Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Evolution of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to celebrate with some sort of feast, usually turkey and all the trimmings, but when I’m feeling lazy we go for steak on the grill and boiled shrimp—a delicious treat, but a fraction of the work and often less expensive.

In 1621 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians to celebrate the bounty of the fall harvest. They prepared a huge feast including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest. This early celebration was the forerunner of today's holiday tradition. However, after that first Thanksgiving the observance was sporadic and almost forgotten until the early 1800's. In 1941, Congress made it a national holiday and set the date as the fourth Thursday in November.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


For a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I often make pumpkin cheesecake. If you want to give it a whirl this year, here’s my favorite recipe. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Crust: Crush 10 whole graham crackers and mix with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter. Press into a 10 inch cheesecake spring pan (bottom and 2 inches up the sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove.

Filling: Beat together until smooth, 2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese (works best if softened), 1 cup of light cream, 1 cup of canned pumpkin, ¾ cup of sugar, 4 egg yolks (save whites in a separate bowl), 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the pumpkin mixture. Pour over prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Baking times vary, so make sure the center is set. I’ve found it often takes longer than the 1 hour noted in the recipe.

Topping: Gently mix 2 cups of sour cream, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended. Spread topping evenly over cheesecake and bake another 5 minutes. Refrigerate and serve cold.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Travel With Impact – Respect and Generosity

When in Thailand, we hit all the major highlights in Bangkok. The city and its cultural highlights were simply amazing, but a little overwhelming, so we decided to check out the countryside.  We hired a guide for the day to take us to Khao Yai National Park. On the way he stopped at a small village, clearly unaccustomed to tourists. As we wandered the market, a long single-file line of Buddhist Monks silently made their way through the village. People respectfully and generously placed food and other offerings into the basket each monk carried. This ritual is a regular part of daily life in many cities and villages across the country, and witnessing the procession and the unquestioned generosity of the people was a humbling experience. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Adventure Inspirations – Timeless Oblivion of Nature

“The most glorious value of the wilderness is that in it a person may be completely disassociated from the mechanical and dated age of the twentieth century, and bury himself in the timeless oblivion of nature. Its enjoyment depends on a very delicate psychological adjustment . . . You have got to be immersed in a region where you know that mechanization is really absent, and where you are thrown entirely on the glorious necessity of depending on your own powers.”

-Bob Marshall-

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nuggets From Life in Fiction – When a Ladder Simply Won’t Do

Nearly every fiction writer will confess to using small nuggets from real life when creating fictional scenes. I thought it might be fun to occasionally share a few of those with my readers in a segment I’ll call, “Nuggets from Life in Fiction.”  So, here’s one small example from A Dose of Danger.

The snowflakes continued to fall, illuminated by the yard light they had been able to fix earlier in the day using the tractor head to elevate Logan enough to change the bulb. She had been terrified while watching him balanced so high in the air at the mercy of a 1957 tractor with no brakes, affectionately known as the “Rustmobile,” and her mediocre ability when it came to driving the worn-out antique.

So, it wasn’t a 1957 tractor with no brakes, but we did call it the “Rustmobile.” Growing up we also had a second tractor (not sure of the year, but likely in the 1950s) on the place that had virtually no brakes, but its work was relegated to projects on the flat ground that had no risk to life or property. People who live in the country often utilize a lot of creativity to accomplish tasks. In this instance my dad and uncle were installing the top pole to the entrance. In A Dose of Danger, Logan was changing a burnt out bulb in the yard light. In both cases, a ladder wouldn’t accomplish the job, having no solid place wide enough to lean it against.