Sunday, November 22, 2009

If turkeys were more useful they wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner

If turkeys were more useful they wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner. According to the story of Thanksgiving, when the Mayflower showed up at Plymouth Rock the Pilgrims had a harvest feast with the local Native Americans, which supposedly included a big juicy turkey.

But why Turkey? The answer to that question is not based in Thanksgiving folklore, but in economics. Turkeys have no purpose. I know, that's pretty harsh, they have a purpose, being DELICIOUS. Back in the day before 24 hour supermarkets (I know, hard to believe people survived) people had to hunt for their own food so choice of holiday main course depended on what was practical. Cows and chickens are more valuable alive, as they supply milk and eggs, geese were expensive to keep and pork was not considered special. Then there was turkey - cheap to own, easy to maintain and great for feeding large groups of people... the rest is history.

Thanksgiving isn't all about the gobble gobble. Oh no, you can't forget the sides and desserts. Let me share with you two of my favorites, so good that you'll have your relatives asking for more, in advance...

Now, these are not my personal recipes, but I always add my own little touches to make them special. Let's start with the stuffing...

Apricot Grand Marnier Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

* 1-1/2 cups Grand Marnier® or other orange liqueur, divided use
* 1 cup dried apricots, diced
* 4 cups chicken broth
* 3 large ribs of celery, diced
* 1 yellow onion, diced
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
* 1 pound turkey or pork bulk sausage
* 1 cup coarsely-chopped apple
* 16 ounces coarse bread crumbs (may use stuffing mix)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 cup of Grand Marnier® until small bubbles form around the edge. Pour over the apricots and let steep to plump. Set aside.

Bring chicken broth to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add celery, onions, thyme, and sage. Simmer for 5 minutes until vegetables soften a bit but not to the mushy point. Set aside.

Saute sausage in a skillet until cooked through, stirring often to break it up into chunks. Drain off any excess oil.

Place bread crumbs or stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add apricots with Grand Marnier®, onion and celery in chicken broth, sausage, apples, and remaining Grand Marnier®. Toss gently to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To bake stuffing separately, pour into a casserole dish and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes to brown the top.

If you use the stuffing inside poultry, be sure the stuffing has come to room temperature before stuffing the bird cavities and roast immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Since this stuffing is in high demand, I usually double or triple the recipe. I also add dried cranberries in with the apricots. Since there are a number of vegetarians in my family, I mix in the sausage last, that way I can keep some meat-free stuffing to the side.

And now, dessert...

Top Secret Drunken Rum Cake

Submitted by Queen of Quips

1 1/2 cup pecans

1 yellow cake mix with no pudding in the mix

1 (3 1/2 oz) package instant vanilla pudding

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup dark rum (Bacardi's Select Rum works

1/4 lb butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbls water
1/2 cup rum

Butter and lightly flour a bundt cake pan. Chop 3/4 cup of pecans and sprinkle on bottom of pan. Mix together all cake ingredients. Bake at 325F for 1 hour or until golden and cake pulls away slightly from pan sides. Cool on wire rack about 10 minutes, then remove from pan (inverted) and place on cake plate.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir well. Add just enough water to liquefy the sugar. Continue to cook until glaze
is bubbly and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Brush over cake, going around 4 or 5 times, until cake is darkened with glaze. Now, the best part! Mix remaining pecans into glaze while still warm. Let soak 1/2 hour. Pour pecans and extra glaze into center of cake.

I strongly recommend using a cake plate or platter with a rim because the glaze can be runny. Also, definitely make this the night before serving to let cake absorb as much
of the glaze as possible.

To be completely honest, I never use the same recipe (mostly because I forget to bookmark the page I got it from, which I believe had something to do with the Ya-Ya sisterhood book) but its always delicious - its soaked in rum. To make it special, I dye the cake a reddish color and bake it in a rose shaped pan. This recipe also makes great cupcakes and leaves everyone with a smile on their face.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Men have been sporting moustaches since 300 BC

Men have been sporting moustaches since 300 BC - the first documentation of a moustache was found in an ancient Iranian artifact which depicted a man on a horse with a handlebar moustache.

Thousands of years later, moustaches are more than a fashion statement and symbol of manliness...with the launch of Movember, a campaign to raise awareness for men's cancers, the moustache is now a symbol of unity amongst men. During Movember, men all around the world are challenged growing crazy moustaches for this very important cause.


Movember is an annual, month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues - specifically prostate and testicular cancer.

Watch a short intro to Movember by clicking on the video image below:

The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The guys behind it joked about 80s fashion and decided it was time to bring the moustache back. In order to justify their Mos (Australian slang for moustache), they used their new looks to raise money for prostate cancer research… never dreaming that facial hair would ultimately lead to a global movement that would get men talking about a taboo subject – their health.

A Mo Bro starts Movember – the month formerly known as November – clean shaven, and grows a moustache all month long, garnering support from friends and family in the form of donations. What’s more, a Mo Bro is a walking billboard for the cause as his new look opens the door for him to talk about cancers affecting men – making the moustache a symbol, much like the pink ribbon is for breast cancer. Each Movember culminates in a Gala Partè in major cities around the globe where Mo Bros dress up to match their Mo, channeling the likes of Tom Selleck, Gandhi and Ron Burgandy, vying for the ultimate accolade: Man of Movember.

While growing a Mo is left to the guys, Mo Sistas (women who support their guys) form an important part of Movember by recruiting Mo Bros, helping to raise funds and attending the highly anticipated Gala Partés.

A bunch of guys from my office are participating.

Don't have a moustache but want to help out? Here's how...

To make a donation, you can either:

Click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account , or

Write a check payable to Movember Foundation™, referencing my Registration Number 302082 and mailing it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 2726, Venice, CA 90294-2726.

All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund:
The LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance program which has the goal of improving survival rates and quality of life for young adults with cancer between the ages of 15 and 40.
Research initiatives to further understand the biology of adolescent and young adult cancers.

For more details on how the funds raised from previous campaigns have been used go to:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You can't sit in row 13 on most airplanes (Happy Friday the 13th)

You can't sit in row 13 on most airplanes, mostly because it doesn't exist. Many aircraft creators have done away with row 13 because people believe it is unlucky and refuse to sit in it.

I'm sorry to burst your superstitious bubble, but unless they tape off a row and leave it empty, row 13 is still there. It's just called 14 now. Sorry. My biggest concern on my last flight was not my row, but that my headphones broke in the middle of Up when my rowmate crushed them with his ass. Thanks to the very nice stewardess, I was able to obtain a new pair. Unfortunately the plane landed before I could finish the movie. No, I was not in row 14. I was in 9.

Airline row omission goes beyond the infamous row 13 (which is also left out of buildings from time to time) - in Japanese culture rows 4 and 9 are also omitted as they are considered unlucky in Japanese culture.

For more information on superstition and Friday the 13th, check out Romans are the reason a broken mirror means seven years bad luck and People who fear Friday the 13th suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia.