Cooking for Too Many People?

Pumpkin Scones

Photo from Pinch My Salt

Need a winning recipe for the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving...when you are tuckered and want something quick, and easy, yet still crave the fallish thanksgivingy flavor? I have the perfect thing: Pumpkin Scones. I found the recipe at Pinch My Salt. I made the scone recipe exactly as is, and loved the mild, yet noticeable pumpkin flavor and moist dense texture. I did alter the frosting recipe....sort of combined both ideas into one cinnamon molasses frosting. Oh...it was delicious. It is perfect for a brunch alongside an herbal tea or spiced cider, and fried left-over mashed potato patties.

Pumpkin Spice Scones
         1 C. all purpose flour
         1 C. cake flour
         1 1/2 t. baking powder
         1/2 t. salt
         1/2 t. ground cinnamon
         1/2 t. ground nutmeg
         1/4 t. ground allspice
         1/4 t. ground ginger
         6 T. unsalted butter
         1/2 C. raisins (optional)
         1/3 C. pumpkin puree
         1/3 C. heavy cream
         6 T. brown sugar
         1 t. vanilla
         1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Get out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper (not required but makes cleanup easy!). Cut the butter into small pieces, put it in a small bowl and put it back in the refridgerator. In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, salt, and all spices. Whisk together well. Place bowl in freezer (refrigerator is fine if you have no room in freezer).
         2. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together well. Put this bowl in freezer (or refrigerator) and take the other bowl back out. Get the butter pieces out of the fridge and dump them into the bowl with the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins if you are using them.
         3. Get the liquid mixture out of the freezer and pour into the flour mixture all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is just moistened. The dough will be very crumbly, this is the way it should be. Turn the mixture out onto the counter and push the pile together with your hands. It should stick together fairly well. Knead it just a couple of times until everything is together. Don’t knead it too much or the dough will get too sticky.
         4. Pat the dough out into a rough circle, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut it like a pie into 8 pieces. Place pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake scones for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. They should be light brown on the bottom, the tops will darken as they cool.
Icing: For ginger molasses icing, stir together 1 T. molasses, 1-2 T. milk, and 1/4 – 1/2 t. ground ginger (to taste). Adjust the amount of sugar or milk to make the icing the consistency you want. It should be pretty thick. For cinnamon icing, mix together 1 C. powdered sugar, 2 T. milk, 1/4 – 1/2 t. cinnamon (to taste). Again, adjust amounts to change consistency. Icing can be brushed on or drizzled.

Another fish food to love. So savor!

Too Busy to Cook?

Remember, all it takes is one undercooked turkey, and you will be the rolls and soda person for life!


A Vegas Thanksgiving

Did you see the Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving cooking schedule? She outlined how to spread the work over four days. Holy Pumpkin Pie! Thanksgiving is a lot of work for ONE meal consumed in the amount of time it takes to update your Facebook status.

This makes me appreciate my mom. She makes the best Thanksgiving meal EVER! And she never seems flustered or exhausted by the time the meal is ready to eat. Plus she somehow manages to avoid being dusted in flour and coated in giblet grease.

Perhaps mom was trying to give us a hint the year my parents paid for the whole family to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Las Vegas. Since we were in a hotel, there was no way mom could cook Thanksgiving dinner. We would HAVE to eat out. So, in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving day we began wandering along the strip looking for a restaurant that was a) open, b) affordable c) served traditional Thanksgiving food and d) could serve the entire Hackworth clan which was about the same number of people that voted for Ralph Nader.

It's Vegas afterall: the buffet lover's Shangri-la. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Au contrair, mon frere!

By the time we found a place that met all of our criteria we were exhausted, irritable, famished and ready to eat anything that didn't move. Even Justin's ever-present humor slowed to a sloth-like hypoglycemic halt.

Near the end of the meal, I glanced over and noticed my mom perkily slopping up the last of the gravy with her roll. Then she cheerfully thanked the waiter for whisking away the dishes she didn't have to clean. In that moment, I didn't fully comprehend mom's tickled look of contentment in her eyes...until a few years later when I keeled over after making my first Thanksgiving meal for a crowd.

