Adding some creative flair to that Thanksgiving Day feast

  • Written by Janet Boudreau

I've been making the traditional holiday turkey for over 30 years now. You would think that I'd have it down to a science. Nope, not me. The first bird I ever attempted to make came out beautiful...including the bag of giblets inside.

Another year, I decided to skip stuffing the turkey with dressing. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why my turkey was done three hours ahead of time. I had a heck of a time keeping it warm until dinner time. It took a little research to find out why that bird was so ready to go well before the “20 minutes per pound” math.

Easy. The cavity was empty thus the cooking time was shortened. I now stuff whole sticks of carrots, celery and a few lemons into the bird, and it's on time and fabulous!

Traditions, like habits, are hard to break. We want everything the way Mom made it. Despite the bombardment of recipes in magazines for new and improved ways to make pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, it's a slippery slope when you mess with the tried and true. Ask me and my five biggest critics: my husband and four kids.

One year, my oldest son saw me adding sour cream to the mashed potatoes. "What are you doing?" he exclaimed. "You can't do that!" I tried to explain that this was the same way I had been making the potatoes for years. "That's not possible. Please, don't." Throughout the meal, his eyes were like daggers when they met mine. Still, he ate every bite and went back for seconds.

Another year, I decided to try a recipe for sweet potato casserole in place of my usual sweet potatoes with brown sugar and butter. Since only a handful of us like them, I figured it would be a no fuss change. Well, you would think they I tried to rewrite the Constitution! Even a few of my kids who had never touched sweet potatoes were shaking their heads in disbelief.

And, finally, the year of the “Little Green Balls.” Like a lot of kids, mine are fussy veggie eaters, so I have canned corn for them. For me and my husband and any adventurous guests, I like to make something nice, like Brussels sprouts. About three years ago, we were all sharing this wonderful meal, talking and laughing and having an all-around great time. Suddenly, I happened to glance at my husband with his fork in mid-air with a shiny little orb on the end. He looked at me and said, "You know, Jane, I really don't like these little green balls."

A silence fell over the table. I think some of the kids hid their knives. I started to sputter, "After almost 30 years? Now you're telling me?" With that, he popped that little nugget in his mouth and not another word was said.

I'm starting to like the power I wield at the holiday table. In fact, when I sit down to write the menu later, I may peruse a few magazines and find something new to cause a stir. This might be the new tradition.

Jane Boudreau is a writer and lifestyle blogger. She is a longtime resident of Evergreen Park. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Thanksgiving Day does not have to fade to black

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Thanksgiving Day is just one week away. This is the time of the year in which we are reminded to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

I’m all for that. Of course, we know that so-called Black Friday has been creeping into Thursday night in an attempt to draw more customers. I have seen editorials, columns and Facebook posts condemning this practice that infringes on Thanksgiving. In some households, it’s all about eating dinner, watching football games and talking awhile.

Then it is off to the races – or in this case – the malls. Those sales apparently are too attractive to some of us who finish dessert and then go out and shop.

As for me, I don’t condemn or promote the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving night. After three days at work, I like to relax after the large dinner with all the trimmings. Spending time with family is more important to me than racing out the door to find a sale on some appliance.

But from what I have been reading of late, more and more retailers are resisting the temptation to open their doors on Thanksgiving night. Many of the nation’s major retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving. According to one published report, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom will be closed. T.J. Maxx has never opened on Thanksgiving. The nation’s largest mall, Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minn., will also be closed.

I suppose these retailers should be commended. But I’m guessing there is more to it than that. Some store owners began closing on Thanksgiving the past couple of years. They have been praised in articles and TV programs for their consideration for employees, who can celebrate the whole day off for Thanksgiving. The simple fact of the matter is that the idea of racing out on Thanksgiving night to shop is beginning to lose its luster.

Part of the reason is online shopping, which has steadily grown over the years. Another reason is that although there might be a lot of people walking throughout the mall, little shopping was taking place. When my daughter would occasionally go out on Thanksgiving night with friends, they bought very little. It was just an opportunity to get together, walk through the mall, and maybe have some coffee.

The fact that many retailers opened up on Thanksgiving night in earnest about five years ago ended up hurting businesses on Black Friday. These business owners began to realize that is hard to sustain high revenue numbers when you open the previous day with numerous sales. Or maybe people are just beginning to smarten up. You don’t have to restrict yourself by going to out to bump shoulders with other customers on Black Friday. This may come as a shock to some people but there will be plenty of sales through December.

