Tag Archives: NaBloPoMo

Come Walk With Me in November

COME WITH ME on a two mile walk on the Greenway – and on a short cut back home.

CIMG1082
Entrance to Greenway
CIMG1083

WE GREET SEVERAL WALKERS, although it’s early for the late afternoon walkers. Everyone we pass waves and smiles, and some stop to chat briefly – such is the way in the South. We meet so many interesting folks this way.

CIMG1084
CIMG1098
CIMG1086

CIMG1089

THE LEAVES RUSTLE like twisting saran wrap and we leave the path to walk among them. My husband says it reminds him of childhood memories of Rice Krispies – snap, crackle, pop.

CIMG1092

WE PASS SEVERAL PEOPLE on bicycles. We decide to bring our bicycles next time for a real workout.

CIMG1094

WE EXIT THE GREENWAY to our shortcut street back home (This leg of the greenway continues on for 15 miles.)

CIMG1106

WE MEET A COLLEGE STUDENT walking her new puppy. The dog’s name is Tansy and is a rescue dog from one of the Native American reservations out West. I remember reading about the great need to adopt dogs since the economy has been struggling. Many families in America and Europe have been forced to give up their pet animals (dogs, and even horses) because they could no longer afford to feed them.

WE NOTE THAT THE COLOR OF THE DOG’S FUR appears to match exactly the beautiful red hair of his mistress. We comment about it and she laughs – “I know,” she says. (Sorry, she didn’t want her picture taken.)

CIMG1109
CIMG1111

AS WE APPROACH THESE TREES, they remind me of candles lit from within and burning bright – or multi-color pom poms at a football game. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but I call them candle trees when we see them on our walk.

CIMG1118

A LONELY SCARECROW left over from Halloween keeps vigil over his family’s house.

CIMG1124
Almost back home.
CIMG1125

HOME AGAIN, I work on menus for Thanksgiving – as I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread and hot tea.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

WHAT COULD BE A BETTER TIME-OUT THAN A WALK? DO YOU AGREE?

Remember Veterans Day All Year!

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the unveiling of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Park in Mint Hill, NC- was an impressive occasion. Honest emotion was freely shown on the faces of the Korean vets in attendance as some of their stories were shared, and gratitude expressed by the General Consul of South Korea. The memorial honors all North Carolina veterans of the war called the forgotten war.
CIMG1149
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!
CIMG1159
WE SALUTE ALL OF OUR VETERANS on this special day set aside to recognize their service to our country.
CIMG1154
CIMG1165
CIMG1151
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE to protect our freedoms to choose and to live our lives.
My prayer is that we will remember our veterans all during the year and their needs for support as they return to civilian life.
CIMG1146
No longer forgotten. We also will never forget the service and sacrifice of those we lost in wars past.
WILL IT NEVER END?
CIMG1143

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Christmas Morning Bread

BAKING THIS SWEET BREAD with Fruit and nuts for Christmas morning breakfast has been a holiday tradition in our family for several years. I make several batches weeks ahead and freeze – pulling from the freezer on Christmas Eve to thaw, and re-heating for a few minutes in the oven. NaBloPoMo Day 11.

CIMG0732

I BAKE THE LOAVES IN MINI LOAF PANS, as that gives flexibility to pull out just the amount I need from the freezer. Christmas Morning Bread is delicious served with a dish of fresh fruit in a beautiful glass bowl, yogurt, juice and coffee. This is a satisfying and quick early morning repast until after Christmas gifts are opened. Then it’s time to prepare a BIG Christmas brunch.

THE CHRISTMAS MORNING BREAD is also a delicious way to share one of our family traditions with neighbors and friends. I wrap the loaf in saran wrap with a colorful bow, and deliver it a day or two before Christmas in a small basket or tin. I attach a note wishing them Happy Holidays, mentioning that we serve this sweet bread on Christmas morning.

ALSO – I HAVE USED THIS RECIPE TO MAKE CUPCAKES and frost with a cream cheese icing to create small gifts to give during the holidays. For example, a hot cupcake and a cup of cocoa to the mailman on a cold December day when he arrives with our mail in his mail truck. I have been asked for this recipe many times. So, here it is – one of our family traditions for you to experiment with and improve with your own ideas.

Christmas Morning Bread

2 boxes nut bread or cranberry quick bread mix (I use Pillsbury)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped in small pieces
zest of 1/2 of an orange
orange peel from 1 orange (cut in long narrow strips – cut away the white part)
3/4 cup mixture of any 3 of these fruits: fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, drained crushed pineapple, drained and chopped mandarin oranges, blackberries. Select for a variety in color and taste.
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or cardamom

Coat fruit and nuts with small amount of dry nut bread mix, so they will not tend to float to the top in baking. Combine gently but well, using large spoon the bread mixes, beaten eggs, yogurt, water, orange juice and spice. Fold in fruit, nuts and zest. Don’t beat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes in loaf pans. Reduce time if made as mini loaf pans or cupcakes. Test for done with tester.

