Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving... a woman didn't invent this holiday

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm sure not too many people have been reading anyway. As we go through all of the preparations for Turkey Day, I am starting to think that there's no WAY a woman invented this holiday. Let's take a look back in history

*insert wavy flashback-style screen*

1492 - Christopher Columbus set sail in a fleet of three ships - the El Nino, the Pinto and the Carne Asada Steak Taco. After months, perhaps years, of sailing, they landed in what they thought was America. Except that it was the Caribbean. Since the ship was sailed by men, they weren't able to stop and ask for directions. Instead, they agreed to tell everyone that they had reached the Americas, declared victory and shared a big high-five.

1620 - the Pilgrims set sail from England. This time they were accompanied by their wives, who wisely asked for directions and this time the ship landed in the real America. Unfortunately the Mayflower charged extra for non-carry-on baggage and the Pilgrims had to leave behind their food storage, electric blankets and iPods. This caused much suffering the first winter.

1621 - Having befriended the local Wampanoag Indian tribe, the surviving Pilgrims celebrated with a harvest feast. The Indians brought local delicacies, such as stewed squirrel and corn while the Pilgrims shared things from "across the pond", like smallpox. The Indians introduced the concept of "The Turkey Bowl" where the least-physically-fit tribesmen competed in feats of strength and daring. The 100-meter Big Rock Toss was a favorite of the Wampanoag men. This resulted in many sprained ankles and much complaining. This primitive tradition continues to this day, except that instead of log-tossing and rock-heaving, the "feats" have been exchanged for weekend-warrior football. Meanwhile the women cooked the turkey (known then as "venison").

1784 - Ben Franklin writes a letter to his daughter, declaring the turkey to be more noble than the chosen national bird - the eagle. Various celebrity groups speak out in favor of preserving the turkey and declaring it a protected species. Other celebrities organize a benefits concert to protect the rights of the eagle. Elton John writes a song called "Giblet Wizard". The debate is ended when the Supreme Court declares the turkey "delicious" and the eagle retains its National Bird status.

1934 - With the advancement of women's rights, the ladies begin to wonder why their husbands don't help out in the kitchen, especially with the big holiday dinners. Enlightened men everywhere rose to the challenge and instead of playing football on Thanksgiving day, began to watch it on television. They reasoned that with less sprained ankles to attend to, the women would have less work making the dinner.

1985 - Redneck men attempt to revolutionize Thanksgiving by the invention of Turducken. Instead they just make it worse. Other culinary mistakes include; Stove Top Stuffing-esque Bread Nuggets, no-bake cheesecake and Jell-O with shaved carrots.

2003 - In a misguided attempt to help in the kitchen, men introduce turkey to their other two loves - oil and fire. Countless men burn down their homes in deep-fried turkey fires.

Today - Thanksgiving traditions continue, unimpeded. While men watch football and nurse their sprained ankles and singed eyebrows, women continue the tradition of delicious food and family-togetherness. I hope every one of you ladies has a wonderful holiday. Be sure to hide the matches from your husband.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Do you know...?

...that the Puffs Kleenex tissues are not the ones with lotiony-soft goodness of tissues? Oh, you can get Puffs Ultra, or Puffs Plus, or Puffs with Vicks or Puffs Containing Butterscotch Pudding... but of course your added features cost more. Didn't regular old Puffs used to be the good ones?

So imagine how angry I am that, right as my kids got colds, I stocked up on several boxes of the base-model Puffs For People Who Don't Read Labels Carefully Non-Lotion Tissues. Only to find that they're not the softy-soft tissues for the happy noses of little ones. Or me for that matter!

That is my Nyquil-inspired rant for this evening. You can bet that hubby is picking up premium Kleenex on his way home from work. Happy weekend.

Go Utes!

Tom & Lucy's Art Shoppe

I'm going to check this out today!
What: a boutique filled with local vendors for all your pre-Christmas shopping fun
When: today and tomorrow
Where: here

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Basic Pie Crust

I struggled for years to find a basic pie crust recipe that would work for me. My mother's recipe (while fabulous when she makes it) always ended up tough and rubbery for me. Others were hard to roll out, difficult to work with, or just plain complicated.

I found the perfect recipe while watching (what else?) the Food Network. This is my go-to recipe now and it turns out perfectly every time. The only change I make is to add a little more flour if I'm using my large tart pan. I omit the lemon zest if I'm making a non-fruit pie (like chocolate or pecan). And of course leave out the sugar if you're using the crust for something savory, like meat pie.

For busy holidays like Thanksgiving, I usually make my pie crusts the week before. I wrap them in plastic, store them in the fridge and they're waiting for me when I'm ready to use them.

Happy holidays, etc...


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the menu

Here are a few new recipes I want to try out this Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potato Pie - from the recipe collection of Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl, this is a sweet pie that tastes just like pumpkin pie... but without the watery, goopey texture of store-bought pumpkin pie. Bleh. Only my mom makes good pumpkin pie.

