It’s Beginning To Smell Like Thanksgiving

Hello, hello!  So, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is this week!  It’s currently Monday and the house smells like cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  And the aromas will just keep getting better as the week goes on.  So, in celebration of the season, I thought I would share a couple of recipes with you!  Namely, the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole Dad makes.  I know it’s a little late given that Thanksgiving will be tomorrow by the time this posts, but you can always try them next year or for Christmas.

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Picture stolen from Pinterest.

First up is Cranberry Orange Relish with Bourbon.  It’s a recipe Dad found in the Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago.  He decided to try this one since the chutney recipe he used before had apples, which I’m mildly allergic to, so I couldn’t eat much of it.  He’s tweaked it a little since then by adding walnuts, but here’s the recipe!

CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH WITH BOURBON

Ingredients:
1 cup bourbon (Dad uses Jack Daniels)

1 orange, zested and supremed (see chef’s note)
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed or from concentrate

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine bourbon and orange zest.  Bring to a boil and simmer, until reduced to a syrup, about 10 minutes.

Add cranberries, orange segments, sugar, and orange juice.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and cranberries pop.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cover and refrigerate. Makes 8 servings.

Chef’s note:
To supreme orange: Using a sharp knife, cut remaining skin and pith off of the zested orange.  Working over a clean mixing bowl and using a sharp knife, cut out each segment of orange between the membranes.

PER SERVING:
Calories 1,620 (None from fat)
Trace fat (No sat)
No cholesterol
No sodium
Fiber 4 g.
Carbohydrates 276 g.
Protein 3 g.
Sugar 239 g.

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Picture stolen from Google.

Another recent addition to our Thanksgiving line up is Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping.  Dad found this one last year in the Dallas Morning News.  It’s fairly similar to the recipe he had been using, but it has an orange-y flavor that makes it better.  Even I like it, and I’m not a big sweet potato fan.  I know he’s tweaked it, but this is the recipe!

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE WITH PECAN STREUSEL TOPPING

Ingredients:
5 pounds sweet potatoes, roasted until soft (instructions follow; or substitute two 40-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Grated zest from half an orange
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 F.  Butter the inside of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Scrape flesh from sweet potato into a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor (work in batches if using a processor).  Mash or puree until smooth.  Add eggs and combine thoroughly.

Add granulated sugar, cream, allspice, and orange zest and mix thoroughly into mashed sweet potatoes.  Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared pan.

To make the pecan streusel topping:
In the bowl of a food processor, place butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, and vanilla and pulse until mixture is crumbly and looks like small pebbles.

Sprinkle sweet potatoes evenly with streusel topping — it should completely cover sweet potatoes.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Makes 15 servings.

To roast sweet potatoes:
Heat oven to 450 F.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the oven rack and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.

SOURCE:
Adapted from Justin and Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge

PER SERVING:
Calories 525
Fat 24 g. (11 g. sat)
Cholesterol 92 mg.
Sodium 271 mg.
Fiber 6 g.
Carbohydrates 73 g.
Protein 7 g.

Thanksgiving-2017

What are some recipes you or your loved ones make for the holiday?  Do you tend to stick to the same menu or try to mix it up each year?  Feel free to share here or on my social media pages.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

A Look Inside Texas de Brazil

Howdy, howdy!  How was everyone’s week?  As promised, I’m posting a review of my birthday experience at Texas de Brazil.  We went to the one out in Addison this time, instead of the one in Dallas.  Check out their website (linked above) for locations near you!  It’s a Brazilian steakhouse and churrascaria, so there’s a big focus on meat.  As carnivores, Dad and I appreciate that, as did Ed Baker who went with us and is a family friend from back when I was active with MDA.  I will say that this wasn’t my first time there, so this post will probably draw on my other experiences as well.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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A selection of their meats borrowed from their Facebook page.

First up is accessibility.  They don’t have many handicap parking spaces at either of the locations I’ve been to, but they do have valet parking to make life easier if the spaces are taken.  I admit that I like the Addison location a little better than the Dallas one because I can get in through the front door.  The only ramp on the Dallas location is in through the kitchen, which is cool (I mean, at least they made it accessible in the ways they could).  The Texas de Brazil in Addison did a nice job to accommodate wheelchairs.  It can be a tight squeeze around the salad bar, especially at the corners (we had to ask a nice man to move because I couldn’t make one of the turns), but otherwise it was fairly easy to manuever around.  The tables are a nice height, but they do have a small piece underneath that I would’ve banged my knees on if I hadn’t looked first.  It’s easily avoidable, though.  So, it’s accessibility is up to the usual standards around here.

Next is service.  The hostess and waitress were wonderful.  They both talked to me like a regular human being.  The people who carry the meat around and serve it focused mostly on Dad and Ed.  Only one or two of them looked directly to me when asking who wanted what, but since Dad grabbed a piece for me off of everything, it didn’t really bug me.  In other words, the service was great where it mattered.

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Dad, Ed, and I post-meat, but pre-dessert.

Now, the best part: food!  Once you’re seated, there’s a huge salad area you can hit up as often as you want.  There’re vegetables and cheese and fruits and fish and soup.  It’s delicious all on its own.  They do have vegetarian-friendly options in case you know some herbivores, but I’m not sure about vegan options.  My personal favorites were the cheeses and some kind of pineapple dish that was super thinly sliced and sweet.  It’s definitely got enough to fill you up even if you don’t want to eat the meat floating around the room.

As for the meat, I can honestly say it’s like a little slice of heaven.  Waiters carry skewers of everything from beef to chicken to pork to lamb.  There’s literally something for everyone.  Dad loves lamb, I loved the parmesan crusted chicken and pork, Ed kept going back to the sausages.  You can gorge on whatever you want or have a little bit of everything like we did.  They even have a couple of sides (garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas) they bring to the table despite the huge salad area.  They also have bread.  Be prepared to stuff yourself silly.

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My birthday creme brulee!

Texas de Brazil also has a fairly wide variety of desserts.  I had the creme brulee, of course.  Dad had flan, and Ed had the key lime pie.  Everything we’ve had here has been yummy.  They don’t have specialty coffee cocktails, but the bartender will whip something up if you ask, which is how I like to end such a wonderful meal.

Now, onto the thing no one likes to talk about: the price.  At nearly $50 a person (not including drinks and desserts), it’s not cheap.  But for everything you get, it’s totally worth the splurge once a year or so.  Get dressed up and make a night of it with someone special.

So, here’s my rating:
MMMM

Sweet Tooth: A Top Five List

Hello, hello!  It’s Thanksgiving week!  My favorite holiday ever, as if you didn’t know.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday and gets to spend time with their loved ones and eats tons of goodies.  Also, instead of shopping Thursday night and Friday, I encourage you to stay at home and binge-watch Netflix (Gilmore Girls!) or play games or something fun.  Anyway, in keeping with last week’s light and fun food related post, I thought I would devote this one to desserts.  This has nothing to do with Thanksgiving per se, it’s just my top five favorite desserts, along with an honorable mention.

creme-brulee
That looks delicious.

1. Creme brulee.  If there’s creme brulee on the menu, you can pretty much guess what I’m getting.  There’s just something about the creamy goodness underneath the crackly crunchy coating that speaks to my soul.  It would take something super weird that I’ve never had before (because I like trying new things even more than I like creme brulee) to beckon me away from this particular dish of delish.

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I’m making myself hungry.

2. Tiramisu.  Ladyfingers and chocolate and coffee and creamy marscapone custard deliciousness and (depending on the recipe) booze.  What’s not to love?  The real question, though, is whether I like tiramisu because I like boozy coffee or if it’s the other way around.  I guess we’ll never know.

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I may or may not have just drooled on myself.

3. Flan.  In the process of making this list, I have just realized that I have a weird attraction to custardy desserts.  I have no idea where it came from.  I’m not complaining, nor am I apologizing.  Flan is special, though.  It combines my love of creaminess with my love of caramel sauce, so it gets bonus points for that.

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Blueberry crumble pie?  Don’t mind if I do.

4. Pie.  I admit it.  I like pie more than cake.  The problem is, I can’t pick just one kind.  Blueberry crumble, key lime, peanut butter, chocolate creme, pecan.  The list goes on and on.  There are a few exceptions, like coconut, pumpkin (yeah, I said it), sweet potato, or anything banana, but otherwise, as long as I’m not allergic to it, I will probably like it in a pie.

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It looks so good.

5. Red velvet cake.  If we’re talking regular old cake, I lean more toward red velvet.  Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting, it’s just so delicious.  I could totally go for a piece right now.