The term Black Friday unofficially dates back to the 1960s when the day after Thanksgiving became the busiest day of the holiday shopping season. Black refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand. The red ink was a loss while the black ink meant a profit was turned.

However, the origin of Black Friday really dates back to the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade that began in 1924. This slowly developed into the start of the holiday shopping season. Most residents did not originally get the day off after Thanksgiving. But more of us began to take the day off to assure a four-day weekend that included shopping.

But this year, that trend might be slowly changing. Consumers are shopping earlier and looking for sales. Those early shopper are smart. Discounted items begin popping up before Halloween. For parents with larger families and tighter budgets, it probably makes more sense to venture out earlier instead of spending hours fighting crowds on Black Friday.

The busiest shopping days are expected to be in December, according to most forecasts. Actually, if these shopping statistics were more accurate, they would show that most people shop in December. Some of us still have to save up as much as possible to buy even discounted items. And there are those people – and I’m not one of them – who wait as long as possible to get heavily discounted items. These are the same people who get a rush out of dealing with crowded malls and tense shoppers. I try to get done earlier than that. I will not venture out two or three days before Christmas to go shopping.

The experts state that the biggest shopping day of this year will be Friday, Dec. 23, two days before Christmas. Another report states that “Super Sunday,” is expected to be highest on Dec. 17. I will do my best to be nearly done before those dates, super or not.

And that still means that I won’t be rushing out the door to buy a big screen TV. Besides, I already got one, long before Black Friday. And, yes, it was on sale.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cubs prove that "curses; can be broken, and that is a lesson for all of us

  • Written by Claudia Parker


In game seven of the World Series on Nov 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, the Cubs battled the Indians valiantly and won the series 4-3. It’s estimated that 40 million viewers watched the tumultuous, rollercoaster, win unfold.  

“Mom, I’ve never seen you interested in watching baseball,” stated my 9-year-old daughter, Donae.

“Are you kidding me?” I yapped with eyes glued to the television and heart pumping. It was the eighth inning, with the Cubs leading 6-4, and here comes Rajai Davis tying the game with a two-run home run off pitcher Aroldis Chapman. “My interest isn’t necessarily in baseball. I’m interested in watching history as it develops!”

And oh yes, history was made all right. Those Cubbies proved they could overcome in the 10th inning when they took home the World Series title they’ve sought for 108 years. Their win was so monumental, local news reported five million fans from all over the United States poured into Chicago streets and into Grant Park smothering the grass for the celebration. It’s now considered the seventh-largest gathering in human history.

It took a lot of grit, but with the right players, skill, tenacity and faith-filled fans, the dreadful curse was finally overturned. That was some kind of curse and as the legend is told, all it took was the spoken words of one angry fan.

For those unfamiliar with the story, a man by the name of William (Billy) Sianis had a pet goat named Murphy whom he brought to Wrigley Field for game four as the Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series.

Apparently, several fans complained about Murphy’s odor and petitioned that he be removed from the ballpark. While Sianis’ exact words are unknown, it’s been recounted throughout the years that he vowed with assurance the Cubs would never see another World Series title again. Imagine that -- all with the utterance of the tongue.

And so it was so for 71 years!

Mr. Sianis passed away in October of 1970. However, it’s been stated that he allegedly regretted his curse and attempted to break it to no avail.

How many times have we said something we’ve regretted and thought we could fix it with an apology only to find we’ve done irreversible damage?

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

It’s not only irresponsible to spout off at the mouth, it’s dangerous. There’s far more at risk than losing baseball games. There are people walking around like the living dead, unable to move passed the hurtful things that have been spoken over them. And the offenders in some cases justify themselves with comments like, “Well, the truth hurts,” or “I’m just telling it like it is…”

If I were you, I would proceed with caution. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Yes, Matthew 7:2 has sobered up my slur of the tongue of various occasions. Sometimes we have to self-reflect when people come against us and ask, “Are they sowing negative seed or am I reaping the harvest of mine?”

As we enter into the holiday season, let's make it our mission to speak life over people. Let's help to lift the curse of someone’s low self-esteem, depression and anxiety with words of kindness, affirmation, encouragement and love. I believe you will reap bountifully, as the Lord your God will set you above and not beneath and cause His blessings to overtake you. One of my favorite acronyms is … Think!

