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happy holidays from the Tracy Press


Press file photo

Memories are made many ways during the holidays — while struggling with celebratory planning, enjoying meals with family and friends and helping strangers have a merrier season. This year, we share our stories and recipes that have made holidays past worth remembering and sharing.



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2 | THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2010

Trip down memory lane

For more, see pages 5 & 6

The following are favorite holiday memories and traditions shared by some of the Press’ staff. Tracy resident Mary Anne Brenkwitz also shares her fondest memory.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas F

or as long as I can remember, it wasn’t really Christmas until I had watched the 1966 Christmas classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The cartoon version of the Dr. Seuss book has got to be my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I can remember my brother and me watching it on the living room couch, year after year. Glenn Moore Even as a college student at Fresno State, a bunch of us would gather in one of the dorm rooms to watch the half-hour show. From the cool collection of Whoville characters to the catchy “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” song, the movie has become my holiday tradition that goes on to this day.

Courtesy photo of Mary Anne Brenkwitz with mother Belmeda Sequeira and husband Stephen Brenkwitz

Mother-daughter time A

lthough it has been 2½ years since my mother passed away, my fondest memories together are the Thanksgivings we shared. My father passed away in 1987, and from that year on was when I started having Thanksgiving at our house. Although I had never made a Thanksgiving dinner before, my mom assured me we could do it together. My daughter was only 1 then, and my mom alternated between showing me what to do and baby-sitting for me while I worked on dinner. She would arrive the day before and spend the night with us. These were hours that I truly cherish now, when we really got a chance to spend time together. She came every year until her death in March 2008. She taught me how to make a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner that my family loves. As Thanksgiving approaches, although I’m always missing her in my heart, I’m truly thankful for God blessing me with such a beautiful, loving mother.

 Glenn Moore is photo editor for the Press and the official coffee addict of the newsroom.

Bikini turkey tradition continues M

y all-time favorite memory for Thanksgiving would have to be when I was about 8 years old. This little tradition has been in my family forever. My mom saw that someone had put a bikini on a turkey and positioned it like it was getting a suntan. We had to do this; there was no way we could pass this up. It took me and her a good hour to get the right Raquel Castillo look we wanted for our “sexy” turkey. I must say, it was well worth the laughs to try to fit foil around a turkey and make it look good at the same time. After the turkey had been fully cooked, it was time to see what we had created. Pulling off the

foil on a darkly cooked turkey was something to see. The turkey looked like it was badly sunburnt; we thought the bikini would not have stayed on, or it would have turned brown as well. But we must have gotten really lucky — our turkey looked like a blast from the past with its 1980s bikini. We did put the arms behind its head to make it look like it was lounging. My dad almost did not want to carve it because it was so funny. Now, every year we have our bikini turkey to serve; every year we switch up the bikini, to a one-piece or something skimpy. It’s pretty silly, but well worth a good laugh every year at the table.

 Mary Anne Brenkwitz was born and raised in Tracy. Her mother, Belmeda Sequeira, was a member of the Jacks family and lived in Banta until her marriage in 1947.

 Raquel Castillo is a Tracy Press intern and a Millennium High School graduate.

Caution: Do not leave gravy unattended Thank goodness for the flu F T restaurants. The mashed potatoes or anybody who has worked in we made from the big bags of potato a kitchen, nothing says “fail” flakes, with a just-add-water-and-butlike burnt gravy. ter recipe. Same with the stuffing, That’s exactly what I did one and the vegetables all came from No. Thanksgiving at a charity dinner 10 cans familiar to anyone who has when I lived in Rohnert Park. worked in food service. It’s not like I turned around The gravy, too, was really to find a smoking cinder at simple. Just add the powthe bottom of the pot, but der to water and simmer. once I discovered what burnt Unfortunately, I put the heat gravy tastes like, I was horon a bit too high after I mixed rified that I could be responit, and then tended to other sible for such an atrocity. things. When I did look, it was Pretty much everything we bubbling and steaming, and I cooked that day was so simple that there were few ways we Bob Brownne really couldn’t remember how could mess it up. All the cooks long it had been on the stove. I immediately turned off the heat. were friends of the Rev. Sam Tharpe, I didn’t even realize it was burned pastor of Shiloh Baptist Fellowship — it still hadn’t occurred to me that and director of T’s Academy, a small private school based at his storefront anyone could burn gravy — until we started to serve dinners, starting with church. the take-out containers that went to In other words, there were no local seniors. First someone noticed professional cooks in the group. The that the smell wasn’t right. It was turkeys all were roasted at local