Something else happened during that fateful meal. Each of the kids (though grateful for the vacation) moaned and muttered....something about....wanting mom to cook....much better....just not the same...real mashed potatoes.....home sweet home....gravy that pours not plops.....

Alas, my mother's carefree Thanksgiving days were short-lived!

Now, in a few days, our family will gather and mom will work....her magic. She'll set a stunningly classy and classic table. She'll have an activity for the grandkids. She'll be cheerful and funny and make each person feel important. And you can bet that just like Ree Drummond, she will be busily preparing days in advance.

 Mom always claims that her mother made the best meals. With due respect to my grandmother, my mom is tied for first place.

Thank you mom...for
planning and shopping
cleaning and chopping
cooking and baking
giving and taking.

And for letting us gather and feast in your comfortable, welcoming home.

I am grateful for my mother. And I suspect that even though there won't be a chef and a waiter and she may collapse from exhaustion after we leave on Sunday, her eyes will be twinkling with contentment. That's just the kind of wonderful she is.

Postscript: My dad is a great help in the kitchen and a great cook in his own right. I am thankful for you too dad!

What are you thankful for?


Thanksgiving Favors

Here is a cute idea if kids are part of your Thanksgiving equation. Either make a large bouquet and set them out on the counter in a vase, or place one on each plate. Or better yet, let the kids make them while you put the finishing touches on the big feast. Or even better than that, you make these turkey oreo candy corn pretzel thingies and get the kids to finish making T-dinner.

Instructions at Cookies and Cups


The Garbage I Found in Bolivia: Part One

Over the next three blog entries, I will share through pictures and words what
Daisy and I experienced in our Bolivian adventures.

daisy and me in downtown santa cruz, bolivia

What I found in Bolivia and what I write may surprise you.
I know it surprised me.
Although I am proud as punch to be an American and I love America,
I admit that we do not always have the monopoly on good people
or the right way to do things.

Our story begins with some comparisons.

In South America, there are some things smaller than in my area of North America....
such as:


(these darling boys are the exact same age: one from St. George, Utah, 
the other from Montero, Bolivia)


professional sound systems

and dogs.

notice the skin and prominent bones of this skinny, sickly dog....and it was typical of many of the dogs....

But there are things that are  bigger (as in size and/or quantity) such as....


Mighty Amazon from the air


National flower of Bolivia- Patuju


pigs in the street


fungus balls on the telephone wires



Largest lake in the world: Titicaca. Photo courtesy of cheap-o-air

piles of dirt covered in clay tiles

my ankles

teen-agers practicing cultural dancing on a Thursday night

massive amounts of chickens roaming freely in streets

sloth sightings in the trees right in the center of town

sloth in downtown plaza of Santa Cruz. photo courtesy of about.com

boys excited about getting their fingernails painted by an American gringo

and beads of sweat..... (notice the glistening at the pre-auricular area on Dr. Barnett.)

Ahh….the sweat. Without air-conditioning, the saline drips from the skin of tourists faster than water from a hose. This oppressive humid heat of summer not only steals moisture but robs the afternoon. Around 11:30 am, activities screech to a hot humid halt. As temperatures climb and sweat saturation reaches its zenith, the streets and shops grow quiet as people go home to take respite from the heat, eat lunch, take a cold shower and a siesta before returning to work at 2 pm.

In the morning hours, however, the heat hasn’t yet won the battle.  The city is alive with productivity. People rise early to take advantage of the cooler part of the day.
Already at 7 am, the honks and rumble of motorcycle taxis and cars


drown out the bird’s pleasant chatter

and fill the dusty or uneven cobblestone streets with organized chaos.