While breads are baking, simmer orange peel strips in saucepan with 1 round Tablespoon sugar till orange est is transparent and tender. Cool on wax paper.

Mix powdered sugar, orange juice and butter. When fruit breads are partially cool, drizzle icing on loaves, sprinkle with chopped pecans. When serving, arrange candied orange peel on top to decorate.

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD TRADITION on Christmas morning?
Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Oatmeal Cookies with Cognac Infused Cranraisins

NaBloPoMo Day 9. TODAY, THE UPS DELIVERED A BIG BOX of pecans, fresh from the pecan orchard harvest in Georgia (sunnylandfarms.com). I buy pecans (and walnuts) in bulk, when they are harvested in October and early November, and at their peak of freshness. The nuts keep their freshness best in the refrigerator or freezer. The small bags of nuts in the grocery grow stale in their little bags – and there is no comparison to the taste of those nuts and freshly harvested nuts. I freeze the pecans in small bags, so I can remove just the amount I need.
CIMG1077
CIMG1078

THE PECANS ARE HERE, so I decide to put on my baking apron. I typically plan several baking days in November to make cookies, muffins, fruit pies and cake layers (to be assembled later), to add to the freezer – so I have a lot of different sweet treats for the holidays – ready to go.

MY THOUGHTS DRIFT TO my Aunt Shirley and her oatmeal cookies. Aunt Shirley was married to my mother’s brother Steve. When I think of her during the years I was growing up, I think about her in the kitchen with a smile and a song. When she came to visit, it wouldn’t be long before she was in our kitchen cooking up something. She loved her home and her kitchen – and was the only person I ever knew who truly enjoyed washing dishes. “I just love to see them shine and my kitchen put back in order”, she would say. She would wash dishes and sing along with the radio. She also was the only person I knew who loved country music- (we had big band and popular music on at our house most of the time).

I HAVE VARIED the oatmeal cookie recipe many times, such as adding peanut butter or butterscotch chips. I like to make them, as it goes so fast, dropping them from a spoon to the baking pan – no rolling or cutting. I decided to create something different today. I view cooking as a creative process and more enjoyable if I have fun with it.

I PULL OUT THE OLD RECIPE for oatmeal cookies that my dear Aunt Shirley made so many times. This recipe comes from her cookbook, The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given, J.Perguwson and Associates, 1942. Her cookbook easily falls open to page 412 with the oatmeal cookie recipe. I decide to punch up the recipe with a little cognac, brown sugar and cranraisons.

Oatmeal Drop Cookies with Cognac Infused Cranraisins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cups rolled oats
3 Tablespoons milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup cranraisons
Cognac to cover cranraisins

PLACE CRANRAISONS in a glass cup, add cognac to cover, microwave for 1 minute – then set aside. Cranraisins will be plump and juicy with cognac flavor.

SIFT FLOUR, measure and sift again with salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Cream butter with sugar. Add slightly beaten egg. Mix well until smooth and light. Add oats. Add milk and flour gradually, stirring after each addition. Add nuts and now plump cognac cranraisins and mix well.

DROP COOKIE DOUGH from a teaspoon onto a buttered baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just starting to brown.
CIMG1076
THANK YOU AUNT SHIRLEY for your cookies, the memories and your love for the children of our family.
CIMG1079
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE COOKIE MEMORIES?

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Pumpkin Bread

CIMG0756I LOVE CHOCOLATE! I really do love chocolate!

ONE CHRISTMAS several years ago, my Mother altered her annual pumpkin bread recipe by adding chocolate chips. I loved it!..

LAST YEAR, as I was preparing to make pumpkin bread for the holidays, I remembered her chocolate chips recipe. I decided to amp it up a few notches more by adding cocoa and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. I am making it again this year, as it was a big hit – (although I likely gained some weight eating too many pieces).

MY BROTHER MILT frequently brings Godiva chocolates when he arrives for Christmas. It is well known in the Marquis family that chocolate is a favorite of so many of us. I developed this recipe using Godiva Chocolate Liquor for extra flavor for all the chocolate lovers – and of course named it for Milt.

YOU CAN ADAPT A FAVORITE PUMPKIN BREAD RECIPE or use a box mix, jazzing it up with various rich and spicy and chocolate flavors for the holidays – I added pumpkin puree and an additional egg as well. In this recipe, I used World Classics Pumpkin Spice Muffin and Bread Mix I purchased from Trader Joe’s. My recipe can be doubled and it freezes well. I typically make it in mini loaf pans and freeze them, so I can pull one or more out as I wish based on the number of guests present.