clearly a burnt smell. I tasted it and, sure enough, it was all through the gravy and everything it covered, and I didn’t even know how many dinners went out with that horrible stuff covering everything. After we dumped out what was left, we saw the thick black crust at the bottom of the pot. It was only one batch out of several that we made that day, so it wasn’t a total disaster. Right away, though, I decided that I had to atone for this mistake and pledged that I would learn to make gravy properly. Since then, I’ve cooked turkeys at charity dinners and for family and made gravy and potatoes any number of times. The main thing to remember is that you have to always pay attention to what’s on the stove. Also, remember that the most embarrassing mistakes are the ones that you think could never happen to you.

 Bob Brownne is sports editor for the Tracy Press and “the entire sports department.”

got a call from her daughter, Dana, hanksgiving has been a and she was laughing as well as tradition at my in-laws’ house for the 20-plus years trying to drive home. Dana’s report was one of the I’ve been a member of the family. funniest Thanksgiving My wife’s daughter has Days my in-laws will also planned on attending, remember for a long time. and that was a plus, as we ’Long about 4 a.m. would also get together Thanksgiving Day, my with Dana and the grandmother-in-law woke to children, as well as my start preparing for the day, extended family. only to find there was no One Thanksgiving Day, power in the house, as well though, my wife woke to the flu, so we wouldn’t be John Wilson as a wide area around her house. No lights to see at 4 traveling south this year. a.m. and an electric cookWanting to make the top that didn’t work — this was best of the day, I took a run to going to be a trying day for my Save Mart to get Cornish hens mother-in-law. and had planned to stuff them Thank god my father-in-law had and barbecue them and try to salvage the day. Our dinner wouldn’t been given a 40-pound bird, and compare to the food that awaited knowing that it wouldn’t fit in the us in an hour south of Tracy, or so oven, he decided to pit-barbecue we thought. Later in the afternoon, my wife TURKEY DINNER, CONTINUED ON PAGE 5



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THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2010

Thank goodness A

s Thanksgiving approaches, we take a moment to step back and reflect on the things we have and are thankful for in our lives. Looking back at 2010, one thing comes to mind: I’m so glad it’s almost over. Seriously, what a nightmare year we had. We thought 2009 was a bumpy roller-coaster descent into hell, but 2010 turned out to be a log ride plunge down the flume of despair. Business was bad — I ran from crime scene to crime scene through the year, sprinkled in a few fatal accidents and couple of personal crises, just to keep my chances of developing an ulcer interesting. Heading into the Thanksgiving season, I don’t think there could be much to be thankful for. But in the spirit of the season, let me stop Glenn Moore and ponder on some the bright spots of the year. I’m thankful that my one working camera hasn’t gone belly up so far this year. My last assignment had the Canon 1D Mk II shutter actuation count at 760,368. That means I have taken 510,368 more pictures than the rated life of the shutter, which is 250,000 shutter cycles. My camera is living on borrowed time. I lift another glass of gravy in salute to my workhorse camera. With the plethora of holiday television shows and movies that bombard us this time of year, I am thankful that, somehow, I managed to avoid seeing the 2008 release of “Thankskilling.” It tells the story of a demonic turkey on his holiday bloodlust rampage, murdering college kids on their Thanksgiving holiday break. Pass the cranberry sauce and pray the kids are in bed when this movie pops up on the late-night cable channels. And on this day of annual Thanksgiving feasting, I am ever so thankful that I have not been offered a frosty glass of Bacon Soda. From the same creative minds at Jones Soda that gave us Turkey-and-


