Monday, November 28, 2011

Adventures in Cooking--Thanksgiving

In case you are all wondering, and I know you are, I cooked the SHIT outta some Thanksgiving. Between Tuesday and Thanksgiving dinner starting at 3 on Thursday, I prepared the following: a turkey breast, a 24-lb turkey, dressing (and I mean homemade, y'all, not that bought bread crumbs crap), giblet gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, hot sherried fruit, corn pudding, a winter salad with homemade dressing, a chocolate-bourbon pecan pie and a peppermint cheesecake layer cake.

I also bought a Honey Baked Ham and made more than a few northern types aware of the glory that is Sister Shubert's rolls. (True story: Last Friday, I was procuring the groceries for Cook-A-Thon 2011. Check out guy was like, "Whoa. How many people are you having over." I told him 26. He said, "You're buying this many rolls for 26 people?" I was like, "No. I'm buying this many rolls for 24 people. Kel and I have our own personal pans of Sister Shubert's already in the freezer at home. I'm not a bread person. Except THAT bread.)

So, yeah, THAT happened.

Green bean casserole? That's the easiest. I just use the recipe on the back of the onion can. And for the record, I am now convinced that the onion factory sits idle 9 months of the year before furiously beginning production in the months of October, November and December. I mean, thin about it. Have you ever heard of anyone eating green bean casserole in...June? It's kinda weird.

Turkey is fine. Whatever. My biggest complaint is that though, like my mother, I am deceptively strong for my relatively small size, turkeys, especially those that weigh 24 pounds and are in a super heavy Williams-Sonoma roasting pan to boot, are most unwieldy. And if you need proof of that, please know that I am now sporting a rather awesome burn on my arm. To the tune of more than one person saying, "What the hell? DO YOU HAVE ARM LEPROSY?" Okay, so maybe I paraphrased that a little. The brine and the resulting gravy making were from an Emeril Legasse recipe and it turned out really well. Although a little gravy tidbit: The good Lord did not intend for me to handle the parts necessary for making giblet gravy at 7 in the morning. I'm like Bridget Jones. Some days a glass of water makes me want to barf. Much less cooking a turkey neck.

Dressing, well, that's my grandmother's recipe and it involves about eleven thousand steps and also squishing your hands around in squishiness. Also, it's cooked in the pan. Not in the turkey. Hence, dressing, not stuffing. I don't want to kill my guests.

The sweet potato souffle is from the Birmingham Junior League cookbook. Which is amazing. It's also where I got the salad and the corn pudding. It's actually called "Martha's Sweet Potato Souffle" and I kid you not, it is the single most requested recipe I make. Do yourself a favor. If you are a cooking type and you don't have this absolutely fantastic cookbook, GET OFF YOUR DUFF AND GO GET IT!!! The salad involves spring mix, dried cranberries and feta. The dressing is a red wine-mustard vinagrette and I use it ALL THE TIME. Even when I don't have the feta and cranberries. It's good on any salad with dark greens. As for the corn pudding. It's actually "Cheater's Corn Pudding" because it uses canned and frozen corn rather than fresh. Which actually makes more sense because for all that Thanksgiving is a holiday with connections to both Native Americans and maize, there is relatively little fresh corn in November. The cookbook has an excellent recipe for corn pudding where you have to cut the corn off the cob and everything, but most of the time I stick to this one (although, weirdly, frozen cream corn is practically non-existent in New Jersey. Instead, I have to use canned. It seems to turn out okay.) The corn pudding is actually pretty close to the corn tomalita that they serve with your meal at Chevy's. Only about fifty times more awesome, because it has bacon and cheddar cheese on top. And let's be real...anything that involves bacon is just that much more amazing due to the bacon-ness.

The hot sherried fruit has been a Thanksgiving/Christmas thing in my family for as long as I can remember. I use a recipe from The Junior League at Home which is a GREAT Junior League cookbook featuring the best recipes from Junior League cookbooks all across the country. It's just canned fruit, but you concoct this really rich sauce involving butter and cinnamon and nutmeg and most importantly, sherry, which you pour over it and refrigerate overnight before cooking. You could, I guess use whatever canned fruit you like best. I do a mix--dark cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, pears and pineapple, but the most important part is spiced apple rings on top. And that's ANOTHER thing that I have to search high and low for in New Jersey.

