Week 1. National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week
November 3: Election Day. But of course you’ve already voted. Haven’t you?
November 5: National Men Make Dinner Day
November 6: National Nachos Day
Week 2. National Young Readers Week
November 10: St. Martinmas Eve, the traditional end of harvest, with the Winter Solstice only six weeks away
November 11: Veterans’ Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Canada. Honoring those who serve
November 13: Indian Pudding Day
November 15: National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
Week 3. National Farm-City Week
November 21: Great American Smokeout
November 24: In England, it’s Stir Up Sunday.
Week 4. National Family Week
November 23: National Eat a Cranberry Day. (Who can stop with just one?)
November 26: Yes, it is—Thanksgiving! Please take Covid into account as you plan your family get-together.
National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day is a perfect opportunity to get rid of your leftovers and prepare for that looming moment when we have to fit a 20-pound turkey, five vegetables, four sauces, three salads, and two pumpkin pies—all into that impossibly small refrigerator.
I know. We shouldn’t spoil a conversation about curry by introducing the subject of leftovers. But we need to start practicing so we can handle the flood of leftovers that will soon confront us. And to tell the truth, some leftovers just beg to be curried. Turkey, for instance.
But first, curry. Curry is a dish (meat/fowl, vegetables, rice) seasoned with a mixture of aromatic spices, the flavor of which depends on the choice and proportion of spices involved. Most commercial curry powders contain some 6-12 spices, and range in flavor from mild to fiery, simple to complex, sweet to more or less bitter.
Fresh curry is always best, though, and it’s easy to make your own. Here is a recipe for a freshly-made garam masala (the words mean “blend of hot spices”). This is a guide. Once you learn how to work with the flavors, you’ll want to vary the selections and proportions to suit your taste and the dish you’re preparing.
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (if you use a whole nutmeg, break it first, then toast)
Toast all ingredients except for the powdered nutmeg in a heavy skillet (no oil) over medium-high heat. Stir and shake occasionally for about 8-10 minutes, until the spices turn somewhat darker and become fragrant. Cool completely. Divide into three batches. Grind to a powder in a coffee grinder or spice mill. Add nutmeg powder. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you prefer to use all powdered spices in this mixture, maintain relative proportions to start with, and don’t toast.
To use: Starting with small amounts and tasting as you go, add this curry powder to leftover chicken, beef, or pork, along with some chopped onion, apple, celery, raisins, almonds, and coconut. Serve over hot rice. And remember, you’re in training for the Big One–the leftover turkey you’ll have at the end of the month.
It’s here! If you’ve been waiting for Susan’s latest Darling Dahlias mystery your wait is over! The Darling Dahlias and the Voodoo Lily is now available in print and ebook at Amazon. Hardcover and audio editions TBA.
We know you love sweet potatoes, a traditional accompaniment to the holiday turkey. But you don’t have to smother this versatile vegetable in lots of add-on calories to make it taste good. If you’re cooking light, you might want to give these delicious oven-fried sweet potatoes a try. Or how about some luscious sweet potato rolls? Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene and are a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins E and A—as well as fiber, of course. They’re an ally in the battle against such chronic health issues as heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
November 11–the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour–marked the end of World War I and is now the day we honor our servicemen and women. For a first-person account of the end of that terrible war, check out this Eyewitness to History site.
November 13 is Indian Pudding Day. Here’s the interesting backstory about this traditional corn-based pudding, which came to America via the European colonists. Included: a recipe for your slow-cooker.
On The Great American Smokeout Day, learn about the history of tobacco’s medicinal uses. It vies with the opium poppy for the title of “deadliest herb.”
Stir-up Sunday? Find out about this traditional British celebration.
National Eat a Cranberry Day. Native Americans applied crushed cranberries to wounds and used them to treat scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. To prevent scurvy, eighteenth-century American whalers and mariners carried a large supply of cranberries on their voyages. More recently, these tart red berries have been shown to prevent urinary tract infections, reduce the risk of kidney stones, and help fight gingivitis. For a peck of great-tasting cranberry recipes, visit the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers page. Our favorite: Cranberry Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake.
For a behind-the-scenes look at Thanksgiving, read this fascinating post by journalist Aimee Levitt: How culinary propaganda from a women’s magazine made Thanksgiving a thing.
Find out what Susan is up to these busy days by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. There’s always something interesting going on in the Texas Hill Country. She posts book reviews, bookish thoughts, and notes on the fast-changing world of books on her “other” blog, BookScapes.