Gravy-flavored soda a few years back, we can now enjoy that salty, pan-fried flavor of bacon in a bottle. Shell out $10 to the folks at J&D’s ( and you can get two bottles of the bacon brew, some bacon-flavored popcorn, a stick of bacon lip balm Above: You know it’s a bad sign when and the knowledge you see this face on your TV screen you have flushed $10 — or anywhere, for that matter. down the pork pathAt right: Bacon soda? Really? way to purgatory. Being a San Francisco 49ers fan, as I watch the footballs games on Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful that God made the Dallas Cowboys to remind us what turkeys and really bad football look like. Go ’Niners! How could I not give one of my biggest thanks to my friend, the police scanner? Who else takes me from the comfy confines of home to the flashing lights and yellow tape of a crime scene at a moment’s notice? I certainly must be thankful that every time I hear sirens at night, I can leap out of bed and turn the scanner on to see if I need to go to yet another tragedy in the middle of the night. I through as a community and all things we have should have another helping of stuffing as I spend endured, I am honestly thankful for one thing: a sleepless night listening to the latest police chase After a time when I thought I might lose my through town. mom this year, after all the fears, frustrations and And, as far as work goes, I am thankful that sleepless nights that ensued, I will drive to my parpeople around town finally went back on their antients’ house this Thursday morning, open the door depressant medication and we haven’t received any and say, “Happy Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad,” and more calls of blue lights and UFOs. I am less than sit down for dinner with my parents. thankful, though, that I was once actually assigned I am truly blessed I still have them both, and that to see if I could find the supposed alien’s landing is the best thanks I can receive. site on MacArthur Drive. It is never a good thing to  Tracy Press Photo Editor Glenn Moore can be reached at see a grown photographer cry on assignment. 830-4252 or, or check out his blog But through the year’s tragedies, through at the heartaches and sufferings we have gone

A garden Reflections on a day of gratitude of thanks F A

while back I wrote an article about theme gardens. I’ve just become aware of another type of theme garden: the Thanksgiving garden. For me, every garden is an expression of gratitude. Gratitude for water, without which there could be no life; gratitude for the sun, which fuels growth and strength; and gratitude for the soil, from which all plants come and which reminds us of our roots. Our yard has a large expanse of lawn, on which our children played during many joyful hours. Now, our children’s children are beginning to do the same, and we are profoundly grateful for that. We have always had an area for children to dig freely, with no concerns about damaging plants. We have trees that have been (and will be) climbed and adorned with all manner of treehouses, from the simple to the elaborate. We have a garden that provides us with something to be picked and savored very nearly yearround. We have herbs at the ready to elevate any meal. We even have a night-blooming plant to sweetly scent even the darkest hours. I am particularly grateful for trees. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is one of my most beloved books. I do not care for the debate over what the author is trying to say but instead take the book at face value: Trees give their all to us all. They can cool us with their shade, warm us by providing fuel, shelter us with their canopy or lumber. They offer a place to play and learn. They provide sustenance, tranquility and, in the face of a storm, drama with their movement. They provide many of these things to all creatures, not just humans. A Thanksgiving garden can also be a garden geared toward abundance. The traditional dinner has diverged a bit from what was offered at the first one, but while we might not have the ability to grow many of the ingredients we now expect on the holiday table, Tracy gardeners can grow some of the more delicious components. In raised beds or heavily-amended areas (to compensate for our heavy soils), we can grow potatoes, yams and carrots. Even the newest gardener can grow green beans, and a perennial herb garden is easycare and especially useful in holiday cooking. With so much to be thankful for, we all should take a moment and reflect on the good things in our lives, today and throughout the year.  Our Town columnist Heather Hamilton is a University of California-certified master gardener. She can be reached at

or a lot of folks, a good share of their off hours in the next 10 days or so will be spent on travel plans, preparations for entertaining, and the logistics of cooking and serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Although the commercial blitzkrieg surrounding Christmas has seduced people of every stripe, that holiday is — albeit to what many practicing Christians no doubt feel is an increasingly limited extent — a religious observance. The fourth Thursday in November, however, is a holiday for every American. Thanksgiving is a straightforward celebration of life and of where and with whom we are. The popular concept of Thanksgiving links it to Pilgrims and American Indians at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. It’s a reference that serves a purpose, but the meal shared by the natives and the immigrants on that occasion was actually an autumn harvest observance and a formal “thank you” to the Wampanoag Indians for teaching the skills and practices necessary to get the new arrivals through the coming winter. Fully half of the Pilgrims had died in the winter of 1620, their first in the new country. During the early period, the colonies would periodically proclaim days of thanksgiving, usually in celebration of good news or a propitious event. Ten years after the celebrated meal at Plymouth Plantation, for example, the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a day of thanksgiving when an overdue and much-needed supply ship arrived after it had been thought lost at sea. The Continental Congress issued the first declaration of a national day of thanksgiving


