Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Menu

For the sake of my family who couldn't make it home, here's our menu for the Thanksgiving Meal:

Appetizer
Crackers
Artichoke/Leek Spread

Dinner
Turkey (of course!)
Gravy
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Apple/Raisin Stuffing
Rutabaga Puff
Corn
Dinner Rolls
Lefse
Banana Bread
Cherry Fluff
Cranberry Jello
Cranberry Relish
Kid's Punch
Chablis
Merlot

Dessert
Brownie Surprise Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Ice Cream

The meal, to say the least, was incredible. We ate, talked, and ate some more. Friends from church joined us, and we enjoyed great conversations about politics and the times in which we live. We missed our 2 older girls who were celebrating together in Florida. We also missed our extended families in Iowa.

Now the day is over; our eyes are glazed over from too much food; our minds are numbed from football and silly TV. I can hear a book on tape from an upstairs bedroom, kids laughing in the kitchen, and someone practicing scales on the piano. It's good to be a mom with a great family for the holiday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Movie Review: Santa Clause 1 & 2

Since we watched these 2 movies one night after the other, I thought I'd combine their reviews. I'm sure most of you have seen this movie in which Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin who becomes Santa because of an incident with a clause (get it? claus...clause?)

These are cute movies worth re-watching every holiday season. In the first movie, The Santa Clause, (1994)Tim Allen scares Santa off his roof, thereby killing him and becoming the new Santa Claus. The changes in his body from slim and clean-shaven to portly and bearded are hilarious. The elves are my favorite. From Bernard to the cute girls with the cocoa. One of my favorite lines is "we're your worst nightmare, elves with attitude."





In the second movie, The Santa Clause 2: The Escape Clause, Santa must find a wife. The plot is pretty predictable ... Scott Calvin falls for the principal of the school where his son attends (and whom the son doesn't like) The cleverest and cutest parts of the movie is the robot Santa (with the rubber face and plastic tusshy) and the little rivalry between Bernard and Curtis. Spencer Breslin ("Curtis") is adorable.

One review called these movies "delightful holiday distractions." Great movies for relaxing with the family.

Book Report: The Lady Elizabeth


Alison Weir, a well-known historian of medieval European history, has written many non-fiction books (especially biographies) pertaining to this period. The Lady Elizabeth is her second novel. In the three sections covering Elizabeth's life from age 3 to her coronation, Weir unpacks historical events and adds her own literary imagination. She weaves together flowing dialogues, glimpses of 16th century Tudor England and intriguing character studies.

The novel is broken into 3 sections: The King's Daughter, The King's Sister, and The Queen's Sister. As the book opens, Elizabeth is told by her half-sister, Mary, that her father King Henry VIII has had her mother, Anne Boleyn beheaded. Thus we are thrust into the complexities of these royal relationships. Elizabeth wrestles with adoring her father knowing that he had the mother she hardly knew executed. Mary sways between affection for her helpless younger sister while bitterly blaming the girl's mother for her disgrace. Mary's almost fanatical Catholicism clashes with Elizabeth's pragmatic Reformed ideas.

One reviewer wrote:
Indulging in some fictional legerdemain, the author has crafted an intriguing protagonist, her destiny writ large long before she ascends the throne after her unhappy sister’s death. Her world littered with plots and temptations, Elizabeth instinctively steps through a minefield of the ambitions of others, proving her mettle in the most dire of circumstances, a born ruler long before she steps up to the throne of England.
Since I'd read another of Alison Weir's books (Eleanor of Aquitaine) I trusted her historical accuracy and interpretation. I was confident that she would be authentic and portray the period with integrity. In her other non-fiction writings, she is sympathetic to her characters, interpreting them according to the times they live in, not according to modern sensibilities, values and mores.

My only frustration with the novel was her rendering of the thoughts and motivations of Elizabeth and Edward as children. Often, writers give children the same complex thought processes that adults use. Weir's depiction of Elizabeth from her early adolescence to early adulthood rings far truer than that of the characters in their youngest years.

There is but one questionable scene. To quote another reviewer:
I am not going to give anything away here, but these passages are certainly eyebrow raisers -- and, as Weir has noted in interviews, was a matter of historical record. Very intriguing. And in case you think historians write dry prose, think again. The love scenes in "The Lady Elizabeth" are descriptive but not vulgar. But she gets her point across, that's for sure.
I recommend this book to any European history buff.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rutabaga Puff ... at last!

