Thanksgiving in the Fort

Thanksgiving in the Fort


It is that time of year in Fort Worth, Texas, and we know it because:

  • The force compels us to stop by the Vending Nut Company for mounds of pecans, pepitas and more.
  • We are sad we missed the Parade of Lights – didn’t get the memo about the date change.
  • Can you say, Turkey Trot? Wear your rain gear and rubber running shoes this year we are in for a wet one.
  • We are chilly and inside by the fireplace loaded with pinon pine but with our definition of cold weather anyone living outside of Texas would be wearing shorts and a sweatshirt and wondering why the heat is on.
  • Tamales!
  • Football, football, and more football. At our house, we play “spud”.
  • Of course we will eat pie; it is a matter of what type. Pecan, yes?
  • Making cornbread for the stuffing.
  • On Ashland, it is time to get the holiday outdoor lights hung.
  • Sundance Square, Christmas Tree and photos with Santa.
  • Deadlines, Smedlines.
  • Trips to DFW Airport
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher.
  • The smell of turkey roasting and the sound of the cat meowing.
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (again).

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, start making your traditions, and for each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

thanksPreparation for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are times I cherish especially after taking a break for two years from hosting the traditional Thanksgiving dinner here on Ashland. Last year, we visited Charleston, South Carolina, and ate dinner out at several great restaurants including my personal favorite, Husk.  This year, I am cooking again and incorporating many of the flavors discovered from travels and recent dining experiences.  Of course, cornmeal from Anson Mills in Carolina is a key ingredient to the chorizo and cornbread stuffing recipe that I am prepping,  riffing off of Chef Sean Brock’s recipe.  Check out the Anson Mills’ website for all of their great products including yellow gold rice and benne seeds.

I am attempting to lighten up the menu a bit and accommodate some family dietary restrictions which is making the menu even more interesting this year. Here is my current lineup.  I may audible as the week progresses as I am prone to changing my mind.

  • Roasted rosemary nuts (assorted including garbanzo beans)
  • Roasted acorn squash and spinach salad with vinaigrette using a secret ingredient — piloncillo from Mexico
  • Garlic fresh green beans with almonds
  • Cranberry, jalapeno and orange compote
  • Roasted Turkey (brined)
  • Chorizo and cornbread stuffing (made with almond milk so it is dairy free)
  • Smashed red skin potatoes
  • Various pickles
  • Grilled dates
  • Lemon Tart and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I try to make as much of the meal as possible ahead of time, so that on Thanksgiving day I can concentrate on having fun with outdoor activities besides lots of kitchen prep.  RM is in charge of the turkey which frees me up to focus on the appetizers, sides and desserts.Typically, Thanksgiving Day in Texas is perfect weather for long walks.  We plan to participate in the Turkey Trot this year, starting out early on Thanksgiving morning. This has become a family tradition that gets us into the spirit of the holiday, doing something healthy and for a good cause, with so many Fort Worth area families.

We eat our meal in the evening which allows all of us more time to get ready for the feast.  I put the guests to work setting the table and helping me keep up with the dirty dishes. I have always regretted only installing one dishwasher when we remodeled our kitchen. In my mother’s day, prepping for Thanksgiving was so much more work.  She didn’t have a dishwasher or the slick kitchen gadgets that I have accumulated.  I have memories of my mother setting her alarm for early in the morning, before sunrise on Thanksgiving Day, so she could put the turkey in the oven so it would be ready by the noon meal. I don’t remember my dad helping out with the meal prep until years later when she patiently trained him to prepare salad and homemade bread.

RM is busy repairing dripping shower heads, fiddling with running toilets, and mending leaking pipes so that all our facilities are in top notch shape for our overnight guests.  Ongoing maintenance issues are a constant inconvenience when you live in as old a house as ours but we love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else this holiday week than right here on Ashland.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by for a cup of coffee, a nibble  or a sip of vino and give thanks, with us,  for all we have — good friends, healthy family, and in everything, give thanks.


De Gaulle Eggs

De Gaulle Eggs

Mushroom (dried and fresh), onion, and bacon

RM and I enjoy watching cooking shows (correction, I demand to watch at least one cooking show in between the endless stream of football) while we relax during our cooler evenings here on Ashland.  Recently, we devoured several of Jacque Pepin’s new episodes, Heart and Soul, on PBS.  Jacques’ cooking career included time in the Élysée Palace cooking for the French President. At the young age of 22 and alongside his best friend, pastry chef, Jean-Claude Szurdak, Jacques cooked classic dishes for the de Gaulle family. Sixty years later, he is still cooking.  The dish that got our attention yesterday, because it is topped with a very slutty egg, was Morel and Shrimp Eggs in Cocotte. By definition slutty equates to runny in my friends’ colorful and descriptive vocabulary.

This morning, I created my tribute cocotte dish using instead dried mushrooms I had purchased previously at an Asian market in Haltom City (for some Pok Pok recipe I never got around to making) with fresh fungi, onions, bacon, a bit of cream, and of course, the shining crown of a perfectly steamed egg, finished in a style fitting a President with fresh sage, cracked pepper and buttered toast.  I didn’t remove the crust from the toast but I am quite certain Jacques did when he served the President of France all those years ago. To our friends in Paris, we admire your resiliency, style and grace in the face of these horrendous terrorist acts of violence.  We know you will find some comfort and a way to go on as you always do in the warmth of family, food and faith.

