Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Leap Frog

Three signs I’ve totally skipped the “Becoming Just Like My Mother” phase and am already deep into “Just Like My Grandmother”.

1 – There’s been a daddy-long-legs* in the bathroom corner above my bathtub for weeks. I haven’t named him. But I haven’t killed him yet either. In fact, I feel far friendlier toward it than I ever do toward spiders. My grandmother used to say goodnight to her bathtub spider. I do not do that. Yet.

2 – I now sleep on a satin pillowcase. I don’t get my hair curled and ‘set’ each week at the local beauty shop, so it’s not a hair-do-preservation step. I just like it.

3 – Yesterday I bought those Pepperidge Farm butter crackers shaped like butterflies and ate some. With cottage cheese.

And as a bonus, to show that I’m also a little like my grandmother on the other side of the family, I concocted some sort of cheese-and-grits casserole thing for Thanksgiving that was quite good.

Bring on the house-dresses and calling everyone under 40 ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’

* Have I told you my great fear about daddy-long-leg spiders? Someone once told me that they have a terribly poisonous venom but that their mouths are so tiny they can’t actually bite humans. While I'm not entirely convinced that's true, I am always a little concerned that I’m going to meet the world’s first freak-of-nature Big Mouth Daddy-Long-Leg Spider and be his first meal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Pie Pan of Thankfulness

Thank you and welcome to all who visited this week from over Jeana’s way. Glad to entertain you.

Whiskeymarie mentioned that she is very thankful for pie and I have to say, that is a good thing to be thankful for. Especially this time of year. Being from the South, pie is one of the major food groups in my opinion, right up there with Fried Stuff, Things Held Together with Mayo or Cool Whip (known as salads to some of us), Biscuits and of course, Meat.

My grandmother was very good at making all kinds of pies and when the holidays roll around I always like to make a few pies, just to keep up the family tradition. In the interest of spreading the pie love, I’m going to share some recipes with you. Of course, you’re probably already waaaay ahead on your cooking for tomorrow, but if you’re looking for something for the December table, feel free to give these a try. I’m made them all numerous times and can attest to their yumminess.

Listed below are the following recipes:

Pecan-Pumpkin Pie

Never Fail Pie Crust

Pecan Tartlets

Birthday Pie (redux)

Pecan Pumpkin Pie (two yummy favorites in one!)

1 pie shell, baked in advance (I’ll put the Never Fail Pie Crust recipe below)

Pumpkin filling:

¾ cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp sour cream

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated – hah. The tin kind works fine.)

Pecan layer:

¾ cup light corn syrup

½ cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, cooled

2 tsps vanilla

¼ tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest

1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz) chopped pecans (to whatever size you like – you don’t have to chop ‘em if you don’t like)

Preheat oven to 375.

To make pumpkin filling, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pink of salt, until smooth.

Make pecan layer by stirring all the ingredients together, adding the pecans last.

Spread pumpkin mixture evenly in the pie shell, then carefully spoon the pecan mixture on top of that. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed (about 35 minutes at 375). Center will still be slightly wobbly – it will set as it cools.

Never Fail Pie Crust

(Makes 2 crusts - the vinegar is key.)

3 c. flour

1 ¼ c butter and/or shortening (I use both in whatever combination is handy that day – all butter makes it too stiff)

6 Tbsp ice water

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tsp salt

Mix flour and salt. Cut the butter/shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter. Mix the water, vinegar and egg together. Pour egg mixture into flour. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Separate dough into two balls. Chill at least 20 minutes, then roll out. (I often freeze one for up to a month or so.)

To bake the shell in advance, place it in the pie pan, fold over the edge and crimp with your fingers, prick all over with a fork, line with parchment paper or foil, fill with beans/rice/pie weights, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Take the foil and stuff out and bake another 8-10 minutes.

Pecan Tartlets

(Perfect mouthful-sized servings of pie. With a cream cheese crust. YUM.)


½ c butter or margarine, room temperature

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup flour

Cream together butter and cheese, then add flour. Stir until it forms a ball. Chill.


¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup pecans

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp melted butter

Mix brown sugar, egg, vanilla and butter. Mix well and add pecans.

Pinch a ball of crust about the size of a walnut. Roll into a ball and then flatten into a circle with fingers. Press one into each cup in a small 12-hole mini-muffin tart tin. Fill each until almost full with pecan filling (about a Tbsp).

