Thursday, November 27, 2014

Not a good day to be my pants. - Kevin James

Here is a brief history of the holiday you may wish to share with your loved ones:



In the winter of 1620-1621, a group of immigrants in Massachusetts experienced a devastating winter. The weather was fierce. Food was scarce. Many died. At last spring came, then summer, and by the time of the autumn harvest things were looking about as rosy as they ever look in Massachusetts.

At a fundraising dinner that fall, Governor Bradford stood up and gave a speech:

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God this harvest gives us a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to the Committee to Re-Elect the Governor, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

The ensuing winter didn't turn out too badly, so the superstitious immigrants concluded that Governor Bradford's magic spell of "Thanksgiving" had done the trick.

The holiday was intermittently celebrated for years, with an enthusiasm scaled to the previous winter's weather, until November 26, 1789, when President Washington issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide day of thanksgiving for the establishment of the Constitution.

Washington's proclamation wasn't much different from Bradford's.

"Thank God we survived last winter," he said. "Thank God we've got a fighting chance to survive the coming winter. Thank God we've got our own damn country now and don't have to put up with a bunch of meddling European bastards. And thank you for your support in the last election, please make checks payable to Federalists for Washington, God bless America, amen. Let's eat."

Washington, the Constitution, and many of the immigrants (who were now Americans) survived the winter, so this new spell was also deemed effective.



President Lincoln later proclaimed the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day in 1863 (although he did not survive to see the next Thanksgiving),



but President Roosevelt moved it back to the fourth Thursday of the month in 1939 to extend the time available for holiday shopping.



President Ford proposed making it the third Wednesday in September, in order to really extend the time available for holiday shopping, but he only made the proposal to his golden retriever, Liberty, so the suggestion never reached congress.

And so we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year, in honor of having survived last winter, having got rid of those meddling European bastards, having invented our own rules and having plenty of time to shop before the holidays.



I know it sounds trite but please, take a moment to remember all of the people around our country who are homeless and out in the cold this evening.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Help is on the way

We'll be starting the Seventh(?) Annual Holiday Countdown spectacular within the next few days, but let's deal with the matter at hand - Thanksgiving Dinner:



(If you are of a certain age and lived in the NYC area, this is what was playing on WPIX in the afternoon after the parade ended.)

Sorry I'm not with you this Thanksgiving.  If you can't reach me by phone, here are the recipes you're probably looking for (I actually can promise you, if you start shopping today - Wednesday afternoon - with these recipes in hand - you can get this entire meal on the table by late Thursday that all your family will be very impressed with):


Shrimp Dip


Appetizers:
Carrots/ Celery Sticks
Pre-cubed Cheese from local deli
Olives



Turkey w/ Stuffing

Homemade Cranberry Sauce


Potatoes
version 1 or
version 2


Vegetables:
Ginger Carrots
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Green Beans

Fennel Salad


Dessert
Apple Crisp
Brownies
Vanilla Ice Cream
Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Coffee/ Tea

(Make your guest bring beverages/ wine/ beer etc.)

Have a great Thanksgiving and hopefully you've remembered to check your guns at the door!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Deep breaths - it's just Thanksgiving.

Since Thanksgiving is mostly about ritual and tradition, repeat my posting about my family's traditional holiday dip. This is literally a blast from the 60s but then again, so am I.

Rather than congratulate me on preserving recipes for my daughters - my mother continues to look for errors in the recipes. So with much trepidation, I give you her recipe for Shrimp Dip (mom if you're reading this, I'm sure I got something wrong). For the rest of you, it's perfect and perhaps you have a slight clue as to the high alcohol content of my recipes.


Ingredients

1 - 10 oz. can condensed tomato soup (you know that kind - Andy Warhol painted it and until they pay me, I'm not mentioning the brand name.)
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 - 8 oz. jar of mayonnaise
1 package of Knox Gelatin (I mentioned the brand name, sue me, I don't know any other gelatin company.)
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
3 - 5 ounces cans of medium shrimp*
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


Tools

* Sharp utility knife
* Dinner size folk (not the salad folk)
* Cutting board
* Small saucepan
* Medium sized mixing bowl
* Can opener
* Medium sized sieve
* 1.5 quart Tupperware bowl (with bumpable lid)**
* 1 large wooden spoon
* Several shots of the best vodka you have (in your freezer)
* 1 Beach Boys CD (preferably Pet Sounds)

Directions

Turn on the CD. It had better be Pet Sounds.



Don't argue with me - If Sgt Pepper didn't exist, this would have been the greatest album ever made. Brian Wilson went crazy because of it. A character in Doonesbury died while listening to it - I'll come to your house and hurt you.

Cut your onion and celery into small dice like pieces. I usually don't care about these sort of things but since you aren't going to cook them, cut them fairly evenly and small (those of you suffering from OCD - 6/16 squares.) Take you're first shot of vodka. Put the onions and celery aside. Contemplate the obsessive nature of musical geniuses (think about how many different drugs Brian must have been doing at the time to name an album Pet Sounds.)

Add the cream cheese, mayo, onions and celery into the bowl and mix thoroughly. (Take a shot or not - your choice.) Heat the soup in small saucepan over a medium flame until just simmering and take off flame. Add the Worcestershire and the gelatin package into the heated soup and stir vigorously (to avoid clumping.) This is called 'blooming the gelatin'. Stir for about five minutes. Let 100 flowers bloom (my mother proof read this and specifically wanted me to mention that she is not encouraging the advancement of Communism by the making of her shrimp dip.

Duly noted.)

Add the tomato soup into the cream cheese mixture and combine thoroughly. Congratulate yourself that you've come this far with the recipe and have another shot. Open the cans of shrimp and drain and briefly rinse shrimp. Add to the cheese mixture and fold shrimp in until just combined, trying not to mash the shrimps up (if you do - so what, your mother isn't going to yell at you.) You should be up to the really sad part of the CD - try not to cry into the bowl. If you can't stop crying - cut your alcohol intake immediately.

Transfer to Tupperware bowl. Smooth the top and seal. Remember to 'burp' the bowl. Giggle to yourself - it's ok, you burped the bowl. Refrigerate several hours (overnight is preferable.)

To serve, remove from refrigerator and warm outside of bowl to loosen dip from side and turn out onto a serving plate. Serve with crackers (My mother prefers Ritz crackers - I like Carr's, it's your choice, she's not your mother.)

* 3 cans of the medium size shrimp equal about a pound of cooked shrimp. If you can't bring yourself to use canned shrimp - by all means use cooked shrimp. You'll need to chop the shrimp into small pieces (maybe even squirt them with a slice of lemon - again, your mother isn't looking over your shoulder.)

** You can use whatever resealable container you'd like, Tupperware didn't pay me a dime.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Things that make you go hmmmm.

November 17, 1871 -
George Wood Wingate and William Conant Church established the National Rifle Association in New York on this date.

Today, the group has more than 4.3 million members (as of October 2014.)

To put that into a little perspective:

Nine million college students are members of a Greek organization

More than five million American are members of NORML

More than five million laborers are members of AFL-CIO

More than seven million people are members of Planned Parenthood

The American Sheep Industry has a membership of more than five million members

MoveOn.org has a membership list of more than eight million people

(Ask yourself if any of your representatives live in fear of being on the wrong side of these organizations?)

Monday, November 3, 2014

The whole world can wake up and live again.

November 3, 1954 -


Gojira premiered in Japan on this date 60 years ago (Godzilla debuted in America on April 26, 1956) :



With the ashes of World War II only recently cooled, Japan is plagued by a sudden wave of maritime disasters: Without warning, ships are exploding into flame and sinking beneath the waves. The few survivors are able to shed little light on the situation, as they quickly die from radiation and strange burns. (Hmmm, sound familiar) A group of investigators, including prominent paleontologist Dr. Yamane are sent to Odo Island to investigate. The natives warn that the ships are being destroyed by Gojira (Godzilla), a legendary monster. These claims are verified when a gigantic, dinosaur-like creature comes ashore and demolishes the native village. Dr. Yamane concludes that Godzilla is a prehistoric creature that has been awakened and mutated by atomic bomb tests. It's just the same conclusion you'd come to having just seen the ruins of a Japanese fishing village.



The military decides to use depth charges on the monster. However, the attack is unsuccessful, and Godzilla follows the ships back to Tokyo Bay. (Again, probably just what you would do - annoy a giant radioactive monster.) Coming ashore at night, Godzilla razes Tokyo. The destruction left in his wake is comparable to an atomic bomb. Military firepower proves useless against the monster. It is feared that Godzilla will continue to lay waste to the cities of Japan, and perhaps the entire world.

It is up to Emiko Yamane (Dr. Yamane’s daughter) to convince her former fiancé, Dr. Serizawa, to use his Oxygen Destroyer against Godzilla. Serizawa is skeptical; he fears that this terrible device might be more dangerous than the monster. However, he finally decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of Godzilla.



So here in a nutshell, you have the greatest fever dream movie and a warning about nuclear proliferation.

(We take Godzilla very seriously in our home.)