But of course, the important part is the dessert. I used Paula Deen's Bourbon-Pecan pie recipe, but I lined the bottom of the pie shell with chocolate chips. Because Paula Deen recipes aren't rich enough on their own and need my help to become so. My masterpiece, though, and I mean of everything I made, was the cake. It is from the December Southern Living. I wasn't kidding when I said that it was a peppermint cheesecake layer cake. The peppermint cheese cake layers were alternated with a white sour cream cake. And the icing was white chocolate mousse. It was EPIC. I only tweaked the icing a little bit because sometimes white chocolate make me have a headache. I doubled the proportion of whipped cream to melted white chocolate and sugar. It was still MEGA sweet.

So that's it, y'all. I made it through alive (although there was a while on Thursday night when I wasn't quite sure)! No one died from anything I made! I only have one cut finger and an ugly burn as war wounds.

And in case anyone wondered about the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas? It's sole purpose is to give the Thanksgiving chef time to rest before she (or he) has to REALLY cook again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Dog Has Lost Her Mind. And I've lost part of a fingertip.

I've mentioned before that I'm pretty sure Gina is absolutely mental. Her random and sometimes unprovoked barking fits are gonna eventually result in one of us needing psychiatric drugs. Take tonight. Now, look, I realize it feeds every one of Gina's neuroses to be left alone for any length of time. Today, Barbara headed to the train by 7:30. I left to go to the gym by ten 'til eight. Normally, today would have been one where I called Jeff the Trainer and said, "Dude, I've got approximately a million things to do, so we need to move this party to next week." But I already knew that I was missing Thursday's session for the holiday, and today was Jeff's first day back from his honeymoon, so I had missed all of last week, too. Plus, Jeff's really funny, so I felt sure he would have hilarious wedding and cruise stories. (He totally did.). I left the gym at 9 and hit Starbucks, Grocery Store the First and Honey-Baked Ham. By the time I got back it was 10:30 and sometime in all of that Tom had left for his office in town. Kelly was out of town visiting at Cornell and none of the other kids are home yet. This means Gina was alone, because the housekeeper doesn't work on Tuesday. She was freaking out, but had mercifully not destroyed any of the bathrooms which is her usual M.O. when left alone for any amount of time. I cleaned out the garage refrigerator, showered and headed out again. By the time I got home, Gina has spent the cast majority of her day without human company. Perhaps that explains the barking. This was a different flavor of barking from the usual frenetic tirade at the glass door over some perceived, but completely imaginary threat. She was just randomly letting out a bark here and there. So, after dinner is over, I start making the brine for the turkey breast, which I plan on cooking tomorrow afternoon. And here's where the denouement of our little two-person drama occurs. I am at the counter slicing a lemon. Gina has been begging for food since the minute I started to make dinner. I've ignored her utterly. So her final move in the game of Feed Me/I Won't Feed You Stratego involves waiting until it is almost dead silent in the house and walking up right behind me and letting out the most piercing, ear-splitting bark I have ever heard her make. Now remember, I am EFFING SLICING LEMONS. Only then I'm not. Because her idiot decision means I jump a foot and slice a chunk out of my left middle finger. Not a stitches-needing chunk. But one that involved blood. Our story has a happy ending, though. It's about how Gina is about to get a shiny, new collar. The kind with the little device that either buzzes sharply or releases a whiff of camphor when she barks. Because now it involves blood. And that blood is mine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It is entirely possible that the answer to this is "You have a crazy-ass southern family"

So, there's this episode of Designing Women where Bernice's persnickety niece wants to have her committed because she thinks that Bernice is quite obviously off her rocker. The episode culminates in one of the more hilarious moments in the entire run of the show, when everyone from Sugarbaker's is called to testify on Bernice's behalf at her competency hearing. Earlier in the episode, Julia's first confrontation with the Niece from Hell ends with the late, great, Dixie Carter making the following speech:

"And just for the record, Phyllis, I think you should know, even if Bernice
WERE crazy, that doesn't necessarily mean she should be put away. I'm saying,
this is the South. And we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them
up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off.
You see, Phyllis, in the South nobody ever asks if you have crazy people in
your family, because they already know you do. They just ask you which side
they're on."

When Phyllis asks Julia which side HERS are on, Julia, of course, deadpans, "Both."

