Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poem. by me.

Thanksgiving Prayer

Each day should be Thanksgiving, Lord, but oftentimes we find,
The praise and thanks we owe to you are somehow left behind.
We come to you on bended knees in time of stress or need,
For every want of family or friends, we humbly plead---

And you hear us, Lord! And grant us every good that we desire!
Giving Peace and Understanding even when the answer’s “No.”
So today of all days, Father, let us send our praises higher,
And Thank you for the Graces that you constantly bestow:

Father, thank you for the Soldiers, for the men who stand today,
Prepared to give their lives in lonely outposts far away.
For soldiers’ hearts mysterious who hear the call to arms,
Protect your martial angels, Lord, and keep them all from harm.

And thank you for the Cowboys, keeping faith with freedom, Lord,
Fighting predators and weather for the cattle that they tend.
With the humble creed of Chivalry, according to your Word,
May they see your Glory, Father, in the creatures and the land.

And thank you for the Fathers all, whose shoulders bear the load
Of caring for the daughters and the sons that you’ve bestowed.
Lord, strengthen them as they go out into the dragon’s lair,
Keep their eyes upon the cross and give them comfort, not despair.

For Mothers, then, we give you praise, who serve so faithfully,
Humbly and obscurely, guiding souls toward Your Light.
Whose tears and sacrifices only You will ever see,
Give them Joy and Peace, Dear Jesus—hear their prayers by day and night.

We thank you Lord, for virgin hearts whose prayers fly Heavenward,
And for Priests uncompromising, who recall us to thy Word.
And for children, Lord, for little maids and strong and gallant boys,
Lord make us truly thankful and mindful of these joys.

For Soldier hearts and Cowboy hearts, and for all creatures living,
For undeserved Grace we give You praise on this Thanksgiving!
Be with us in the coming days and help us, Lord, prepare
The manger for your coming and the will to find you there!

Syler Womack 2004

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My biggest mistakes...

I catch a lot of heat from things that are merely the result of birth-order dynamics. To wit, my youngest is a Youngest: the Baby of a Large, Belligerent Southern Family...

She's remarkably mature in regard to most things, but she loses all credibility when she falls apart at the seams, which usually happens when her sibs are present, and then I get phone calls about how horrible she is---with implications that it's all my fault.

It isn't. Get over it.

She also lost a lot of credibility over her love for, and subsequent grief over, a psychopath. And that WAS my fault. Because I trusted her emotions and judgment more than my own---because I am in awe of the incredible graces owned by devout cradle Catholics...I failed to use my Veto. It is my fault.

But I've been no less guilty with the others---they just don't remember---except for that dear first-born who was, from the beginning, frankly graceless. "...a heart of gold, A lad of life, an imp of fame...and from heart-string I love the lovely bully..."

But all the rest of you---I've had far too much respect for you, and far too little sense of my own awful responsibility. I'm so sorry. It was cowardly and prideful, and if you'd had a better mother, much of your sorrow could have been avoided.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving stuff...

From the book I made for my children:

Regarding Womack Family Thanksgivings---

Kids---this is intended to be a guide, not a mandate. If at any time you wish to vary from it, or even to ditch the whole thing in order to accommodate personal preference or the tastes of your spouses, you should do so with a free and happy heart! Traditions are wonderful and fun, and tie us to our past, but traditions such as holiday feast menus should never become oppressive. You will be no less "Southern" or "Catholic" or "Texan" if you do things differently---and what else matters anyway? I stress this because I was not given these options myself----I had to "rebel". So I am liberating you from the start!

We've always had blueberry muffins for breakfast on Thanksgiving, and I started that tradition---I don't remember when or why. If you like it, keep it up. Homemade muffins are fun, but mixes are fine, and I have often used them when short of time. I don't see any reason in the world why you couldn't just as well purchase the muffins ready-baked and then microwave them for a few seconds. Have fun watching the Macy's Parade!

I put my turkey in the oven the night before, in my big covered roaster, and let it slowly cook all night. I start it off at 400 degrees for about a half hour, then turn it down to 200 for the rest of the night. I usually put it in about 10 p.m., then turn it off about 5 am. The result is NOT a pretty turkey, but a tender and delicious one never the less. If you want it picture-perfect, you must sacrifice some of the tenderness and follow Martha Stewart's instructions. Never salt your turkey before cooking---although my grandmother did---for it dries it out. You may put salt inside it, however. Remember---I've always done a huge turkey, about 22 pounds---so if you do a smaller one, adjust cooking time accordingly. For a 10 pound turkey, start it off at about 10 pm on 350 for about an hour, then turn down the oven to 200 and set your alarm for 4 oclock and get up and turn it off! Go back to bed and get up again when you're ready to eat muffins and watch the parade.