STEVE BAILEY OFF HOURS in 1777 and continued to do so through 1783, with each declaration specific to the given year and typically falling in December. George Washington picked up the practice in his first year in office: Thursday, Nov. 25, 1789, was the first Thanksgiving Day declared in the new nation. But another was not observed for several years. Until the Civil War, only the New England area continued to have annual formal harvest observances. It is Sarah Josepha Hale to whom we owe thanks for the holiday Americans now enjoy. Born and raised in New England, she gained some prominence with an 1827 novel that included two chapters detailing the November thanksgiving traditions of her youth. The following year, she became the first female editor of a national publication in the United States, and for the next 40 years, the highly successful and very influential Lady’s Book Magazine was her platform for a campaign to establish a recurring national day of thanksgiving. In addition to features and articles in the magazine, she cajoled celebrities to join her cause, lobbied every incumbent U.S. president and wrote letters to governors, ministers and editors. Starting in 1846,

she devoted each November issue to the proposed holiday — with recipes, poems and stories depicting idealized family gatherings. In an 1858 editorial, Hale asked the country to “consecrate the day to benevolence of action by sending good gifts to the poor and doing those deeds of charity that will, for one day, make every American home the place of plenty and rejoicing.” By 1860, 25 of the 31 states had proclaimed annual thanksgiving observances, nearly all stipulating the last Thursday in November. Still, it took the shock of the Civil War and the staggering horror of the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 to turn the tide. Lady’s Book Magazine, containing Hale’s annual editorial calling for a national day of thanksgiving, struck a chord with Americans after that important Union victory, and it was widely circulated. She sent a copy to President Abraham Lincoln, with a personal letter asking that he have the “day of our annual thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union festival.” On Oct. 3, 1863, Honest Abe did just that, setting the annual observance as the final Thursday in November. Remarkably, Thanksgiving is still celebrated in the spirit that Ms. Hale and President Lincoln intended. On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, retailers have managed to institute a national day of spending. But on Thursday, most of us manage to harbor good will, thanks and generosity through cooking and eating and family and football. And that’s just what Abe and Sarah intended.  Columnist Steve Bailey can be reached at

Thanksgiving for the little things C an you imagine a holiday where you celebrate through an experience of gluttony? This day, we have the church’s official permission to break one of Augustine’s Seven Deadly Sins. As an obese child, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. There was no work, eating, watching a parade on TV, eating, watching a football game, and eating. The best part was it was encouraged by my parents. My mother did all of the work and seemed to enjoy it. My role, and the role of all the men in my family, was to stay out of the kitchen The secret and make a to carving large show of appreciation. the turkey Today, I still mostly watch, is to act like you know although I get to choose the what you wine. Living in are doing. Tracy, with its wineries, I can Hardly anytell the differ- one else there ence between will know red, white and how to do it. ripple. I also am in charge of carving the turkey and saying grace. As the patriarch, I get the pleasure of both. That, and the fact that I worked in a butcher shop as a teenager and have been a pastor for 41 years. Carving the turkey is easy, although I do feel guilty that the bird had to die so we might get a major dose of L-tryptophan. The secret to carving the turkey is to act like you know what you are doing. Hardly anyone else there will know how to do it. As it only happens once a year, they will not remember how well or badly you have done, especially after they are full of it and wine. Saying grace is more difficult. People are anxious to eat, and you still wish to express gratitude for the food, the family, and the harvest. One year, they asked me to say grace and I begged off. The role fell to a rather elderly missionary who had been saving up for quite a long time. She was thankful for the food, the weather, the cooks, the individual vegetables, and on and on. I accept the assignment with little complaint now. Come to think about it, I am thankful for all those things and more. I am grateful for being here, for those who have made my life interesting and better. I am glad that we have the ability to sit down and freely gather around the pile of food. Admittedly, I am not excited about the fact that the Christmas season started this year on Labor Day, but I’m looking forward to celebrating it eventually. So here is to being asked to be with family, to having enough to eat, and to red wine, white wine and ripple.  Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or e-mailing him at