Lemon Curd Pie - not exactly a recipe but an experiment that I've had in the back of my mind for a while. The thing I love about lemon curd is the sourness. Pudding pie is too plain and too sweet and too boring. I plan on stirring a tablespoon of cornstarch into this lemon curd recipe and using it for pie filling.

Creamy Pumpkin Spice Pie - Marie from Make & Takes had this recipe for a scrumptious creamy pumpkin dip. It was especially good with gingersnaps. So my plan is to make the filling a bit thicker (with some gelatin or a pudding mix or... something. It's not planned out yet) and pouring the filling into a crust made with ginger snap cookie crumbs. Oh yeah!

In case you think we just sit around and eat all kinds of pie for T-day (you WISH you were here instead of your mom's house!) here are some other things I mean to try.

Sweet Potato with Pecan Streusel
In case you're not drooling, let's add a picture to this one...
Trust Food Network Pretty-boy Tyler Florence to come up with this. It looks like a winner though. I think I'm going to give it a whirl. Maybe it will make a test-run this week.

Cranberry Apple Wheel - I did test this one at cooking club last week and it was really good. I used cream-cheese frosting to drizzle over the top instead of the powdered sugar glaze.

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce - I don't know about normal kids, but mine will eat their body weight in what Joe calls Can-berries. And last time I read the nutritional info... they're less good-for you and more magically-sugared-up than I suspected. So we're trying the homemade variety this year. I think I'm saving some empty cans to "jell" the sauce so the kids will think it's the same. Bahahaha.

Mmmm, I feel like I'm gaining weight just browsing here. It's all for a good cause though. What are YOUR favorite recipes for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Traditional stuffing

With Thanksgiving coming up, it's time to start breaking out our traditional recipes. This week I'll be sharing some of our family favorites. Starting with this one for Mushroom Stuffing

This is a really traditional stuffing, made with onions, celery and sage. And I even won a contest with Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine with it. It was awesome. I even have a copy of the magazine autographed by Rachael Ray herself (I should find that...) Ouch... I think I pulled something while patting myself on the back. Seriously though, it's really good and we make it every year. And then we make StoveTop Stuffing-esque Seasoned Bread Nuggets for my family-in-law members who aren't into really good food.

You can get the entire recipe here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hoagland pictures

This was such a fun family... but we had terrible luck with the weather. It was cold, threatening to rain and totally clouded over. Still, their little girl was so darling and willing to do just about anything I asked her to. We didn't get very many pictures of the baby because I was just too afraid to have her out for long.

I would so wear these boots if they were my size...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Perfect, easy chili

A few months ago, during the Bounteous Harvest Bottling Season, I made some homemade salsa. After getting one bowl that was much MUCH too hot, I did the rest very mild and figured that I could just chop up another jalapeƱo when I opened the bottle.

There are lots of great, basic salsa recipes, like this one, this one and this one. Read these handy tips if you've never done it before. My husband's family are big salsa makers/eaters so I just asked him what flavors he liked and started adding things (onions, different peppers, garlic) until it tasted good to me. Once I had a big pot I put it in bottles, ran it through the water-bath canner and now I have a shelf full of salsa downstairs.

I like having the salsa because it's a quick and easy snack to set out if we have guests (and if you know us, we always have guests). But the other night I discovered and even better use for it! I wanted to make chili but I didn't have onions and was too lazy to go to the store. I had made up my mind to make boring chili (because boring chili is better than Tuna Noodle Helper for dinner... again). When I went downstairs to get cans of tomatoes I saw the salsa bottles and figured that they contained all of the ingredients I needed for chili. Plus everything was chopped, mixed and measured already! So I dumped in a bottle of homemade salsa and a can of tomato sauce for extra liquid... perfect. It was slightly spicy but not over-the-top with just the right mix of garlic and onion. I'm never using a recipe again.

I need to remember this for next year during tomato season - it's not just salsa, it's chili-base too!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walters pictures

I've done pictures for this family a few times and they just keep getting cuter. Especially little Mylie and her adorable Cindy-Lou-Who pigtails.

Tanner was willing to make a variety of faces... but few of them were smiling ones. His dad was able to get him to laugh but nothing I was doing worked. Tough crowd!

We played around with a pretty sunset too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holiday sale ending!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Holiday card sale! Have you ordered your cards? All you have to do is e-mail your pictures and card choice to me. I'll create a custom card just for you and e-mail a proof for you to approve. Within a few days, your finished cards will be delivered right to your door. No lines, no crowds and best of all, no department-store cookie-cutter cards!

E-mail jerilynphoto {at} gmail {dot} com with any questions, or to place your order today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Perfect sugar cookies

I struggle with rolled sugar cookies. Some recipes flatten out too much, making a crispy blob that looks nothing like what you cut. Some are too hard. Some are bland. After testing dozens of recipes, I've finally found a sugar cookie recipe that turned out perfect for me. The only change I made to the recipe was to add 1 tsp. of Cream of Tartar.

