Thanksgiving Issue 2009

Mabel White photo


   Mabel's Best No Bake Fruit Cake Recipe

Cleaning for the Holidays

 Brine That Turkey Blend  

        Christmas Cheat Sheet    

Making Wreaths and Fire Starters

Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet

    Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans


Wassail Recipe Dry Mix

Corn Casserole Recipe

Letter from the Editor:        

The no bake fruit cake recipe is soaked in spirits so the older it gets the better.  You may want to begin that project now.  Also, it is not your average fruit cake - it is more like "spiked cookie dough" and a welcome gift.  I adore a spiced rum now called Jerry Sailors-very affordable and full of vanilla, caramel and spices it is another great gift by itself or for any recipe calling for rum.  Roasting your own coffee beans is the theme of this holiday season, click here for that easy DIY project.

Regarding Thanksgiving, I just would not feel good about myself if I did not cheat on a Holiday.  Yeah, I am in my slippers watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live in NY when family arrives at 2:00 PM--as if I did not lift a finger.  Everyone is looking at me, wondering with hungry eyes if I even got started making our Thanksgiving Dinner.  Click here for Thanksgiving by Mabel continued... 

Join me on Facebook or your favorite Platform.  Many of my readers, friends and family were already on Facebook so it was neat to be welcome in there.  I really like Twitter for total ease of getting a simple thought across and I am on there often.  

Get on Top of Your Flowers

I have been out getting roses before they quadruple in price-and become only available in three colors [red, red, and red.]  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting to know your local grocer produce manager who usually handles the flowers.  I make sure I shake their hands and give them attention every time I shop-as well as let them know I am a serious flower buyer.   Thanks to that I came home with four dozen roses today (free) that were about to be tossed and got the few sunset oranges and crèmes that came in with all of the reds in today's shipment.  Knowing the produce manager I also get to pin down the next shipment dates as well as flower toss dates-usually the same day and time frame.  So I always buy the new shipments but I am also favored the ones dumpster bound.

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The Wassail Scandal

The recipe simply came up missing-everywhere.  Almost late in getting the "gobble gobble" edition out-my readers would not have that.  Via e-mail I was notified many times the wassail recipe I got from the Biltmore Estate in NC a few autumns ago was missing.  I looked, its true!  I have reposted it in this issue. 

Dry Wassail Mix for Entertaining or Gift Giving

2 cups Sugar or Splenda
1 Cup brown sugar (or plain sugar)



1 cup Tang
1 1/2 cup Country Time Lemonade Mix
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Ginger

1 tsp Allspice

½ teaspoon Nutmeg  

Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Separate into air tight jars.

4 heaping TBSP. of wassail mix stirred in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of apple juice or apple cider  makes 2 cups. Other juices can be exchanged or blended with the apple part such as pineapple and cranberry juice and/or dry sherry or any dry wine. 

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Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans:  America's Newest DIY Infatuation

Popularity of people roasting, flavoring and grinding their own coffee beans skyrocketed in 2009.  People have a definite infinity and intimacy with coffee even if they are not the ones who are drinking it.  Saving money is not particularly the goal as it can be the same amount of money spent on the endeavor-yet quality, control, variety and “just a wholesome activity” takes front stage for goals of DIY home coffee roasters.  Perhaps I spoke too soon.  Perhaps not saving money-but some are making money, and a lot of it. 

Many home coffee roasters are discovering a cottage industry business more popular than the beef jerky operations that started out of garages.  Roasting your own coffee beans can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes depending on batch size. 



The main spirit of home roasting resides in this fact; coffee is considered absolutely best when consumed 4 to 24 hours of being roasted-anything else is just a denouement.


 This time period is the climax.  Anything over that time period is considered nothing but a  post climactic experience.  Sorry Folgers.  Flavoring your coffee beans:  While the beans are still warm they are tossed with a flavor oil.  Not just an extract, but a professional based oil that is designed to survive a high heat, such as 350 degrees.  Roasting your own coffee beans continued click here.

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Every year now our Turkey ends up smashingly good.  I first rubbed a few drops of food grade white thyme essential oil in it, and then I soaked it for a day in the brine recipe below.  If you did not know it, the KFC secret is actually to soak the chicken in brine [salt.]  After I prepped the turkey with the brine, I stuffed and bagged bag that sucker. 

An hour before taking out of the oven--it is important to open the bag to allow the turkey to brown.  Follow the directions on the bag.  But a Roasting Bag makes it moist and supple.  Oh, it was so good all the way through! The brine even permeated the stuffing.  I don't know about you, but I make a walnut, apple, raisin stuffing I begin by browning some Jimmy Dean sausage and Vidalia onions.  I caramelize the onions with lots of black walnuts also.  Yeppers, that is how it is done at Mabel.  That is about as far as the cooking effort goes.  And I throw a splash of bourbon or cognac in the stuffing.  Whatever I have handy.  I wrote the recipe below last year, to pack this in a jars and give as gifts this year.  Well, at least you have the idea.