Which brings me to my query. Look, I love my family. And I know that they are, if not actually bona fide crazy, most certainly, myself included, what I like to call "Characters." Now, on my dad's side, his father died when he was a very small boy and his mother, like him, was an only child. I don't know that side as well (but from encounters when I was growing up as well as stories, I know there are any number of Characters). On my mom's paternal side, it's possible that there's a slightly more tempered version of Characters happening. Which brings us to my mom's maternal side. Oh, Lord. My mom is probably the most sedate amongst her female cousins on that side and she produced me and my sister and is the grandmother of my niece, who puts my sister and I to SHAME. Many of us are dramatic. Like, literally. Professional performers dramatic. Funny, nay HILARIOUS. Kinda loud. Have entire collections of stories that "could only happen to (insert person here)".

My maternal grandmother and her sisters grew up extremely poor. Which could have been completely tragic. Except for the fact that they were all very smart and very creative. As such, what they lacked in material goods, they more than made up for in elaborate and creative games. Games which were passed down to all of us. There were also a couple of songs that we sang OVER and OVER on every car trip I ever remember taking with my grandparents. A couple of them, I thought my grandmother had actually composed until I heard one on The Muppet Show when I was a kid (That would be "Three Little Fishies" Music and Lyrics by NOT My Grandmother) and then in college was crushed to learn that yet another song we knew wasn't composed by my grandmother because my best friend thought that HER grandmother had made it up ("Did You Ever Go A-fishing?" which I have found on YouTube, but with different lyrics that the ones that both Liz and I had learned, which were EXACTLY the same!). The REAL mystery song was known to us as the "Billy Goat Song" and I JUST found it by sludging through a book on railroad lore in American folk songs. On YouTube, I scraped up a mostly-the-same song called, "Papa's Billie Goat" which is, apparently, based on an older Irish folk song. And please for the love of all, if you know this song at all, let me know. The recording on YouTube is from a VERY old 78 RPM record. We all learned it with the lyrics "Once I had a great big billy goat. Ma, she washed most ever day. Hung her clothes out on the line and that old goat would come that way." Maybe you learned different lyrics. The gist is that after the goat eats the shirt, he gets tied to the train tracks as punishment, but when the trains headed towards him, he coughs up the shirt and flags down the train. I am intrigued, doubly so on account of taking a class in college on folk songs and ballads and their dissemination in Britain and the American South and come to find out it was happening RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

All of which is lovely, because I like to remember my grandmother and her sisters! But which brings me to my real question. At some point tonight, I got sidetracked onto a site about Robert the Doll. And if you don't know what that is, then google it yourself, because I can't bring myself to link it, but please be forewarned that it's ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE FUEL. Anyway, I started thinking about something that my family did. I know that some of my mom's older cousins did it for her and that Mom did it for those cousin's kids. Who did it for my brother and me. And I did it for my sister, Molly. The thing is, my grandmother passed away two years ago and she was the last of her sisters left, so we can't ask her. I've googled it and come up with nothing remotely related to what we did. I don't know if this is some bizarre Southern legend so obscure that there's no internet reference to it. I don't know if it's something my grandmother's older sisters made up and did for the younger ones. Maybe it's something that their aunts did for them and THEY passed it down to my mom's generation who passed it down to mine.

It's called The Dummy Dolls. It always happened in the summer or late spring. The story we were told was that Dummy Dolls were magic and they lived in the woods. If you waited until dusk, and went to the edge of the woods and called for them, sometimes, if you believed really hard, a Dummy Doll might come to your house (and yes, I realize this is kind of FRAKKING CREEPY). And when you came inside and looked around the house, sometimes you found a Dummy Doll (If you're completely getting wigged out, go read about Robert the Doll and this is way less creepy). Dummy Dolls can't talk, but they can understand you, so if you sit quietly and are still and try to touch them, they can answer questions where the answer is yes or no. Dummy Dolls like the dark so you can't turn on all the lights. Maybe just a lamp in the corner. And they like old-fashioned things, so they wear bonnets and long dresses. And after a while, your mom or your grandmother will ask the Dummy Doll if she's getting tired and she's say yes and your mom or grandmother will take you back out into the hall so the Dummy Doll can use her magic to get back to the woods.

