Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving with Lynn Marie Hulsman

For a Thanksgiving special treat 
Cowboy Marvin invited a special friend over to share some thoughts and a couple of recipes so grab your chef hat and say howdy to the lovely and super talented 

Lynn Marie Hulsman 


Six days ago, when I glanced at the enormous calendar in my kitchen announcing the schedule of each of the four members of our family, I nearly experienced cardiac arrest.
Thanksgiving is soon, the board warned me.

Less than a week away. 

A hand-drawn cornucopia in the square for 
November 27th proved it. 

I’ll be honest: I’ve been pulling an ostrich about Turkey Day. When I invited guests two months ago, it all seemed so… possible. 

Some people were born to host. They’re the ones whose houses are neat as a pin when you drop by unannounced. They never panic about not having eight matching wineglasses or enough folding chairs because they know their inventory. Ushering friends or strangers through their doors and handing them drinks invigorates these hosts and hostesses. 

My grandmother was one. 

So was my mom.

I don’t know how the gene skipped me, but here I am in midlife, wishing either of them was at the end of the phone line to advise me on how many potatoes and bottles of wine to factor per guest. 

My friend, Rabbi Joy Levitt, once said that all one needs to make an occasion special is a white tablecloth. It marks that a day is different, she pointed out. Beyond that, it’s all about celebrating. 

This year, I latched on to this idea and gave myself permission to do no more than pull out a white tablecloth, if that was all I could handle. I dug out my grandmother’s white cotton and lace tablecloth, and set up the ironing board. I also ironed my mother’s white linen one for the buffet table and eight cloth napkins, enjoying the crisp formality of my table dressings. 

Inspired, I searched for her gold-plated flatware that I haven’t seen since we moved apartments 4 years ago. I found that, along with the silver that matched my mom’s china. As I write this, I am looking at my dining table with the extra leaves added. I alternated place settings belonging to two women who raised me. I’m using their china, their crystal, their gold, their silver. 

For good measure, I stuck a pine cone in a mason jar, a tiny gourd in a vase, and some brown and orange flowers in a vase. I’m neither crafty nor artistic, but it shows I made an effort. It shows I know that this day is special. 

My grandmother and mother are gone. On holidays, we’re all reminded of those who are no longer with us. Life is short, and our days are limited. I find this uplifting, not depressing. Today, I choose not to worry that my food might not be Michelin star-worthy or that my loveseat’s slipcover has a hole in it. 

On Thanksgiving, I plan to enjoy myself. Worry steals joy.

My son saw me polishing my treasures and said, “Mom, you look really happy.” I realized that I am. I don’t feel anxious about hosting this year, 
I feel expectant. 
Ready to welcome. 

In my heart I know that my guests won’t look around for my undusted corners or judge me for having a pile of unfiled bills on the corner of the piano. They will be happy to spend the day with me, with my kind husband, and my hilarious children. They will be grateful that I opened the wine and set a turkey in front of them. Their hearts will lift when they see the beautiful table that was dressed for their to honor and please them. 

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the understanding that each moment is a choice. I can choose to dwell on what’s not perfect or I can choose to marvel at daily miracles. I have money to shop with, hands to cook with, and yes, even a strong back that allows me to bend over and scrub my toilets before the big day. 

I had women who raised me to adulthood. I have friends of my choosing who have become family, and I have healthy children. I have eyes with which to see my lovely table.

I am lucky. Like I tell my children, we have everything we need and some of the things we want. 


Yes, turkey is the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving feast. The roast provides the ooh/aah moment that sets this day apart. But if you ask me, the sides are what people are really after. And the more the merrier, in my opinion. Half the fun is trying to figure out how to take a spoon of this and a pile of that, and fit it all onto one dinner plate.

Southern wisdom tells us, “Ain’t no one ever said, ‘Hell no, I don’t want me no buffet of side dishes!’”

Everyone has one or two special dishes without which it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving. Celebrate abundance, and please the crowd, I say. This year, I’m having cornbread and chestnut stuffing right alongside the celery and onion stuffing. If a guest wants to request, or even better bring a dish, my answer is yes. Mofongo, yams with marshmallows, jello with grated carrots inside, noodle kugel… all are welcome. 

