Monday, November 30, 2009

A Preppy Thanksgiving... i.e. What happened to the turkey?

A circa 1980's Thanksgiving meal on Tybee Island with yours truly sippin' sweet iced tea:

This year's Thanksgiving has come and gone and... this year...

...I made the meal. Yes, that's no typo! You read it right. Shocking though true, I actually cooked the turkey, several side dishes, rolls and so forth and had the table set n' ready n' candles lit by the time James came back from helping out at our church's community meal.

Well, the turkey was really only a large turkey breast and both James and I had prepped a lot of the side dishes the night before but heck, for once I actually had a holiday meal all ready-by-myself. This was a big deal for me though I'm sure it's quite nothing at all for others. But you see, the way I grew up, none of the women in my family cooked. Period. In Georgia, there were other people cooking for our family as well as cooking for my extended families' households. After we moved up north when I was in fourth grade, um, we either "did canned soup and sack lunch style sandwiches" or Dad took us all out to dinner after he got home from the office. Needless to say, I loved being over at my various girl and guy friend's houses whose mothers were great cooks and even might have fresh baked cookies awaiting us after school. Gee wiz- how neat was that?! Stay-at-home mothers that cooked? Wow... My mother, bless her Southern Belle heart, was usually still in her impractical at-home wear playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon unless of course she had played tennis that morning. Then she'd be in her tennis togs playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon. She'd finally get dressed for the day right before Dad came home- funny that eh? haha

And meals featuring turkeys were quite interesting after we moved up north and mother was attempting to fix a festive meal oh, at least three or so times a year. I remember her calling our next door neighbor Mrs. Foley to ask what the little bag was tucked inside the turkey that she had bought at the grocery store the first year we transplanted ourselves from Georgia to the great white North. I also remember an experiment with her placing slices of bread on the outside of the turkey (for goodness knows what) as it cooked and the truly decrepit looking result that had my brothers and I losing our appetites long before the carving of said sad bird. Then there was the cook-it-in-a-paper-bag fiasco where the kitchen smoked-up. Oh my.

I guess then that I shouldn't have been too surprised when, trying to find a picture to post of a past Thanksgiving meal, I could only find this one here of some of our family at the Tybee Island beach house circa mid-1980's when I was about 15 or 16. That's me sipping what I know could only be super-sweet iced tea while sharing a table with my father, two brothers, grandmother, aunt, cousin and a baby which I think is one of my second cousins. My aunt who married into our family could cook and so I'm also quite sure that the food featured in this photograph features mostly her cooking.

There was one dish however that my mother contributed every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal that was a hit and still is- a praline sweet potato side dish. It is absolutely delish and one of my husband's favorites and so, but of course, I made a big batch of that this past week.

I inherited my late mother's love of reading cookbooks but I smartened-up big time by marrying an incredible classically-trained chef who does wonders in the kitchen! I've happily played sous chef and clean-up crew in our household for almost two decades now. However, this particular Thanksgiving, it was so neat to see the delighted surprise on James' face when he walked down the hallway from the front door and saw that his meal at home had already been home-cooked for him. He had been expecting to finish cooking it himself once he returned from volunteering at our church but lo and behold, a Thanksgiving miracle happened indeed.

Next year... who knows, but at least for one year in my life, I managed to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself with not a motley, encrusted slice of bread on the turkey in sight.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The proverbial When Life Gives You Lemons....

Ah, how true is the proverbial ditty, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"...

Yesterday I took a quick sunshine-break out and about in our yard here on the island since the weather was so balmy, breezy and bright for what by now is a very extended Indian Summer going way into November this autumn. Our lemon tree that my late mother planted is loaded down with lemons and so I picked a few of the ones that were ready. I also picked the roses which were in full bloom in mother's rose garden that, since we moved-in here to be with my father, I've tended and even added some additional rose bushes into. It's a tiny bed out in front of the first stair landing leading up to the house's front door with a bird bath in the middle of the assorted rose and lantana bushes. (One of my first posts on this blog has a picture of it) And above is a photo of the harvest-bounty from today's gleanings...gathered up in one of my favorite old baskets which I set out onto our dining room's table.

For the most part, we've kept the yard areas around here (upper and lower lots) au natural n' woodsey but I have retained the rose garden in front by the stairs and then we also have our 3 large raised-beds kitchen garden in one of the side-areas. My aesthetic style is much more woods n' vines than it is neat beds of landscaped boxwood bushes n' bark chips. I greatly admire the full, lush beds of English Gardening and many-chimney country homes I've glimpsed on various trips into the English countryside over the years but as for me, it's always been a joy of natural spots with a cottage plunked down amidst the trees, deer, vines and occasional flowering tree.

And the tree in bloom right now is mother's lemon tree.

