Nail biters give thanks!

So, over the last few years, I used to bite my nails continuously. It began with anxiety and ended with unseemly fingernails. Something sparked in me in about April. I needed to grow them – I found that nail polish kept me from biting. It pleased me. Now comes October. Thanksgiving. Big dinner. Sides of course include anxiety, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and nervousness galore. However, I’m determined not to let that happen. The turkey is in the fridge, basting itself for tmr. The beans are snipped and cut into bite sized pieces. The cranberry sauce is in the can. The sprouts are pruned. The stuffing too is ready to go. I should be fine right? Wrong! I’m still worrying. About what you ask? I haven’t the faintest idea. But writing does help me relax, so I thought I’d get my favourite thanksgiving recipes down for you in case you’re even more unprepared than moi!


And remember this is thanksgiving dinner – customize it to yourself. I use an abnormal amount of butter, but you can use as little or as much as you like.


Tender turkey


Lol, odd name yes? Being an English teacher, and in the future an educator, I don’t wish to plagiarise. The turkey has been smothered. In what you ask? About 1 cup of butter is melted, infused with a teaspoon each of rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, and oregano. I also added salt and pepper to taste. And now for the most important ingredient. Fresh. Chopped. Garlic. Don’t skip. You’ll have to cook it until it is well done.


Brussels sprouts


I found this recipe a few years back – I’m trying to find the link for you, but I can’t find it at the moment. First, make sure the sprouts are properly trimmed. Take off any questionable looking leaves. Then in a bowl add a tablespoon of baking soda and fill the bowl halfway with water. Add the sprouts and leave for 10 minutes. This should help clean them. Next, slice each one lengthwise in half. You can skip this if your sprouts are unusually small. Next heat a pan and add two tablespoons of butter. Add one cup sliced mushrooms. When it begins to wilt, add the sprouts. Cook till tender. Add one tablespoon of strong, good quality Dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Roasted potatoes


For this, use any small potato. Fingerling which is a newish potato makes a good choice, or mini new or red potatoes are just as yummy. Wash them thoroughly whether you leave the skins on or not. Cut them into pieces or not. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with oil (olive, salad, or regular; your choice). Add salt and pepper to taste, along with your favourite herbs. However, while you can add dry or fresh herbs for the turkey, this one needs only fresh herbs. Add spices if you wish – I’m adding a teaspoon each of chilli and cumin powder. Spread them on a baking sheet and cook on 400F until tender.  I actually have a bottle of sweet pickled onions, not sure if I’ll use it in this yet.


French beans with almonds


Trim the ends of your beans. In a hot pan with butter, sauté one onion and then when softened do the beans. Add salt and pepper. When they’re done (and this is complete up to you – they can be as tender or crunchy as you like), add a handful or two of toasted sliced almonds. Toss and serve. My company doesn’t eat pork, but if you have crumbled bacon that’s even better. And if you crisp the bacon first, you can cook the onions and beans in them.




The main stuffing comes from the Stovetop packs, which is bread stuffing with cranberries. In a separate pan while you make the bread stuffing, cook a cup of chopped livers with salt, pepper and your favourite spices (for this one I’m using chilli, cumin and turmeric powder). Don’t overcook them. When they’re done add it to the bread stuffing, and mix carefully so it combines but not enough that you mush the livers. For this, you can leave out the livers and add whatever you like – for example, you can use pork or chicken or nothing at all.


So those are the recipes I’m making tomorrow. Or at least hoping to – they can be as complicated or simple as you want them to be. Suit them to your tastes. I will add pictures when I have them, but in the meantime, if you’re confused, please ask your questions. Happy Thanksgiving.


Boredom leads to new ideas – UPDATE!

My dear readers, old and new. If you’ve followed the last two posts, I tried something new. I’ve been looking to improve some recipes I’ve found on allrecipes. But my mind wanders easily. I am liable to be bored. Already? I know. I’ve spent the last day or two looking to how I can keep up the blog as well as stay interested myself. So, I have come up with some ideas, but I’m interested in knowing exactly what you think – do you have any ideas as to what I could blog about. While in my other posts I have invited you to comment, I now ask you to comment. If you wish to remain anonymous and not comment publicly, please feel free to email me at . As always with emails, I will get back to you within 48hrs. Thank you humbly.

Cold nights – hot soup!

Hello again! I’m proud of myself! A new post – and so soon! Now, to do away with the excessive exclamation marks. I have a good number of recipes I’ve tried for this endeavour. But with winter coming, and the need of lunch or dinner ideas, I go for the soups that have lots of filling goodness. I’m not such a fan of dairy so the creamy soups don’t appeal to me as much. One of my favourite soups is the hot and sour kind you get at Chinese restaurants. They’re all pretty standard, but they do contain a whole lot of ingredients I haven’t heard of – like tiger lily buds. Again, this recipe comes from . Here is the direct link to it: .  And again, in case you’re too lazy to click, I’m posting the recipe here as well:


  • 1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu, cut into strips
  • 1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoot strips, drained
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, leaves picked from stems
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Place the minced Serrano and chicken broth into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and ginger, simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo strips, simmer for 2 minutes to soften mushrooms.
  2. Stir in the bean sprouts, tamari, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and black pepper; simmer for 1 minute to soften the bean sprouts.
  3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the mirin, and stir into the simmering soup; cook for 30 seconds to thicken. Remove from heat and pour in beaten egg while stirring slowly. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with green onion and cilantro leaves.

Nutritional Information 

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 131 | Total Fat: 4.3g | Cholesterol: 53mg

So the first step for me was to replace the not so easy to find ingredients with easier to find ones. The chilli pepper that is seeded and minced can be replaced with crushed chilli flakes found at any bulk food store or in the spice isle of a supermarket. The chicken broth is pretty easy to find and if you can’t just boil some chicken and use the broth. The shitake mushrooms can easily be replaced with regular white button ones. The tofu can be left out if you don’t like it, or it can be replaced with chicken. I used it since tofu has become part of my regular diet these days. I have no idea what tamari is, so it didn’t go in. Rice vinegar can be replaced with regular vinegar. I also skipped the Japanese sweet wine. The egg absolutely cannot be skipped. You will not get the nice texture or look without it. The bean sprouts can be skipped if you can’t find them. Cornstarch is a good thickener to keep on hand but if you don’t have any, all-purpose flour will work just as well – just double it. Finally, bamboo shoots are quite easy to find in cans these days but I’m not a fan of the taste – I replaced it with sliced roasted/boiled water chestnuts. I also added a cup of cabbage.

And now to talk about some differences. I used about twice the soy sauce. However, I found that when I just put the tofu in the soup it was just kind of there. One of the things I do not only in this recipe but whenever I’m using tofu is to soak it in something before adding it so that it can absorb some of the flavour. For this one, I put it into a bowl with the soy sauce and tossed it gently every few minutes for about 15 minutes. Then, you can put it in together. Also, you’ll need to about double the vinegar – the chilli will depend on your individual taste. Finally boil everything before souring it with the vinegar. Once the vinegar has had time to meld with the soup, and then thicken it. The last thing – if you actually click on the site link there is a very handy tool. You can choose the number of servings. You’ll want to adjust it to how much you want – the soup doesn’t keep very well and tends to lump when you reheat it and the stock separates from the flour. The texture just isn’t the same.

Questions? Comments? Ask away!


October 2011
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