As you are getting your turkey ready for the oven, you will, of course, wash out the cavities. Inside the larger cavity, you'll find the neck. Put that in a medium sized saucepan. Inside the smaller cavity, you'll find a packet containing the liver and gizzard. Add those to the neck, cover with plenty of water, and simmer gently for an hour before you turn down the turkey. Go about your business and just keep an eye on it. At the end of the hour, put a lid on the pan and push it to the back of the stove. You will use the broth for gravy in the morning. The gravy is about the last thing you'll do, but I'll tell you about it now. Simply remove the "innards" from the broth. Give the neck to someone to eat. It needs salt, but it's really good. IF YOU LIKE bits and pieces in your gravy, chop up the gizzard and add it back to the broth. Heat to simmering again. Put about 3 tablespoons cornstarch in a fruit jar, add about a cup of water or some chicken broth, and shake. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the simmering stock and there it is: gravy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Nanaw (remember Nanaw? Jeb and Bentley's maternal grandmother?) used to forget to take the packet of giblets out of the turkey. It never failed, and retrieving the horrid looking glob at the table used to be a yearly tradition. I do not recommend it. She also put orange juice and marshmallows and cinnamon in her sweet potatoes. I don't recommend that either, being a sweet potato purist.

Since you are cooking the turkey all night, you cannot "stuff" it with dressing---the stuff would go bad and give you food poisoning. You may, however, mix your dressing the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator all night, as we've always done. Basically, here's the dressing recipe:

---you know how carefully I measure things :
three pans cornbread
1 loaf white bread
2 cups onion, chopped---no, you cannot leave out the onion and expect it to taste like dressing
1 to 1 ½ cups celery, chopped, MOSTLY LEAVES
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons salt
a teaspoon pepper
about 3 or four tablespoons sage or poultry seasoning or a combination of both----you have to taste for correctness
melted butter

Let everybody help taste, because it's more fun that way. Grandpeggy always used milk in her dressing, and 2 sticks butter. (I kind of like broth instead of milk—especially for the Christmas dressing). Just keep adding the milk until dressing is the right consistency---sort of like thick cooked oatmeal. I sometimes use a combination of milk and chicken broth, but you can do whatever you like. When you are ready, put the dressing in a big pan and pour lots of the juice/grease that has cooked out of the turkey over it. Bake it for an hour or so at 350---that should be long enough if you use a big flat pan like a pyrex. You may want to add more Turkey juice as it bakes, for you don't want it to be dry.

Candied sweet potatoes can be done the day before thanksgiving and reheated. This frees up your oven, and I think it's the best way because you don't want to rush candied sweet potatoes. Open several cans of sweet potatoes. You'll probably want lots. Drain them, and fish them out one by one, slicing them very thin into a heavily buttered big pyrex dish. After you have a layer of sweet potatoes, throw in several large chunks of butter and about a half cup to a cup of sugar. Continue layering thus until the pan is full. Pour in water up to the top of the sweet potatoes and bake in the oven at 350 up to all day until the potatoes are candied. The longer the better, but you want them sort of syrup, not completely dried out. The potatoes themselves should acquire a sort of transparency. If you have any questions, ask Stuart, as she does it best.

Cranberries---I think those canned ones are NASTY. Buy a package of fresh ones and follow the directions. You can do this several days ahead and refrigerate. Your Grandaddy Blake would only eat Cranberry JELLY, right out of the can, in a can-shaped blob, which he would slice in little round slices. Not my favorite way, but you might like it.

Stuffed celery: Wash celery and cut into three-inch chunks. Mash cream cheese and add enough miracle whip to make it malleable. Add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped pecans. Dry the celery and stuff. Best done thanksgiving morning. Good job for novice helpers.

Don't forget the olives!