Mabel's Turkey Brine Blend:

 6 Ounces of Salt

 2 Ounces of Wild Thyme

1 Ounce of Wild Sage

1 Ounce of Rosemary

1 Ounce of Moroccan Coriander

½ Ounce Marjoram

3 Tsp. Of Colored Peppercorns

2 Tsp. Black Cumin (.02 Ounces)

This also helps make awesome gravy so everything revolves around a good brine, turkey and bag.

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Mabel's Corn Casserole Recipe:

16 ounces of white corn

16 ounces heavy cream

14 ounces can creamed corn

2 ½ cups Ritz crackers - crushed

½ stick Butter

1 tablespoon sugar (or 1/2 packet of sweetener)

Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients, except for butter and ½ cup of crushed crackers, into a bowl and mix ingredients together. Place the mixture into a greased 8 x 12 casserole dish or pan. Sprinkle with remaining cracker crumbs over mixture and then place the ½ stick of butter in the middle. Place in the oven 400 Degrees for 40 Minutes, or until crust is brown.  *Taken from Recipes of Famous Inns e-Book by Deborah R. Dolen.

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Mabel's Best No Bake Fruit Cake Recipe

This took some digging but SOOO well worth it! 

2 1/2 cups maraschino cherries chopped
3 cups raisins
1 cup pineapple diced
1/2 cup mixed fruit and peels
1/2 cup lemon peels diced
1 cup to 10 oz. chopped Black Walnuts or Pecans
9 cups honey graham cracker crumbs
1/2 lb. or 1 cup blended butter (melted)
1/4 cup Agave Nectar or Molasses
4 to 5 eggs
1/4 cup Parrot Bay Rum or Cognac
7 oz. pureed coconut
24 oz. honey or Agave Nectar
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix blended butter, syrup or molasses, eggs, rum/cognac and orange juice together.  Then add honey, when well blended add fruits and nuts, mix & then add fine graham cracker crumbs.  When thoroughly mixed this should form a thick paste.  *Note: I now love Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum - It is very affordable and full of vanilla, caramel and spice notes.

Line 3 or 4 loaf pans with aluminum foil then pour mix into pans compacting and leveling each mix in pans.  I prefer the new decorative pans that look like wreaths,  Place about 10 whole Black Walnuts or Pecans on top and whole cherries as desired.  Place a cloth soaked in rum/cognac on top and place in refrigerator.  Re-soak cloth every 2 to 3 days and continue to store in refrigerator until served. It is suggested that the fruit cake be made two to three weeks before serving.

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Thanksgiving Cheat SheetDeborah Dolen kitchen image Continued

I get up at 8:00 AM and simply get the Turkey under control. He and I have an



understanding.  He produces great meat, stuffing and gravy and I eat him later.  Getting his neck out is a pain and I am not into gizzards.  The rest is cheat city.  I buy my bread as frozen dough and put it in a warm place to rise while I am doing the AM turkey thing.  My "real" mashed potatoes really come from the milk section of my grocery store (if you can find them.)  I do buy a lot of them because "we ain't gonna run out of NUTHIN!" 

Another way to cheat on Potatoes is to just bake thin skinned ones mostly known as "butter potatoes" in the oven a few hours before the turkey is done and whip them up.  If people do not like skins, explain the great nutritional value and that they are "sheik" and "in," known as "French Country Mashed Potatoes."  If they do not buy that story--they picked the wrong place for Gobble Gobble.   Pumpkin Cheese Cake makes it worth it all, and it should be served with Beta Blockers, Ace Inhibitors, and Lipitor.  If that is not enough, Sam's Club makes a Caramel Walnut Apple Pie to die for.  Why do you think so many people kick the bucket on Thanksgiving?   Anyway, the biggest cheat tip in this letter is, when you have it all down pat--well, do it again for Christmas.  Screw the ham.  

I also serve a Cran-Raspberry jell I canned a century ago.  I was tiffed no one sells Cran-Raspberry Jell anymore--so I make it.  If you would like Cran-Raspberry Jell, just mix some clear cranberry jell with some 100% raspberry "Just Fruit" preserves.  The white corn is totally fresh--picked by hand from my freezer store shelf.  Well, not really. My corn casserole dish that is simply demanded at the Thanksgiving table (or I need not appear) is included in this newsletter.  Photo above Deborah R. Dolen, Editor in Chief

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Read about Ringo a dog flown in from Katrina.  Official Bio of his owner and short Bio RSS Syndicated Feeds on the environment.  How Twitter is best used.  Deborah Dolen Books on Amazon.   Review of her books on Open Library,  Paperback Swap, Good Reads and ReviewScout.  You can also read Google Profile.    Deborah Dolen on MySpace Facebook, and Flickr.  This is our favorite blogspot.   See Deborah Dolen on YouTube and her last book written London Apothecary and book.  For more environmental articles on water and oil.