There’s a trick to matching wines with Thanksgiving fare T AUSTIN TWOHIG THE WINE LOVER

hanksgiving is upon us, my friends. As a man who likes his food and certainly likes his wine, this turns out to be my favorite holiday. How much more American could a holiday be? We are expected to do nothing more than gorge ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes while we consume copious amounts of wine. But what wines should be served with a meal of such variety? Ah, there’s the rub. The first thing I would suggest is champagne. This should be drunk throughout the entire day — before, during and after dinner. Like no other

drink, champagne has the incredible ability to bring liveliness and cheerfulness to a party. If you are going to mix it with orange juice, then any old sparkler will do. If you are going to enjoy it without mixture, I would suggest Roederer Estate, a fine, modestly priced California sparkler, or Veuve Clicquot, a moderately priced, very drinkable bottle of champagne. The wine most likely to pair best with your meal will be pinot noir. Most Thanksgiving dinners consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and maybe a couple of other sides. Pinot noir is an excellent pair-

ing for the turkey (and most other less gamy poultry), as well as the cranberry sauce and stuffing. It works well with a lighter gravy, too. If you would like to serve a white wine, as well, I would suggest something medium-bodied. A chardonnay with minimal oak would be an acceptable option. If you are serving beef or pork, you will want a bigger red wine, like cabernet sauvignon or merlot, because most pinot noir flavors will be overpowered by the intensity of the meat. Thanksgiving desserts are fairly various. We usually have pumpkin

pie in my family, with a nice sauterne. Sauterne comes from Bordeaux and is made from sauvignon blanc and Semillon grapes. For heavier desserts (like chocolate cake and ice cream), I would suggest a port or late-harvest zinfandel. If you are a dessert lover, make sure to have a dessert wine on hand. A regular dry red wine paired with a dessert loaded with sugar will be totally imbalanced. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, my fellow wine lovers. Cheers!  Columnist Austin Twohig, a certified sommelier, can be reached at

4 | THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2010

Facts, tips and trivia about our feathered friends

How do I carve a turkey? Turkey carving is easy, with the right tools and technique. 1. Spoon out stuffing. Let turkey cool for an hour after roasting so the meat can “set.” Pull legs away from turkey; cut through hip joint without removing leg.

2. The first cut into the breast meat goes horizontally, all the way to the breast bone, just above wing joint.

Who decided to make Thanksgiving a national holiday?

Garlic green beans

In the mid-1800s Sarah J. Hale, a poet and editor, lobbied for a national Thanksgiving holiday. But it wasn’t until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln — looking to unite the nation during the Civil War — gave his Thanksgiving Proclamation. Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a day of thanksgiving.

Ingredients 4 sliced garlic cloves Cayenne pepper Butter 1¼ pounds green beans ¼ cup water Sugar Salt Chopped pecans

How much turkey do Americans eat on Thanksgiving?

Directions Toast garlic cloves and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a skillet with butter. Add green beans, season with salt and a pinch of sugar and cook 2 minutes. Add water, cover and cook 6 minutes, then uncover and boil until the water evaporates. Season with salt and pepper and toss with chopped pecans.

Bacon Brussels sprouts Ingredients 12 ounces thickly sliced lean bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced 8 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, if desired Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper Sugar, optional

Directions In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the softened vegetables from the pan and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts in batches and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on the outside. Add the reserved bacon and vegetables to the Brussels sprouts in the pan along with salt and pepper, to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Cover skillet with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

More than 45 million turkeys (about 535 million pounds) are cooked and eaten on the holiday.

Besides the meat, what parts of a turkey can be used? A mature turkey has about 3,500 feathers, most of which are composted or disposed of. But some are used for such things as American Indian costumes and pen quills. It has even been reported that Big Bird’s costume on “Sesame Street” is made of turkey feathers. Turkey feather down is also used to make pillows. Giblets are the edible internal parts of a turkey, including the gizzard, heart, liver and neck. They are usually removed, placed into a plastic bag and reinserted into the body cavity. Many people, particularly in the South, use the giblets to make gravy. As for the turkey’s skin, it can be tanned and used for cowboy boots, belts and other accessories.