I’m including two recipes here, one for my Minted Mashed Carrots and one for my friend Kate’s family’s Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad. Both of these dishes make me very happy. 

Wishing you and yours that which makes you happy this holiday season!

The Fullerton Family’s Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

This recipe was graciously given to me by my friend Kate, and was passed down from her grandmother. I love it for its crunch, and freshness. This salad is a great way to sneak a healthful side dish into a meal because the pleasing sweetness and tang of the dressing tones down the strong flavors of the cruciferous vegetables. 

It’s a wonderful complement to a savory roast such as barbequed brisket or garlic-infused eye of the round, and it’s equally at home next to a pile of fried chicken. Pretty on the plate, it’s simple, homey, and comforting.

*Makes 8 Servings

For the salad:

Tiny florets of one head of cauliflower

Tiny florets of equivalent bunches of broccoli

1 med/small red onion, diced

1 4-ounce jar sweet, diced pimientos, drained well

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise (recipe originally called for 1 cup Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup white distilled vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard (ground)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 

In another large mixing bowl, blend dressing ingredients with whisk. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss lightly, and refrigerate overnight if possible. Serve chilled. 

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly lidded container for up to 
3 days.

Minted Mashed Carrots

Winter is the time for comforting foods, the sturdy ones that stick to your ribs. I love root vegetables — carrots in particular — for checking that box. This cheerily bright side dish is homey, while popping as not-your-every-day fare. The tangy citrus harmonizes with the herbal mint, making this mash perfect for serving alongside savory meats with rich gravies. 

This recipe was inspired by one developed in the Fine Cooking “Fakesgiving” trial run cooking marathon in which cooks make as many Thanksgiving sides as they possibly can. It certainly holds its own on a table with a turkey dinner, or why not serve it to balance the bold flavors of gamey venison steaks or rich Moroccan-spiced lamb meatballs.

*Makes 4 Generous Servings

2 pounds / 900 grams carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks 
(about 1 inch / 2 1/2 centimeters) 

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons whipping cream or double cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, set over high heat, combine the carrots with enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch / 2 1/2 centimeters. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the carrots are fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the carrots to a colander and drain, allowing them to rest.

In the same saucepan, set over low heat, combine the remaining salt, oil, cream, butter, mint, lemon zest, orange juice, and pepper, and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the ingredients combine. 

Return the carrots to the pan with the oil and butter mixture and mash with a potato masher. Serve immediately.

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly lidded container for up to 
3 days.

Lynn Marie is a fellow Harper Impulse author,
Fire Writer for Written Fireside
She also frequently visits Cowboy Marvin.

Her debut novel 
Christmas at Thornton Hall

is available on Amazon

as is her latest release
Summer at Castle Stone
*Shortlisted Best E-Book - Festival of Romantic Fiction 

About Lynn Marie: 

Lynn Marie Hulsman believes that the best things in life are food, comedy, and romance. Lynn Marie's most recent novel, Summer at Castle Stone, has been shortlisted for "Best E-Book" from The Festival of Romantic Fiction in England. Her debut novel, Christmas at Thornton Hall is acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Last summer, she was invited to sit on a panel on global publishing at The Romance Writers of America festival in San Antonio, Texas. She is also the co-writer of the cookbooks Make Your Own Soda, published by Clarkson-Potter and The Irish Pantry, published by Running Press. She is the sole author of The Bourbon Dessert Cookbook, which has enjoyed excellent reviews in Garden & Gun Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. As a comic, she has performed at Austin’s Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival and appeared at New York City’s Caroline’s Comedy Club, Stand-Up New York, and Don't Tell Mama. She co-owns and is the artistic director of the improv group ComedySportz New York. Her very favorite thing to do on the planet is to read books, with writing them coming in at a close second. Her mission is to bring back Chick Lit. She lives with her family in New York City, where she writes for a living. 

Lynn Marie is represented by Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary.

Follow Lynn Marie Hulsman online

Thanks for sharing Lynn Marie!

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