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I couldn’t not include it.

 Honorable Mention.  Cheesecake.  There’s just no way to make a list of favorite desserts without at least thinking of cheesecake.  I’d never turn a slice down even though I may prefer other things.

What about you?  What’re your favorite desserts?  Is there a particular dessert you’re looking forward to on Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share your lists or thoughts here or on my social media pages.  Thank you for reading!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you next week for my 100th post.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Hello, hello!  Since my favorite holiday is right around the corner, I thought I’d share our usual Thanksgiving menu with you.  Dad makes a feast and it’s only fair that I share all of the mouthwatering morsels.  Plus, we need to start making a shopping list and this will help us remember what to add.  Who said a blog couldn’t act as a handy-dandy reminder?  So, in no particular order of deliciousness, our Thanksgiving spread includes:

thanksgiving-day

1. Turkey, of course.  Dad’s kind of a traditionalist when it comes to the bird.  It’s stuffed and roasted.  When I was a kid and we had 30+ people over, I vaguely remember the occasional backup ham, but we always have the turkey.

2. Stuffing.  I know we’re in Texas and that cornbread stuffing is like the law here, but that’s not what Dad makes.  He does an Italian stuffing with sausage and other things.  I fully admit that it’s my favorite part of the meal.

3. Mashed potatoes.  This has morphed a little over the years from a traditional dish to something more flavorful.  There’s usually garlic and other things involved.  It’s another favorite.

4. Mashed sweet potatoes.  Originally, we had the whole candied yams dish with the marshmallows and all that, but Dad found a recipe a while back for a mashed version with nuts and brown sugar.  I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but the mashed version seems to go over well with other people.

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And then you murder them and eat their insides.

 5. Green bean casserole.  Every year, Dad tweaks something or adds something new.  Last year, he went from the old recipe pretty much everyone does to a fresh version we saw on Good Eats.  It was tasty and pretty easy to make.

6. Corn pudding.  This is actually a fairly recent addition (within the last five years).  It replaced the canned corn that we always forgot to put out.  As far as I know, Dad still tweaks this one.

7. Spinach casserole.  We’ve had this one for as long as I can remember, but I only started eating it within the last ten years.  It never seems to change.

8. Stuffed mushrooms.  These are one of our usual appetizers.  Italian sausage stuffing and lots of cheese.  Everyone loves them.

9. Deviled eggs.  The other usual appetizer.  And I just feel the need to point out that Dad always remembers that I’m not big on the paprika sprinkled on top, so he makes half without it.  I’m very loved.

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Looks right to me.

 10. Cranberry chutney.  This seems to change every year.  Last year, Dad found a recipe without apples, so I could eat it.  This is served alongside the jellied cranberry sauce, because why not?

I feel like I’m probably missing something, but I can’t think of anything.  Dessert is left up to our guests.  What does your Thanksgiving feast include?  Are you the chef or a guest?  Do you have any traditions you’d like to share?  Feel free to share it all in a comment on here or on any of my social media pages!

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part Four)

Hello hello!  Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers who celebrate!  The month of thanks is drawing to a close, which means I will have no idea what to post about again starting next week.  Ah well.  I’ll worry about that then.  For now, let’s get back into a thankful mood.  As always, feel free to join in!  Here are my last five choices for this year:

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This.  So much this.

1. Books!  I feel like any good writer would have mentioned this weeks ago, but whatever.  Books are awesome covered in awesome sauce.  Not only do they teach us things, the really good ones do so without us even realizing it until it’s too late.  And they provide us with escapes to other realities.  We get to experience a lot of things we would never otherwise experience.  Not only that, but we get to see life through the perspective of someone else.  So yeah, books are great.

2. Pets.  I mentioned stuffed animals, but never real ones.  Shame on me!  I actually adore most animals (until we start talking bugs anyway), but this section is reserved for furbabies and the like.  Some people I know are hesitant about getting a pet because of the pain of losing them, but I’m not one of them.  Yeah, it hurts when they die (they’re family, so of course it does), but there’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal.

Pups1
Chewy (unknown-…), Dame Julia (2001-2014), Toto (unknown-2011)
Speedy2
Speedy (1993-2010)

 3. A dad who can cook.  He spoils me with smoked meats (including homemade pastrami), pasta, breakfast, and basically everything he makes.  I see all these Thanksgiving specials where the women are in the kitchen, but it was always Dad who did most of the holiday cooking.  Mom cooked most of the rest of the time when she was alive, so Dad’s cooking was always a treat.  Now, he wonders why I’d rather he make something instead of going out.  Because you make it better, that’s why.  And yes, the rest of you should be jealous.