THIS IS GREAT IN THE MORNING WITH COFFEE or in the evening after dinner.

Milt’s Pumpkin Bread with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur/strong>

1 box pumpkin bread mix (I used World Classics Pumpkin Spice Muffin and Bread Mix.
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/8 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (can use dark)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped in small pieces
1/4 cup pecans, ground to tiny pieces

Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Hershey Cocoa
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 tsp Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

PREHEAT OVEN to 350 degree. Beat eggs well and add pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, Godiva Liqueur and water.

MIX WELL BUT DO NOT BEAT. Fold in chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Pour into a regular sized loaf pan or three mini loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or 30-40 minutes for mini pans. Check with cake tester and remove when done. Do not overbake so bread is moist.

WHILE LOAF IS COOLING, mix powdered sugar, cocoa, butter, Godiva liquor and vanilla for glaze. Blend and spread on warm loaves. Sprinkle ground pecans on top whil glaze is still soft and press down gently to settle nuts in glaze. Sprinkle on a few chopped nuts.

TO SERVE, sprinkle cocoa around the outside edges of a pretty plate and place a slice of the pumpkin bread in the middle. Serve with a dish of cold peaches with vanilla whipped cream and coffee (or a small nip of Godiva Chocolate Liquor for the real chocoholics).

Hope this works out for you if you try it.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Fall in the City of Trees, Crockpot Roast, Limoncello Cupcakes and a Dog Named Casey

I am continuing daily blogs in November toward the goal of sharing some of the recipes and traditions in our family for 100 years during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I welcome your sharing of traditions and comments about the blog topic.  

Today was a semi-cloudy election day in Charlotte, NC.  We will have a new mayor tomorrow.  The trees are  nearing peak here.  So spectacular that we saw Fall colors come alive in the mountains and then come home to the city and see Fall come again…. Awesome!

Image

THIS SCENE IS NEAR MY HOME in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on the path of our two mile walk we travel several times a week. Most of our walking is on the greenway, but we take this shortcut through a nearby street to our house.  My parents lived in an apartment near here when they sold their Indiana home and moved to be closer to family.  Each time I walk it, in my mind’s eye I see Dad, walking his dog Casey down this street. I put my thoughts about them into a poem.

CASEY
You came into his life when his need for you was great –
at mandatory retirement age, he couldn’t envision
life without work at the electric power plant.
You arrived in a box just after his 70th birthday,
a tail-wagging, face-licking snauser –
and he named you Casey.

Your demands were few – Alpo, TLC and exercise,
he gave you plenty of each and
you gave him reason to look forward to the day.
Your daily walks kept him in shape.
You slept on his shoes while he played solitaire,
then wrestled on the floor, followed by
an afternoon nap with you tucked under his arm.
When bath time rolled around
you hit the showers together.
You stood patiently in the shower stall
after your bath, waiting for him to shower.

He loved music, and you learned to sing with him
pointing your nose in the air and howling along
as he sang your favorite song, “Home on the Range”.
You rode in the Lincoln on his daily errands
even sleeping in the car while he attended
Presbyterian church with Ina.
He slipped food to you under the table, although
as a young father his children were forbidden
from feeding pets at the dinner table.

Your master entered his 8th decade of life –
you grew old in dog years and slept
at his feet for the last time –
while his memories dimmed with dementia.
He missed the faithful companion
who had enriched his life –
– as long as he could remember you.

Heref=”https://womenlivinglifeafter50.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/cimg0711.jpg”>Image

This is one corner of our back yard, as seen from the back of our house.  Charlotte is known as the city of trees and we have our share t enjoy.

It is now November and I am engaged in planning our calendar for the coming holidays.   I am also getting out some of the decorations for Thanksgiving month.  I will show those tomorrow.  Another busy day.  We had crock pot roast, cooked slowly with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and some white wine I had on hand.   I make some lemon cupcakes with limoncello icing for dessert.   This time I just used a box cake, and added lemon juice and yogurt to the mix of other ingredients for the cupcakes – and the touches of icing is just limoncello, confectioners sugar and some powdered lemonade mix (crystal lite) for tartness.

CIMG0716

MY HOLIDAY PLANNING IS UNDERWAY. HOW IS YOURS COMING?
Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

The Holidays are Coming and It’s TIme to Get Organized

I’M IN! I have signed on to the challenge of NaBloPoMo month to write a post each day in November. I am starting a cookbook project this month, tentatively titled: 100 Years of Christmas Recipes and Traditions in the Marquis Family. I have recipes for five generations in my family, and will be sharing some in posts, along with the stories and traditions that have been passed down. I will, of course, be including some of my thoughts and ideas as well. These posts will necessarily be first drafts of course, to be edited later. As a new blogger, I appreciate your encouragement and comments in my journey and welcome your joining the conversation as the holidays approach, to share your traditions on the daily topics. I expect to learn much about my family, blogging and writing (and hopefully some of your traditions as well) during this engaging November exercise in creativity.