Visit Deborah on Facebook MySpace Twitter or BlogSpot   Buy Natural Liquid Soap!  It is much safer than commercial brands.  Natural Liquid Soap for People or Natural Liquid Soap for pets.


How are Coffee Roasters “Doing It” At Home? 



Home coffee roasters are using popcorn poppers and re-purposing them to roast beans.  A popcorn popper does work and spares your oven the coffee smell stigma and dusty post coffee chaff.  A popcorn popper can roast coffee beans evenly and satisfactorily.  Flavor oils are added after the coffee beans are roasted yet still warm.  They are easily coated with flavor oil by shaking in a zip lock bag with the freshly roasted beans.  Amount of flavor oil is usually one ounce per pound of freshly roasted beans. The beans are usually then left to dry over night or in a sunny yet ventilated space.   Extracts or non-oil based flavors do not work at all-we have tried them in vain. Photo is Café Roma Espresso Maker by Breville. 

Where to Buy a Popcorn Popper for Coffee Roasting?

eBay seems to have an endless array of popcorn poppers starting at about $15 judged by the amount available in the “Buy It Now” section and sorted by price lowest to highest.  That did pose the second question; “can nuker’s roast beans too?”  The popcorn poppers that do it via microwave?    (Lemme check-BRB…) The answer:  Probably however your microwave would absorb the scent and no true “nutty” flavor of being roasted would be achieved.  Short answer is do not bother with microwave coffee bean roasting.

A cursory search on eBay for coffee roasters reveals a lot of sellers who know pop corn poppers can be sold as coffee roasters.  West Bend is said to be the best for re-purposing, but I find any air popper is fine.

Air Roasting Coffee Beans in a Pop Corn Popperbreville-espresso-machine-2.jpg

Air roasting takes under 10 minutes, roasts very evenly without scorching, and results in coffee of exceptional quality.  Pick a well ventilated area preferably near your sink.  There will be chaff dust to rinse off equipment when done.  Use as much coffee beans as the popcorn popper suggests for corn kernels.  Typically this is 4 ounces.  Place a big bowl under the chute as you would to collect popcorn and put all other parts in place including the butter dish. 

When you hear crackling or smoke you are almost there.  Beans continue to roast after they are out of the machine so you may want to finish a shade lighter in color than you were aiming for.  A light roast takes about four minutes and you can go up to 6 ½ minutes for the darkest espresso roasts.  Never store coffee in a fridge or freezer as it compromises the natural oils.  A Wear Ever Cushion Air pizza pan ($12.00) can halt the roasting process and take the guess work out of roast color.  The pan quickly dissipates the heat, halting the roasting process and allowing the roaster to spread an even layer to evaluate their batch.  When the beans are cooling at this stage you can coat with a flavor oil.  One ounce of flavor oil per pound is the general rule of thumb.


Pan or Wok Method

Although roasters consider the air popcorn poppers 95% fool proof you can roast a half a pound at a time of coffee in a wok/skillet (or one pound for very big pans/woks.)  You will need oven mitts for the entire process.  A clear pan lid is wonderful and almost a necessity when roasting coffee beans via stove top.  The roasted beans will go into a metal colander when done.  Heat a pan or wok to 500 degrees and then try to maintain that temperature.  Place the beans in, cover securely and then shake the wahzoo out of it while on heat for about five minutes.  The only difference between this and popcorn is you will be stopping to check if the color is where you want it and you are not adding oil.  When you hear yoru first “crack” and smell smoke you are making serious progress.  You may need to keep on heat and shake for one or two more minutes.  Keep roasting until they color you desire has been achieved.  As the beans dry they develop an airborne film known as the “chaff.”  People usually take the product outside to blow off the chaff.  Many do not like the by product floating around their kitchen.

Do not seal fresh roasted coffee tightly for the first 12 hours.  This is because it needs to vent off C02.  Do store fresh roasted coffee beans in a cool place out of direct sun light.  A friend of mine owns coffee roasters club so check him out.

Keurig Breville or the Breville Breville?