4. Anime and manga.  On top of providing all of the goodness of books, these also have pictures.  If you’ve read through earlier posts, you know that many of my favorite heroes and heroines come from anime and manga.  Like many, it was also my gateway into Japanese culture, so you can blame it for a lot of my weirdness.  My writing has also been majorly influenced by the stuff.  I mean, one wouldn’t expect too much of a difference in character archetypes and plot development and the like, but there’s actually SO much to learn from anime and manga as a writer.  It’s mind blowing.  Really.

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From Neon Genesis Evangelion (aka my first experience with a series where I despised the main character but loved the story and the other characters, which wasn’t an abnormal reaction at all).

 5. Deadlines.  I know the good majority of creative types are supposed to hate the pressure of a due date, but not me.  I’d never get anything done without some kind of time constraint.  Whether it’s my self-imposed word count or someone else telling me I need to get something done, deadlines and goals are my friend.  It’s okay to admit it.

I think that’s it.  Time to prepare to eat myself into a food coma, then eat some more!  Have a safe and wonderful holiday!  See you next time.

Growing Up Cripple

Hi all!  I really had no idea what to blog about, so I procrastinated for a while with the help of social media, and that’s when I noticed something strange.  I’ve seen a lot of “growing up” hashtags on Twitter (growing up a girl, growing up black, etc.), but there isn’t a hashtag for growing up cripple.  Yeah, you can find growing up disabled and growing up in a wheelchair, but they’re few and far between (plus, they’re mostly depressing).  Since I’m not all that Twitter adept (140 characters just isn’t enough), I decided to blog about it.

Young Me (Color Correction)
It’s me! According to the copywrite date, I was four. I used to be so cute. What happened?

People act like growing up anything but a straight, white, able, cis, male puts you at some kind of disadvantage (cue the “privileged” arguments), but I disagree.  Growing up, I never really felt like my crippleness put me at a real disadvantage or made me any less of a person.  Don’t get me wrong, back then and to this day I’ve encountered people who seem to think I’m invisible, people who actually cross the street when they see me (I’m not contagious, I swear!  Though, I do bite.), people who say or ask less than intelligent things, and the like, but I learned quickly that that was their problem, not mine.  Just because some people are idiots doesn’t mean their behavior is in any way my fault.

Were things ever more difficult than they should’ve been?  Yeah, of course!  I mean, when stairs and curbs are your mortal enemies, you’re going to run into problems.  Luckily, I was raised in a family where finding ways around obstacles was a challenge readily accepted.  Can’t reach your mouth with that fork?  Let’s tape a plastic one to a skewer!  Can’t reach the keyboard with your right hand?  Try this backscratcher!  Keep getting stuck in the mud out back?  Let’s build a deck!  And the list goes on and on.

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Prom. I designed the dress and Mom made it.
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High school graduation. Most of the immediate family.

Granted, the whole stuck in a chair thing also makes outings much more annoying (no, it’s not just something that affects home life), but it doesn’t stop me.  That’s one thing Dallas has going for it, most places are accessible at least to a point (SMU, I’m looking at you when I say “to a point”), so I go to clubs and concerts and out to eat and to cons and renfests and all of that delightful stuff.  You want to talk about privilege?  Try being a cripple at clubs and cons and such.  I was raised never to expect special treatment, but you’d be surprised how often places offer front of the line privileges among other stuff (and who am I to turn such thoughtfulness down?).  Let’s see the straight, white, able, cis dude get that kind of treatment on a regular basis… I think not.

Shawna54
I miss my purple hair. And the red hair. And the teal. You get the idea.

Anyway, I guess my point is that life is what you make of it.  Yes, my crippleness makes life a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the hand I was dealt.  I’m not inspirational (though I kindly thank those who think I am, because they’re being nice when they say that kind of stuff).  I’m simply living my life.  Life is hard, but do you want to know a secret?  Everyone has problems (even that privileged white guy).  You can either deal with your own issues and try to live happily for the most part, or you can focus on all the bad and be miserable forever.  It’s your battle.  No one can fight it for you.