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Birthday Pie

(A tradition in our family for birthdays – it usually appears at the holidays too, although that may be because I have a December birthday)

1 graham cracker pie crust (or six of those little individual sized ones)

4 oz German Sweet Chocolate (or any other tasty chocolate)

1/3 cup milk

2 Tbsp sugar

3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 container Cool Whip, defrosted (for those of you who live in non-Cool Whip countries, whip up a batch of slightly sweetened whipping cream till it’s good and fluffy – your pie will be enormously rich but along the same lines as the usual version)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I check every 30 seconds to see that it doesn’t over-cook). When it’s melted and smooth, stir in the milk. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and cream cheese together. Add the chocolate mixture. When smooth fold in the Cool Whip. Pour filling into pie crust and pop it in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

The nice thing about this recipe is you can ‘slim it down’ – ie, no sugar, light or fat-free cream cheese, light Cool Whip, etc – and it still tastes good. The only thing you must be sure to do is use really good chocolate. I like the Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate for tradition’s sake, but using Scharfenberger makes a tasty version.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy the pie!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I know it’s a couple of days early but I decided it was time to whip up a nice timely list of things for which I am thankful. Just to get us all warmed up for turkey and family on Thursday.

- There are many things about my life that I would like to change and I am thankful that they are things that are within my power to change.

- I am thankful that unlike my 10 year old self, I have learned to like my brown eyes and am not wasting birthday wishes every year yearning for green or blue ones.

- Interviews. I am SO thankful for the imaginative opportunities provided by job interviews – and that I have some.

- Neefs. I do love my crowd of neefs – of course the Texas boys, but also the honorary neefs in various other states.

- Last one for now: I am thankful for long underwear. I couldn’t survive another Boston winter without it. There were snowflakes in the air this morning!

And what are you thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


(PS - Apologies. The link in the comments didn't come through. Here's the commercial for which I am actually grateful.

Dangerous Curves

I caught about 3 minutes of last night’s American Music Awards. It was the 3 minutes that featured Beyoncé. She was wearing one of her trademark form-fitting satin gowns – very tight everywhere except below the knees (always useful for the walking part of the evening).

Here's a picture. I love that the author refers to this look as that of a 'glamorous clam.'

I wondered momentarily if the designer had left part of the top of it off – the little pleats that extended above the strapless bodice didn’t go very far and there was quite a lot of what my friend Clay calls ‘busty substance’ showing in abundance above the tightly corseted bodice.

And you know what? That’s fine. If you’re a major international recording star with a lot of image to support, I’m happy for you to do so in a very constrictive Merry Widow-esque gown if that’s what does it for you. She created a pretty spectacular silhouette.

What creeped me out big time was what happened when they called her name. She stood up to go get her award, but first she stopped to give her dad a hug. This was not creepy in and of itself, of course. It was just that she was hugging her dad while wearing a dress that was essentially a large amount of bosom on a chest-level platter, dressed with frills that were bravely trying to cover what needed covering. Frilled, exposed bosom, right up there in a big ol’ daddy hug.


Now I’m not one for a great deal of chest exposure myself. (Shocking I know.) I don’t find it all that offensive in others’ wardrobes, if it’s managed appropriately – I do think a J-Lo esque torso-baring gown is NOT appropriate at, say, family Thanksgiving dinner. But I gotta say, if my chest were that bare, there are VERY FEW people I would actually hug. I would want most people to stand back and admire from… over there. Especially my dad.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Half a Mo...

Happy Mo-vember everyone! That’s right. I said “Movember.” In Australia a mustache is called a ‘Mo’. And in Australia in November there is a fundraiser called Movember designed to raise funds for men’s health issues. People grow Moes for money. This year Movember has come to the States.

I think it’s sweet. And hilarious.

If you happen to know a guy who has always secretly hankered to grow a Magnum PI mustache because he thinks he’ll feel more manly that way – well, here’s a good excuse to give him some encouragement. And free rein to laugh every day for the rest of the month!

The following summary of information is provided by my friend Jordan, who proudly grew a great big trucker Mo last year, and is on his way to yet another fabulous furry face this year. I’m sure he and his colleagues would welcome your support.

Ladies and Gentlemen START YOUR MOs.

Yes, it is that time of the year again. MOVEMBER is well and truly upon us.