OK, my Christmas present to myself has been earmarked all year to be the Keurig Breville.  Keurig is OK if you make sure they have the cup to process your own coffee and you are not cornered into buying their coffee cartridges or "pods." Being superficial I loved the stainless exterior and blue lighting.   They run $250 but I would probably get a refurbished one for half the price.  Keurig sells a cute ruby red one for just over $100 I will get for my pharmacist daughter who loves red and is too busy to play around. She will like the easy clean up coffee cartridges.  breville-espresso-machine-2.jpgSince that passion of my stainless pick for moi - I found another one I like, and maybe even better.  Café Roma Espresso Maker by Breville  [photo to right.]  Confusing because they are two separate companies.  Same exact price, much more function-frother which is VERY fun to play with and again you can use your own ground coffee. Common sense will probably prevail and I will get the Breville Café Roma Espresso Maker by Breville. 

Resources:  Coffee Grinder eBay  Coffee Grinder Model #2 Ebay Basically both Black and Decker's Stainless under $20 including shipping. 

Using Magic Bullet or Sensio Rocket as a Grinder

  1. Answer:  I like Sensio's Rocket for appearance these days-but Magic Bullet is OK too.  Using either of these as a coffee bean grinder 6-10 seconds of pulsing using the flat blade should do it. You might want to give things a little shake between pulses so that everything gets in the action.

    You sort of have to eyeball it -- depending on the efficiency of the blade, it may take more or less time. The trick is to get the beans all ground to a fairly consistent size -- you want to avoid pulverizing some beans into dust, while the rest have are too coarse to do any good.

    The coffee aficionados will tell you that a Burr grinder is superior, but fresh-ground coffee (even if not done the "best" way) is way better than pre-ground.

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Christmas Cheat Sheet

Rule number one:  Immediately after opening gifts, save every bow, tie, or cute adornment you can!  Keep them in an empty drawer in your craft room, and if you do not have a craft room, keep them in a big clear shopping bag.  Rule number two:  You can shred gift wrap for other reasons.  If you really want to have some fun=--dumpster dive down the rich streets that day and get what they consider garbage!  Rule Number three:  Keep the tacky gifts to give back to that person next year!  There are no other rules.

My late husband Steven would take every Greeting Card we got and try to erase the signatures, using them for his buddies. He and his "conservative" buddies would always sign in pencil back and forth between them for this reason.  Not sure if that was to save the "trees" or to save money and time on picking out a card. He was the king of economy.

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Making Wreaths and Fire Starters

Any decent person doing crafts is going to have a glue gun, if they have nothing else in the world.  I love my



glue gun, because it also stops my carpet when I see runs, and does many other house hold tasks.

The best part about making your own wreaths and Fire Starters is that you can literally walk around out doors or indoors and collect things to stick together.  Only a few things need you run out and buy.  I would not buy anything until I saw the major materials I found to work with.  Then I would figure out what ribbon would look best and so on.  Often, I will have that ribbon on hand.  Even raffia is great for most any tasteful and simple bow making.  If you recall in a previous Christmas newsletter I talked about making a wreath with your old Christmas ornaments, and/or taking your old Christmas decoration and pulling them together with a glue gun and a theme.  I picked cream roses last year.  This year I am going to pick "bills" so my kids know what that stuff costs.  I may even leave the tags on.

Click the thumbnails if you want to see some very pretty and easy to assemble fire starters.  The basket above consists of mainly a basket that was given to me, filled with Cinnamon Sticks, Dried Apple Slices, Pine Cones dipped in soy wax on the tops (to look like snow) and pretty fall leaves.  I noticed you can get very cheap cinnamon sticks on flea market spice racks.

 The other assembles include dried whole lavender sprigs, (great if you grow lavender) and dried spices stems.  I had more than enough long basil taking over my kitchen to hang dry up side down in a cool room and use for these kind of bundles.  Do be very careful as to what type of wood sticks you chose.  For example, Florida is full of pretty, but highly poisons Oleander trees.  Even a horse can die if he eats more than two leaves.  A small animal, will not make it.  A family of 5 in Tampa used these Oleander branches for grilling, a few years ago, and are not here to talk about it. 

Orange, whole cloves, Star anise can also be used to dress these bundles us as well as dried orange or apple slices if you can find them. Everyone seems to have Bay Leaves and you can go to town with bay leaves.  You can even make a wreath with them alone.  One operating theory here is that the spices smell great when they are burning.  That is cool. 

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Read about Ringo a dog flown in from Katrina.  Official Bio of his owner and short Bio RSS Syndicated Feeds on the environment.  How Twitter is best used.  Deborah Dolen Books on Amazon.   Review of her books on Open Library,  Paperback Swap, Good Reads and ReviewScout.  You can also read Google Profile.    Deborah Dolen on MySpace Facebook, and Flickr.  This is our favorite blogspot.   See Deborah Dolen on YouTube and her last book written London Apothecary and book