#WorthRevisit: My Favorite Nonfood Thanksgiving Tradition


Thanksgiving is all about the food in so many ways. But really, it’s all about tradition.

I was one of many who responded to a tweet by @CatholicFoodie, in which an innovative pepper-stuffed turkey recipe was shared, with this: “Thanksgiving, for me, is about Nostalgia Food. New recipes will be saved for another day.”

Nostalgia Food and tradition. That’s Thanksgiving in a nutshell. And here’s a tradition my sister and I have. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. From 2007:

My sister cooks Thanksgiving dinner at her home every year. My family attends every other year, and in the off years we spend the holiday with TheDad’s side of the family. Usually I cook, and they all come here–though there have been exceptions, like the time Pop was in the hospital. That year I cooked it all and brought it to my brother-in-law’s house and finished making the dinner there, since they lived closer to the hospital, and the adults visited Pop in shifts throughout the day.

When you cook Thanksgiving dinner you have to get up early. There are a lot of details to take care of, and a big turkey does take a while to stuff and cook. So my sister and I have developed our own little tradition. Whether it’s our year to visit her home, or the “bye year” as she calls it, we spend part of the early hours of the morning on the phone. Even if we’re at her house, she’s got so many guests and is so busy that we don’t get to talk much. So we enjoy our Thanksgiving phone call.

I’ve got nothing to cook this year but I’m up early anyway. The coffee is brewing, and I just got an email from my sister telling me that she’s awake, and that those participating in the annual Great Pheasant Hunt will be leaving at 5:45, so I’m welcome to call anytime after that.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Small Success: Get Cooking!

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

Here’s what’s been going on around here last week:

  • I survived that meeting I was all nervous about on Saturday. Turns out there wasn’t anything to worry about, but worrying is what I do best. The only glitch we encountered was courtesy of the fluorescent light in the meeting room that decided to flicker, then died a slow and smelly death. That put an end to the meeting very quickly and led me to call the parish business manager at home so she could get a maintenance worker to check it out (turns out, it was a ballast in the fixture and when those things go bad, they fill the room with stinky smoke). So we didn’t burn down the building.
  • My chicken chili was a hit (that was lunch at the meeting), and I got the recipe up at my poor, neglected cooking blogchicken chili blanco (3) c T
  • I also put up some new photos for the 2 things I baked this week: sesame tahini cookies (which I turned into a slice-and-bake recipe) and apple coffee cake. I’ve been working hard on getting better-quality photos for the blog and on labeling those photos with titles and my foodie Twitter handle.

slice and bake sesame tahini cookies (1) CT

apple coffee cake (12) c t

  • And I listened to some podcasts while cooking and cleaning. That’s the kind of multitasking I can get behind.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Monday Recap: September 7, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing

At CatholicMom.com:


You’re invited to the very first CatholicMom.com Virtual Progressive Dinner!

You’re invited to our very first Virtual Progressive Dinner here at CatholicMom.com! Find out how you can share your favorite recipe and join the fun.

Book Notes: Two Novels with a Side of Angels

Novels are always a pleasure to read, but they don’t have to be a “guilty pleasure.” I reviewed two novels you’ll want to share with the teens in your life–but don’t miss the chance to read them for yourself.

rainbow stirfry c title FI

Meatless Friday: Rainbow Stir Fry with Shrimp

Here’s a quick-cooking shrimp stir-fry with plenty of colorful vegetables for your next Meatless Friday meal.



Monday Recap: August 10, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing


This was show week for The Kid’s theatre camp, which meant several extra trips (20 minutes each way) and working the concession stand for 2 shows and a cast party AND auditions for the next production. There hasn’t been much writing OR cooking this week.

But there was a little “stress baking” yesterday between that cast party and audition.

At Cook and Count:

spicy pecan ranger cookies TITLE (3)

Cookie Time: Spicy Pecan Ranger Cookies

At CatholicMom.com:

shrimp fajitas (11)c for FI

Meatless Friday: Shrimp Fajitas with Cool Corn Salad

sesame tahini cookies (4) FI

Book Review: Around the Table with the Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine

Aptly Titled: Cravings

Over at Reconciled to You, Allison Gingras has started a book discussion on Mary deTurris Poust’s Cravings.

cravingsPoust knew what she was doing when she titled that book. I battle cravings all the time.

Usually I lose.

When I lose, my health suffers and my waistline expands.

When I lose, I feel guilty that I’m not displaying the kind of self-discipline my diabetic child has to employ every minute of every day.

