MR. MAGOO AND THE CHRISTMAS MOOSE

You said he was my moose!

You said he was my moose!

Bones, the golden Lab, gave Mr. Magoo a toy moose for Christmas. The moose was dead by nightfall! Perhaps his rubber chicken put him up to it — jealous, I suspect. No moose could replace him!

Whatever his reason, the moose didnt stand a chance.

THE STUFFING'S THE BEST PART

THE STUFFING'S THE BEST PART

 

I TOOK CARE OF THAT MOOSE

I TOOK CARE OF THAT MOOSE

 

POOR MOOSE

POOR MOOSE

DEAD MOOSE

DEAD MOOSE

Bones has not destroyed his Christmas toy — but it looks as though he might be trying to smother him.

Bones - smothering Christmas toy??

Bones - smothering Christmas toy??

 

TOO MUCH TURKEY & DRESSING IS ENOUGH

 

GRANDMA, ALEX, AND JOE ARE READY FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER

Christmas was perfect with all of my family home once again — and once again I cooked too much food – too much turkey and way too much dressing. Too much turkey because of my Daddy’s blue-collar pride. “We may not have much, but nobody in my house ever goes hungry.” I took that lesson to the grocery store where I asked the man at the poultry counter how big a turkey I’d need to feed nine people. He told me. I bought one a little over twice that. Nobody at my house was going to go hungry.

I made too much dressing because I never cook anything the same

CHRISTMAS WITH MY BOYS AND LOTS OF GIFTS

My Boys Home For Christmas

way twice. It’s my heritage. I come from a long line of women who eschewed recipes in favor of the taste & feel method. You mix it, then taste it – however raw. If it doesn’t taste right, add stuff, and taste again, and again till it’s right. Then you cook it.

           So I started by gathering the ingredients: 2 5 x 5” squares of store-bought cornbread, a bag of cornbread stuffing mix left over from Thanksgiving, 2-3 boxes of chicken soup stock, 1 package chicken livers, 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups chopped celery, 2-3 eggs, Tsp thyme, Tbsp salt, Tbsp pepper, a quarter pound of butter.

Once I’d cooked celery, onions, and a half stick of butter in chicken stock and the chicken livers and turkey liver, gizzard, and neck in water till done (you can add the heart but I don’t because I think it’s gross} and greased two 6” square baking pans with butter, I put all the ingredients (only 2/3 of the giblets – saved rest for gravy) into my biggest mixing bowl and stirred it all together. It didn’t feel wet enough so I added more chicken stock.

           Then came the important part. I tasted the mixture. Way too sweet! Then I remembered I’d made the same mistake last year. Store-bought cornbread is sweet. This tasted more like liver-flavored cake than stuffing. The answer was to add bread.

           I found 4 ½ hotdog buns in the bread bin along with 2 leftover biscuits. I mixed them in and added more chicken stock. Still too sweet. No time to go to the store. I broke up the loaf of French bread I’d planned to serve for brunch. We could eat Christmas candy for brunch. I tried scrapping some crust from a frozen quiche but gave up on it.

By then bowl was overflowing, so I poured the mixture into my turkey roasting pan, and added 3 more rolls I’d found in the bottom of the freezer. This much dressing needed another half stick of butter and more salt and pepper. I wet it down with more chicken stock. To heck with the spoon. A spoon was nothing against this ocean. I pushed back my sleeves, grabbed the mess with both hands and kneaded and mixed, frequently adding more stock, till it felt right.

Tasted it again. Added salt. Added sage. Tasted again. By the time it passed the taste-test I had enough dressing to fill six 6” pans. No worry, I told myself. It freezes.

Now it’s one day later. The freezer is full. I’ve decided I hate turkey and I hate dressing and I have enough to last a month. Dinner anyone?

Day three–There’s half a turkey left  —  I ordered Chinese!

 

I Have A Crush On Dick Cavett

I have a crush on Dick Cavett. I was smitten the first time I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His voice! His accent — I really like his accent. His vocabulary! The words he uses and the way he uses them are beautiful and interesting — even when I don’t know what they mean.