Of course, there's really no such thing as a Dummy Doll (although my mom and aunts and grandmother and cousins all told the story so convincingly and the whole illusion they created--which I'm gonna explain--was so complete that until they told ME the secret so I could do it for Molly I had NO IDEA how it worked). By the time the very little kid was out in the backyard calling for the Dummy Doll at the edge of the woods, an older sibling or cousin or aunt (it has to be a female for it to work and you'll see why in a sec) would have already been making preparations. Someone in the family who is a good artist uses markers (or acrylic art paint is what they used on me) and draws a face (mine had a button nose, but I can't remember if that was part of the story) on the back of the person playing the Dummy Doll's hand. Then, that person makes a fist and a doll bonnet is tied around their hand and they put a long doll dress on their forearm with the neck at their wrist. There may have been yarn braids, too. Molly's turning 28 in a couple of months and she was in preschool when I did it, so it's been a long time. Then, while everyone is outside calling the Dummy Dolls, the volunteer gets under a bed with just their forearm sticking up from under the dust ruffle. When the kidlet comes into the room, the lights are very low and it looks REAL. They ask their questions, other adults get the kiddo out of the way and the trusty Dummy Doll climbs out from under the bed.

Molly doesn't remember doing it at all, although she does remember one of our great-aunts taking her out in the yard and talking to "little people who live in the holes in the ground" which may be related or may not. I remember doing it when I was the Doll and have shadowy memories of someone doing it for me. What we want to know is there anyone else in our family who knows how this got started? Is there anyone else NOT in our family who has ever even heard of this? Do you now think that my family is COMPLETEMONKEYSHITBALLSINSANE? If you HAVE heard of this, is there more to the story than what my Mom and I remember? HELP US!!!

And for the record, in retrospect, we--my mom, sister and I--were talking about this tonight and we think that it is CREEPY. But we still want to do it for my niece (and maybe for Jackson, too, although he might be too old). Because what's the point of being a crazy, southern, aunt/grandmother if you can't do BIZARRO stuff like this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baby Dragon in the Theater

I should have known it was going to be Trouble with a Capital "T" when we walked into the theater. Because nothing makes me leery like pre-schoolers sitting behind me at a most decidedly un-preschool show. One of the local community theater groups was producing Aida. Not the Verdi opera, but the Elton John/Tim Rice Disney-produced Broadway musical which premiered on Broadway when I was in law school. Now, first of all, you need to know that I absolutely love this musical. I heard Elton John sing "Written in the Stars" (probably on Rosie O'Donnell) and absolutely fell in love. This was the first non-professional production I had ever seen, but I knew enough of the actors in the show to know that it was more than promising.

But then I ended up sitting in front of Baby Dragons. Baby Dragon is our code for a kid that acts like they were raised by wild dogs (or maybe feral cats). There is a whole (bizarre and hilarious) story behind the genesis of the name, which involves one of my mom's many stories from being a teacher for 40 years. Suffice it to say, it's when a kid's behavior is so far off the charts as to attract the attention of EVERYONE in his or her general vicinity and that's coupled with his or her parent's seeming obliviousness to the situation.

I went to see the show with my awesome voice teacher and his daughter. He had three students in the show and I know four people in the show. And let me say I enjoyed the show immensely. My friend, Meera, played Aida and quite frankly, "wonderful", "amazing", "spectacular", and any number of other superlatives don't do her performance justice. And my friends, Beverly, Mollie and Julia, were all fantastic in the ensemble.

But Baby Dragons? They didn't care. There were three of them. The oldest was probably seven. The other two were probably three and five. To be fair, there are probably any number of children that age who would happily sit through a 2+ hour theatrical production. My niece and nephew are among them. Hell, when I was that age I would have been among them. When I was younger than that, my great-aunt and uncle took me to see one of my cousins in an opera and I allegedly didn't move a muscle or make a peep the entire time. I also have the very vaguest of memories of, because of a baby-sitter snafu, ending up, at the age of 2, at a production of Camelot with my parents. And having just run follow-spot for that exact show, I will tell you that it's long as all get-out. And my mom says that I absolutely adored it and never made a peep. But, and this is a huge "but", when the show was in it's Broadway run, there was an age-requirement to be allowed into the house. And that's with good reason. First of all, it deals with rather adult themes. And it's based on the Verdi opera, so there's gonna be carnage. Like, bodies on the stage and everything. Also, it's very, VERY quiet in a few places. You know that moment in the theater where you can feel the entire audience hold their breath? Yeah, that moment. That moment which doesn't need a preschooler yelling, "IS THE PRINCESS GONNA DIE?"

