I’m No Martha Stewart

Have you ever watched Martha Stewart?  She can rip open a turkey and stuff it with her bare hands, then while it’s cooking, she tends to her garden, sews a new dress, and crafts some fancy place settings for her dinner party.

But I’m not her.  First of all, I refuse to touch a dead bird.  Ever.  (And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t eat dead birds ever, either.)  I also don’t garden.  I’m allergic to just about everything outside and especially grass, so the last thing I like to do is get down in the grass to plant something.  I did take home economics in middle school, plus I lived with a grandma who sewed a lot of my clothes, so technically I do know how to sew, but I just don’t like it.  And finally, while I do enjoy doing art projects such as making crafts, drawing, painting, etc., I don’t like to keep that stuff in my house.  I think it has something to do with my Asperger’s Syndrome, but while I admire and appreciate the artistic efforts of crafts, I just don’t care for that kind of decor in my own home.

However, Thanksgiving is the one time a year when I throw caution to the wind and let my hair down.  Because in November, I start making my place settings and name cards for our Thanksgiving meal.

As many of you know, most of my family doesn’t speak to me, so besides my sister and me, we usually have one or both of my kids, their dates, and a bunch of friends.  So for years, it’s been my tradition to surprise everyone with what kind of place card they’ll get.  Then afterward, they can be thrown away and I don’t have to keep any of that craft clutter in my house.  So while this year’s place card will be a surprise, I’m going to show you some previous years’ work.

This time, everyone got a turkey pinwheel.  These were a lot of fun, and the pinwheel part was different for each guest and was made with a paper pattern that reflected their own personalities.  Almost everyone started blowing them right away, and it was funny to see who got overly zealous and broke theirs before their food was even served.

This time, everyone got a pine cone turkey.  They seemed like a good idea in my head, but making them was something else.  It wasn’t as easy as I would’ve thought to find pine cones that weren’t crushed, and I pricked my fingers a lot while I was gluing the paper feathers in them!  Plus, after I made them, I then started fearing they might have bugs in them which would get in the food.

This time, everyone got a pilgrim’s hat or bonnet.  I also made a sign for the door that said “Ye Olde Pilgrim Cookery – Didst Thou Bring Thy Appetite?  Signage By New World Printing Company,” and my sister sewed us both pilgrim dresses.  (However, we looked exceptionally dorky, so I won’t be sharing those photos!)  We tried to get my son to wear a pilgrim man outfit or even a hat, but he refused to take part in our insanity.  Also, we spoke only in Olde English which was pretty fun.  Or funny.  Or dorky, depending on who came.  But most of the guests seemed to like it, or else they were too polite to laugh at us to our face.  Either way, we had a good time.

So, while I admit I’m no Martha Stewart, she’s no Rachel Carrera either.

Let’s talk:  What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?  White meat, dark meat, or no meat?  What was the last thing you ever made with your hands?  Would you ever speak in another accent in front of guests for an entire day?

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54 thoughts on “I’m No Martha Stewart

  1. i love these, rachel. and i love to create collage art, so my daughters always say that my art room looks like a serial killer’s lair, with all of my cutouts all over the place. have a great thanksgiving, i’m hosting this year and i’m mostly a white meat woman –

  2. Don’t know much about Thanksgiving what with me being a European but the last thing I made with my hands was a brinjal bhaji – you can have the recipe if you wish young Rachel.

      • AUBERGINE ‘BRINJAL BHAJI’ RECIPE
        INGREDIENTS
        2 medium sized aubergines.
        2 small red onions.
        Tomato puree – you’ll use about 1/3rd. of the tube.
        Root ginger – a worthwhile chunk.
        Olive oil – more than you’d think if you want it to taste authentic!
        A blend of spices or (so long as it is not a madras) a standard curry powder mix.
        Salt.

        COOKING
        Chop the onions and cube the root ginger.
        Oil in the pan and gently fry until onion softens.
        Chop the aubergines into chunks – no need to de-seed and add to the pan. Add more oil at the stage and turn the heat up a little. Keep cooking and add even more oil if you think it is needed until the aubergines are truly cooked (it doesn’t matter if they become a little overcooked for this dish).
        Albeit out of sequence in the making of, say, a regular curry where you would start with a simple onion based masala, now add the curry powder (not too much) and the salt (the salt is vital for this dish). Blend it all together with a wooden spoon adding the tomato puree, and, if it is too dry (which it won’t be if you’ve used enough oil) maybe just a little water.
        Turn the heat right down for a moment or two so the flavours kick in then turn off the heat and transfer the dish to a Pyrex or similar to cool down – this dish works brilliantly reheated! You may want to drain off any excess oil at this stage.
        Cover the dish with kitchen foil and heat it up when required with the foil still on. Alternatively serve it cold as a salad – either way it works really well.

