Writers Workshop: A Revisit to the “Grossest Family Recipe Ever”

Every family has its traditions. Apparently, one of mine is the grossest family recipe ever.

Originally published last year, talking about family food traditions was an important story to tell. With another year under our belts, Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is still part of my Thanksgiving tradition and it’s even more poignant when compared with others’ viewpoints of my favorite turkey day recipe. 

2012 has been a year of blessings. Our grown up kids are flourishing in their adult lives. Music Man and I are happily adjusting to my retirement and his more positive work environment. Our son is engaged to a beautiful woman whom we are eager to welcome into our family.  Libbie is now four, David is almost two, Jessie is expecting another family member in March, and I love being a great-aunt. Our band will grow and flourish and getting together at Thanksgiving is so very important to its health. Although it’s a pain in the neck to travel 600 miles, it’s worth it. We have a lot to be thankful for.

From November 19, 2011

As we enter our weekend of Thanksgiving and gluttony, I would like to pause and give thanks for the many creatures that give up their lives for us at this time of year.

 

Insert. Silent. Pause. Here.

My little family band gets together with my brothers and their families on the day after Thanksgiving. We have been doing this since 1976; I have not prepared a Thanksgiving meal in my own home since then. Every year, we drive the 600 miles round trip to be with our family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year we decided to forego our gift giving to each other and donate to Heifer International instead. We’ll still be giving gifts to the young ones, and it will be fun to see them open their presents. We also sing Christmas songs — we are THAT family that could make our own Trapp Family Singers — and I’m looking forward to hearing three-year-old Libbie sing her part in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me and some of my family, it just isn’t Thanksmas without oyster dressing. It’s unclear where our family recipe comes from, but my mother started making oyster dressing for our holiday gatherings a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember when she didn’t make it. It was just always there.

My mom passed away in June, and as the eldest child, it has become my job to bring the oyster dressing. I’ve been making it for events here in our Chicagoland home for a while, but no one loves oyster dressing as well as my brothers and I do. My niece Jessica wrote about our family recipe on herVanderbilt Wife blog, calling our treasured oyster dressing our “grossest family recipe.” I beg to differ, but as she is allergic to clams, I wouldn’t want her to get sick on oysters. I do, however, want to share the recipe for what I consider to be the crowning glory of our holiday buffet table.

And just we’re clear about the popularity of oyster dressing, even the fabled Ree Drummond published a recipe for Oyster Dressing on her Pioneer Woman blog. I’m not alone in my love for this succulent awesomeness. Ree’s is a little different from ours; hers is more like traditional tossed bread-cube dressing. Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is more of a souffle-like scalloped oysters. It might be fun someday to make both recipes and see which one we like better!

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • Four cans frozen or canned oysters (fresh would be fine, but not necessary)
  • Four ribs finely chopped celery
  • Four cans mushrooms
  • One box saltines crushed
  • one pound butter pats
  • About two cups of milk

Instructions

First spray a 4.8 quart (15" x 10" x 2") rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray, and then add a layer of crushed crackers. Begin layering the ingredients -- oysters, celery, mushrooms, butter, and another layer of crackers. After each cracker layer add some milk and the juice from the mushrooms and oyster cans. You should have about four layers of crackers and three of “goodies.”

Cover it with foil so that it doesn’t dry out and take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so the top gets a little crusty. Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until the texture is puffy like a souffle. It is okay to prepare it in advance and let the liquids sink in.

A large Pyrex casserole dish will serve eight people comfortably as a side dish.

Notes

http://gotmyreservations.com/2012/11/22/writers-workshop-a-revisit-to-the-grossest-family-recipe-ever/

I’m linked up today to the Writing Workshop at Mama’s Losin’ It. It’s been a while since I’ve linked up because I’ve been converting my blog over to being self-hosted. If you have my old version on your blogroll (and I heartily thank you for your support), please change the link to gotmyreservations.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Saturday Linky Love

I know — it’s Sunday, not Saturday.

We had a busy day yesterday with a funeral and some touring in an area we don’t often go to. The wind was blowing and it was a beautiful sunny day. I tried to catch the movement in these flowers.

But I’ve been saving up some fun stuff for you to look at. I’m linked up today at Vanderbilt Wife; I hope you enjoy reading these curated lists of goodies!

  1. The post most likely to make you make some changes in the way you spend your days: “How to Carve More Time Into Your Day”
  2. The post most likely to make you feel inadequate, boring and/or stupid: List of 21st Century literature written by women that you should have already read.
  3. The post most likely to make you read a book and eagerly anticipate its movie: Top 12 Fall Movies Based on Books
  4. Most ridiculous claim of the week: Prends Moi perfume will help you to lose weight. Don’t forget to click into the Enorme link. 🙂
  5. Video of the Week: Miami University (my Ohio alma mater) Men’s Glee Club performing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
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Linky Love: Friday’s Child Is Loving and Giving

This week I’ve decided to hook you up with blogs that I follow and love EVERY day. Using the ancient British nursery rhyme, I’ll take you on a tour of my favorite blogs.