More than any other writer, even Thomas Wolfe, Dick Cavett sends me to my Webster’s to look up words that don’t have a hint of ostentation because they fit so comfortably into his clear and rhythmic language.  In his book, Talk Show, he wonders if absorption with magic might, “have spared the world [Dick Cheney’s] predations.” I looked it up. It means the act of pillaging and victimizing for gain; act of a predator.

I used to think it was going to Yale that made him so smart (I called him an intellectual until I read what he said about people who call him an intellectual – that they don’t know the meaning of the word).  But lots of people went to Yale, and they came out economists or commercial lawyers. Only he came out Dick Cavett.

On The Tonight Show, then on The Dick Cavett Show, I watched him interview some of the most famous people of the 20th century. What set him apart from other interviewers for me, and apparently for the celebrities as well, was his kind of respectful irreverence. He was adorable. I’ll bet Ethel Barrymore (theater legend and Drew’s great aunt) had a crush on him too when he introduced her saying, “My next guest is no bowl of chopped liver, but a real high class broad.” I can’t imagine anyone else doing that. (I heard this in the 70’s so forgive me if I got the person or quote wrong.)

Then suddenly The Dick Cavett Show was gone. I kept waiting for him to reappear in a new show, but he didn’t. Then, last year, thanks to the magic of Google, I found him. The web had his quotes, his bio, even videos of his interviews. I was elated.

I discovered he had written a new book, Talk  Show. I ran to the book store to buy it. Allowing myself a few pages a day, I made it last from December through spring. Then I made an even more exciting discovery – one that will keep us together. Dick Cavett has a blog in the New York Times (see my blog roll)! Now I’m following him.

I don’t wish to offend Mr. Cavett, or frighten him. He doesn’t need to get a restraining order. I’m not a stalker and I’ve never followed him or anything. I don’t even know where he lives. And if I did, I’d stay a discrete distance away – most of the time.

REAL GRITS DON’T HAVE CHEESE

I’m  a little ashamed of this posting. It’s a confession. I ate grits that had cheese in them — and I loved them. It’s so wrong. Real grits don’t have cheese! I know that. I grew up with grits — not quick grits but grits you simmer forever and with no thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, or cheese — just salt and butter.

Then I had my three boys and I raised them in the north (Washington, D.C. is north to people from south Alabama) but I raised them right. That means I raised them on crab gumbo, fried chicken, and grits. 

Several years ago, I took my youngest son to NYC. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, Sarabeth’s Kitchen on Madison Avenue. Grits were on the menu. He ordered them. He stared at them. They weren’t grits. They were some concoction with cheese. He wished he’d ordered the pancakes.

I explained the rules of grits to him. Never order grits in the north – they’ll be dry and undercooked or they’ll have cheese — and real grits don’t have cheese.

Now I’ve betrayed generations of southern cooks and the southern way of life. I’ve eaten cheesy grits and asked for seconds. Guilt loves companyso I’m here to lead others astray. Here’s the recipe from my friend Dot at Silver Brook Farms near Leesburg, VA

2 l/4 cups low-salt  chicken broth
2 tablespoons (l/4 stick) butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
l/2 cup quick-cooking grits
3/4 cup whipping cream
l/2 cup diced drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about  4 oz)
Chopped fresh chives (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. 
Generously butter 8x8x2 inch baking dish.
Bring broth, 2 tablespoons butter, and garlic to boil in heavy medium saucepan.  Gradually whisk in grits and return mixture to boil, whisking occasionally. 
Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until grits are thick and almost all broth is absorbed, whisking frequently, about 8 minutes.
Whisk in ½ cup cream and simmer 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Whisk in remaining l/4 cup cream and simmer until very thick, stirring often, about  5 minutes longer.
Stir in tomatoes, thyme and goat cheese.  ||Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour into prepared dish. 
Bake about 15  minutes.  Garnish with chives, if desired, and serve immediately.