The first act was a veritable circus behind us. Talking. Sometimes about the show. Sometimes not. Seat-kicking. Hair-pulling. Moving from one seat to another. And the worst part? The parents did little, if anything to stop any of it. Each time a question was posed, rather than whisper, "I'll explain later, now be quiet." the parents launched into a full-scale, although relatively low-volume explanation. And when one of them snagged a handful of my hair, I heard, "Oh, sorry!" and not "If you touch anyone else, we're leaving." I guess maybe my expectations are super-high. I mean, like I said, I come from a family of theater-lovers. We've all been to shows from the time we could toddle. However, we knew (and as for my nephew and niece, currently KNOW) that if we talked, wiggled or otherwise disturbed people, we were being hauled almost immediately to the lobby. I'm talking one warning and we were out. The only known exception to this was last Christmas when my sister-in-law and I took the kids to see The Nutcracker and Gracie (2 1/2 at the time) got antsy in the second half because ALL OF THE BATHROOMS were flooded and unusable. Kelly ended up sitting with Gracie in her lap with her hand over the kid's mouth.

If I could have gotten up and out and was willing to miss part of the show (And I wasn't. The tickets for this were about half-again as much as they usually are, due to the tres expensive royalties) I would have done something about it during the first act. As it was, I knew the House Manager for the performance, so I found him at intermission. He provided the Baby Dragons with

So on behalf of the rest of the audience, the actors on the stage, the production staff, the ushers, here are some rules for Non-Theater-Type Parents when taking Junior to a show:

1. Research. Please, please, please research the show you are seeing. Call the box office and ask how long it is. Get on wikipedia and find out if it's something a kid would be interested in or even understand. Read about the show and determine if it's appropriate for a child.

2. Just because Aunt Susie or Cousin Bob is in the show, doesn't mean Junior should see it.

3. KNOW YOUR KID!! Like I said, I am pretty sure that either Jackson or Gracie would have happily watched Aida without a sound. And I know there are other kids who would be the same. But, frankly, I think they are the exception rather than the rule. But the great thing about theater is that there are hundreds, THOUSANDS of different shows. So there's always something coming up that a kid would like! At this theater, the show before last was Camelot--very family friendly (albeit long). Last show was Urinetown, which was GREAT but probably over the head of most kids under 12 (although nothing that I wouldn't let a younger kid see). Coming up in the spring? The Wizard of Oz! And many theaters have, in addition to the regular season of shows, a "kids' season" as well. These are often shorter versions of fairytales or something similar. These are perfect to test the waters with your kid. A good next step is the Golden Age musicals like Oklahoma, Annie, or The Sound of Music. If those float your kid's boat, then you can move on to more adventurous fare.

4. Talk BEFORE you get there. First, about theater etiquette. Things like whispering if you have an emergency, but waiting to really talk until intermission. Using the restroom before the proceedings get underway so you don't disturb the other audience members. Sitting still. Second, talk about the show you're going to see. If there's a movie version, by all means watch it! Last year, when I bought the tickets for The Nutcracker I also sent Jackson and Gracie DVDs of both the Care Bear's Nutcracker and The Nutcracker featuring the New York City Ballet. Even at two and four, the kids were able to absorb enough of the plot to be excited about the show!

5. Have lunch/dinner before you go! Most theaters are not fans of food in the house. However, in an emergency melt-down situation, a non-noisy food (I like gummi bears) is permissible IF it's done discreetly and quietly. No rattly paper or plastic, please, please, please! I have some little cloth bags that I got when I bought jewelry at Anthropologie that would be PERFECT. A small plastic bowl with a top would be great, too (as long as the snack didn't rattle around in it).

6. Even if no one needs the bathroom at intermission, get up and walk around! Talk about the theater itself. Maybe you can go look at the orchestra pit. Or look up at the lights and talk about how they are part of the whole production. Answer and ask questions about the show so far.