When I learn that a young family member or friend is going to have a baby, I think to myself, there goes twenty years of your life. It’s not easy giving up the self and couple-centered activities that young people enjoy, and I’m not sure that everyone who chooses to have a baby is actually ready for the just-plain-hard work that goes along with being a parent of a young child. Thank goodness the joy of having kids usually outweighs the bad. I’ve been blessed to see my two children grow up to be wonderful adults, but there were moments along the way that I would have easily sold them to the gypsies (JK, kids). Images like this one make me remember those first steps and that first Easter egg hunt. These were times when I loved my kids so much I could barely hold it in — and I still do.

Today I’m featuring the blog of my niece, Jessica, who writes as Vanderbilt Wife. Her honest appraisals of her life as the mother of two toddlers have made her popular among “mommy bloggers” but she is more than that.

As the nursery rhyme goes, Friday’s child is loving and giving, and I think that Jessie epitomizes that in her relationships with her little family, with her sister, with her father and mother, and with her many cousins and aunts and uncles. She was a dedicated and thoughtful granddaughter to my mom and dad, and in her role as houseparent to boys in a private school, she is a mother figure as she bakes her way into their hearts.

If you want to connect to a real person who writes about real life and is honest about the trials and joys of being a parent, try out Vanderbilt Wife. She also shares a lot of recipes which are all delish! And then there’s the photos of my adorable grand-niece and nephew. 🙂

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Saturday Linky Love

I’m pretty excited that my niece, known out there in the blogging world as Vanderbilt Wife, is the new moderator of a Saturday link-up. I’m proud of her and of the success she has had as a writer, so I’ll be supporting her efforts on Saturdays.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, my goal is to connect you with some bloggers and writers that you might have missed, and will share stories that I think are worth reading.

  1. For the word-lovers and haters among you, this post from The New Yorker discusses words that should be eliminated from the English language. Of course it’s witty and beautifully written; it’s The New Yorker! There’s also a warm tribute to Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys here that is quite touching.
  2. I ran into Tracy at iOS Affairs this week when she visited my blog. I was entranced by her concept, All Apple, All Apps, All the Time. There’s a lot to be learned from Tracy (and a lot of time you might waste playing with her recommendations!).
  3. Although I’ve been teaching English for fifteen years, I used to be a music teacher. I really enjoyed this look at student motivation and what we can learn from it in our classrooms.
  4. If you’re not up on your Australasia news, you might not know that there is a Marmite crisis going on. Apparently a factory that makes Marmite was damaged in an earthquake and it’s big news that for the moment, stores are on their last jars of Marmite. The blogger made it REAL with her photograph.
  5. I was really excited when I found that my friend Tricia has launched mini-meal planning at Once a Month Mom. With just two of us in our empty nest, the once a month bulk cooking isn’t really necessary, but I can make a recipe and freeze it in smaller units that we revisit twice in a month. Another thing I can try when I retire!
  6. Finally, whenever I have a chance, I encourage people to visit my friend Michelle. Her gentle way of looking at the world of reading  at The Great Read never ceases to inspire me.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Who do you think we should have read this week?

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Writer’s Workshop: Book Reviews

Like all readers, I always have stacks of books laying on surfaces in my home and I’ve enjoyed writing about them on my blog. I keep a yearly tally on one of my blog pages (on the 2012 Book List tab) and link up my book reviews, so I hope you’ll take a look at what I’ve read and reviewed over the last few years.

Recently, I’ve been putting photos of the book covers on my sidebar when I start a new book. Let’s just say I have eclectic taste in what I read. There have been a few books that I’ve hidden from sight — I wasn’t prepared to tell the world everything I was reading. 🙂

So I’m going bare — here’s the full list of what I’m currently reading and may review, depending on how much I like (or hate) the book. It’s not embarrassing, thank goodness.

I always try to read the nominees for the Rebecca Caudill Award every year, which is an Illinois award conferred by student vote in grades four though eight. This year, the winner was Powerless. It’s a super-powers preteen-boys-book, but I’ve decided to read it anyway.  I doubt I’ll review it…

My eighth graders read Warriors Don’t Cry as the centerpiece of their study of Civil Rights. It’s the story of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. I don’t think I actually read it again last year as my kids read it; it’s on my to-do list for the weekend. It’s a compelling story even as a reread.

