Beyond Words

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A Thanksgiving Feast Safe for Fido November 23, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:49 pm


Thanksgiving is two days away and you know what that means: food. Lots of food! And, as much as we love all the turkey and fixings they are no bueno for something else we love: our pets.

Thanksgiving also means lots of people and kitchen chaos, which means you may not pay attention to what your dogs eat or sneak on the side. But if you want a day without a pet emergency room visit, you might want to take note of the ASPCA’s do’s and don’ts of Thanksgiving for pet owners.

Basically, the rules include no pets in the kitchen, stuff your turkey but not your pets, no booze hounds, and take out the trash!


When talking turkey, it’s tough to not give your dog a little nibble of the bird but just make sure it’s fully cooked, skinless, boneless, and has no tracings of twine or foil. The skin can be especially dangerous for Fido, as it will have spices, sauces, and fats that are both dangerous and hard to digest.

Bones, even those cooked like neck bones, are the worst and if ingested, will wreak havoc on a dog or cat’s digestive track. They splinter inside an animal and could lead to that dreaded emergency room visit.

Lastly, be sure to double bag and wrap-tie the turkey carcass and toss in an outside bin.

What’s the other Thanksgiving Day standard? Pumpkin pie! The pie is my absolute favorite but raw yeast dough will not be your pet’s fave. If ingested, the yeast converts sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide, gas, and alcohol, which can result in a bloated almost drunken pet with severe pain. This could be life-threatening and comes into play when making rolls and other bread items as well.

Nutmeg is a key ingredient in pumpkin pie and yams, but it is a big no-no for dogs. In fact, the seasonal favorite can cause seizures and central nervous system problems if ingested by a pup. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes themselves are fine in moderation; just make sure they don’t have any nutmeg or other spices.

Sage is also a popular Thanksgiving Day spice but it’s equally dangerous. It contains oils that upset a pooch’s tummy and should be avoided.

Along those same lines are onions and garlic. These two are pretty commonly known as bad for dogs, but just in case you didn’t know it, keep them away from your four-legged friends at all costs. Both contain sulfides that are toxic to dogs and can lead to anemia. Between the two, onions are more toxic than garlic and cooking them does not reduce their toxicity.

When I think of the holidays from my childhood, I remember my parents always had a big bowl of nuts on the coffee table. They were in a special wooden bowl and were not shelled. An old-school nutcracker and shell picker were always part of the set-up but when I think about it, it’s nuts to have nuts laying around if you have dogs, which we always did.

Nuts, especially walnuts and macadamia nuts, are uber dangerous for your dog. If a bad reaction occurs, a dog will be unable to stand, will vomit, suffer tremors and an elevated heart rate, and will have both a fever and weakness within 12 hours of digesting the nuts. Thankfully most symptoms go away but why risk it? Keep those nuts up high people.

Other things you should keep away from your pets

Drippings and Gravy

Turkey Stuffing

Raisins and Grapes


Corn on the Cob





It’s not all bad news though and there are plenty of Thanksgiving Day items that can be safely added to your mutt’s menu, including:

Boneless, skinless and well-cooked turkey meat (no skin)

Sweet potatoes (plain)

Plain pumpkin puree

Green beans

Cranberry sauce

Carrots (raw or cooked but plain)


If you think your precious pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4436. It’s a number you should probably keep handy all year long.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and one with safe and happy pets!


Pretty & Plated November 15, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:02 pm


I had a dinner party this past weekend and had so much fun creating a fun tablescape that incorporated both the season and the meal. And, even though our meal (prepared and plated by the fabulous Chef Katy Parker BTW) didn’t consist of turkey and it’s not officially Thanksgiving just yet, I kinda wished I had some of those old school turkey transferware plates.


You know the ones, brown and white normally and probably found in your mom or grandma’s hutch or kitchen. Love them, hate them, or don’t really care about them either way, the plates are not only pretty and festive, they’re historic.


As with most things formal and proper, we have the Brits to thank for turkey plates and I’m not talking turkey blue plate specials. I’m talking turkey plates that are special.



Following the Revolutionary War, Great Britain was licking its wounds and its economy was struggling but instead of writing their then nemesis America off, those brilliant Brits began targeting us Yanks with their famous dinnerware like the simple yet stunning 1765 platter from Staffordshire pictured above. Soon everything from our historic landmarks to patriotic scenes to even the expansion of the west would eventually be found on plates and platters from Pittsburgh to Portland. It was a certain handsome bird however, that took center stage in the center of the plate.