IN MY FAMILY, we don’t think about Christmas as just one day. We begin to plan for the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas no later than November 1st – so our planning covers activities for the period from November 1st – January 1st. There is a lot of excitement in the air- and early November is the time to get organized! I don’t want to ever be so rigidly organized that I can’t live a spontaneous life. And there are days when I set aside all plans to participate in something unexpected or maybe just have a do-nothing day because that is what I want to do. The holidays with all the expectations and hoopla can be very stressful, leaving us to feel pushed and pulled in all directions.

BUT, HAVING SOME DEGREE OF ORGANIZATION, assures me that I will finish the goals I set out for myself. Pre-planning also lets me decide what I choose to do, and eliminate what I do not want to do – ahead of time.

THERE ARE TWO GUIDING PRINCIPLES that have served me well over the years as a busy working mom and professional woman.

1. I read a quote somewhere that I keep posted over my desk.(It used to reside on my refrigerator.) “I can accomplish more in one day than most people can in one week, because I am organized.” I have seen some of the lists my grandmother Marquis made. She was a mother of six and bookeeper for the family business. My mother made to-do lists – and my sister does too. Technology has greatly aided our ability to plan. I use apps to make lists and to keep a calendar. I do use a paper calendar for Christmas pre-planning.

2. Many years ago, when I had accepted my first administrative position, I read in one of the organizational guru’s books that successful executives had one thing in common: they decided at the end of a working day what they would tackle the next day of work. When they cam to work the next day, no time was lost in deciding what to do – she just started at the top of the list for the day. I have continued this practice for many years and look forward to quiet time at the end of the day to decide what I will do the next day.

SO, LET’S BEGIN our organizing for the Christmas season. In a very busy holiday season, things run so much more smoothly with investing time in pre-planning. Then we can enjoy the festivities with much less stress. The first thing to do is to organize my calendar.

CALENDAR:
I USE A LARGE CALENDAR, with space for writing notes in each cell, and enter the following information:

1.- SOCIAL EVENTS we will be attending (e.g., Nutcracker, Christmas symphony concert, plays) and social invitations we accept from family and friends, as they come in.

2.- ENTERTAINING we want to plan for at home during the holidays (e.g., tree trimming party, dinners, receptions)

3.- THE DATES SPECIFIC GUESTS will be visiting overnight (with names and number).

GIFT LIST
I USE AN APP ON MY iPHONE to make a list of each person that I will be buying a gift for this season. The phone is always with me, so I can add ideas as they occur to me, or check my list if I am out shopping, and I see the perfect gift. When I purchase it, I add the amount paid, so I can see what is complete and what is left to buy.

MENUS FOR SPECIAL DAYS
1.- I PLAN THE MENUS for each entertaining event, as well as for the days guests will be staying in our home during November and December. Thanksgiving and Christmas eves and days, I plan menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening snacks – as well as the days we will have overnight guests. The menus are typed for each date. If I am preparing a special recipe, I add the cookbook and page number for easy reference. Having the menus posted in the kitchen lets guest know when meals will be on the table so they can plan their day, and you can easily assign willing guests to assist in preparing selected foods.

2.- I MAKE WEEKLY SHOPPING LISTS from the menus. It takes a couple of hours to plan all the menus and weekly shopping lists, but investing time early is SOOOO worth it. I no longer have to struggle about what to cook or what to buy at the grocery. The planning is done.

BAKING
I PLAN SEVERAL BAKING DAYS to prepare foods I can make ahead and store in freezer for the holidays (e.g., variety of cookies, holiday breads like pumpkin breads, Christmas eve bread, basics for pumpkin soup A and other entrees that can be made ahead and frozen). If unexpected guests arrive, I always have something to pull out on short notice. I love baking days! I put on some Christmas music and cook and bake and sing to my heart’s content. This is a special time to be creative – maybe prepare some new and unusual foods, as well as old-time favorites the family will be looking forward to savoring once again.

WHEN THIS PRE-PLANNING IS COMPLETE, I am ready to enjoy the remainder of the holidays. The many free spaces on the calendar give me multiple choices for when I want to shop, put up the tree, decorate the house, write the Christmas cards, visit the frail family members, go caroling and so on. Based on the plans already on the calendar, it is easy to look over and decide when there is time, and desire, to add something that comes along that looks like fun. Trust me on this. Hanging in there to complete pre-planning is really worth it! Now we can enjoy the holidays.

DO YOU HAVE OTHER SUGGESIONS FOR PRE-PLANNING?

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013