7. If there is talking, wiggling or other mayhem, institute a one warning policy. The theater is exciting so it's easy to forget, especially for little guys! Go over the rules before the show starts, but after a quiet reminder of no talking/sitting still/no touching doesn't work, it's time to head to the lobby. Believe me, I understand that it really sucks for Mom/Dad/Aunt/Grandparent to miss the show, but sometimes that's the deal.

8. This isn't so much just for the people with kids, but it's a personal pet peeve. I know that when the last number ends and the curtain call starts, that there is a temptation to duck out while the actors are making their bows. Please don't. This is one of the rudest things an audience can do to a performer. It may mean you have to stand in the aisles for a few minutes as the audience disperses, but you liked the show, right? Well, this is your chance to show the actors how you appreciate them sharing their talents with you!

9. Lots of companies either have a stage door where you can meet the cast afterwards or the cast comes to the lobby or house after they change. Kids LOVE this. And many actors love meeting their young fans! Especially in an amateur production, the actors get a real charge out of signing programs and shaking hands with little folks and it's a great way to get kids comfortable with the theater in general, when they see that up close the characters from the stage are just people!

So, in short, plan it out! The performing arts-theater, dance, music--have had a huge impact on my life since I was a very small girl. My parents cultivated a love and appreciation while they maintained a certain expectation of my behavior. I think that the theater is for EVERYONE from the littlest kid to the oldest great-grandmother. Preparing your young audience member is an excellent step in making it enjoyable for everyone involved!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I am Pinterest.

A couple of months ago, maybe back in the summer, I noticed that several of my Facebook friends were posting frequently and almost obsessively about At the time, it was one of those things that I noticed, but didn't really look into. As such, when they were asking if people wanted an invite, I didn't take anyone up on the offer. And then a couple of weeks ago, I was bored at the car dealership while they changed the tires and I decided to peruse it on my iPad. Uh, yeah. It is awesome. Of course, then I had to get on a list to get an invite. Which I did (it took about 48 hours).

It's enthralling.


I love it so, so much. The problem is that every time I go back on to start reviewing the stuff I've pinned and maybe actually, you know, cooking, sewing or crafting it, I see MORE THINGS THAT I WANT TO PIN. And so I pin and pin and pin and nothing ever gets done.

At this point, I have pin boards for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, clothes that I like, food that I like, stuff I would like for a house, stuff I would like for a wedding, and stuff for the offspring of the marriage (the result of aforementioned wedding with non-existent fiance).

I like to tell people about things that I've seen that are neat. And I'm gonna tell you that Pinterest is neat. But for heaven's sake, use at your own risk. In ten years, we're gonna all be like those people in Wall-E only we're not going to be watching people doing things on our floaty-chair screen. We're going to be virtually pinning to a board pictures of people doing things. Which may actually be more sad. But, as they say on the site....Happy Pinning, y'all.

The Nom--November 14, 2011

When I was a kid, my mom cooked dinner pretty much every single day of my life. I'm not kidding. The woman was a cooking machine. And that was in addition to working a full-time job AND taking care of three kids. We ate out on occasion, but it was a rare enough event that my siblings and I considered it to be a big, huge treat. My mom is an amazing cook and has a huge collections of recipe books. I am following in her footsteps. I don't know that I'm an amazing cook yet (although I do LOVE to do it). But I do have any number of cookbooks. And by "any number" I mean one of those three-shelf bookshelves from Target FULL. Which is excellent, since part of my JOB consists of cooking. I make dinner pretty much every night. Technically, I am supposed to be off dinner-duty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I have made Friday dinner pretty much since the time I got here and have picked up Saturday and Sunday (at least when people are eating at the house) along the way. So the point of that was to tell you this. The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites has moved firmly onto my Top Ten Must-Have Cookbook list.

I get asked relatively often what cookbook I recommend most. The easy and definite answer to that is The Southern Living Cookbook, which is just FANTASTIC. All of the basics, plus a lot of nifty special recipes, too. But I have to say that the one from Cooking Light may have firmly taken over number two. Now to be fair, both are published by Oxmoor House Publishing, which is the book-publishing part of the whole Southern Progress operation, the flagship of which is Southern Living aka THE GREATEST MAGAZINE EVER OF ALL TIME. Anything you get from Oxmoor House is gonna rock, to be honest.

We are on a red meat embargo as of late, so I wanted to find something different-ish for tonight and Cooking Light's Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy was fantastic. Thumbs up from everyone who tried it!