Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Black Thursday?

I sit here less than twelve hours away from the start of Thanksgiving Day and can’t help contemplating the upcoming holiday. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, family and friends. The warmth and love surrounding this holiday has always been something I’ve looked forward to. Even when I was in the military Thanksgiving was a time to gather at someone’s house to celebrate and enjoy the company of good friends. We always took time out to remember our Shipmates, brothers and sisters in arms, who were away from loved ones doing their duty to our country. It meant everything then. But, it means so much more now as our kids grow older and our time together as a family wanes.

So, my question is this, where did Thanksgiving go? When did we as a society decide shopping and cheap electronics was more important than family, friends and thankfulness?

I look around at the ridiculous amounts of Christmas decorations adorning stores and neighbor’s yards. I got out of the car to pump gas and was assailed by Christmas carols being piped over the speaker system. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays as much as anyone, but really? Why can’t we hold off until Friday? I watched a commercial for JcPenney’s where they chant Go, go, go, go. go, go, SHOP, SHOP, SHOP.  Why does the shopping season now start on Thanksgiving? Aren’t we kind of missing the point?

Do you know where the term Black Friday came from? Many believe it came from an accounting term. The Friday after Thanksgiving was the start of their most financially solvent period. It would send their finances from the red into the black. Yes, that’s all this season means to retailers. Get the customers in, make them spend money, don’t care how it’s done, just do it.

And we fell for it.

Back in 1924 the Macy’s Day Parade was started because many of the employees of Macy’s were first generation Americans who were proud of and wanted to celebrate their new American heritage? Macy’s had intended it to be an employee celebration of thanks, not the official ushering in of the shopping season. 

WOW! Imagine that. New Americans being thankful for being in this country and for everything they had been blessed with on a holiday made for just that occasion.

So, what happened? When did a celebration of joy, pride, and thankfulness become a way to push consumers into buy, buy, buying? How did Black Friday eat Thanksgiving Day?

We let it become the monster that it is. We let greed for a good deal drive us to camp out in front of retail stores to be the first to get that $300 laptop. We allowed retailers to dictate to us how we were going to spend the holiday weekend. They are laughing all the way to their billion dollar bank accounts while their minimum wage employees have to put the turkey down, step away from the table and go to work.

I’m reminded of the beginning scene of A Christmas Carol ~

SCROOGE: You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose.
CRATCHIT: If it is quite convenient, sir.
SCROOGE: It’s not convenient and it’s not fair. If I were to stop half a crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used. And yet, you don’t think me ill-used when I pay a day’s wages for no work.
CRATCHIT: Christmas only comes once a year, sir.
SCROOGE: A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier the next morning!
CRATCHIT: I promise, sir. Merry Christmas, sir!

We watch this scene and can recognize it for what it is. Why can we not recognize it in real life? Scrooge demands Cratchit work Thanksgiving…all in the name of squeezing consumers a little bit longer, a little bit harder, a little bit more aggressively each year. All the while shouting, “Give the people what they want!”

Well, I don’t want it. I choose to side with Cratchit, not Scrooge. I refuse to be a party to something that has robbed families of the reason we gather. Be thankful, people…not greedy.

I will not be shopping anywhere on Thursday. Shopping can wait. I’ll be at home, enjoying my family and the blessings I’ve had this year.

I shall keep Thanksgiving in my own way.

Will you join me?

Easy-Peasy Pudding Cake

Easy-Peasy Pudding Cakepuddingcake1

What you’ll need:

For the Crust

1 cup  chopped pecans or peanuts
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour

Cream cheese layer

  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipped cream or cool whip

Vanilla pudding layer

  • 1 – 5.1 oz package instant vanilla pudding 
  • 3 cups milk

Chocolate Pudding layer:

  • 1 – 5.1 oz package instant chocolate pudding 
  • 3 cups milk

Last layer

  • 2 cups whipped cream or cool whip
  • shaved Baker’s milk chocolate

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Combine all crust ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Press the mixture into baking dish.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  6. Once done remove crust from oven and let cool.
  7. While crust is cooling prepare the vanilla and chocolate puddings in separate bowls as per each package instructions.
  8. In another medium bowl, combine cream cheese layer ingredients.
  9. Mix with mixer until light and fluffy.
  10. Once cool to the touch, spread cream cheese mixture over the crust evenly.
  11. Spread the chocolate pudding over the creme cheese filling.
  12. Spread the vanilla pudding over the chocolate.
  13. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with the chocolate slivers.
  14. Refrigerate for a couple hours to allow pudding layers to set up.
  15. Serve cold.

Enjoy! 

Yummy Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms make a fantastic appetizer for Turkey Day. This recipe is absolutely scrumptious! 

stuffedmushroom1

What you’ll need:

  • 12 Fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or ground sausage
  • 1 TBS Minced Onion
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 TBSP Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1/4 Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 1 TSP Chili Powder
  • (Optional) Mozzarella Cheese

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Remove and chop mushroom stems.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until beef is no longer pink; drain.
  4. Mix in chopped mushroom stems, 1 tablespoon butter, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and stir in cream.
  6. Dip mushroom caps in 1/4 cup melted butter
  7. Stuff generously with meat mixture.
  8. Arrange stuffed mushrooms in a baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle with chili powder.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
  11. For an extra special treat, take out when there is 10 or so minutes left and top with Mozzarella cheese then place back in oven for remaining 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and serve.

Enjoy!

I write like…

the-writer2

Today I came across a neat little text analyzer. You put in a portion of text and it compares it to well known authors, analyzes it and tells you who you most closely resemble in writing style, word choice, etc.

I decided to test my mettle against world famous authors and see where I landed. I went to me first book, Retribution, and pulled out the first two pages of text and ran it through the analyzer. It came out as Arthur C. Clarke. Not sure if it was just a random thing, I clicked on the analyze new text and put the same text back in two more times. Each time it came out Arthur Clarke. Well, I knew that my style of writing changed within the books (as I got more comfortable with the characters and world I’d created) so I decided to do an experiment. I took text from the middle of my book and the end of it as well. Ran each piece through the analyzer and repeated it three times just like I had with the beginning portion. Each portion…the middle and the end…came out with Neil Gaiman.

In the beginning I wrote like Arthur C. Clarke, which I am absolutely fine with. Nothing wrong with him! Then something changed. Maybe I relaxed into my writing or was so immersed into the world I’d created I let go. Whatever it was, my inner Neil Gaiman came out.

So, my take away from this….if you like Arthur C. Clarke and Neil Gaiman you’ll love my work! 😉

I write like Neil Gaiman. Proof: http://iwl.me/s/68c65cc

Chunky Chocolate Cookies

Absolutely Scrumptious

Chunky Chocolate Gob Cookies

cookies

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped (16 cookies)
  • 3 (1.75-oz.) Mounds bars, chilled and chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

What to do:

  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.
  4. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients.
  5. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  6. Stir in cookies, candy bars, and desired amount of chocolate morsels.
  7. Chill dough 30 minutes.
  8. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 2″ apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until barely set.
  10. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Courtesy – Southern Living, Oxmoor House JUNE 2007