When I feel guilty, I self-medicate by giving in to more of the same cravings that I’m already feeling bad about giving in to.

This book is about health, and mental health, and spiritual health, because those all go hand in hand. I’m still resisting the suggestion that I keep a food journal, because I know what embarrassment would result if I do–even if no one sees it but me. But the author of this book has my number, and I need to find other ways of dealing with my feelings–ways that don’t involve feeding them chocolate.

I didn’t gain this weight overnight, but right now I think I weigh more than I did just before TheKid was born. I know it will take me time to lose it, and I’m going to go for manageable chunks here. I’m hoping I can drop 15 pounds by my birthday in late July. It’s a significant birthday, so it would be great to celebrate it a little lighter and a little healthier and with a better relationship to cookies, gelato and Milky Ways.

Join the discussion at Reconciled to You.

Please note that this post contains an affiliate link to the book. If you purchase it using my link, it helps defray my web-hosting expenses. Thanks!

Menu Monday 8

menu MondayLinking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s weekly feature!

A few changeups of note from last week:

On Monday I took the night off and got Chick-Fil-A for myself and the Kid. Hubs called just before I started cooking to say he’d be so late that he and his team at work had ordered pizza.

Friday, Big Brother was supposed to come home for dinner and we were supposed to have fish. But his car (Hubs’ old 2002 Hyundai, with over 170,000 miles on it) broke down JUST before he got onto a terrifyingly busy Philadelphia highway during the afternoon rush (thank you, Guardian Angel!) I had to feed the Kid at a reasonable hour, so while Hubs rescued Big Brother, I revamped that fish plan. I needed some comfort food, plain and simple, and something that I could keep warm until the guys were home. So I cut up half a pound of swai fillets and mixed it into Barbara Mahany’s mac n cheese recipe and served that with a salad. Big Brother suggests that next time I season it with Old Bay. It was GOOD STUFF.

Grace Before MealsSaturday, BOTH the Big Kids were home for dinner, and I was a happy mom, even though the Notre Dame football game didn’t go the way I wanted it. We had steak fajitas based on Father Leo Patalinghug’s recipe. I guess I’ve changed it up enough that I can write up how I do them. I highly recommend this cookbook!

I’m not assigning days to this week’s meals. Here’s what we’re having. I have all the ingredients for all of these meals, and I’m going to pick and choose as the mood strikes.

Here’s what’s in the plan:

Miss Jill Chicken, French fries, vegetable. The Kid would eat this 5 times a week if I’d let him!

Asian wraps 1Asian turkey wraps, fried rice

Sarah Reinhard’s beef & noodles, carrots. This one needs a write-up too!

Chicken tacos, fiesta potatoes, salad

Spaghetti and meatballs, salad

Not-So-Spicy Peanut Pork, rice. I’m subbing in strips of boneless pork chops for the chicken in this recipe.

Friday is a night off: the Kid has a dinner for the youth theater company he belongs to. I have a rehearsal. Hubs will be on his own.

Menu Monday 3

menu MondayLinking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s Menu Monday feature.

IMG_0237-0As I suspected, we didn’t keep to the plan last night. We went to the diner instead.

And after I posted this menu plan this morning, I headed to the supermarket to get the roasting chicken we were supposed to eat tonight. But they didn’t have any. THIS is why I write the menu plan in pencil.

MONDAY:  Chipotle pork carnitas with rice and Burrito Beans.

TUESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs (I’m switching it up and fully expect that there will be a small mutiny because pasta night has migrated to Tuesday!)

WEDNESDAY:  Pork chops with fennel and oregano, Portuguese rice, vegetable. I still have to write up that pork recipe. It’s based on a Frugal Gourmet recipe and tastes like Italian sausage!

Monday's dinner: burrito bowls.
Monday’s dinner: burrito bowls.

THURSDAY:  Chicken and noodles

FRIDAY:  Pizza

SATURDAY:  Leftovers

SUNDAY:  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots–IF ShopRite has chickens the next time I get there.



Menu Monday 2

menu MondayI’m linking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s weekly menu feature.

Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice
Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice

Here’s our menu for the week, including one carryover item since our Friday dinner became Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice. (You won’t believe the secret ingredient!)

Little Brother making the Chicken Adobo.
Little Brother making the Chicken Adobo.

MONDAY:  Slow-cooker Chicken Adobo with rice.

TUESDAY:  Tacos and a salad.

WEDNESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs (our Wednesday tradition!)

THURSDAY:  Beef and noodles–a new recipe from Sarah Reinhard, who keeps telling me she can’t cook, but knows how to make gravy. I haven’t mastered that skill! If I manage not to ruin this, I’ll include the link in next week’s menu post. On the side:  green beans.

MEATLESS FRIDAY:  Vodka pasta and a salad.

SATURDAY:  We’ll be eating at the Polish Kitchen at our parish’s Fall Festival. I’m looking forward to some homemade kluski and golabki.

skillet chicken noodles
Skillet Chicken & Noodles

SUNDAY:  Chicken and noodles. Maybe. I just realized just how many times we’re having noodles or pasta, all in a row. (Not that I mind, because I could eat noodles every day of the week.) So this one might change.

As always, I write my menus in pencil because who knows what the week will bring? On Friday, for example, I spent the morning as I usually do:  volunteering in the school library. I left at 11:35 and said goodbye to the secretary, who called my cell phone 10 minutes later as I parked the van in my driveway. They needed an emergency sub for the afternoon in second grade. I didn’t remember to take out the pasta sauce to defrost when I ran inside to grab my Substitute Teacher’s Bag of Tricks, so we had to go to Plan B, which was magically delicious.

Diabetic Negotiation

Little Brother almost always eats the same breakfast:  an everything bagel with butter and two scrambled eggs.

This morning he was looking for something different.

eggo chocolate chip“I got some chocolate-chip Eggo waffles at the store,” I said.

We checked the label. Two waffles have 31 carbs. Four waffles have 62, which is almost exactly the same as his bagel-and-eggs combo.

“I’ll have four waffles,” he decided.

I asked him if he wanted any eggs, reminding him that without them, he might find himself hungry later this morning.

“There’s protein in the waffles,” he said. “It comes from the chocolate chips.”

I Am Mommy. Hear Me Roar.

On Tuesday, Little Brother is going on a field trip. That’s the kind of thing that happens in May. Since we live very near Philadelphia, his school often schedules field trips that take advantage of the many historical and educational resources of that city. This year they’re visiting a seaport museum and wrapping up the day at City Tavern, where they will be served a Colonial-style meal. city tavernThe students will dine on Tavern Country Salad with raspberry shrub dressing, lightly-breaded chicken breast, mashed potato, vegetables, Thomas Jefferson biscuits, Sally Lunn bread, and fruit cobbler.

That’s a far cry from the brown-bagged PBJ, juice box and granola bar he usually gets on a field trip.

I got in touch with City Tavern to ask for nutrition information about their food. After playing phone tag with their events coordinator for several days, she finally called me back this morning and very sweetly assured me that she’d speak to the chef and find out what I needed to know.

Two hours later she called me back and informed me that I was out of luck. While she could list all the foods they’d be eating, she couldn’t get me any nutrition information. Since they’re not a chain, they don’t have to provide that, and clearly they aren’t interested in doing so.

It’s really not fun to play Guess the Carbs in a restaurant, and I was hoping that since we’d inquired ahead of time (and I made the first call more than a week in advance of the trip) that the restaurant could help us figure things out.


The restaurant’s website urges visitors: “In order to help us maintain a historic atmosphere, please refrain from the use of cell phones.” Well, that’s NOT going to happen, since Hubs will need to consult the Calorie King website to try to figure out what the restaurant refuses to tell him, despite the other thing they mention on their site:  “Should you have any culinary requests, please do not hesitate to ask any member of our staff.”

I guess nutrition information isn’t considered a “culinary request.”

We can guess on things like mashed potatoes and vegetables and even the chicken. But Little Brother has eaten there before on a field trip (before diabetes) and he was all about the bread. I did a simple google search on “Thomas Jefferson biscuits” and the third result is that restaurant’s own recipe.

nutrition city tavern philly Jefferson sweet potato pecan biscuitsIt took me less than three minutes to plug that recipe into the analysis tool at Calorie Count and generate a nutrition label. I’ll be printing it out, along with the recipe, and packing it with Little Brother’s diabetes supplies that Hubs will be carrying on the trip.

I hope Hubs hands them that piece of paper on his way out.

If he doesn’t, I’m mailing it in.

All I requested was information. Not trade secrets. Not recipes. Just nutrition information because my child has a medical need that requires me to know what’s in the food he eats. And as I just proved, this information is not difficult to acquire.

You’re next, Sally Lunn.