 The air is saturated with the acrid aroma of burning sugar cane, choking those
unaccustomed to such a miserable sensory assault.

truckload of sugar cane

Street vendors uncover their carts teeming with chorizo, chicken and beef empanadas,
jewelry and hand-stamped leather items.
Shop owners put out colorful varieties of fruit, vegetables and meat for sale, and
 anxiously await customers while absent-mindedly batting away the flies happy
with the bonanza of available raw meat.

Women begin the daily chore of washing laundry outside in a large tub filled with murky yellow water.


At the District 3 Centro de Salud, women begin lining up with their
babies and children
to see the doctor and get free immunizations.

The clinic is ready for them.
Nurses competently and compassionately screen patient after patient,

educating each mother about five cuidados básicos (basic cautions): nutrition, adequate hydration, hygiene, temperature control and descanso (rest). Referrals to the clinic physician or dentist are made if necessary. These offices are in back of the health clinic.

Dental patients sit outside in a white plastic chair next to a rusting sink for dental care. Teeth are pulled with minimal anesthesia. Some children display tantrums by throwing themselves on the ground in defiance to see the doctor. Some things are universal no matter what country we are in.

Clinic 3 was where I spent nearly two weeks, trying to learn as much as I could
about their public health program and their health care delivery.

Each day, the kids and teens in our travel group put on a puppet show for the local schoolchildren
teaching them about nutrition and germs.

Most of the kids laughed...

Except one...

continued on Part Two.....

The Garbage I Found in Bolivia: Part Two

Continued from Part One.....

Working at the clinic of District 3, I learned something more about sizes: the grande consumption of Coca-Cola!

Coca leaf production is actually a intriguing and controversial subject. Coca leaves are an agricultural commodity leading to products such as tea, coca-cola and cocaine. The current Bolivian president Evo Morales, a former coca grower, is working hard to increase production and legalize sale of coca leaves. Morales sees coca farming as a traditional and profitable activity with many health and social benefits to poor Bolivian peasants. Because the leaves are used to make cocaine (a trend that began in Bolivia about twenty years ago), the US desires to stop production of coca leaves. Clash of the Coca!

Meanwhile, Bolivia supplies the Coca-Cola Bottling Company with thousands of pounds of coca leaves for the soft drink. In return, there must be an unwritten pledge by Bolivians to drink Coca-Cola at least six times per day. I've never been offered so much Coke.

Haley and Charlie share a refreshing drink of Coke after doing a puppet show outside the clinic at District 3

This brings me to another comparison in size. Yes, the lakes, spiders and Coke consumption are big. And so are el corazóns de la gente (the hearts of the people). Not as in cardiomyopathy big. But big as in humble, generous, kind and accepting.

How I loved the gentle gratitude of the people. Women waited in line in the sweltering heat with never a complaint.... always so appreciative of whatever help they were given. Try visiting our local ER and see if you get the same feeling!

People worked hard. And smiled.

And they welcomed us with respect and warmth.

In the health clinic, the nurses and workers connected with us and were patient even though
our Spanish was terribly limited.

One final comparison about size. In the city of Montero, Bolivia, a town of 96,000 people located 50 km outside of Santa Cruz, there is also something bigger than in America: the piles of rubbish. Garbage litters the landscape in every direction.

photo courtesy of travelpod.com

One night as we took a walk to the downtown plaza, we watched a shop owner bring out a small trashbag and empty the contents into the gutter.
This was as natural an act as if she had dressed for the day.
All around the town, there is the look and feel of grunge.

photo from numphe9@webshots

garbage can just outside our hotel

Why doesn’t this bother people, I kept wondering? Don’t they take pride in their land? Don’t they care about the environment? Garbage pick-up is infrequent and irregular. Why don’t they put the infrastructure in place to collect trash?

Here is one reason: Bolivia is the poorest South American country. For example, an educated physician only makes $600 / month and often takes several jobs to sustain a decent living. So the don’t have the money to pay for garbage collection. The Bolivians are not taxed, taxed, taxed like we are in America. But is money the whole story?

These thoughts swirled around in my head like my mother’s contact lens when it was flushed down the toilet by my 3 year-old brother.

Continued in Part Three....


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