Tonight was the night to try my first of many rutabaga ("R") recipes. With mashed "R" in the fridge I made Rutabaga Puff, a recipe found on the Southern Food section of About.com. For others with mashed "R" lounging in their fridges, here's my recipe:

Rutabaga Puff
2 cups mashed rutabaga
2 T. butter
1 T. fresh chives or fresh dill
1/2 t. garlic salt.
2 eggs, separated.

Add the butter, herbs and salt to the mashed rutabaga. Mix in the 2 egg yolks. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into rutabaga mixture. Lightly pile into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until set and top is golden brown. Spoon into a serving dish and serve.

We served this with meatballs in beef gravy, mashed potatoes and home-made wheat berry with craisins and raisins bread. A very yummy meal!

Christmas Movie Review: Christmas is Here Again

A friend of mine has watching lots of Christmas movies between Thanksgiving and Christmas as part of her holidy "To Do" list. I checked out her list and a couple of internet sources in order to compose my own list of movies. You can see it in my side bar.

Last night we watched our first official Christmas movie, Christmas is Here Again. I checked it out from the Redbox at our MacDonald's. And I have to say that it is probably the worst Christmas movie I've ever seen! Here's what one reviewer wrote:

With a voice cast that includes Edward Asner, Kathy Bates, Jay Leno, Brad Garrett, Shirley Jones, and Andy Griffith, a film like "Christmas is Here Again" ought to be a runaway success, not a movie that makes you want to run away. But in an attempt to touch just about every Christmassy base, this animated film from Robert Zappia ends up being so far out you'd think it was made by Frank Zappa. It's like the holiday Jell-O mold with too much fruit and marshmallows dumped into it, when a little would have been just fine, thank you.

The premise of the movie is that the bad guy stole the magic Santa bag (which just happens to have been made out of the swaddling clothes of the Christ-child) and Christmas is gone for 30 years. The cartoon has singing, dancing, an orphan named Sophianna who has a pet caterpillar.
Don't watch it. Not even if you have a code for a free Redbox rental. Amazon should be paying us to buy it

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rutabaga Central



Last Friday, my kitchen was Rutabaga Central as I cooked up the Brassica napobrassica harvested from my garden. Rutabaga was a trial crop this year. We've really only eaten it at Thanksgiving and Christmas as part of a Prichard Tradition. And, don't you know, that one seed packet contained a lot of seeds. My prolific harvest of these root vegetables have led me to know more about this marginal crop than I'd ever imagined.



A little research uncovered these facts:
In the U.S., the plant is also known as Swedish turnip, yellow turnip, or wax turnip, while in Ireland and Candada where it is called turnip. In Scotland, it is either "tumshie" or "neep."
"Swede" was an important nutritional source for many Finno-Urgic tribes before the introduction of potatoes. Some claim the vegetable is native to Sweden, but others think it was introduced to Sweden, possibly from Finland or Siberia, in the early 17th century. From Sweden, it reached Scotland, and from there it spread to the rest of Great Britain and to North America.
In continental Europe, it acquired a bad reputation during World War I, when it became a food of last resort. In the German Steckr├╝benwinter (rutabaga winter) of 1916–17, large parts of the population were kept alive on a diet consisting of swedes and little else, after grain and potato crop failures had combined with wartime effects. After the war, most people were so tired of swedes that they came to be considered "famine food," and they have retained this reputation to the present day. As a consequence, they are rarely planted in Germany.

You can go to a Wikipedia article for further reading. Follow these links for Nutritional Information chart and great recipes. Another blog article, Rutabaga, Rutabaga, Rutabaga is a great dissertation on the beauty and commonness of the vegetable. Right here in our own state, you can attend the Askov Festival and Rutabaga Festival (in Askov, MN)






Here at Rutabaga Central, I peeled, diced, boiled (or blanched) and mashed that yellowish, slightyly sweet smelling vegetable.









While the rutabaga was cooking, I finished cleaning up my leeks and onions.


My freezer now has a good quantity of that humble vegetable, the rutabaga. Considering it's non-stellar history, I'm inclined to think that this is a great addition to our Thanksgiving table. This "famine food" serves as a reminder that even in the direst of times, we can find something to sustain us.







A Mini- Mercado

Prairie Creek's 4-5 grade Elms class hosted a mini Mercado. Last year the class participated in a larger study of Latin American cultures and topped it off the larger event. This year, because they were involved with a different area of study, they scaled down their ventures.

The students broke into groups of 3 - 4 and decided what kind of merchants they wanted to be. They sold baked goods, trinkets, face painting, tacos, Mexican sodas and sweets. St. Olaf students came and helped them make their transactions in Spanish and presented a Puppet Show. A small table was set up to honor friends, relatives and pets as a part of the "Day of the Dead."

Once again, Prairie Creek does projects and presentations well!

Some trinkets for sale.





Merchants selling sweets.



A papier mache head modelling a hat.



Emma at the cash box at her stand.

A Drummed Up Day, Part 2

Today was a "drumming day" for the Prichard family. First thing in the morning Prairie Creek gave a Taiko Drumming presentation. The children did a great job, complete with costuming.

In the afternoon, we headed for St. Peter and a band concert at Gustavus Adolphus College. My son is a Music Ed. major and part of the percussion section of the Vasa Band. Sean played a significant timpani part. One piece had a recording of loons in the background.

A Drummed Up Day, Part 1

This morning the Elms and Tamarack classes had a Taiko drum concert led by their music teacher, Rachel Geffers. They had been working on the rhythms and movement for this Japanese music form. Each class performed an original version of a poem set to drums and with movement. Then they each performed traditional Taiko drumming piece. A narrator mentioned that they were using traditional instruments. Translated into Prairie Creek Style, that meant small red buckets, square kitty litter buckets, and big PE equipment containers. They sat poised with one arm raised as the teacher counted off in Japanese. As always, the children did a wonderful job. They are so composed in front of their audiences. We're fortunate to have Rachel working with our children.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Elections

Now that the dust has somewhat settled (except for the Senate race here in a Minnesota) from the elections many of us are wondering what this new "change" will look like. Can I put in a request? Could we change the attitudes in our own hearts?

Over the past year, I could hardly believe the anger and just plain nastiness coming from all directions regarding elected officials and our government. It's one thing to disagree about policies and strategies for solving our city's, state's and nation's problems. However, so many of us have gone far beyond that. I overheard a woman say how she "hated" a leading city official; she attacked his character with such vehemence that even her friends were uncomfortable.

Is hate our default response when we are ill-informed on the issues, opposed to political decisions, or frustrated with the values of those in office? I'm sure we were all disgusted by the negative campaigning, especially the TV ads that interrupted our favorite shows. What we may not see so clearly is that the grassroots animosity in the population gave permission for these ads.

I can argue and disagree all day long during election season. Once the men and women are elected and set in office I have a responsibility to pray for and bless these people. I can still disagree, write them letters with my viewpoints, and keep my ears open for alternatives. But if I really want to see real "change" in my community I'll take special care about what's in my heart and on my tongue.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

College Visits again!

With 2 children out of college and 2 currently in college, my husband and I have done more than the average number of college visits. By now we know what to look for and what questions to ask.

This weekend Faith and I are visiting Buena Vista University in Storm Lake Iowa. Jim and I graduated from High School in Storm Lake and his parents still live there. Two years ago we attended a large Prichard Family Reunion at the college. We were impressed with how much the college had developed since the 1980's. They've built new dorms, a new campus center, an incredible sciences building and business/ social sciences class building. While we were at the family reunion we talked with a young man who was an education major and involved with the Christian community at BVU. All in all, we had a great impression of the school.

This was Faith's first college visit. Except for the cold, snowy day we had a good day. We had lunch with the campus chaplain, met with a scholarship counselor, had a tour, went to a class and had an interview with an admissions counselor. To end the day, we had dinner with Gramma and Grampa Prichard at a Thai restaurant and cheesecake for dessert.

Since we hit all the bases on Friday, we've decided to forego the Saturday activities. Eating a tailgate lunch and going to a football game in the cold and snow doesn't sound like fun. So, Faith and I are chilling in a hotel room, watching TV in our pj's. We have 4 hours of driving in the blowing snow, so we might as well enjoy doing nothing for a while.

By the way, we drove through Pocahontas, Iowa and took a picture of the large statue of said Indian princess.