Top Ten Thursday – Things to be thankful for on the day after Thanksgiving

So yesterday was the first Thanksgiving that the Mister and I have ever spent away from family, and it was definitely atypical, but a wonderful sort of atypical. I spent the morning and early afternoon babysitting Thing 1 and Thing 2, cradling Thing 2’s warm baby softness on my hip more than usual because he wasn’t feeling well. Then I came home and cooked my corn bread casserole in a frenzy, hopping up and down to make the oven cook faster (because that totally works) and sending the Mister on a classic whirlwind dash to the grocery store after the first cornbread mix I opened was, umm… shall we say, not alone?

Anyway. OISK.

It turned out wonderfully, coming out of the oven piping hot just in time to wrap it in blankets and carry it across the island (funny how, here, going literally across the country on a daily basis is normal) for our potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner with our island family. I also made spiced holiday cider, which was well-received despite the group’s initial disappointment about its lack of alcohol.

We are always thankful for each other, for friends and family back home and for the blessings that allow us to be independent. However, since this list is a day late, I’m going to assume you know about all those obvious things and instead focus on the things we are thankful for on this day AFTER Thanksgiving.

1. Meera has not thrown up in the house, even though her belly is full of the rubber duckies she sent to their dooms while we were gone yesterday.
2. Our roommates made more food for their island dinner than we did and have graciously offered to share their leftovers.
3. We have a wonderful island family to be able to share important moments with. We are forever thankful for having such a solid foundation here, even when we’re all so far from home.
4. We get the keys to our new apartment tomorrow afternoon!
5. We head back to the United States two weeks from tomorrow!
6. I don’t have to worry about the temptation to venture out on Black Friday and spend a ridiculous amount of money because stores here have never heard of such a thing.
7. The Mister fulfilled his agreement to do well on at least three of his last four exams, so we are celebrating tonight by having dinner at the Marriott and hopefully seeing Catching Fire in theaters for the second time.
8. A beautiful sunshiney day with a good amount of breeze, and the hope that I won’t be covered in a sheen of sweat by the time I’m done packing without air conditioning.
9. The fact that a half-dozen people told me my corn pudding and cider were wonderful last night and asked for my recipe. One of the highest compliments a southern woman can get, and it rarely happens, so I’m reveling in it. 🙂
10. The fact that this blog has spread wider and become more popular than I ever thought it would, thanks to referrals by viewers like you (cue PBS sponsor music). But seriously, thank you for all your support over the last two years, and I look forward to entertaining you long into the future.

[Oh, and in case you want those recipes, here they are below. :)]
Corn bread casserole : I’ve found that cooking on 350 for 45 minutes leaves the inside too gooey, so I would say either leave it in a little longer or cook on 375 instead. Just make sure you can scoop a little out and it’s fairly solid in the middle.

Spiced holiday cider : For those who were at the dinner last night, I used only about a cup of pineapple juice because I ran out, so it’ll probably be a bit more punch-y if you want to use the full amount.

And now, for the Christmas music! Happy holiday season everybody.

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The Cold Bat Solution

I will go ahead and admit that I, like the majority of women, have moments where I can be very hard to live with. I can be irrational, unreasonable and over-dramatic (imagine that, right?)

This past Friday was one of those nights.

Now my resume says I’m an accomplished multitasker, and it’s true. However, recently it only seems to be true at work. When it comes to housework – remembering to get the laundry from the dryer, remembering to take meat out of the freezer in the morning to thaw, forgetting small details in recipes, etc. – that seems to go out the window.

I’ve been trying to expand my cooking repertoire lately, and Friday night, for example, I was excited about marinated, grilled chicken tenders and cheesy broccoli and rice casserole from a recipe I’d found online.

I had worked hard to figure out how to substitute for ingredients I didn’t have and how to time everything so both dishes would be ready at once. I got home from work so excited to cook. I got the casserole in the oven and realized I had forgotten to marinate the chicken overnight.

Not to mention thaw it.

I’m not completely sure why – maybe it was the overwhelming frustration with myself – but this sequence of events somehow caused a downward emotional spiral. That’s when the Mister, dismayed when a hug and comforting words failed to stop my tears, got out his bat.

“This would look really bad if a policeman walked in right now,” he said, as he pinned me down on our bed and waved his old baseball bat over my head.

The metal bat was COLD, and the Mister had somehow gotten it into his head that if he could press it against my stomach I would stop crying. It sort of worked, since I had to stop focusing on the forgotten chicken long enough to fend him off.

In the end, he was successful – both in pressing the cold metal to my skin and in making me laugh – but only after I insisted on crying “because I wanted to” for another ten minutes.

The need just to cry because I want to is just one of those things I suppose the Mister will never really understand. But at least he was able to come up with a way to take my mind off it, even if it was a bit unconventional (and COLD!)

He was also able to think of a way to save dinner, convincing me that the tenders, thrown in the oven covered in cheese sauce, were good. (And I have to admit, I suppose it did turn out alright.)

Husband: 1; PMS: 0

Congratulations.

Do you men out there have any other creative suggestions to stop the waterworks? Do you women have any laugh-at-yourself stories?

Join the conversation! Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page, or tweet to @chesnuthouse.

That’s a lot of beans…

“I don’t want you to think I don’t love it, because I do. It’s just that it’s a lot of beans and my stomach starts to ask ‘What were you smoking?’”
This is what I heard behind me as I defrosted leftover taco bean soup for dinner last night. I almost died laughing.
The mister does a very good job eating my cooking, which I have to gloat isn’t half bad. I’ve become a much more comfortable cook since I got married and someone besides me started to rely on my ramen-heating skills.
I’ve even gotten to the point that I don’t measure everything! (I just heard my mother and my college roommates faint in shock.) But it’s true. I still measure major ingredients, but a lot of spices and other smaller components just get dumped into the pot in what I feel are appropriate amounts. I even alter recipes to suit our tastes. (Breathe, Mom. Just breathe.)
However, even the greatest of cooks can’t make what her family enjoys if the eaters take everything without comment and refuse to say, “Hey honey, maybe you shouldn’t make that anymore.”
Hence, the chicken pot pie discussion.
I love chicken pot pie. I have loved it as far back as I can remember and was so pleased when I learned to make it for the mister a while back. But something just didn’t seem right. There wasn’t the usual chorus of “this is really good honey!”
After being assured several times that the meal was “just fine,” I let the subject drop. But days later, at my parents’ house, the real truth finally came out.
“I don’t like things that trap in the vegetables and make me eat them with everything else.” Ok… so this would include pot pie. And almost all casseroles. And soups. And chili…
The exact conversation has been lost in time, but I remember both my parents rolling on the floor in fits of giggles as I listed things that, by the “trapped vegetables” definition, I could no longer cook, and the mister desperately tried to back-track to safer ground.
I believe the ending point of the discussion was that, if the vegetables cannot be separated from the meal at the eater’s desire, it is a less-desirable (but, I am assured, still wonderful) dish. So in other words, foods should not touch. Ever. Except in cases where it would upset me for the mister to point out the error.
And, apparently, in the case of Shepherd’s Pie, which has a whole bag of vegetables inseparable from the beef and potatoes and should therefore fall into the previous rule, yet somehow gets inhaled from plate to stomach. (I’m been told as I type that layers count as separate pieces.[??])
So I have come to the conclusion that the mister really doesn’t know what he wants, and as long as I make his favorite things now and again, the vegetable-separation rule can be ignored without much complaint.
But I don’t make chicken pot pie anymore, because Heaven forbid anything green be trapped beneath a flaky crust.