they make plain, powdered sugar, and cinnamon doughnuts, and on weekdays, they add chocolate frosted with or without chopped peanuts, maple frosted with or without chopped walnuts, and vanilla frosted with or without shredded coconut. They also sell pies, cookies, jams and jellies, and, once they are in season locally, candy apples, winter squash, and many varieties of apples.

When they are pressing cider, you can walk back and observe them prepping, crushing, and pressing the apples to extract the cider. There is a chalkboard telling which types of apples and in which proportion that day’s cider contains.

In a bit of a strange twist, the Cider Mill is also home to a local professional theater company. The former apple storage space has been transformed into a cabaret-style performance space which mounts a seven-play season with each play running for three to four weeks.(People especially love concessions at the fall plays because they can get fresh cider, hot or cold.)

While the opening day is supposed to be August 16, most years the owners try to get ready and open earlier.

Daughter E, who, mind you, is five thousand miles away in Hawai’i, told daughter T yesterday that Cider Mill was opening today. Note: she is much more attuned to social media than her mother.

So, today, for the first time ever, T and I went to the opening day at Cider Mill. It was amazingly busy with long lines and separate areas for ordering and checking out.

Of course, we bought fresh cider and doughnuts.

Because they were so busy and because it is quite warm and humid, the doughnuts were being frosted and sugared when they were still quite warm. I put our doughnuts out on a rack in the kitchen so that they can finish cooling and so that the frosting didn’t adhere to its neighbor.

Once they are throughly cool, I’ll put them back in their waxed bakery bag to await tomorrow’s breakfast.

Although chocolate or maple frosted doughnuts also make a mighty fine dessert…

Indian Pudding recipe

Yesterday, I posted about my poem “Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding” which precipitated several requests for the recipe. So, here it is, with various notes, because I can never seem to share a recipe without side commentary. Sorry that the measurements are all US ones.  The recipe is pretty forgiving, so if you do have to estimate amounts, don’t worry about it.

Indian Pudding

2 Tablespoons cornmeal*
3 Tablespoons tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 quart warm milk
1 cup cold milk
butter size of egg

Add first four ingredients to molasses – then add cold milk and mix well. When the quart of milk is thoroughly heated, add gradually to above mixture. Pour into buttered 2-quart casserole. Add butter and bake two hours at 300 degrees F.  Stir occasionally first 1/2 hour.  Serve with ice cream.

*For a thicker texture, increase cornmeal to 6 Tablespoons and stir occasionally for the first hour. I’ve been doing this variation lately.

Other notes:
I’ve made this with whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, and lactose-free milk. I have absolutely no idea what would happen if one attempted it with soy milk or almond milk.
It’s best to bake this a day ahead and then store in the refrigerator. The flavors seem to meld better after they set.
You can reheat individual servings in the microwave or reheat the whole casserole dish in the oven or microwave. You definitely want to serve it warm so that the ice cream melts over it as you eat it.
You can experiment with adding spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I happen to like this recipe without them, but many Indian pudding recipes do add them.
Indian pudding is deceptively filling. Don’t try to eat a large bowl unless you are very hungry.

Poem: Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding

I am very pleased to announce that I have another poem published today!  The blog of Silver Birch Press has published “Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding” as part of their “My Sweet Word” series. You can find it here: https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/making-aunt-gerts-indian-pudding-poem-by-joanne-corey-my-sweet-word-series/

Enjoy!

Update:  The recipe is now available here:  https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/indian-pudding-recipe/

National Indian Pudding Day

November 13 is National Indian Pudding Day.  Last year, I (belatedly) wrote and blogged a poem about Indian Pudding. This year, I am sharing an Indian Pudding poem that I wrote in response to a prompt in the fall session of the Binghamton Poetry Project. Will Indian Pudding poems become a tradition at Top of JC’s Mind or next year will I move on to pies?  Stay tuned!

Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding
by Joanne Corey

Hand-written from the recipe box
with a molasses stain
in the right corner

Promised to my daughter
who will travel five-thousand miles
to be with us this Thanksgiving

Generations of family tradition
steaming and fragrant
with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream