Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Thanksgiving Files: My Dressing

Thanksgiving, at least for me and Tyler, was celebrated over the course of an entire week and involved three different dinners that we attended.

Because of the sheer number of photos that I had to take, these blogs will be broken up into a series so that none of us will be overwhelmed by them.

The most recent Thanksgiving affair saw us venturing to Dothan with a dressing and a home-made, entirely made from scratch sweet potato pie.

I made the dressing. Having only made dressing once before, the entire venture was daunting to me, but I managed to persevere notwithstanding.

The dressing consisted of regular bread crumbs which took forever to tear apart, chopped celery and onion which Tyler kindly prepared for me, two eggs, spices included sage, and chicken bouillon spiced up just right.

This was all mixed together, put in a glass casserole dish, and popped into the oven at 425 degrees.

Little did I know how long the dish was actually going to take to cook. The result was something like 30-40 minutes, and I thought it would only take about 15. Also, it was reheated at Kelly’s house.

The result?

Nothing short of a beautiful and delectable dressing!

Interestingly enough, most of the dressing I’ve eaten in my life used cornbread. I used regular bread and the dressing still turned out to be amazing, something for which I’m truly grateful. There was also something of a hint of cornbread taste to it, so I’m wondering what I did to cause that particular flavor?

My dressing turned out both flavorful and moist, which is something that I highly prize in dressing. Too often I’ve eaten dry dressing, and while dried out dressing complements its sister side dish cranberry sauce rather well, I much prefer the moist variety.

I hope everyone had as great of a Thanksgiving holiday as I did! What’s your favorite dish?


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Posted by on November 30, 2010 in food


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Poppy and the Lazy Susan Table: Part 1

“Forgive us our sins and accept our thanks, for these and all other blessings. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”

My grandfather, Henry Grady Harris, said this prayer every Sunday before my extended family would eat. Affectionately, my brother and I, along with some of the other descendants, referred to him as “Poppy.”

“Poppy” is an evolved form of “Papa Harris,” as all my grandparents were addressed by the name Papa or Mama and their last names.

Considering Poppy’s table prayer, as it has been dubbed, I decided to finally recall some of my earlier memories and speak about my childhood and also to start my blog on religion.

Poppy was a huge part of my life for the first 10 years, and since I’m only 25 at the time of this writing, you can imagine the influence and legacy that he has left with me.

For the first five or so years of my life, I was raised Southern Baptist, and my family attended the First Baptist Church of Slocomb. Immediately after church, we would drive to Poppy’s House and eat Sunday Lunch with my extended family.

We stopped going to church when I was around five for reasons that I still have not understood, but we continued to go to Poppy’s each Sunday to eat lunch.

The interesting aspect of this lunch was the table around which we ate our meal. The Lazy Susan Table or Turning Table is the most unique thing that I can remember about Poppy’s house; I’ve never seen a table like it before or since.

Doing some research, apparently other Lazy Susan Tables exist, but none of them that I’ve see are quite the same, and for the era in which this table arose, I think it’s quite unique.

Thanks to my Uncle Jerry and my Aunt Era Jo’s combined efforts, I’ve managed to obtain not only the history of the Lazy Susan Table but also a good number of photos, both from Poppy’s house and at Uncle Jerry’s house where the table now resides.

Until I saw the pictures, I had forgotten about it, but on the Lazy Susan, they would place small pads wrapped in some kind of foil to place the hot dishes on.

Another thing, as you can see in the picture, is that every Sunday lunch brought with it massive amounts of food. There was almost always still food on the stove, and to date, Poppy’s peach cobbler is the best I’ve eaten. The above picture was taken in 1983, two years before I was born.

Among the staple foods that I can personally remember that Poppy invariably made were rice, mashed potatoes, biscuits, fried corn bread, and roast with gravy. There was also always sweet tea. Speaking of sweet tea, I learned to put lemon juice in mine because that’s what Poppy did.

I also remember that on more than one occasion, we children would break a glass or knock it off the table. Invariably we would cry, and Poppy would say, “Don’t cry, it’s only a glass. At least you didn’t get hurt!”

Above, you can see Poppy with his glass of iced tea…and the conspicuous bottle of lemon juice sitting near him. I think this was on Christmas Day. Another picture of him wearing the same shirt is marked “Christmas Day.”

Because this subject is so large, I’ll be writing multiple blogs on it. I’m sure my family members will be able to supply me with bits and pieces that I’ve missed in here, and I’ll more than gladly add them in the new blogs!

In Part 2, I’m going to cover the actual history of the Lazy Susan Table and how it came to be in our family. Don’t miss it!



Posted by on November 29, 2010 in food


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Guest Vlog from Japan: Van Tecan, Santa Claus, and a Japanese-style Toilet

In this vlog, Van Tecan (pronounced like “Tek-kyan”) tells us of a Christmas adventure involving a Japanese-style toilet. It’s hilarious!

To view the original blog, please check out the following link!

Click anywhere on here to go to PROJECT VAN!


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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in food


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The Week Before Last Week’s Lovely Little Potluck!

Whimsically, my friends and I decided to cook the weekend before last.

Okay, naturally, this wasn’t on a whim but was half-way planned in the first place.

We found out just in time that Nathan and Jessy were bringing steaks for the meat-eaters.

Our menu included many delicious things:

  • mashed potatoes
  • green beans
  • goat cheese
  • rolls
  • steak
  • monkey bread

First, we split up beans and boiled them.

Then Kimber-Lily took the beans, hid them, left, and didn’t tell anyone where they were when we were getting ready to eat.

Luckily someone thought to check the microwave, and there they were.

Tyler prepared the sauce for the monkey bread.

He put the bread and suchlike into the oven and baked it.