Does turkey really make you sleepy? After a big meal of turkey and trimmings, most people want to nap. Studies have associated the essential amino acid L-tryptophan, a natural sedative, with drowsiness. Although Ltryptophan occurs naturally in turkey, you would have to eat a lot on an empty stomach with no other protein for it to make you

sleepy. If you get drowsy after a big turkey dinner, the culprit is probably your high carbohydrate intake as the blood rushes from your brain to your stomach to help digest the large meal.

How can I use the leftovers? The five most popular ways to serve leftover Thanksgiving turkey are:

 Sandwich  Soup or stew  Casserole  Stir-fry  Salad Some people also make tacos or enchiladas using the meat.

What states produce the most turkeys? Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina and California are the leading turkey producers, and most states have at least one major operation.

Where do turkeys come from? Turkeys originated in North and Central America and are believed to have been around for more than 10 million years.

How did the turkey get its name? There are several theories on the origin. Some believe that Christopher Columbus thought he had discovered a land connected to India and that the bird was some kind of peacock, so he called it “tuka,” which is peacock in Tamil, an Indian language. Others believe it got its name from an American Indian word for turkey, “firkee.” Others theorize that it got its name from the noise it makes when scared: “turk, turk, turk.”

Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color and have a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult.

3. Next, cut downward, making thin slices of breast meat. Repeat on other side of breast. Slice meat off thighs.

Is it true that the turkey was considered for the national symbol of the United States? Source: National Turkey Federation

Benjamin Franklin argued passionately on behalf of the turkey and was unhappy when the bald eagle was chosen instead. In a letter to his daughter, he said the bald eagle had “bad moral character” and the turkey “is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”

How should I store my leftover turkey? Within two hours after roasting, remove the stuffing from the turkey and carve the meat off the bones. Chill the leftover meat in the refrigerator before wrapping for storage. For refrigerator storage, wrap the turkey and stuffing separately, and eat them within three days. If you’re storing leftovers in the freezer, wrap the turkey and stuffing separately in heavy foil, freezer wrap or freezer bags. For best flavor, eat the stuffing within a month and the turkey within two months.

Why do some people view turkeys as silly creatures? Well, turkeys have been known to drown if they look up when it’s raining. They are also known to drop dead from the shock of passing jets. But at one time the bird did command enough respect to have a ballroom dance named for it — the turkey trot. (Although, the dance was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey takes.)

Why do turkeys gobble?

Can turkeys fly? What other special traits do they have?

Actually, only male turkeys gobble. Females make a clicking noise. Male turkeys, or toms, gobble to attract a mate, when they hear loud noises and when they settle in for the night.

Turkeys raised on turkey farms can’t fly because they’re too fat and weak. But wild turkeys can fly for short distances at up to 55 mph and can run at speeds up to 25 mph.

— Compiled and written by Cheryl Neely, Fort Worth Star-Telegram SOURCES:; www.;;; www.honeysuckle; www.woodbridgechips. com; National Turkey Federation

Peas with shallots & pancetta

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2 tablespoons olive oil ½ pound pancetta, cut into small dice ed llots, halved and thinly slic sha 3 es flak Pinch red pepper 1 pound frozen peas, thawed


h-sided Heat the oil in a large, hig t. Add hea m sauté pan over mediu

Brocco li cass erole



ts 2 (10-o unc 1 cup m e) packages fr ay ozen ch opped b 1 cup g onnaise roccoli, rated s h cooked a rp ched 1 (10¾ and dra -ounce) dar ined can con 2 eggs, densed lightly c b r eaten eam of 2 cups mushro cru om sou 2 tables shed crackers p poons b utter, m elted D irectio n

Triple -che

ese spirals



Kosher salt 12 ounces gemelli, ca vatappi or spiral-shap other ed pasta 3 tablespo ons unsalt ed butter 1 tablespo on all-purp ose flour 1 teaspoon dry musta rd Pinch of ca yenne pep per 1 (12-ounce ) can evap orated mil ½ cup wh k ole milk ¾ cup shre dded yello w sharp cheddar c heese ¾ cup shre dded mon terey jack ½ cup gra cheese ted parme san cheese ½ cup pan ko (Japane se bread cr 2 tablespo umbs) ons chopp e d fresh pa chives and rsley, /or scallio ns