Shortly after President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November as the nation’s official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, English potters began producing turkey-themed dinnerware for the American market. Already the star of both English and American feasts, the turkey quickly became the symbol of the new holiday and American tables were suckered into all things turkey.


Southern Living

I’m a sucker for a formal set table, although I rarely set one myself, and I love china. I have mine from our wedding, as well as my mother-in-law’s less formal one and my mom’s. We use my mother-in-law’s as our everyday plates and just recently my non-sentimental husband commented that he really likes using them and that they make him happy. Who knew simple china from England could make the brash boy from Buffalo blush?!



Southern Living

I’m also a sucker for a picturesque plate wall like the one above fabulously configurated with…yes…turkey plates! What a great idea for all of you out there who may have a plate collection but don’t want to use them for their original purpose. I’m floored by this wall!


Royal Doulton

Today turkey-themed plates by the likes of Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Ridgway can be found but you may need to look hard for the real deals as they can sell anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,500. One of the original originals is the above classic blue-and-white “Flow Blue Turkey Platter” from Royal Doulton. You’ll also find various versions by various makers in lots of colors, including the traditional brown and white as well as blue, green, red, and even purple. Oddly enough, finding some in black (which I would LOVE!) is rare, so if you do, snatch them. I’m a big fan of a host of transferware patterns and will always gravitate toward those in green and white, red and white, and of course the brown and white turkey.


Johnson Brothers His Majesty pattern

One of the most popular patterns and one of my faves is the above “His Majesty,” which was produced by Johnson Brothers from 1959-1996. The company and all of its patterns were acquired by The Wedgewood Group in 1968 and from 1999-2004, Wedgwood partnered with Williams-Sonoma on reproduction patterns.



Today the retail giant offers not only a stately “Plymouth Turkey” dinnerware collection but the above “Plymouth Birds” collection, which is equally festive and perfect for family feasts and every day dinners.


Sadly formality is not trending or going viral these days. Considered as uncool as a flip-phone or file folders is formal dinnerware. Crystal goblets, sterling silver place settings, and porcelain china dishware aren’t on any millennial or Gen Xer’s wedding gift registry and it makes me sad. What makes even sadder is when I see “Honeymoon Fund” or “Wedding Fund” on their registrations. What? But, that’s a whole other blog I guess.


So, what I’ll do with all my china, crystal, and silver that our daughter probably wants nothing to do with is not something I think about. Until the day comes, I’ll continue to enjoy having a casual glass of wine in my Waterford crystal and our nightly dinner on Wedgwood china. I’ll also continue to crave some turkey plates on which to gobble gobble goodness. If anyone has any they’d like to unload, I’m more than happy to help your efforts. We’ll both be thankful.


Blogger’s note: I can’t close this blog without sharing a great little turkey tip I recently ran across. Instead of roasting a big 20 pound or larger turkey that takes up so much room and takes so much time to cook, think about instead roasting two smaller birds. Not only will cook time be reduced, guests will have more chances at those coveted legs and wishbones. You’re welcome! 


A Berry Interesting Thanksgiving Tradition November 12, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:35 pm

Thanksgiving 2020 will look much different for many of us, but some things will still hold true, especially the food we eat. We may not be hosting friends and family, but we will probably still be feasting on turkey, stuffing, pies, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and cranberries. I was never a big fan of cranberries back in the “open a can and pour out the log” days, but I’ve grown to love them. What exactly are those little red berries though and why do we generally only eat them once a year?


The small, red, and tart fruit is actually very healthy and we can thank Native Americans for the tradition, as they mixed cranberries with deer meat waaaay back in the day. They may have even shared some with the pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving Day.


History also notes that sailors used cranberries as a source of Vitamin C to prevent scurvy and more recent studies suggest cranberries promote gastrointestinal and oral health, raise the good HDL cholesterol, and may even help prevent cancer.



The very first official harvesting of cranberries was by Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall, who planted the first commercial beds in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Many of today’s cranberry bogs are in fact more than 100 years old!