I’m still working through An Old-Fashioned Girl on my Kindle — the Louisa Challenge seems to have stalled — and I’m looking forward to moving on to Little Men.

I just started The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on audiobook during my commute. It’s our May book club choice and I already know it’s going to be thought-provoking.

It appears that the only thing that’s slightly embarrassing is the Sophie Kinsella entry, but I’m not uncomfortable with my choice on that one. I enjoy her books and so do a lot of other people!

I’ve been lucky to connect with great readers through blogging, so let me introduce you to places you can read fabulous book reviews.

Jenners at Life With Books reads and reads and reads — and writes book reviews about intriguing books. I have three books on reserve at the library based on her recommendations!

A blogger with a different take on books is Jillian at A Room of One’s Own. She’s on a mission to catch up! Her reviews are thoughtful and full of insight about the “classics.”

I’ve enjoyed the creativity of Michele at The Great Read. If you’re looking for books for yourself or for your kids, she’s got you covered — at your library.

I can’t do this post without linking up to my niece Jessie at Vanderbilt Wife. She got me started writing again and I owe her my sanity. As both a writer and a reader, she’s got interesting reviews and commentary on books for adults and kids.

So we’re done for today. As my favorite flawed literary heroine says, “Tomorrow is another day.” Scarlett didn’t read, but her fame lives on through the genius of Margaret Mitchell. I can’t wait to read this

I’m linking up to Mama Kat again this week. Give my friends some comment love!

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National Delurking Day

As I worked with my students this week during writers’ workshop, I told them about how important voice is in one’s writing. I used my own experience to inform my teaching — and I told them I don’t ask them to do anything I don’t do.

Image via http://www.826chi.org/programs/

It struck me that the words on the rubric probably apply to me, too. Most days I am just “informative and interesting” and some rare days I am “compelling and engaging.” Unlike my students, however, whose only audience is their parents, each other, and me, I put my work out there for the world to read — and comment on.

It’s probably a clear causal relationship between the number of comments I get and whether or not I have been compelling and engaging. Did I actually “force” you to engage with me?

Image via latestgadgets.co.uk

Since it’s National Delurking Day, I humbly ask you to engage. Leave a comment and let me know who you are. I know you stop by because I (feverishly) check my stats. And leave a comment at some of these wonderful writers’ blogs that I check daily via my Facebook feed. Once I created a Facebook page for Got My Reservations, it became very easy to skim down my Home page daily to check out what’s happening. If you are a blogger, I encourage you to create a Facebook page for your blog. It’s definitely increased my readership, if not my comments. 🙂

Classic Vintage Silver Eye Candy

Right You Are, Jeeves

Treasures from the Past: My Unicorn Collection

Who’s Jim Jebow?

Vanderbilt Wife

My Kitchen Scale

Witness (a guest post on Pioneer Woman about the movie)

How Many Degrees of Separation Are You From Me?

Last fall my nieces made this beautiful cake for my grandniece’s birthday. I was so impressed that I saved the photos for a blog post.

In my niece’s post (she writes as Vanderbilt Wife) she references her source for this gorgeous cake.

Image via vanderbiltwife.com

After I saw the photos of the birthday cake for my grand-niece, I ran across this photo either on Pinterest or on a link from my Facebook page.

Image via iheartbaking.blogspot.com

Since it was so similar to the other cake, I investigated where this recipe originated. I Heart Baking’s  original post was about this gorgeous roses cake.

Image via http://i-heart-baking.blogspot.com/2011/10/roses-cake.html

Lo and behold, eventually everyone referenced back to I Am Baker, who posted the tutorial on how to do the rose frosting.

Image via http://iambaker.net/vertical-layer-cake-tutororial

She also posted a tutorial on how to do the vertical layers. Amazing.

This nest of link-ups is an example of the ethical dilemma we bloggers are presented with daily. Do you always cite your sources for both text and photos? Are you labeling your photos? If someone wants to steal your work, they will find a way, but I’d like to think that we have an obligation to each other to protect our craft.

Each of these ladies shared their talent and creativity with the world. I was happy to find that everyone involved in this degrees-of-separation scenario eventually linked back to their source. Talent, creativity, and ethics. I’m proud to be one of you.

12 Days of Christmas 2011: Living Greener

In my days of amassing a basement full of “stuff,” I bought a lovely Longaberger silverware caddy basket and received a chrome plate/silverware caddy as a gift. I use both of these regularly for buffet serving on my island, but they are bulky and take up a lot of storage room in my small house.

Image via victoriantradingco.com

Although the Victorians had a specialty serving piece for just about every little job, they also knew that a beautiful mug could do many jobs, including holding flatware for a buffet. Doesn’t this photo of a reproduction carnival glass spooner just make you want to go out and buy it?

