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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm not cooking for Thanksgiving (and my family is thankful)

turkey photo: Turkey turkey_zps424f649d.jpgI'm not cooking this Thanksgiving. The truth is I've never cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I feel kind of guilty admitting that.

I'm not a total slacker. I have brought side dishes to share on Thanksgiving -- I'm pretty good at Jello pretzel salad and green bean casserole. But I've never cooked a turkey. Never even bought a turkey. I have no secret family recipes that I slave over. Mike's grandmother once gave me her recipe for sausage stuffing and swore me to secrecy over its contents, but I don't think "Brown the sausage, mix it with Stove Top" is really mum-worthy.

This year we are celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with Mike's dad. He is taking care of all the food (and by "taking care" I mean "ordering and picking up from the country club") I feel guilty. If I were a good daughter-in-law, I probably would have offered to cook. Although, given my culinary history, perhaps not cooking is really more of a gift.

Having said that, next year, I am making Thanksgiving dinner. All of it. Well, most of it. At least the turkey. And the cranberries with orange zest. In fact, the menu for Turkey Day 2014 that is rolling around in my head is already making my mouth water:
  • Turkey (duh) -- and I even know to take out those yucky inside parts
  • The afore mentioned cranberries with orange zest
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy (which might come from a jar. I don't think I can handle scratch gravy the first year)
  • Green bean casserole (the Durkee French Fried Onions recipe, no fancified version)
  • Mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top - Charlie's favorite
  • King's Hawaiian Rolls
  • Honeyed carrots (after I ask my friend Jane how to make them again)
  • Fall fruit salad (another Jane creation that involves apples, pears, raisins, honey and ginger)
  • Roasted root vegetable stew -- This one I might have to buy. I tasted it from Killer Tofu at the Edible Indy launch party 10 days ago and I'm still thinking about how good it was. Amazingly, it had beets in it and I loved it.
  • Some lentil-pea-pebble crockpot something or other that I don't remember what it's called from U-Relish Farms, but that I tried at Edible Indy and is another one I'm still thinking about.
  • Pumpkin pie (Robbie's favorite)
  • Chocolate chip pecan pie. Not sure where that came from, but it just popped into my head and it sounds SO good, doesn't it?
Wow. Writing all that down makes the prospect of having pizza for dinner tonight so, so very sad. Sigh. Anyway, I have one year to learn how to cook all this stuff and my family has one year to secure an invitation to dinner elsewhere.

Are you cooking for Thanksgiving? What's on the menu?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This is not your mother's Happy Meal. #giveaway

When I was a kid, going to McDonald's was a special treat, not a regular occurrence. On the rare occasions that we did go to the Golden Arches, we were never allowed to order a Happy Meal.

"It's cheaper to just get a hamburger and fries," my mom would say. "You don't need a crappy toy and we have pop at home."

Let me tell you, friends, today's Happy Meals are NOT your mother's (or your childhood's) kids meals. (Can you say kid-size fries and apple slices?) In fact, right now McDonald's Happy Meals will not come with a crappy toy. Instead, children will receive one of four different original books featuring characters from McD's latest advertising campaigns that encourage kids to eat right and exercise.

(Have you seen the commercial with the goat? I'm lovin' it!)

 photo mcd-happy-meal-books-usa-november-2013-goat-ant-doddi-deana_zps42915e48.jpg

The 4 books that are offered as part of the series are:
  • "The Goat Who Ate Everything"
  • "Deana's Big Dreams"
  • "Ant, Can't"
  • "Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando"
In conjunction with what I'll refer to as the Happy McBooks offer, McDonald's of Central Indiana is leading a "Give a Book, Get a Book" campaign. When you donate a new or gently used children's book at one of these locations, you will get a "Be Our Guest" card for a free Happy Meal. The donated books will be distributed to the Ronald McDonald House at Riley Children's Hospital, Indy Reads bookstore, School on Wheels and other organizations in need of children's books.

And now, for the McGiveaway!

Because I agreed to work with Indy With Kids and McDonald's of Central Indiana, I have the opportunity to host (again, my words) a Happy McBooks McGiveaway.

One lucky winner will receive a week of 5 happy meal coupons (good at Central Indiana McD's), a $10 Amazon gift card and a copy of a Happy Meal Book. If you don't live in Central Indiana, go ahead and enter. It's worth it for the Amazon gift card alone.

To enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For my participation in this campaign, Indy with Kids and McDonald's of Central Indiana have given me Happy Meal coupons and a Target gift card. Opinions about crappy toys and awesome goat commercials are all mine.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Answering the call, 14yo boy style

 photo priest_collar_zps2513bfe2.jpgIt's not a secret that I have had a long-held belief that Charlie, my now 14-year-old, would make a good priest. Everyone who knows this and who also knows Charlie believes there is no hope that this might happen. But as his mother, I still gently offer the idea from time to time.

Today Charlie had a friend over to work on a school project. When they were finished, the boys tossed the football for a while and played video games. I invited the friend to stay for dinner, then after he accepted sprang it on him that we were having breakfast for dinner. (C'mon, who doesn't love eggs, sausage links and English muffins on a chilly, dark evening?)

At one point during dinner, I looked over and saw Charlie shoving an entire sausage link in his mouth.

"Charlie," I said, half joking, " you're gonna have to be a priest because no girl is going to want to marry you with those terrible table manners."

Therran (the friend) laughed a bit and I said, "Don't you think Charlie would make a good priest? I mean think about it, 'Fr. Charlie.'"

Now I had Therran between a rock and a hard place. He didn't want to pigeon-hole his friend into the priesthood, even hypothetically, but he didn't want to disagree with an adult either. So after I let him squirm for a minute, I said "Maybe you could be a priest, too. Fr. Charlie and Fr. Therran. You guys could be coolest priests around."

They both began a bit of a protest so I lightened up.

"What I really want for you guys -- for all you boys -- is that you will just be open to hearing God's call in your life wherever that might take you. Whether that's being a priest or getting married or..."

Charlie interrupted and said, "Right now I hear God calling us to the basement to play video games." With that Charlie jumped up, Therran following him, and called "I'm coming Lord!"

I'm not worried. That story will make a great homily some day.