Cranberries grow on low-running vines in sandy marshes and are one of only three commercially grown fruits native to North America. The other two being blueberries and Concord grapes. During harvesting, the berry marshes are flooded, special equipment is used to knock the berries off the vines, and then they float to the surface. Most of the world’s cranberries are grown on some 50,000 acres in the U.S. and Canada and are harvested in September and October. Perfect timing for fresh cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!


Each year, Americans eat about 400 million pounds of cranberries, 20 percent of which will be consumed over Thanksgiving. The fruit can be eaten both fresh and dried, and is popular in muffins, trail mixes, cereals, salads, and of course juices.


So what do you prefer? Fresh or canned? Whole berry canned or jellied? I prefer the whole berry but if you like that blob of gelled stuff, here’s a fun way to make it festive using cookie cutters:



And just in case you don’t have enough food planned (LOL!), here are some yummy recipes that use cranberries. Use them this week or all year long!



Cranberry Brie Cups (Great for Thanksgiving morning!)

1 8 oz. tube crescent rolls dough

1 8 oz. wheel of brie (can substitute cream cheese)

½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce

Optional: chopped pecans on top


Preheat oven to 375 and grease mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams.

Cut into 24 squares and place into muffin tin slots.

Cut cheese into small pieces and place inside crescent dough.

Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.

Bake until crescent pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.



Festive Pineapple Cranberry Salad (My favorite!)

1 can mandarin oranges

2 pkg. raspberry flavored gelatin

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 apple, chopped

Optional: chopped pecans

Drain oranges and pour juice into sauce pan with 3 cups cold water. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Add dry gelatin and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cranberry sauce. Pour into large bowl and add oranges and apple. Refrigerate 1 ½ hours or until slightly thickened.



Three Ingredient Cranberry Relish

(Anthony Bourdain calls this, “Delicious and truly one of the easiest recipes in the world.”)

Wash 1 large orange under warm water. Dry and coarsely chop skin, flesh, and pith. Remove seeds. Combine orange and 12 oz. fresh cranberries in food processor. Pulse until mixture appears grainy. Transfer to bowl and fold in 1 cup sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature.



Tangy Cranberry Meatballs (great use for any leftover cranberry sauce!)

Leftover cranberry sauce

¼ rice vinegar

2 T ketchup

2 T soy sauce

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 t brown sugar

¼ cup water

2 lb. pkg. precooked cocktail-size meatballs


In a large saucepan combine all ingredients except meatballs, cook on medium low, and stir until smooth.

Add meatballs and cook until heated, about 10-15 minutes.



Cranberry Nut Bread (my mom’s)

2 cups fresh, whole cranberries

2 T butter

2 cups sifted flour

1 cup and 2 T sugar

1 ¾ t baking powder

1 t salt

1 egg, well beaten

1/3 cup orange juice

1 t grated orange rind

¼ cup water

Cut cranberries in half. Melt and set aside butter. Sift together dry ingredients. Combine egg, orange juice, and water. Make well in dry ingredients and add liquids. Stir in butter. Add orange rind and cranberries. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.



Cranberry Salsa Dip

1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed

½ cup sugar

Green onions, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 lime, juiced

Pinch of salt

2 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, softened

Put all ingredients except cream cheese in food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped coarsely. Put in airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. After, spread softened cream cheese on serving plate and spread salsa over cream cheese. Serve at room temperature with crackers.



Cranberry Hot Tea

1 48 oz. can cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

1 cup lemonade

1 cup pineapple juice

Cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Serve warm with cinnamon stick garnish.



Cranberry Punch

2 bottles cranberry juice

1 ½ bottles water (using juice bottle to measure)

2 cans frozen orange juice, thawed

Juice of 3 lemons or 9 T lemon juice

1 pkg. red hot candies

Whole cloves and sugar to taste

Put all ingredients in pot and heat on low until red hots melt. Transfer to crock pot to serve and keep warm.



Cape Cod

Mix 1 part vodka with cranberry juice to taste in highball glass and fill with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.


Sea Breeze: add grapefruit juice

Bay Breeze: add pineapple juice

Cosmopolitan: add triple sec and serve in martini glass



Cranberry Kiss Cocktail

1.5 oz. cranberry vodka

2 oz. cranberry juice

1.5 oz. simple sugar

Lime wedges and mint leaves

Muddle 3 lime wedges and 8 mint leaves in a shaker. Add other ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with floating mint leaves.