Choose a green vegetable that you can live with and add delicious ingredients sufficient to offset any healthy side effects. Sometimes we do broccoli wth cheese sauce, sometimes that green bean casserole with the French's onion thingies on top. Just whatever you like is fine! But I know Chisum and I wouldn't really be satisfied without

Martha's Squawk Casserole
I don't know why we call it that, but I'm not going to change now.
4 medium yellow squash, cut in large chunks
3 medium zuchinni, cut in large chunks
2 large carrots, grated
1 large onion, chopped
1 large jar chopped pimiento
8 oz. processed cheese spread, melted
2 tablespoons canned jalepenos, chopped
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
6 chicken boullion cubes, disolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
1 pan cornbread (Mix or home recipe)
Arrange squash in greased 4-quart pan, sprinkle carrots and onion over squash. Mix pimiento, chees, jalepenos, sour cream, soup, and dissolved boullion cubes in large bowl and pour over vegetables. Crumble cornbread over top of casserole and press down gently. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour .

Use the same criteria for the Jello salad. We've always used the Blueberry jello salad with the cream cheese and pecans, but there are plenty to choose from.

Blueberry Jello
2 small pkg. Grape jello
1 ¼ cup boiling water
1 small can crushed pineapple with juice
1 can blueberry pie filling
dissolve jello in water, add next two ingredients and chill
8 oz sour cream
¼ cup sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese
beat together until creamy and smooth. Spread over set jello. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Don't forget the pies---

Pie Crust

2 scant cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour and salt with fork. Into a pyrex measuring cup, measure the oil, then the milk on top of it. Don't mix them up! Dump oil and milk into the flour at the same time and lightly mix together with a fork—just until it holds together. Roll out between wax paper.

Sweet Potato Pie Thanksgiving 2001

Unbaked pie crust
3 cups baked mashed up baked sweet potato. NOT CANNED
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk—straight—don't add water.

Puree in food processor until smooth.
Bake in 9" pie shell at 400 til done—about 45 minutes.

Kentucky Derby Pie

Crust: 2 scant cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour and salt with fork. Dump oil and milk into the flour at the same time and lightly mix together with a fork. Roll out between wax paper.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 stick melted butter
6 or 12 ounces chocolate chips (semisweet)
1 cup broken pecans
1 tsp vanilla
Beat eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla together---add butter. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into pie shell and bake in 325 oven for about an hour.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Karo, light or dark
1 cup pecans
Mix together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. reduce to 350 and bake about 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. (always takes me longer than ten minutes).

Food may be consumed before, during and after The Game. Gig'em.***

Saturday, November 1, 2008

liberal "tolerance"

"Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."

Thus spake that early twentieth genius, GK Chesterton, and never has it been more true or more relevant than today.

A man of conviction will not tolerate certain acts, words and even expressed thoughts. That is, he will not sit idly by and say nothing. He may refrain from arbitrarily challenging every wicked thing he encounters, but don't ask him how he feels about something if you don't want to hear it stated plainly. And if you are possessed of the popular insanity which dictates that any disagreement with your whim is a personal attack, then prepare yourself to lose your feel good.

A man of conviction will NOT, however, discard friends, family, or even acquaintances simply because he disagrees with them, no matter how vehemently. The man of conviction will instinctively love the sinner even as he hates the sin. He will realize that his acquaintance or friend is a unique person regardless of his misinformation and will be the same person when and if he corrects his metaphysic, only better, and ultimately happier. The man of conviction would no more reassure a friend re his wrong theology than he would urge him to ignore a cancerous tumour simply because his friend feared surgery.

This is in STARK CONTRAST to the modern liberal to whom "tolerance" is a shallow mantra! My family has recently experienced the hateful wrath of two such "tolerant" erstwhile friends. Their practice of tolerance runs thus: Declare that you hate "racists", conservatives and true Christians (nominal Christianity is okay). Declare that it is wrong to discriminate against anyone based on color or creed or behavior---and discrimination means whatever *I* say it means. Declare that no one has the right to disagree with you and that, if they do, they are intolerant and must be cut off.

These people are quite capable of ending long friendships based on a word. They are vicious, self-centered and their reason for hating people with convictions is that convictions make them uncomfortable. Professing convictions will make you their hero, but actually carry through with your convictions and they will turn and rend you. Eschew them. Regardless of how close you think you are to them, they will cut you off in a heartbeat and with total dispassion if you dare to gainsay them or if you become in any way inconvenient. Find yourself a good, passionately right or wrong friend who will stick by you no matter what.