What we don’t know…

I don’t know what it says about me and my culinary skills, but every year at Thanksgiving, the only thing that anybody wants from my kitchen is a giant cheeseball in the shape of a turkey.

By the time you read this, it has already been constructed, admired and devoured, carrot nose, pretzel feet, cracker fan and its little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup top hat all slumped and scattered to the side of the decorative plate, joining the leftover beets in the relish tray as the thing no one really wants to eat, but makes the table setting more festive.

Oh, Thanksgiving. So much of the holiday for me represents coming home. Maybe even more than Christmas, and maybe more so because on a Thanksgiving six years ago we spent our first night in our house as parents to a brand-new bald-headed baby and nothing has been the same since.

Especially the holidays.

Our Thanksgiving meal that afternoon was drive-thru Burger King with a frozen Stouffer’s lasagna for supper as we sat in the living room recliners staring at this new wrinkly human who would grow up to become the young girl who requested rainbow cupcakes for her kindergarten class this morning and questioned if I was following the rules when I helped her walk the treats into the classroom.

“I don’t know, Mom,” she said nervously as I pulled into the parking lot instead of the drop-off line like every morning before. “I don’t think we’re supposed to be doing this. I’m just not used to it.”

Not used to it. What a way to describe it. I’m not used to it either, girl. Just yesterday, you and I walked the planet essentially attached to one another. Now you’re 6 and questioning my parenting judgment and authority.

And I’m not sure I’m used to my almost 4-year-old spouting off facts about reptiles behind the driver’s seat on our way to school. When we brought these little bundles of baby home to the ranch, I didn’t know I would blink and they would already know more than me. Like preschool is just the threshold. I’ve already been confused by kindergarten math homework and she’s 3 spelling words and the discovery of voice commands away from being able to Google everything.

I thought my motherhood expert status had more of a shelf life. I mean, up until this year I still believed some of the B.S. parent answers my dad had for our incessant questions. I mean, he always sounded so confident. But back then, we were living in a land of encyclopedias and experience-it-for-yourself. He was golden as long as we didn’t ask for confirmation from Mom.

These days, these kids literally have the world at their fingertips. A few weeks ago I was teaching a writing workshop for high school kids in a neighboring town. I watched them work to complete the short writing prompt I gave them and wondered if I really had anything that might be useful to them at the end of the day.

Then it occurred to me that when I was their age, sitting at a desk in my senior English class, there was no way to anticipate that 10, 20 years later so many careers and tools of our everyday existence would be founded in technology that we could have only dreamed of in our Jetson cartoon fantasies.

Like, artificial intelligence is real, and video chat is a thing that my kids will never not know. And so is travel to Mars, for like, normal millionaires, not just astronauts.

And black holes. I mean, we have an actual picture now. Don’t even get me started on things like Spanx and eyelash extensions and dry shampoo…

Anyway, after a few minutes going down the rabbit hole, I decided to tell those students the one thing that I do know: You just really don’t know what’s to come. But you do know your heart. And what and who you love. Pair that with the mission to do the best that you can, and then when it doesn’t work out (because so many times it doesn’t work out) and when it finally does, you’ll know you put the best of you out into this ever-shrinking universe.

And if you need a recipe to take to a holiday party, a themed cheeseball never disappoints. Just text me and I’ll give you a recipe. Or better yet, we can do it together over FaceTime.

We spent the weekend decking the halls at the ranch and now I’m in the spirit! Shop https://jessieveedermusic.com/store for great prairie-inspired gifts.

Use code HOLIDAY for 20% off now until Friday! Happy Shopping!

My kind of turkey

This is what comes out of my kitchen during the holidays.

Yup, when the kitchen is mine I create character shaped cheese…

I do something similar for Christmas.

Oh don’t worry, Cowboy’s cooking up a storm and has created a great little post-holiday meal for you all. I’ll be sure to post it as soon as I recover from the production. It’s a goodie.

But on this special day I felt compelled to share with you my sophisticated and famous (in at least two counties) holiday dish.

Because I don’t want you and your relatives to miss out on the best way to kick off the binge eating that is sure to ensue right after you all consume about thirty crackers dipped in this…

A delightfully festive and perfectly adorable turkey shaped cheese ball

  • 2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 jar dried (chipped) beef, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 package (1 ounce) ranch dressing mix
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup slivered almonds

And to give the bird clothes for warmth and eyes to see the light:

  • 3 candy corns
  • 4 or 5 chocolate chips, depending on how many buttons you think he needs
  • 1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
  • 1 mini Butterfinger
  • 5 or 6 mini pretzels…or those  pretzel crisp things, those work great too…

1. Mix cream cheese, dried beef, green onions, Worcestershire, ranch dressing mix and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Form into two balls–a large ball for the turkey body and a smaller ball for the head…how much smaller depends on how big you think his brain is.

2. Roll both balls in the slivered almonds to coat.

3. Now place the turkey’s head on the body before you scare the kids.

Ok, let’s breathe some life into this hunk of cheese. We have the power:

4. Give the bird eyes with two chocolate chips.

5. Make him a nice shirt with two or three chocolate chip buttons.

6. The candy corns make two feet for dancing and one beak for singing a song of thanks.

7. Use the pretzels to  make the tail feathers (and then shake yours if you wanna).

8. And top it off with a top hat, Pilgrim style! Place the Reese’s cup on the turkey head and then cut the mini Butterfinger in half. Stick the pieces of the Butterfinger back to back with a bit of the cheese mixture left in the bowl. And then do the same thing to make the Butterfinger sandwich stay on the peanut butter cup….

…and then…

“Ta Da” another Turkey is brought into this world…

This year's model. I used carrots for the feet and beak, cause momma ate all the candy corns. Oh, and I couldn't find my almonds, but hey, in my kitchen we are nothing if we aren't flexible.

…and your guests are mystified. Jaws drop. Grandmothers faint. Applause.

Take a bow, you’ve just become the favorite relative.

Take that Martha!

Oh, he's so darn cute, I could just eat him up....

Happy Turkey day from our kitchen to yours.

I hope you remember to wear your stretchy pants.