Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'll Have To Wash Dishes This Thanksgiving!

By C.H. Admirand
For the past ten years, our daughter has competed in the Oireachtas, Mid-Atlantic Regional Irish Step Dance Competition in Philadelphia which begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues through to Sunday every year. While I have had the pleasure of baking pies the day before, and turkey with all of the trimmings on Thanksgiving, my daughter and I were usually packed and ready to drive to Phili right after we finished eating, so I haven’t had to do the dishes! (Now you know one of my deep, dark secrets, I really hate washing dishes.)
It’s been a whirlwind and hectic time over the last decade, and for the first time in ten years we won’t be going. Jessi retired from Irish Step Dance last year after dancing and competing since 1997. She danced her way from Beginner Level all the way to Open, the highest level of competition. The 2009 Orieachtas were her last competition; she recalled and competed a second time, finishing overall in the top half of the dancers recalled in the Senior Ladies 20 & Over Group…a huge honor. For those that aren’t familiar with Irish Step Dance, the competition is fierce, the costumes an investment (most designed and created in Dublin) and the community like one big family.
It’s been such a huge part of our lives for so long, it’s been hard to just stop. I miss the rush to get ready, the last minute practicing before her number is called, the live musicians playing fiddles and accordions while she dances, and most of all the thrill of having her number called for final placements.
Here are a couple of pictures of Jessi from the Davis Feis (competition) three years ago, the first is with her dance teachers Marie and Frank Moore.




 
The second with the first place dancer, Erin, Peter Smith former head of An Coimisiún le Rinci Gaelacha (the governing body in Ireland), and Jessi.

 


 
Jessi with her 2nd place trophy from the Davis Feis.
 

November has always been one of my favorite months because it holds one of my favorite holidays. Is there anything more delicious than turkey with all of the trimmings and your choice of four or five pies? I confess…I love pie and over the years have baked more than I can count. I have my mom’s secret ingredient, for making the perfect crust every time, the hard part is deciding on which four pies I’ll be baking.
My family’s tastes have changed as the kids have grown to adults. Hands down their favorite pie in the last five years has been my Sweet Potato Praline Pie, with our Happy Apple Pie running a very close second. Before you ask, it’s happy because when the kids were small, instead of just cutting slits into the top of the pie, I drew a happy face. Some habits die hard, and it actually doesn’t look right if it’s not smiling back at me. To round out the selection of desserts, I usually get requests for Buttered Pecan and either Cherry, Squash, or Pumpkin—never Minced Meat (affectionately called Mouse Meat by our kids when they were little.)


Here’s the recipe for my Sweet Potato Praline Pie:
Filling:
¾ cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 (23 oz.) can sweet potatoes in syrup, drained and mashed (about 2 cups) Note: you can use baked sweet potatoes, but I’m usually short on time and go for the canned ones.
2 eggs, beaten
Topping: (I like to double the topping, that way I have leftover to make Pralines)
3 tbsp light brown sugar

3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp margarine or butter (I use butter)
½ tsp vanilla
¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup whipped cream
Prepare pie crust, heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; blend well. Pour into pie crust lined pan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake an additional 25 minutes.
Meanwhile (during last five minutes of baking time), in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and margarine. Bring to a boil over low heat. Reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Sprinkle nuts evenly over pie; drizzle with topping mixture. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream.
The real trick is keeping your family away from the pie while it cools; mine can’t seem to keep their hands off the praline topping!
One 8 or 9” pie crust – remember the less you handle the crust the better, and don’t forget to use the ice water…it makes for the flakiest crust!
Pie Crust Recipe:
For an 8 or 9” one crust pie you’ll need:
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp Crisco
1 cup all purpose flour (Hecker’s Unbleached)
½ tsp salt
2 to 3 tbsp ice water

For an 8 or 9“ two crust pie you’ll need:
2/3 plus 2 tbsp Crisco
2 cups all purpose flour (Hecker’s Unbleached)
1 tsp salt
4 to 5 tbsp ice water
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles resemble the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, one tbsp at a time, toss with a fork until the flour is moistened and pastry sticks together and almost cleans side of the bowl. Gather pastry into a ball; (for 2 crust pie, cut in half) shape (one half at a time) into flattened round on a lightly floured board. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than your pie tin.
From my kitchen to yours, enjoy the Holiday!

