Last year, our two sons hosted Thanksgiving dinner on alternative coasts. Both prepared their holiday turkey using alternative cooking methods with fantastic results!
Hubby and I drove across the state to youngest son D’s home in Philadelphia. His rowhouse is located in the historic and fashionable Fairmont area of the city. Joining us from Washington D.C., were my husband’s brother and his wife. All of us stayed in the three-story rowhouse, along with our Scottie dog, Whiskey and D’s lab-mix, Bentley. It was a full house, and lots of fun!
Meanwhile, oldest son R was in California celebrating the holiday for the first time with his now fiancé’s family.
Both our sons took charge of the Thanksgiving feast, but each used a more modern method to prepare and cook their big birds. Wanting to use his Traeger grill to smoke a turkey, D and his dad plotted out their plan before we even left Pittsburgh. After brining overnight, they splayed or spatchcock the bird before smoking. Spatchcock is to split open a chicken or game bird before cooking. In contrast, R deep-fried a whole turkey outdoors.
It was the first time anyone in our family had ever splayed, smoked or deep-fried a holiday turkey. Come see how well they both turned out!
Today, I’m taking you to urban Philadelphia, to see my youngest son’s back deck and rooftop garden. D purchased the 1920 rowhouse nearly two years ago, during the pandemic.
Prior to the move, he rented a third-floor, walkup in an 1800’s building that had been converted from a carriage house and stable to condos. During the pandemic, his one-bedroom unit did double duty as an office. And, there was no balcony for fresh air or to grow plants. Feeling confined to the apartment, he went on a search for a home with more living areas, room for a dedicated office, big kitchen, outdoor space, and the ability to have a dog.
However, D also loved the walkable and vibrant Fairmont District neighborhood. So when he finally spotted the listing for a 100-year-old rowhouse — just blocks from the carriage house — he jumped at the opportunity to be a homeowner!
Over the next year, D created a little backyard oasis and rooftop deck on the third floor of the rowhouse. In both areas, he enjoys spending time outdoors, playing with the dog, tending plants, barbequing, and entertaining family and friends. An accomplished cook, D also created an urban rooftop garden where he grows herbs and vegetables to incorporate into fresh, healthy meals.
Taking you up on the roof to see my son’s’ urban garden on the wraparound terrace of his Manhattan penthouse in New York City.
I had planned to share this last year, but the summer got away from me! For happy reasons. First, I was training Whiskey, my Energetic & Playful Scottie Puppy. And, instead of sitting inside at the computer editing photos and composing posts, hubby and I were enthusiastically out and about.
We spent late May and early June visiting family and friends in Philadelphia. That included a Memorial Day gathering where we experienced how Using a Smoker Grill Enhances BBQ. Mom came back to Pittsburgh with us for the rest of month. Then, over an extended July 4th holiday visit with our sons , we enjoyed a baseball game, amusement park, dining out, and fireworks.
Come August, we headed to Washington D.C. There we went to an old-fashioned county fair, the Warf Marina, and an ABBA tribute concert at Wolf Trap National Park. Finally on Labor Day, we flew to California, exploring Sequoia National Park,Kings Canyon, and Yosemite.
Now with a broken finger and after prolonged period of Covid isolation, I’ve found the time to show off my eldest’s vegetable and herb urban garden. Come up on the rooftop for a bird’s eye view!
This is the second year in a row that I’ve organized a St. Patrick’s Day theme hop, and I’m delighted to have 13 other talented blogger buddies join me!
For the When Irish Eyes are Smiling party, I’ve expanded from just holiday tablescapes to include vignettes, crafts, and foods. You’re sure to find plenty of inspiration for celebrating —whether you’re Irish or not! Links to each feature are listed at the end of the rainbow post.
Today, I’m sharing my favorite St. Patrick’s Day dish, a stout-infused Irish stew with herbed dumplings. It’s the ultimate comfort food! And, perfect for the season here in Pittsburgh. On March 17th, we’re usually still experiencing cold, if not winter weather. Rather than seeing the green, it’s not uncommon for a blanket of white snow to cover the ground!
Mr. Buzz loves this flavorful, filling dish, with it’s fork tender meat and rich, deep brown gravy. He wishes I’d make it more than once a year. Happily, there’s usually enough leftovers to enjoy another day.
My approach to making Irish stew offers numerous options, so you can pick and choose the ingredients and cooking method that is sure to please family and friends.
Homemade pasta making around the kitchen island bar, smoking a ham outside on the porch, and being treated to Asian specialties. These were just several of the fun and tasty food-based activities and meals we enjoyed together, while our sons were home over the holidays.
Eldest son’s girl was also here for two weeks, and R was determined to show off every aspect of our family’s traditions here in Pittsburgh! On the first day everyone was home, we attended a frigid Steelers game, followed by gourmet pizzas while decorating the live Christmas tree.
Another evening, we visited Phipps Conservatory’s annual Magical Flower & Light Show. Afterwards was barbeque and craft beers at a favorite local brewery. Because of the pandemic — and with three of us coming down with bad colds (omicron?) — that was the only night we ate dinner out.
Instead, everyone helped out making snacks and meals together. Many times, that included sipping on special cocktails, craft brews or wines. We all worked together in the kitchen to prepare both Christmas Eve and Day dinners. Hubby made his mini crab cakes to accompany beef fondue on New Year’s Eve, and then apple cinnamon waffles for brunch the next day. And V prepared not one, but three Asian meals!
But, special dishes and family meal making activities shouldn’t be limited to just the holidays. These days, anytime we can gather with family and friends is an occasion to celebrate, right? Hoping you find inspiration here to eat, drink and make merry all year long!
This past Christmas, the family bought and received appliances as gifts that offer new or different ways to prepare and enhance foods. These cooking appliances and methods included a smoker grill, air fryer, pasta maker, and sous vide precision cooker.
Apparently, hubby and I were on the same wave length as our two grown sons — give gifts that could be enjoyed while still being mostly homebound during the then peak of the pandemic. Those gifts extended to indoor entertainment too, including; board and card games, books, puzzles, craft supplies, and subscriptions for coffee, the NY Times, and streaming services.
One of those gift subscriptions was the ability to take MasterClass courses on our big screen TV, computer or mobile phone. There is a wide variety of topics. While Preparing for a Puppy, and before bringing Whiskey home, I took a great course on dog training. Hubby particularly enjoyed a series on what it was like to be an astronaut.
Since we are all foodies, ways to either prepare new dishes, or make foods faster, healthier and tastier, are particularly appealing. And no one was traveling or eating out then. Living in center city Philly and Manhattan, both our sons really missed dining at restaurants. Take out just wasn’t the same.
So, we all were experimenting either in the kitchen, or outside barbequing on the new smoker grill. With Labor Day Weekend barbecues around the corner, I thought it was time to share our experiences with a smoker.
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Hi! I'm Debbee, a maker of all manner of things, who likes to incorporate themes into craft projects, holiday and seasonal decor, table settings, and parties. My friends call me, the Queen of Theme lol!
Home is the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but I also enjoy exploring the world with my husband. We raised two wonderful sons and are now early retirees.
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Meet Glenfiddich "Whiskey," a brindle coat Scottie and full of vim and vigor!