I am sure by now many of you are aware that during the month formerly known as November, men all over the world will aim to grow a Mo(ustache) in a bid to raise funds to support men's health issues, namely prostate cancer and depression . I use the term 'aim' to grow as some men (if you can call them men) experience.....difficulty in achieving a full, lush, fashionable Mo. Is it their fault? No. Should they be embarrassed? Yes! Should it prevent them from participating in such a worthy cause? No! [Jordan, as you can tell, has no mo issues.]

Movember should not simply be seen as an opportunity to tease a co-worker, friend, or family member about their lack of upper lip testosterone, rather it should be seen as a chance to raise funds, and most importantly raise awareness about serious health issues facing men today.

In all seriousness, I have spoken to and received e-mails from a number of you and fully understand your reasons for not participating, but encourage you to spread the good word to your friends and family (and maybe look at putting in a donation or something yourself....no pressure of course).

This is the first year that Movember has been launched in the US and in New York we have what I would consider a very strong team participating, and while I encourage as many members as possible to join our team - Clap Your Hands and Say Mo! - I strongly encourage you to start-up your own team. Obviously if you do not want to enter a team, you are more than welcome to make a contribution to the New York team to ensure that we help the cause as much as possible and launch Movember in a big way in the USA . My teammates and I welcome any support. I also know that a lot of you will receive e-mails from other people participating, which is great, because it really doesn't matter how you contribute or who you contribute to, as long as you are involved......so get involved.

This would not be a Movember e-mail without some facts:

  • Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America.
  • In 2007, more than 218,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 27,000 American men will die from the disease.
  • Depression affects 1 in 6 men...Most don't seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
  • Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer - equivalent to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually.
  • Men are far less healthy than women. The average life expectancy of males is 5 years less than females.

To sponsor the Mo's of Clap Your Hands and Say Mo! and fight against prostate cancer please go to http://www.movember.com/us/donate, enter my registration number which is 65531 and your credit card details. Or you can sponsor me by check made payable to the "Prostate Cancer Foundation" clearly marking the donation as being for my registration number: 65531. Please mail checks to: Prostate Cancer Foundation, Attn: Movember, 1250 Fourth St, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

All donations are made directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation which will use the funds for high-impact research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law.

Movember culminates at the end of the month at the Gala Partés. These glamorous and groomed events will see Tom Selleck and Borat look-a-likes battle it out for their chance to take home the prestigious Man of Movember title. If you would like to be part of this great night you'll need to purchase a Gala Parté ticket .

Thanks for your support and please forward on to anyone that you think might be interested in participating or contributing. I know that it is cliché, but every dollar counts.

Clap Your Hands and Say MO!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Do-Over Please

This morning I was confronted with the harsh reality that I am a shallow, superficial, easily distracted person, no matter how worthwhile the main attraction may be.

I have the depth of saran wrap, y'all.

I was sitting in a meeting full of intelligent passionate people, talking about socially and educationally invaluable community programs and all I could think was, "Why? Why? WHY wear olive green ribbed tights with brown work boots and a navy mini dress and a logo t-shirt?"

To be perfectly honest, as horrified as I was to face my own shallowness, it was much harder for me to face that set of wardrobe choices and concentrate successfully on the topic at hand.

I kept thinking, "If this were a television show or a cartoon I could call on some sort of metaphysical 'Pause' button and while everyone else is frozen - like Hiro's power from Heroes! - I could run up there and do-over the speaker's clothes. That would be so satisfying! She's tall and striking. What could I put on her that would make me take her seriously?" At that point I had to jerk my attention back to the socially and educationally invaluable community programs. It's one thing to be distracted by unfortunate clothes. It's another to let myself wander off into the ideal hypothetical wardrobe to re-dress a person who is a) not related to me, b) will never ever share clothes with me and c) has not (yet) had the inspiration to ask for my wardrobe help.

It would be much more worthwhile (and less like LaLa: The Comic Book) if I spent my energies devising a do-over for my own easily-distracted attention span.


Holy Makeover, Batman!

For those of you who haven't seen my sister's blog makeover, head on over here. There you will find familiar ingredients (lip gloss, little boys, various bugs and David Kahn jeans) but in a snazzy new format.

Also, feel free to check out her author site here. Kelsey's first book is moving closer and closer to publication. More celebrations on that front when the book is out.