Life did so seem to be filled with lemons, tart, biting, very sour lemons when I came back here to help my mother in her final 5 weeks of life five years ago this past August. It seemed quite bitter indeed that she never even made-it to her retirement age and left us so shockingly quickly after her surprising diagnosis. I don't think I will ever stop missing my mother or stop missing the life I was absolutely enjoying living out there on a mountain side in Park City, Utah however...

... some of those lemons have indeed turned into sweet lemonade thank goodness!

Living out here on this island is wonderful as are our local friends and church family. Plus now for the first time since my early childhood, I'm close to my aunts, uncles and assorted cousins who live in Savannah and also up in Charleston. And of course being able to spend time with my father is so great too. It's also been this time period within my life where I was finally able to go on to graduate school and tonight, er this morning at 4:00 a.m. I finished-up what is my Master's Portfolio project which I'll be turning in soon before I graduate in December. Very exciting!

Though we honestly can't believe that we've been out here five years already, James and I both enjoy this simple island livin' chapter of our life together. It's been 20 years now since our first date and 18 1/2 years of marriage and... we're still having so much fun! We've just traded-in time spent out on rivers fly fishing for fishing outta' kayaks pushed off of our yard at high tide. I do prefer catching and releasing nice and easy brown or rainbow trout to the seemingly endless supply of bonnethead sharks I tend to catch here but overall, life is good and a lot of our happily-living-times are still being spent out of doors which we both love so much.

And so my quick ramble around outside today in between lotsa' hours of schoolwork was delightful!

There's so many lemons on this lemon tree that in another week I think I'll be making a lemon tart in addition to pitchers of fresh gives me lemons, oh, they're going to be put to good use alright ;)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wonderful World of Wellies!

From Preppy Sporty above to Preppy Pretty as featured below... one's footwear statement can be a whole lotta' fun!

Ah, there's nothing like tromping around in wet weather with a trusty pair of boots on! I love misty mornings, rainy afternoons and thunderstorm nights...really. I toe the line however at hurricanes with now living out on a tiny island off the coast of South Carolina.
I remember when my mother and I traveled from England to Scotland a few years ago. While we were out n' about enjoying England's iconic Lake District, it was wonderfully misty-rain all around and so by the time we arrived in Edinburgh, the weather was way too sunny bright skies for our tastes. Where'd the mists go? Darn! This past spring, James and I were in London and caught a rain shower or two while there. More recently, while up in the North Carolina mountains this autumn, we enjoyed a good weekend's worth of rain pouring down on us and I wish now that I had had my new Sperry Wellie-boots along with me.
Aren't these tartan Sperry boots great?!
They made me literally smile the first glimpse that I had of them in our local Belk store and so, naturally, they came on home with me. The coordinating "duck shoes" too as I am a sucker for anything Burberry-hued plaid. Last year for Christmas, James gave me a terrific Burberry cashmere scarf that's really a shawl at times, it's so wide and wraps so wonderfully. I absolutely love it... I wear a lot of brown, tan, black and cream with dashes of Chinese-red anyway so these color tones within a tartan are just perfect for my wardrobe. This color group also coordinates with my beloved Barbour field jacket but that's another story...
But anyway yes, it's been the proverbial English Hunt Country Look for me for a very long time. Both Preppy in general and super Deep-South at the same time and oh, so very practical. Where else does one sport shoot with her pearls on in America? That's my Australian contingents favorite picture of me and if I can ever unearth a copy around here, I'll post it onto the blog here. My buddy Fletcher snapped that photo and we laughed about how it really is just an ordinary kinda' thing for a lowcountry gal to be toting her rifle while wearing pearls and a sweater twin set out behind a tomato field.
There's Preppy-posturing which is an affected, purposed styling and then there's just ole' Preppy which has been handed-down for generations and is as natural as breathing. As comfortable to wear around 24/7 as one's old pair of boat shoes or riding boots. In fact, most true Preppy attire is rather well-worn or is a recent replacement of a well-loved piece of clothing, accessory or footwear that finally couldn't be worn any longer. Like when my riding boots, really worn down after years of hunter jumper riding, just could not be re-soled anymore. Oh, that was a sad, sad day. I'm not sure where they are right now but I did run across James' old riding boots the other day. He traded-in his actual horse Sonny for a clothes-horse (me!) some years ago and at times I wish we were both riding once again though I think our jumping days are now far behind us.
Speaking of James' boots- he has the real Hunter wellie boots and has enjoyed them for years. Right now in fact they're out on our front porch's stoop all muddied from some marsh pluff-mud tromping around that he did while getting in and out of one of our kayaks the other afternoon.
I had thought about ordering me some newer Hunter boots, as my old ones are tight to get into now where my foot arch is (which is strange since I'm wearing the same shoe size and have lost weight since buying those but anyway...) and then I espied these too-cute Sperry versions.
Life out here on our rustic, woodsey, marsh-lined island is very indoor-outdoor and this is just the way I like it! Now if only my Orvis fly fishing boots looked as cute ;) Happy fall ya'll and happy sportin'-around in boots this autumn!