Monday Musings: Black Friday and Moving

As of yesterday, I finally finished moving my “stuff”.  Weeding out and tossing away wasn’t as easy or probably as successful as I had hoped it would be, although I did take one good carload of donations to the Salvation Army on Saturday morning.

Even though I thought that the movers had taken a lot of my smaller items along with the furniture and other big pieces almost two weeks ago, the quantity of “the rest” was–though not more than I had anticipated–time-consuming to gather, box, carry, load, and haul.  Even with the items given away and thrown away, a lot of what I have–when it comes to moving it–is just “stuff”.

Good enough reason–that while I was finishing up lugging all this personal “stuff” over these last few days–not to be in the least bit attracted by Black Friday and other holiday sales.  It’s a little like over-indulging in Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings, and then not wanting to have anything to do leftovers the next day.  There’s no temptation for me to go out and buy anything–sale or no sale–just to add to the stuff that I already have.

Of course, I have many unpacked boxes.  I was asked to take some pictures of my house, and post some on here, but, alas, I have no idea where the USB cord for my camera is.

So here I am at work, taking a break.  It’s actually a chilly fall day here in Houston.  I love the view of downtown Houston from my office (even though because a lot of the buildings near the bayou are older,  it may not be a shot the Houston Chamber of Commerce would use for marketing).  And, yes, though not as long, nor as dramatic as many other parts of the country, a change in seasons, when some of the trees show their vibrant colors, does come to the Bayou City.

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Just In Case You Get Tired of Turkey, Run-down from Black Friday Shopping, or Need To Take a Break from the NFL Games–Here’s a Little Present That Will Keep You From Getting “Dragged Down”

I’ve heard about the Eurovision song competition for years, and I know that some pretty famous artists have sung in it, and some songs have become famous after first being performed on it, but, otherwise, I don’t know that much about it. Here’s the lowdown from wikipedia:

“The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union. Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. Each country participates via one of their national EBU-member television stations, whose task it is to select a singer and a song to represent their country in the international competition.The Contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world.”

Anyway, while browsing through youtube the other night, I found this video from the Denmark entry in 2007 by a group called DQ. (I don’t think it’s what you’re thinking of, ice cream lovers. I think if you listen to the words, it must be for “Drama Queen”.

Enjoy. It’s actually kinda catchy. (And, you don’t act like a “drama queen” if you don’t like it.)

Simple and Delicious Squash Pie and Ice Water Pie Crust Recipes–Something You May Want To Try This Holiday Season

squash-pie1I got out my recipe box tonight, as I wanted to find my pie crust recipe; actually, I have two different recipes that I’ve used over the years, one that you start with boiling water, and the more traditional one in which you finally bind the ingredients together with a little ice water. Homemade squash pie has been on my mind, especially thinking about my mom and the pies she used to make from the squash we raised on the farm. Besides, the weather’s cooler here in Houston, and, it is, after all, Thanksgiving time, so heating the oven is something thinkable.

I made squash pies, and “mmm”, they are good; I just tasted one. I think squash pie has a mild flavor when compared to pumpkin pie. To be honest, I didn’t follow a recipe, but I did make everything from scratch, cooked the squash and all. My mom used to make squash pies, and her recipe has fewer ingredients than what I used. Here is my very own squash pie recipe:

mixer1-2 medium butternut squash, halved and the seeds cleaned out (a good melon baller is great for cleaning out the seed cavity). Bake in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil at about 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover and let bake for 15-20 more minutes so that some of the squash’s own sugar carmelizes and turns a golden brown. Test to see if the squash is done by poking the center with a fork Let the squash cool, and peel or scoop out the pulp with a big spoon. I used a hand blender to puree the squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the following ingredients and mix them in with the hand blender, a large food processor, or an electric mixer in the order given:

-1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

-1 cup of half and half

-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

-3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

-3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

-3/4 to 1 cup dark brown sugar

-4 small eggs

-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

This makes a lot of filling, probably enough for three large pies. I think by halving the recipe and using only one butternut squash, you’d still have plenty of filling for one large pie or two small ones.

If the squash after cooking is dry rather than soft and moist, add more milk to the filling mixture and puree well with the hand blender or food processor; the filling mixture needs to be somewhat “soupy” in order to have a smooth, creamy pie after it is baked.

Pour the filling into unbaked pie crusts and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees and 30-40 minutes more at 325 degrees. (You may need to adjust the oven temperature and the time depending on the size of your pies and your elevation. Perhaps it’s just my oven, but I find I need to decrease the temperature about 25 degrees for most things I bake here in Houston.) Test the pie for doneness by inserting a table knife in the center and checking to see if it comes out clean. If it comes out clean, the filling should be cooked. Be careful though of over-cooking; otherwise, you’ll end up with a “rubbery” pie. Take the pies out of the oven, and let them rest on a rack until they are cool enough to eat. Squash pies are great warm or cold.

Here’s the Ice Water Pie Crust (nice and flaky, and also tasty) recipe I use:

-2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt sifted into a bowl

-2/3 cup Crisco at room temperature

-a small glass of water with 2-3 ice cubes in it (you won’t use it all)

Cut the Crisco into the dry ingredients (I just use a tablefork for this) until all the Crisco is combined well with the dry ingredients and the dough is of a consistency of small crumbs.

At this point, you can cover the bowl and refrigerate for awhile, but you don’t have too. Slowly, by about a teaspoon at a time, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of ice water over the other ingredients and toss in with a fork. You may feel you want more water, but don’t do it, or the pie crust dough will get sticky. You should be able to “feel” the dough coming together as you toss it with the fork. Take half of the mixture in the bowl and form a ball with your hands. Flour your rolling pin and whatever surface you will be using to roll out the dough on. (I like to use a large plexiglass cutting board, which works even better if you chill it in the freezer or fridge before rolling out the crusts.) Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and place it in the pie pan. This recipe is enough for two regular crusts, so it’s good if you’re making two one-crust pies or one two-crust pie.

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