20 November 2016

I am Thankful for a Good Dressing Recipe

'Tis time to tickle the titillating turkey! 

Many of us this week will believe we have little to be thankful for. Things have not gone our way in more than a few ways. That's life, and I'm thankful for life. Others will possibly worry about the truth of the story of the first Thanksgiving. Go with the overall idea, I say, and do not focus on the details. Some of us will simply sit down and lustily dine until their belts burst. Whichever category you fall into, be sure to pick yourself up and find something, anything, for which you are thankful this week. Be thankful I've written this blog, for example. That's the real message of the holiday. (Tip: invite a political opponent to dinner, then only discuss bunnies.)

For those who may be curious or forgetful, I recommend this source of information about Thanksgiving because practically all of it is wrong, or considered wrong to someone somewhere. Or the official source, Plymouth Plantation, if you care to surround yourself with facts and speculations. They may yet be debated, if you have time after dinner and between the games. (Tip: discuss bunnies instead.)

I choose to boil it all down from whatever origins are true and run with the general idea of being thankful for what I have and being humble about what good things I may be thankful for in the coming year. You are welcome to do likewise. 

Nevertheless, holiday traditions die hard (though the turkeys are fairly easy). From time immemorial, I and all my relations would gather at the grandparents' house bearing much food and together have a grand feast. I recall dinners with a giant turkey at one end of the long table and a giant ham at the other end, and a hundred side dishes and a thousand desserts stacked everywhere. I was a little boy with big eyes; later, I was a starving teenager with a bottomless stomach. I do not recall having much leftovers.

Now, however, I can barely finish a turkey sandwich with a side of dressing. Then my cousins grew up (and I suppose I did, too) and we all had our own families. By then, the grandparents had passed on and Thanksgiving dinners became separate and self-contained. At some point in my own household, it became pointless to go to the trouble of it, even at the risk of having no leftovers. Deli turkey was good enough for a few sandwiches. 

No matter what happens this year, indulge in excessive moderation and may your moderation be indulgent. See you on the other side!

Stephen's Stuffing (or "dressing" to some folks)

Ingredients: a loaf of really cheap bread, a stick of real butter, one medium-length summer sausage, a bag of dried apricots, a bunch of celery, a little jar of sage, a bottle of orange juice, salt & pepper to your taste. (You could substitute cooked/dried cranberries for the apricots, if you wish; in that case, skip the OJ and use cranberry juice.)

Spread the butter over most of the slices of bread. (Tip: kids love to help with this part!) After buttering, tear up the bread into little pieces and put the pieces into a large bowl.

Cut up the sausage; slice then dice. (For a variation, we also used oysters instead of the sausage; works better with cranberries than apricots.) Put the diced sausage in the large bowl that has all the bread pieces. Cut the apricots and celery into little pieces, too, and put those pieces into the large bowl, as well. Shake in a good amount of sage, salt, and pepper. Mix up everything in the large bowl until your arms are tired.

Take the mixture from the bowl and put it into a small pan, something like 8x8 inches will do--or 9x9, 10x10, 12x12, whatever fits the size of your appetite. (I do not recommend stuffing the turkey itself because it is rather gross when you think about it and you don't know for sure what is still inside the turkey.) Then sprinkle some sage on top. Pour some orange juice into the pan; not a lot, but get everything wet. The OJ will make it slightly tart; you can skip the OJ if you want to and it will still be good.

Put the pan with the stuffing/dressing in it into the oven and bake until it starts to smell good, perhaps 30 to 40 minutes at 350*F. I'm going on memory now, so be careful. Putting foil over the top may help it along. It seems to me that we always put it in along with the foil-wrapped potatoes or yams for the same time and temperature, so try that.

Or, you could layer each ingredient in the pan: bread pieces first, then the pieces of sausage, celery, apricot, sage, and repeat. Kids who insist on helping can be put to good use in this procedure. Then, pour the orange juice over the top, let it soak down into the mixture, then bake. 

NOTE: I am not, nor have I ever been, a cook, chef, or baker. However, this recipe is a hybrid of recipes I assisted with in my youth, standing alongside one or the other grandmother, so it checks out. You will not get sick from eating it. Enjoy!

And thanks to all of you for your indulgence, your patience, and your constant attention to whatever the heck I post here, lo these many months!

(C) Copyright 2010-2016 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

13 November 2016

How I Lost the Election

About two months ago I declared my candidacy for President of the United States of America and the mainstream media did not notice.


Well, apparently most people were. I thought I could be the solution. If I offered myself as a write-in candidate, then voters on both sides of the voting booth could have a choice to select which they did not loath. After all, I'm a pretty nice guy most of the time. As proof of that, I regularly post bunnies on Facebook. Those who knew me through social media would attest to my good-naturedness, my clever repartee, and my wholesome disposition. I even had some kind of a platform, which I outlined in a previous blog post. I also had an animal logo that would stand alongside the donkey and the elephant. 

Then the harsh reality set in. First, I learned that not even my own state allowed write-in votes. Other states had similar rules. Right then I knew I could not win but I still hoped to gain some support so I could make a valid run next time. I thought my platform was good, too. Nobody complained. I got several comments of support and none asking questions about details. I knew I would work out the details later, anyway, when I hired top people to think through all the problems and how to solve them. That's how it works; I learned that from the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati.

There were no scandals in my campaign, either. Having no staff and no press corps, I could have done anything, yet I continued my happy-go-lucky, carefree campaign almost exclusively through social media. Wikileaks does not even know my name, it seems. I accepted no donations from big donors; in fact, I had zero donations so I was forced to self-fund. I took out almost seventy-nine dollars from the bank and spent it on coffee and ice cream and hamburgers to keep the campaign going. I gave no speeches and had no rallies. I made no banners or yard signs. I was asked for no interviews and gave no statements to any election board. I did not even make a major magazine cover.

All right, I know I was naive, too innocent for politics, and I started too late in the cycle. Then I kept to myself and just hoped everything would come together and then I would be coronated by the masses. I would awaken on November 9 and be as surprised as everyone else that a simple lad born and raised in Missouri who had so many qualifications [sic] would be invited to direct the activities of a mighty nation. I could do it, too; I would willingly put aside my fiction writing business for a few years. And yet, it didn't happen. Instead, it seems everyone still voted for one of the two they didn't hate--when they could have voted for me. 

Now all there is is gridlock. Half the voters are pleased and half protest. Some cry out that it was all unfair, they didn't get their way. Some shout how they suffered during the past eight years so now others can suffer. Many think the world is about to end while others see the world being saved--both of them, of course, electing only a president, the leader of one of around 182 nations on this planet. Granted, it's a big-talking nation with wide reach and a bottomless belly, but hey...I could've done it. I would be a unifier. I would have brought people together, all the cat folks and all the dog folks. After all, that is what I did on Facebook. And, as we all know, what happens on Facebook...well, let's leave it at that. No reason to express an opinion that would only incite a response from...well, someone...anyone...please?

I hope for better luck next time. Can I count on your vote?

(C) Copyright 2010-2016 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.