Bring a po t of salted water to a the pasta boil; add and cook u ntil al den minutes. te, about 8

Meanwhile , melt 1 ta blespoon b saucepan utter in a over mediu m heat. Ad mustard a d the flour, nd cayenn e and stir en spoon to with a woo make a pa dste. Cook, until the p stirring, aste puffs slightly, ab ute. Whisk out 1 minin both mil ks and ½ te salt and si aspoon mmer, wh isking occ until sligh asionally, tly thicken ed and cre minutes. A amy, 6 to dd the che 7 ddar and ja and all bu ck cheese t 2 tablesp s o o ns of the p and whisk armesan until melte d; keep wa Combine th rm. e panko, h erbs and/o 1 tablespo r scallions, on butter and the re parmesan maining in a micro wave-safe microwave bowl and until the b utter melt minute; to s, about 1 ss. Drain the p asta, reserv ing about ing water, 1 cup cookand return to the pot. the remain Toss with ing 1 table spoon butt in the chee er, then st se sauce, a ir dding the cooking w reserved ater if nee ded. Seaso and top wit n with salt h the brea d crumb m ixture.

s Prehea t oven t o 350 d dish wit egrees h veget Fahrenh ab In a lar eit. Spr ge mixin le oil cooking ay a 13 spray. g bowl, and egg -by-9-in combin s. Mix w ch bakin e b e pared b roccoli, g ll w it h aking d a meta m a y o nnaise, l spoon ish. Top butter e cheese . Place with th venly o , sou the ec ver the browne cracker rushed cracke mixture in the p d. s. Bake rs, and prepour th for 35 m e inutes, or until melted set and Cranb

erry sa u




12-ounc e bag o f fresh 1 cup s or froze ugar n cranb 1 strip erries orange or lemo 2 tables n zest poons w a Sugar, salt and ter pepper to taste Dir


s Empty the fres h or fro cup to zen cra a small nberrie bowl. A over low s in dd suga heat, st r, zest a to a saucepan irring o cranber a nd wate cca rie r to the nd transfer ½ and coo s are soft, abo sionally, until p an and t k until u h t e sugar 10 minu cook the heat to dissolve tes. Inc low and cranberries b r s and th e a se the h urst, ab stir in t pepper e eat o he rese to taste rved cr ut 12 minutes to medium , and co a . nberrie Reduce ol to ro s. the om tem peratur Add sugar, sa lt and e befor e servin g.

THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2010

A nonconformist table T

radition is a funny thing. appearance on the holiday table. For my family, breaking (But I hear the eggrolls were with tradition is about as delicious.) traditional as it gets. Still, as my mother reasoned My parents hosted their first that year, when there’s no turkey Thanksgiving early in their marcrowning the table, why carry riage. In our universally out the charade of that vegetarian family, the com“traditional” meal? Our monplace worries about Thanksgiving Day menu an under- or overcooked remains a favorite topic of bird and lumps in the gravy family debate throughout were, naturally, of little conthe month of November. cern. My innovative mother There’s plenty to consider, found a way to dismay her when the main-dish options alone range from handguests nevertheless. As her in-laws made Melanie Smith made ravioli (last year’s centerpiece) to grain-andtheir way to the dining nut-stuffed mini pumpkins room, anticipating the time-honat each place setting (circa 2005) ored spread of mashed potatoes, to an edible pastry cornucopia cranberries and stuffing, she put overflowing with roasted root vegthe finishing touches on a dish of etables (sometime in the late ’90s, egg foo yung. Amid china plates if memory serves). and blue-tinted crystal goblets, a A bountiful table celebrates the neat pyramid of crisp, just-fried corresponding bounty of harvest eggrolls shared space with platters and family and life — whatever of stir-fried vegetables. Twenty-some years later, the story its flavors. has been retold many times. Chinese  Melanie Smith is Our Town editor food has yet to make an encore and Google of grammar for the Press.