Stop by my website www.chadmirand.com to read more about my debut book with Sourcebooks. TYLER, the first in my series The Secret Life of Cowboys releases March 1, 2011.

While you’re there, check out my current releases A GIFT FROM HOME and THE SAXON BRIDE.
Slainte’
C.H. Admirand

32 comments:

  1. My offspring rode horses competitively and it's the same drill: long drives, lots of cash outlay, good and tough memories both, and lots and lots of shared time. I wouldn't trade those years for anything, but there's a part of me that's grateful to never again have to set the alarm for 3 a.m. because it's a horse show day.

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  2. 1.Your daughter is beautiful. Just one question...How long does it take to get her hair in all those curls?

    2. Looking forward to your new book. You are in my calendar! Welcome.

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  3. It must have been so much fun watching your daughter dance, and I'm sure you'll miss it after being part of it for so long. My husband and my son used to shoot in archery tournaments all over the east coast. They stopped because of my husband's back, but they both miss it. Still, they have wonderful memories that will last forever.

    The pie sounds delicious. I think I'll try it for Thanksgiving this year. We're going to my husband's aunt's house. Two of my favorite dishes are my mom's sweet potatoe casserole, which is almost like a dessert,and pecan pie. I love pecan pie. Oh, and now I'm hungry, just thinking about it.

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  4. I'm so there with you on washing dishes:) Your daughter is beautiful, as is her dance outfit. I can relate to your feelings on the chaos, yet missing the rush. My 16 year old was in track for 2 years, then decided to skip it last year--he begged us, even though we thought it was good for him, we agreed. I missed seeing him compete- the look on his face when he did well, and how it helped him feel good about himself. I'm hoping he joins again this year.

    Thanksgiving is crazy for us this year-- my folks on Thursday and Friday, then my inlaws on Saturday and Sunday. We spread the love:)

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  5. Wow, I was thinking the same as Jessica, how long did it take to curl the hair? Great pictures, and wonderful that she did so fantastically!!!

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  6. All the comments about taking the kids to competitions made me think of the silver-haired, retirement-age man I met at the polls yesterday.

    He thrust out his hand and asked me how I was today which of course obligated me to do the same. When we had agreed we were both fine, he said, "[name] is my son. He's running today, and I hope you'll vote for him."

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  7. Parents never stop, do they, MM? The recipe sounds great, CH!
    I'm with Jessica and Terry on this one. How did you get her hair to do that?????

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  8. Gorgeous daughter! Love the hair, too ... have a granddaughter with hair just like that and we really should buy stock in the hair product (especially that frizz free stuff) industry! I'll help you wash dishes for a piece of that pie and an hour's worth of cowboy writing talk while we wash.

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  9. Sorry about you having to do the dishes but I'm still so jealous! As my daughter is still dancing, I'm wondering if anyone would notice if I ran away during Nutcracker Season which takes up the first three weeks in December. Of course, my book is due December 15, my blog tour starts the same day, and both my mother and mother-in-law are coming up the weekend of December 18th for the Hershey Theater show. I'm going to be too busy to have PMS (Pre-Mother-Syndrome).

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  10. Wow! Gorgeous costumes. The recipes sound delicious too.

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  11. Congrats to your daughter. I bet it is hard to deal with the end of such a long string of competition. Perhaps SHE could wash the dishes though, since you're making the pies. I've never made a pie from scratch. Waaaay too intimidating, but your recipe sounds delicious.

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  12. My aunt and cousin are coming in for Christmas and they were just talking about cooking for us. And about wanting to get a good sweet potato recipe. This one looks wonderful!

    And your daughter looks so pretty.

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  13. Lovely daughter, CH and great accomplishments for her. That costume does look like it was made in Ireland. Is that headpiece heavy?

    As for cooking or baking pies, I'd rather do the dishes!

    Amelia

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  14. Irish dancing is really fun to watch and a true challenge to do. Good for your daughter for doing it for so long! I've never made a sweet potato pie, but with your recipe I might have to give it a try!