De Gualle Eggs

Dice all of the following:

  • One small red onion
  • three strips of bacon
  • 8 fresh mushrooms
  • cup of dried mushroom (pour hot water over them and let them reconstitute before dicing)

Saute in a non-stick pan (I love T-fal) the onion and bacon until the bacon is crispy.  Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.  I saved the water from the dried mushrooms and added a bit to the pan at this step.  Allow the mixture to cook for a few minutes and then add a half a cup of cream.  Stir and combine.  Divide the mushroom mixture into ramekins and then crack an egg on top of each one.

Be sure to cover them so they steam, only needs to cook about 3 minutes

Place the ramekins gently into a simmering bath of water in a large pan on the top of your stove.  Cover for just a couple of minutes until the egg has cooked just a little bit on the top (looks like a transparent film).  Remove the dishes to a plate (be careful, the ramekins are hot).  Garnish with cracked pepper and fresh sage.  Serve with toast.  This is a great breakfast dish on a cool, fall morning especially comforting after a storm. Paix!

De Gaulle Eggs Finir
Sound of a City

Sound of a City

All cities have sounds. Each one with a unique beat,  Urgent. Shrill. Soothing. While visiting a city,  I listen for a sound that is special to the place, often repeating, and one that I will remember when I get back home.  Often the sound is heard in the quiet of the early morning when you wake up but you’re not quite ready yet to open your eyes to start the day.  Here’s a start to a list of cities and matching sound effects from my travels and memories:

Toluca, Mexico:  Cathedral bells

Seattle, Washington:  Rain

Paris, France:  Putt-putt sound of the tiny green street sweeper trucks

New York, New York:  Sirens and car horns (correction:  taxi cab horns)

Chicago, ILL:  Ambient white noise and the famous L sound if near the tracks

Vancouver, B.C.:  Ship horns

London:  Three different siren sounds and birds squawking

Fort Worth:  Trains squealing

Charleston, S.C.;  Back up beepers on trash trucks, clopping of horse hooves on brick

Berlin, Germany:  Scary siren sounds you remember from old war movies

Florence, Italy:  Evening church bells from the Medici Chapel

Munich, Germany:  Cuckoo bells and music everywhere

Portland, OR:  “Ding-Ding goes the bicycle bells, or the rider shouts “on the left”

Boston, Mass:  Car horns, lots of long car blasts

Los Angeles, CA:  Ocean waves

Do you have any you would like to add to my list?  Please share

street sweeper
Paris street sweeper
Pancita Soothes a Traveler

Pancita Soothes a Traveler

While visiting Mexico recently, I slurped on a big bowl of Pancita one morning at the fabulous brunch prepared by our hotel chef on our last day visiting the magical mountain city of Toluca.  Mexicans swear this tasty and aromatic menudo soup, with its distinctive spongy texture, will do the magic trick of bringing you back to life after a night of dancing and tequila sipping.   I am not sure about that, but maybe the high content of vitamin B has something to do about it, besides its rich flavor. This soup was delish with just the right amount of spice and robustness to sooth a weary traveler’s soul and tummy.
Pancita Soup at the Hotel Fiesta in Toluca, Mexico
This soup is usually sold on weekends in small mom-and-pop kitchens called “Fondas” or in restaurants that specialize in it. The soup is called different names depending of the region. It is known as “pancita”, Mondongo, or Menudo. In the northern states some cooks add hominy to make a robust pair with the meat. The recipe also varies from region to region. Other cooks will add ancho peppers in addition to the guajillo and even tomato.
  • 3 pounds of clean tripe cut into small bite size pieces
  • 1 cow’s feet (It’s usually sold already cut up in pieces)
  • 1 pound narrow bones
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion cut into thick slices
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano

For the sauce:

  • 6  guajillo peppers cleaned, seeded, open flat, and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves
Not for vegetarians.
Pineda Covalín: A Mexican Fashion House discovered at the Mexico City Airport

Pineda Covalín: A Mexican Fashion House discovered at the Mexico City Airport

This is the pattern for my scarf — there is a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary just a bit from Toluca.

This brand was created by Cristina Pineda and Ricardo Covalín. Cristina Pineda has a bachelor in textile design and also has a masters in art history and graduate studies in managing strategies from the Monterrey Institute of Technology. Visiting Toluca, Mexico, last week, I had the chance to attend a workshop at the Monterrey Institute of Technology branch in Toluca and explore issues important to women including reproductive and breast health, gender equality, and violence prevention.  We studied and collaborated by day and checked out many cultural and historical sites in the late afternoon and evening.  The community was celebrating the Dia de los Muertos with a colorful and memorable festival and celebration of life and we found ourselves right in the middle of it.  We so enjoyed the music, the food, the warmth of the women from Toluca and forming endearing relationships between Toluca and Fort Worth women.

While I did considerable shopping for gifts for the holidays for my brood of family and friends, in the airport, I discovered a shop with designs that made my heart sing.  I brought back a silk scarf and a necklace to commemorate a once in a lifetime trip with memories made with my daughter and my dear friends made both through Women’s Policy Forum as well as Sister Cities International. To my surprise, I found out that we are able to order their fashions online in the US so wanted to share the link and my new secret passion with you!