I have a collection of Christmas mugs that I often use on the buffet to hold the flatware, and I’m sure that if you rooted through all the pieces you have in the back of your cupboards, you could come up with three or four beautiful pieces that stylistically blend with each other and are about the right size.

In these days of living greener, using what we already have at Christmas is one of my favorite things. Or buy a couple of these stunning spooners. Your life might be richer for their beauty.

Sometimes things are just so simple that you can’t believe you ever did anything else.

Last year at this time, we were eagerly awaiting the birth of our grandnephew, whose first birthday is coming up next week. I’m still glad I’m not 39 weeks pregnant.

Food Cult: Oyster Dressing

As we enter our week of Thanksgiving and gluttony, I would to pause and give thanks for the many creatures that give up their lives for us at this time of year.

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/for-the-moment-finding-pearls-in-paris/

Insert. Silent. Pause. Here.

My little family band gets together with my brothers and their families on the day after Thanksgiving. We have been doing this since 1976; I have not prepared a Thanksgiving meal in my own home since then. Every year, we drive the 600 miles round trip to be with our family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year we decided to forego our gift giving to each other and donate to Heifer International instead. We’ll still be giving gifts to the young ones, and it will be fun to see them open their presents. We also sing Christmas songs — we are THAT family that could make our own Trapp Family Singers — and I’m looking forward to hearing three-year-old Libbie sing her part in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me and some of my family, it just isn’t Thanksmas without oyster dressing. It’s unclear where our family recipe comes from, but my mother started making oyster dressing for our holiday gatherings a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember when she didn’t make it. It was just always there.

My mom passed away in June, and as the eldest child, it has become my job to bring the oyster dressing. I’ve been making it for events here in our Chicagoland home for a while, but no one loves oyster dressing as well as my brothers and I do. My niece Jessica wrote about our family recipe on her Vanderbilt Wife blog, calling our treasured oyster dressing our “grossest family recipe.” I beg to differ, but as she is allergic to clams, I wouldn’t want her to get sick on oysters. I do, however, want to share the recipe for what I consider to be the crowning glory of our holiday buffet table.

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Another recipe can be found here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Seafood/OysterDressing.htm

Grandma’s Oyster Dressing

Cooking spray

Four cans frozen or canned oysters (fresh would be fine, but not necessary)
Four ribs finely chopped celery
Four cans mushrooms
One box saltines crushed
one pound butter pats
About two cups of milk

First spray a 4.8 quart (15″ x 10″ x 2″) rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray, and then add a layer of crushed crackers. Begin layering the ingredients. After each cracker layer add some milk and the juice from the mushrooms and oyster cans. You should have about four layers of crackers and three of “goodies.”

Cover it with foil so that it doesn’t dry out and take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so the top gets a little crusty. Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until the texture is puffy like a souffle. It is okay to prepare it in advance and let the liquids sink in.

A large Pyrex casserole dish will serve eight people comfortably as a side dish.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And just we’re clear about the popularity of oyster dressing, even the fabled Ree Drummond published a recipe for Oyster Dressing on her Pioneer Woman blog this week. I’m not alone in my love for this succulent awesomeness. Ree’s is a little different from ours; hers is more like traditional tossed bread-cube dressing. Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is more of a souffle-like scalloped oysters. It might be fun someday to make both recipes and see which one we like better!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m going to take a week off and enjoy my holiday with friends and family. Safe travels to you.

P.S. I’ve been collecting ideas for 25 Days of Christmas — I can’t resist doing it again this year!

31 Days in Europe: In Honor of Elizabeth

Today is my niece’s third birthday and she is named after my mother, Elizabeth. I couldn’t resist posting the Globe Theater’s costume for Elizabeth I in their honor.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Although Elizabeth I didn’t start out very happily and didn’t actually have much of a happy life either, I have always respected her. She held strong in the face of the challenges to her reign and didn’t cave in and marry someone she didn’t love in order to provide a Tudor heir. Granted, as a result a clear chain of Tudor rulers died with her and plunged England into a chaotic power struggle.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

I’m not sure where my grandmother got the name Elizabeth — I don’t think it was a family name — but her heirs have certainly used it. We named our daughter after her grandmother Elizabeth for her middle name and her first name came from her great-grandmother on my husband’s side. My brother’s daughter and her husband also named their daughter Elizabeth, and she is known by her nickname, Libbie, as my mother was by her family and close friends. Libbie is a very common topic at my niece’s blog, Vanderbilt Wife, so I’ll let you go there on your own to meet little Libbie. Sadly, you won’t get to meet my mom, as she passed away in June. I wrote about her here and here, if you would like to know more about my valiant heroine.

Happy birthday, sweet Libbie. And Mom, I still miss you every day.

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