The result was delicious monkey bread, which is sweet, cinnamon-y, and savory all at once.

I basted some rolls and minced fresh rosemary, adding them to the rolls, and heated them on low in the oven.

Kimber-Lily also boiled a massive number of potatoes. Her famous mashed potatoes are locally called “crack potatoes.”

The resultant “crack potatoes” were creamy and delicious, and I ate quite a few.

The steak was thoroughly tenderized, then put on the grill.

If nothing else, I can vouch with certainty that the steak turned out beautifully!

Last, but certainly not least:


If you’ve never had goat cheese before, in any form, you have been deprived. The typical flavor is tangy mixed with creamy, and it goes very well on bread and toast. This isn’t the kind of cheese you would use for, say, a grilled cheese sandwich, of course; rather, think of it like a spread, a side, or a dip.

I hope this hasn’t made everyone too jealous! Our meals are always super-tasty!


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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in food


Thanksgiving Day /感謝の日

Thanksgiving Day is coming soon!


I thought it would be nice to try to write a blog in both English and Japanese.


Thanksgiving Day is an official American holiday.


On Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks.


We typically have large meals with many good foods.


Traditional foods include turkey, cranberry sauce, and dressing.


The origin of Thanksgiving Day is the American Indians helping the Pilgrims to survive the harsh climates of American winter.

感謝の日の元は、ネーティーブのアメリカ人 (インディアン)は, ピルグリム‐ファーザーズをアメリカの酷い冬の天気を生き残らせまったのです。

That’s a short and kind-sounding summary.


The real history of what happened is much darker.


That isn’t for this blog, however!


Van Slashed and Van Tecan will have to help correct this blog after its published.


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Posted by on November 22, 2010 in food


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Spice in the Spotlight: Rosemary

Lately, I’ve been using quite a bit of rosemary in my cooking. Rosemary works well both on bread, in soups, and with potatoes of all sorts.

Rosemary is highly fragrant. The longer rosemary is cooked, the more fragrant it seems to smell. The scent is something like the freshness of mint but much sweeter and more appealing.

Fresh rosemary is absolutely divine; I had the blessed fortune of cooking with it recently and “doctoring up” some basic rolls from Wal-mart.

I’ve mentioned before the toast with rosemary, garlic, and cumin on it; rosemary goes so well with bread, but the real secret of rosemary is how well it flavors potatoes.

A photo of chopped rosemary

Typically, this spice is powerful and adds more than simply a hint or mysterious flavor. Be wary of using an excessive amount, for the taste will come through clearly in most cases, especially if you’re using fresh rosemary.

Despite how many people don’t trust the use of Wikipedia, the Wikipedia entry on rosemary says that name comes from the Latin rosmarinus, which means “dew of the sea,” because of how little water the rosemary actually needs to survive in certain locations.

There’s an interesting mythological association with rosemary as well.

Rosemary has long been associated with the Virgin Mary. It is said that the plant had white flowers until one day, on her flight to Eqypt she placed her cloak on a rosemary bush and the flowers turned blue. The name rosemary was supposed to have associations with the name of Mary. However this is not true. Rosemary grows in dry rocky areas of the Mediterranean and the sailors name it ros and marinus which translated into dew of the sea.

Another explanation of the name comes from the legend It was thought that the rosy “dew” was the blood and semen of Poseidon /Neptune who was apparently castrated, his parts being thrown into the sea impregnating the waves and from which Aphrodite emerged. Alternatively, the testicles of Uranus who as castrated by his son were thrown into the sea and Aphrodite arose out of the sea from the testicles. Aphrodite became the the mythical goddess of love, beauty and raw sexuality.

When she emerged from the sea, the local nymphs or naiads covered her body with the myrtle plant however pictures portray rosemary being used as well. The associations with the castration led to the belief that rosemary is also a symbol of virility and fertility making it even more appropriate at a wedding ceremony

Isn’t that fascinating? Many herbs and plants have similar legendary origins that make them well worth knowing; I definitely encourage you to learn about them!



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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in food


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Restaurant Review: Chili’s!

Last night we went out to eat for Kimpher’s birthday. Overall, the dinner was fun, and the restaurant experience was a little better than the past few times I’ve eaten out.

I ordered the grilled salmon, which came with rice and broccoli. We did wait a long time for the meal (or so it seemed), but the restaurant was fairly busy, and this was understandable.

My food arrived, looking quite pretty. However…

The salmon was, well…rather bland and in some places slightly dry. I love to cook with spices, as many of you know, and the salmon tasted like someone had just cooked it and placed it on my plate. Not a lot of flavor to it.

The rice was fairly decent, and as odd as this may sound, the broccoli was actually the best tasting thing on my plate- flavorful and rich. Can you even imagine how weird it feels to tell you that I liked the broccoli more than the rice and fish?

This resulted in my putting salt, pepper, and ketchup on my salmon, which is a strange affair. Certainly it didn’t taste worse for it!

In this case, the best part the night was our server- she was friendly, upbeat, highly attentive, and was totally on top of things. She brought everyone refills the moment she noticed were running low on drinks, and a few times, people ordered additional food to the original order, and she got it all right out to us.

Even though the menu at Chili’s is certainly lacking for someone of my tastes as a pesco-vegetarian, I did find a few items that looked delicious, and one of my friends ordered the spinach artichoke dip, which we tried later back at his house. Absolutely taste-bud blowing!

While I can’t say that the grilled salmon is always like this, it definitely wasn’t as impressive as some of the fish I’ve personally made, and I likely won’t be ordering it again.

Food: Sub-par but with redeeming qualities
Service: Best I’ve had in a LONG time!
Grade: Slight smiley face 🙂


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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in food


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