      • Well, I had to Google to see what aubergines were. And since I don’t actually know a lot of vegetables, I wasn’t surprised that I’d never heard of them. It turned out to be what we call eggplant. Same thing, different name. I’ve never actually had eggplant, but at your recommendation, I may just try it. The rest of it certainly sounds yummy! I can’t wait to see you at work in the kitchen! It sounds like you are a culinary delight! 🙂 Thank you!

      • It is the second most eaten/popular vegetable on the planet – the spud being the most popular. A truly versatile thing is the aubergine/eggplant. Even just sliced and grilled (having brushed it with a little olive oil) it tastes sublime. Best of luck – do you have many Indian/Asian restaurants in the US? We have hundreds here.

      • Young Rachel – here’s my own take on the Sag Aloo as well!
        SAG ALOO
        INGREDIENTS
        6 medium sized waxy potatoes.
        2 medium sized onions.
        1 tin chopped tomatoes.
        2 cloves garlic.
        1 good chunk of root ginger.
        Either a bag of fresh spinach or a tin of spinach – it doesn’t really matter which.
        A good pinch of dried fenugreek leaves.
        A blend of spices or (so long as it is not a madras) a standard curry powder mix.
        Salt.

        COOKING

        Boil up the potatoes until as good as cooked through – set aside covered.
        Chop the onions; garlic and root ginger and cook in oil of your choice until done. Add the tomatoes, salt and curry powder thus making your masala.
        Then add the potatoes, gently mix around adding a little water if it is looking too dry (remember this is a ‘dry’ dish) and the spinach and dried fenugreek leaves.
        When the spinach is cooked it’s done!

        You can serve straight away – re-cook it if you fancy – or have cold as a salad (or with salad).

  3. I used to invite a lot of people over for Thanksgiving. Now I go to my daughter’s inlaws. I’d like to have dinner at my house sometimes, but physical disabilities and anxiety disability kind of put paid to all that. So, my thing is to make and bring a mince pie, candied sweet potatoes and gluten free rolls.

  4. Beautiful place cards. Looks like Martha Stewart material to me! We do the traditional turkey, but my mother in law does eat bird either, so there will also be a ham. We take turns hosting. It’s my turn this year and while I don’t particularly enjoy cooking, I do love to bake.

  5. Every Martha Stewart recipe I’ve tried, tasted like boiled water. You’re no Martha Stewart, and nor surely should anyone ever want to be!

  6. Take that Martha Stewart!! When you started the blog about how you are not much with domestics, I was thinking, this is a girl who speaks my language. But once I saw your little place settings, I knew I was out of my league! Nicely done!

  7. So sad………..Since I have returned to work I haven’t had the time or energy to make the little things special. I am so happy that Anna and Tory will pick up the ingredients and fun stuff that I used to do to make cookies and little projects. Thank you girls!

  8. You are so creative, Rachel! I think it is nice to do a few decorations for holidays. I am definitely not a Martha Stewart, though! I even sometimes resort to putting chip dip in their original tubs out on the table. Or the milk jug… smiles!

  9. You are sharp, Rachel. Martha bows to you. Turkey, stuffing, mashed, corn, gravy, biscuits. Green bean mushroom casserole for the rest of the gang, I take a pass. I do not cook. I will carve. And eat. Happy Thanksgiving all!

  10. Your Thanksgiving sounds like it’s lots of fun! The place cards are great!
    I have beautiful china and tablecloths, but no decorations–and the table doesn’t get set until just before dinner because the cats will pull everything off of it. 🙂 I’m not a crafts person, and I don’t sew, but I do cook and bake, so last night’s “hands on” was homemade pizza (and a little apple cake, just to have around). One of my daughter’s has been a vegetarian since she was in third grade, so I always make vegetarian gravy and stuffing that’s not cooked in the turkey. I don’t eat meat either, but I’ll taste the turkey gravy as I’m making it. We have lots of family food traditions, and I started on the cooking and baking last week.

  11. The place cards are precious! I know they make everyone feel special! There is something about anything that someone makes that is so memorable. One of our traditions, that my mother started, is to put kernels of corn at each place and at the end of the meal, we go around and tell 3 things we are thankful for. As far as the turkey goes, white or dark, any way you want to fix it is fine with me. I have only done it once and I forgot to take one of the bag thingies out. 😦 it didn’t really matter; I took it out later. 😉 I do sides. Have fun tomorrow! Xo

  12. “As many of you know, most of my family doesn’t speak to me,..” You are so refershingly honest! It is your family’s loss of course, and thank God you are not another Martha Stewart, one is certainly enough, someone needs to tell Gywneth this, but not me…..Love your place holders and your blog! You rock~

  13. Pingback: Remember when I wasn’t Martha Stewart? | Rachel Carrera, Novelist

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