Obviously we made these Halloween cookies a few weeks ago. But the recipe will be perfect for all your fall/winter/weight-gaining holiday purposes.

This is a project that your kids will love to be involved in. And it's great to let them help, especially if you aren't concerned about the quality of the results. So what if you have some non-perfect shapes, some unusual frosting choices and a few extra sprinkles? They love to be involved in the work.

My kids helped me roll the dough and cut the shapes. I find that the toy rolling pins (the ones that come with play kitchens or Play-Dough sets) work the best for little hands.

Then, after Bart had eaten his fill of frosting and was taking a sugar-coma nap, Lisa frosted and sprinkled and decorated to her heart's content (see top picture). After about 2 hours of this she had decorated 4 entire cookies. She takes her decorating very seriously.

Happy holidays... etc


Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh no! A new hobby.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before on this blog, but I'm an editor and designer for a series of craft magazines. One of them is a beading magazine and I'm working on an article about beaded watch bands. This is one of my pieces that I'll probably use for the book... unless someone gets it for Christmas.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holiday Card Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Holiday card giveaway! And remember, even if you didn't win, all orders are 20% off until the 13th. You still have plenty of time to order your cards at the discounted price. Because I design your card personally instead of using an automated system, I can personalize your pictures and holiday greeting to create a one-of-a-kind holiday card that you'll love. Much better than the department store cards. Plus you'll have your cards ready to go long before Thanksgiving - which is one less thing you have to worry about in December! How's that for win-win-win?

On to the giveaway. I had planned on having an actual "drawing", with slips of paper and the Bingo cage and a handsome, shirtless assistant. Turns out Bingo cages are hard to come by and my handsome assistant was shirted up and gone to work. So we had to make do with Plan B,

Our picked-at-random winner is-

AL E. 08

who said "You do such beautiful work! I like the Simply Dotty design best!

My friend said if you wrinkle up your contest entries you are more likely to win.


Well, either the extra-wrinkly comment or the extra entries helped because you're the winner! Send your pictures and your favorite card style to jerilynphoto {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll start working on your card.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Door wreaths

Don't forget the Christmas Card giveaway! It's the last day to enter. Also if you've added the button, or blogged about the contest, don't forget to e-mail to get your extra entries.

I loved the wreath I made for October. The sunflowers were bright and colorful and I really liked these funky jingle-bell spiders that I found at a craft store. The whole thing was just what I like - festive without being Your Average Craft Store Wreath. My friend Becca Jo made me go and fix my card reader so you can now see pictures of my creation.

So now it's time to take it down and hang it in the basement for a year. And I totally don't know what I want to do for November. Suggestions?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Easy weeknight dinner

This is a favorite of my family's - and so easy to make. I got the recipe from a Rachael Ray magazine a few years ago. It's especially good when apples are in season. If you have all the ingredients on hand, you can probably throw down this dinner in under 20 minutes.

Peel and chop 6 apples. Place them in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon. Let it all simmer until the apples cook down.

Butterfly two chicken breasts (handy video if you've never done it before). Whisk together an egg and 1/4 cup milk. Crush up a few handfuls of pretzels. If you have kids who like to help in the kitchen, give them a baggie with 1 cup of pretzels and a rolling pin and let them go nuts. When they get done hitting each other with the rolling pin, take it away and crush the pretzels yourself.

Dip the chicken breasts into the egg mixture, then press into the crushed pretzels. Lay the coated chicken pieces in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Fry until done through and crispy on both sides. Add a dash of pepper if you want (with the pretzels, it's all perfectly salted!) and set aside. Smash up your apples (just a bit, not into smooth sauce) and serve alongside your pretzel chicken.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stewart pictures

I found this park a few weeks ago and have been excited to try it out. So when this cute family wanted a park setting, it was the first place I thought of. The pictures turned out way cute and the family was so fun to work with. Here are a few of my favorites.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Holiday Card Giveaway!

With Halloween over, Christmas decorations are going up everywhere. I can't wait! I love the lights and the songs and the anticipation of giving gifts (I'm not so much a "getter", but I do love to give things). And what better way to get excited about Christmas, than to give away a set of cards?

The lucky winner will get a set of 25 cards (4x6 size) in the design of their choice. Here are a few samples:

Want to win? Here's how:

1. Visit to view all the card designs that are available.
2. Leave a comment on this blog between now and midnight on Thursday, November 6th. Tell us which design is your favorite! Only one comment please, duplicates will be removed.
3. Earn 5 additional entries by adding this button to your blog's sidebar (see instructions below)
4. Earn an extra 5 entries by blogging about this contest! E-mail joesgirljeri {at} gmail {dot} com with a link to your blog to get your extra entries.
5. A winner will be randomly selected from all the entries. Check back Friday to see if you've won. Good luck!

To list this image in your sidebar, simply cut and paste this code into an HTML gadget on your blogger sidebar:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Card giveaway

I'll be giving away a set of Christmas cards next week! Check back and enter to win some!