Courtesy photo of Melanie Smith (right) with sister Stephanie Smith and mother Carol Smith during a 2007 Thanksgiving dinner.


TURKEY DINNER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 it the night before, just as he used to do many a year ago. ’Long about noon, most of the family had started to arrive so they could to start the preparation for dinner, only to find that the coals had burned out overnight, and the big bird was still raw. No stove to cook, so there would be no mashed potatoes, gravy or any of the other delights that went with the holiday. In my extended family, everyone brings something to go with the bird. My brotherin-law was to have brought ham. Another brother-in-law brought deviled eggs, as well as potato salad — and both needed refrigeration they didn’t have. My wife was to have taken a couple of Jell-O salads. They resorted to warming the ham, as well as the buns, on the wood-burning stove, only to find that they burnt real fast if you didn’t keep turning them. Most of the family started getting hungry, as well as a bit testy, once they got into the wine. But it all ended well as they tried to make the best of a holiday tradition. The day ended early, and I’m sure everyone stopped at the first burger joint they saw to get something to eat. My wife and I? Well, we had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner.  John Wilson is pressroom foreman for the Press, aka the go-fer.

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6 | THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2010 Courtesy photos of Kelsy Ramos with sisters Keena, Kiley and Ryan.

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Matching PJs could only mean it’s Christmas Eve C

hristmas time at the Ramos house consists in the house that need decorating.) of three things: lots of laughs, lots of famAs the day winds down, my sisters and I get ily and lots and lots of Mama’s cooking. in our primp mode and get dolled up for the From the time we get up — usually to the smell of evening, which consists of church, lasagna — or Mama’s infamous biscuits and gravy — to sometimes spaghetti, depending on the the second we crawl up the stairs to bed, chef’s mood — Christmas music and a house full of relatives and friends. As the we’re stuffing our faces with goodies and lasagna pans get lighter, the empty wine cracking each other up with jokes only we and sparkling cider bottles pile up on would understand and appreciate. the kitchen counter and the candles dim, From all the traditions my family it could only mean one thing: The time has, I have to say our Christmas Eve to open that single present, before the tradition’s my all-time favorite. We kick unwrapping fest in the morning, is near. off the day with a breakfast fit for a king, Every year for the past few years, which is of course prepared by Chef Kelsy Ramos my mom has given my sisters and me Mama. And after a much-needed rest matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. from the huge task of eating breakfast, There was a time, once, when we hated it when my sisters and I wrap — or, in my case, bag our mom would dress us alike, but now it’s — presents and pile them near the 10-foot-plus something we look forward to every year. Christmas tree in the living room, which is decorated only by Mama. (Don’t feel too bad for  Kelsy Ramos is managing editor of the Press and us kids. There are literally seven or eight trees the copydesk page monkey.

Keep your finger out of the food I

done without the secret ingref you come to Thanksgiving dinner at the dient. Because blood and bread crumbs just shouldn’t Mendelson house, mix. you’re as liable to be When Dad’s wielding served pheasant as a knife in the kitchen, turkey. There’s no such you don’t want to hear thing as a traditional “Aaargh!” You even less bird for us. But if there’s want to see Dad shortly one staple year after thereafter walk from year, it’s the stuffing. the kitchen holding It’s fairly simple stuff his finger saying “It’s — no, I won’t divulge the Jon Mendelson fine” — the Mendelson recipe — but each year, equivalent to “Pay no my father has to make at attention to that man behind least two extra loaf pans of the the curtain.” stuff, in addition to whatever’s That favorite carbon-steel filling the bird, just so there’s knife of Dad’s had sliced right enough for what is usually only through the very tip of his ring the four of us. Yeah, we like finger, almost entirely cutting stuffing that much. One year, though, we could’ve it off. It was just there, waving

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by a little bit of skin. But true to Mendelson form, he refused stitches, covered the injury in gauze and a splint (probably held together by the Handyman’s Secret Weapon — duct tape), and went back to the business of putting together the evening meal. And, luckily, as he actually managed to keep the blood away from the food, everything turned out great. Even the stuffing. Oh, and as it turns out, Dad’s home-rigged finger fix turned out fine.

 Jon Mendelson is a associate editor for the Press associate and MacGyver of the copydesk.

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