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  15. Grace, absolutely! Sometimes the shared time in the car was very quiet...but there were more times where we had a chance to talk, and those times were great. I totally agree!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  16. Hi Jessica:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Funny thing about Jessi's hair. When we first started out in '97 we set her hair in rags the night before the competition...a long and really tedious process and by the time she finished dancing her hair was almost straight again...but then they started selling wigs for the majority of the girls who danced and had pencil straight hair!

    Thank goodness for those wigs!!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  17. I had the pleasure of seeing a group of Irish step dancers at the mall a few years ago. Loved the bouncy hair and perfectly choreographed footwork. A real treat!

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  18. Hey Anita!

    I agree...there is a lot of shared time on the way to those competitions and tournaments, but it is something they will always remember. ;)

    The pie really is scrumptious...tell you what, if you email me your mom's sweet potato casserole, I'll email you my buttered pecan pie recipe...the secret for that recipe is to bake the pecans ahead of time...it gives them a really buttery flavor.

    Thanksgiving is definitely NOT the time to cut back on calories.

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  19. Hi Moonsanity:

    Thanks for the kind words, this last costume was one of my favorites...I shudder to think of the expense over the years, but like I said it was definitely an investment. I think she's beautiful, but she just shakes her head and tells me I'm supposed to say that...I'm her mom! LOL!

    You never know, your son may change his mind and want to compete again! It's tough when they want to stop.

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  20. Hey Terry:

    Thanks...I have a ton of pics, but she approved of the ones I used.

    In case you missed my reply to Grace, it's a wig. After struggling for the first few years she competed, wigs became the rage...thank goodness!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  21. Mary Margaret:

    I loved your comment! How wonderful that the candidate's dad was out campaigning for his son.

    A parent's work is never done, is it?

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  22. Hey Cheryl:

    I can guarantee that recipe having made it for five or so years now...it's a toss up which my family prefers...with freshly whipped cream, heavy cream, or ice cream. LOL...did I mention that calories don't count over the holidays?

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  23. Hi Carolyn:

    Thanks...but it's a wig. How lovely that your daughter has that type of hair naturally. My niece has ringlets and she hates them! The grass is always greener.

    You wash...I'll bake, and would love to chat about cowboys while we do!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  24. Hey Robin!

    You have my sympathies. It's so hard to get it all done...but you definitely should receive a special dispensation for doing double-duty with both moms!

    Good luck with the show!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  25. Hey Shana:

    The amount of handwork that goes into the costumes is amazing.

    The pie is definitely a keeper recipe.

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  26. Hey Olivia:

    It is hard. Hmmm...I love your suggestion!

    Actually it's easier than you might think baking from scratch. My oldest son likes to cook and bake...he's a huge fan of Alton Brown and approaches every recipe like it was a scientific experiment. He doesn't like when I don't use a recipe because it just doesn't compute!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  27. Hey Lisa:

    Have fun with the holidays...it's so much fun when they come to your house and YOU don't have to do the driving! LOL.

    The recipe is really good. Thanks for the kind words about my daughter.

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  28. Hi Amelia:

    Thanks! It's hard to believe how much she achieved...we have a huge box filled with trophies. My hubby built shelves for them, but when she retired, she didn't want the reminder anymore.

    The costume was created by Siopa Rince in Dublin, Ireland. The headpiece combined with the wig weighed about 3 pounds...I just asked Jess...she just walked in from work.

    I'll bake the pie, if you do the dishes!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  29. Hi Amanda:

    I agree, Irish Dancing is really fun to watch. The reason she got started was the playbill I brought home from a performance of Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley's follow up to River Dance. It was a fabulous show! My favorite sequence was the "Dark Lords"...if you can get your hands on the video or DVD, it's fabulously powerful.

    If you like squash or pumpkin pie, you'll love the sweet potato.

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  30. Hi Tracey:

    I always loved those "dance outs" during March when the school would perform at Malls, St. Patrick Day parties and events, and yes, quite a few pubs. The pub patrons were usually our most enthusiastic crowds. LOL!

    TTYS,
    C.H. Admirand

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  31. Wonderful photos, CH! Thanks for sharing those, and the yummy recipes. :}

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  32. Love it! Her costumes are AMAZING! Can't wait to try that pie recipe.

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