Saturday, 28 November 2009


Alex, my eight-year-old nephew who is in the third grade, wrote an essay as a class assignment. It's about Bob, a turkey who escaped from the truck that was transporting him to Washington DC. I suppose Bob didn't want to join all the other turkeys that inhabit our fair capital. Good for him! You will see after reading the story, that Bob found better accommodations.

After we assembled around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, my brother read to us "The lost turkey named Bob." Alex, the author of the piece was too bashful to read it to us himself. We listened, we applauded, and filled with mirth we began our dinner. I am thankful for my family and friends and I wish that each Thanksgiving I spend on this earth finds me just a bit wiser than the one before.

And now, here is the story of...

"The Lost Turkey Named Bob:"
written by Alex, who is in the 3rd grade.

     ON a nice November night a turkey named Bob was wandering in the very creepy woods. Bob did not know what was in the woods. But one day he found a house. The owner's name was ALEX. "Gobble, Gobble," said Bob. Alex let him in.
Meanwhile at a base somewhere in Canada...

"A turkey has escaped!"

"Where is it?" asked the commander. "How did it escape?" "Did it climb out of the truck?" "NOW WHAT DO WE DO?!"

Back at Alex's house the turkey was asleep safe and sound. The agents in Canada were planning what to do. "Okay does anyone know where Bob is?"

No one had any idea!

Bob was on his way to Washington D.C. to be the guest of honor at the White House when he jumped from the back of the truck. Alex was happy to have him in his house instead. Alex was a great host. The agents searched. They never found Alex's house.

It's lucky Alex only eats chicken.

The END.

When he is not playing host to Bob the turkey, Alex loves to play ice hockey.

Alex at summer ice hockey camp, with New Jersey Devils goaltender Marty Brodeur.

Summer 2009, Alex and dad Tasos, at hockey camp, post-practice.

Bob went on to have kids! 

Monday, 23 November 2009


I'm going retro with this recipe, but I am hoping that one day it will come back into style. When I first made cranberry salad mould, it was still au courant, but that was a while ago. Since then it has become an absolute staple at our Thanksgiving table. It's both sweet and tart, it's crunchy, and above all, it's really, really fruity. It reminds me of a Waldorf salad with cranberries. It's very retro! It's also very colourful, and it's very much requested by friends and family come Thanksgiving. I discovered the recipe in a magazine many years ago, and I made it by following the recipe precisely. Well, as the years went by I changed a bit of this, I added a bit of that, and then I went ahead and lost the original recipe. So I guess the current version is half borrowed, half invented and half taken from someplace else. Yes, in my world of mathematics there can sometimes exist three halves to one whole. Anyway, everyone loves this cranberry mould, and every Thanksgiving folks make sure I'll be making it. Sometimes, someone asks for the recipe. My reply is usually a perplexed smile, not because I don't want to give away any archival recipe secrets, but because I don't have a specific cranberry mould recipe written down. So now that I have my very own blog, and now that Thanksgiving is upon us, and now that I am getting ready to make my cranberry mould for the big day, I've decided to get the ingredients together and to write down the recipe while I am making it. This is a really good idea. After all, I am getting older, and who knows, I might start forgetting things. What would happen to Thanksgiving if I couldn't remember how to make a decent cranberry mould? People would be sad. No one will love me during the holidays. The stress would be unbearable. Here's the recipe, written down and saved for posterity.
Some things are canned, and some things are fresh.  Shown here are the ingredients for the cranberry salad. The apple is always, always a Honeycrisp! Best variety in my opinion.

2 (14 ounces) cans whole berry cranberry sauce
2 cups pure cranberry juice, no sugar added
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 (3 ounces) packages of raspberry flavoured Jello
1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin
1 (16 ounces) can of crushed pineapple packed in pineapple juice, not syrup, or go ahead and use fresh pineapple cut up into small pieces, nothing wrong with that!
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup seedless grapes, cut in half, lengthwise
1medium apple peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of celery

  • Buy that nice, really tart organic cranberry juice that contains nothing but cranberries. That one is the best!  
  • In a large saucepan combine the cranberry juice with the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the Jello and the gelatin, stirring with a whisk until they completely dissolve into the juice.
  • To this add the cranberry sauce and keep stirring until it breaks up and mixes well with the warm liquid. Pour into a large glass container and place in the refrigerator. Keep an eye on it, and take it out of the refrigerator when it's almost set. 
After the sauce is almost set, add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
  • Now comes the time to mix with the rest of the ingredients. They must be mixed in when the sauce is almost set. This way they will adhere to the gelatin, and they will be evenly distributed. If you add them when the sauce is still in its liquid state, they will float to the top and stay there.
  • Fold the pineapple into the cold cranberry sauce, gently mixing it well.  Add a little of the pineapple juice, not all of it.
  • Add all the other ingredients one by one until they are well incorporated into that beautiful red mush.
  • After everything is mixed well, pour it into a nice mould and place it back in the refrigerator.  Allow it to set completely.  It should be left in overnight.
  • When you are ready to serve it, take the mould out of the refrigerator and let it rest in a warm bath for a just a few minutes and only a few minutes. This will allow the gelatin to loosen easily from the mould. If it stays in the hot water a little too long, it will start to liquefy.  
  • Place a serving plate on top of the mould and carefully invert the salad onto the plate. Now you will unmold your creation: give it a gentle shake, and you will see that you will be able to pull the mould away from the gelatin. It will look beautiful! You can decorate your serving plate with some greens or with additional fruit.  
  • If you do not serve this right away, you can plate it a short while before dinner and then place it back in the refrigerator until it's time to bring it to the table. 
  • The ingredients listed here fill my mould plus allow for a bit to be left over. I cool that portion in a plain container and save it for later. What you see plated here tends to disappear quickly.
 I decorated with mums from my garden and with kumquats.  One of my favourite colours for mums, white with a blush of purple! Who can resist that?