Before you speak, consider the following.

T – is it true?

H – is it helpful?

I – is it inspiring?

N – is it necessary?

K – is it kind?

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter.

Next year is here for World Series champion Cubs

  • Written by Joe Boyle


The Chicago Cubs are the World Series champions. That is worth repeating. The Cubs are indeed the World Series champs.

No more goats, college of coaches, black cats, outfielder Larry Biitner losing a fly ball in his cap, Gatorade-drenched gloves, or a poor, tortured fan going for a foul ball. No more curses or other folklore to explain another losing season. “Cubbie occurrences” have given way to a World Series trophy.

The Cubs defeated the American League champion Cleveland Indians in seven games, capped by a thrilling and often heart-stopping 8-7 triumph in 10 innings. The celebration took place on Nov. 2 at Cleveland's Progressive Field. Cub fans were nervous when the Indians had taken a 3-1 game lead in the series with a 7-2 win in game four at Wrigley Field.

But the Chicago Cubs, favored by many sportswriters to the win the National League title and the World Series, did what teams do that win 103 regular season games. They reached back for something extra. They battled and fought and won three straight games over Cleveland.

The result was the end of a 108-year drought. Cub fans had just gotten used to winning a National League title for the first time in 71 years. The World Series championship is the culmination of a great season and the end of years of frustrations for Cub fans.

The Chicago Cubs are indeed World Series champs. This is no joke. The wait is over and the celebrations can continue.

I watched the series with great interest. Being a White Sox fan, I could watch the World Series objectively. I'm a Sox fan but I'm a baseball fan. I watch the playoffs and World Series every year. This was quite exciting. Game seven was as thrilling as it gets and compares to the 1991 Minnesota Twins 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves in 10 innings of that finale.

So I think we all can salute what the Cubs did this year. I salute the long-suffering Cub fans, like my brother-in-law who was born 71 years ago, which was the last time the Cubs won a National League championship before losing to Detroit in seven games in that Word Series.

I salute the fans who stuck with this team when the upper deck was closed off for many games during the 1960s because of low attendance. I salute the fans who cheered the Cubs during the magical 1969 season only to face the first of many disappointments as the Amazin' Mets raced past them and went on to win a World Series.

The fans who stuck with those lackluster Cub teams of the 1970s deserve to celebrate. This World Series was for them. Some of the younger fans are ecstatic, but they did not have to go through those many lean years.

So this World Series is for those Cubs who are no longer here, like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Milt Pappas. This World Series is also for Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger and Randy Hundley.

And Cub fans from the 1960s can also point to second baseman Kenny Hubbs. The Rookie of the Year in 1962, Hubbs was a close friend of Santo. He died in a plane crash on Feb. 15, 1964 at the age of 22. This World Series title is for all of them along with the fans.

Watching the World Series win and the parade brought back memories for me from 11 years ago. I heard some of the same stories from people have been waiting for years and resigned to the fact it may never happen. Sons and daughters showed up at Wrigley Field or in Cleveland for the final game to represent their fathers, mothers, relatives or friends who have since died and not able to witness a Cubs World Series championship.

Visits to local cemeteries had headstones covered with Cub memorabilia. That was a similar scene from 11 years ago where White Sox pennants and trinkets can be found along graves like Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

I’m glad the Cubs won. I have nothing against the Indians. They were an outstanding team who won the American League championship without their best player, outfielder Michael Brantley, and two starting pitchers.

But this was the Cubs year. This Cub team is growing into a powerhouse. And in a couple of years when Theo Epstein and the Ricketts family create their own network, this National League team will be raking in millions and millions. They should be a contender for years to come.

Cub fans will have to get used to that. They are no longer loveable losers or the underdogs. The Cubs are World Series champions. It may still take a while to get used to that.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


For fabulous food, my vote goes to Chicago

  • Written by Joe Boyle

As we wind down to the presidential election, a few things occurred to me about polls. I mention polls because we cannot escape them. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had a substantial lead in various polls the last month. But a recent Washington Post poll indicated that the race is nearly deadlocked.

So, what gives? I have found that some of these polls are little fickle. They tend to be immediate and respond to recent news events. In the case of the race between Clinton and reality TV star Donald Trump, that means just about every day there are new headlines. Clinton had taken a surmountable lead after reports that Trump had groped various women and had been making disparaging remarks about them as well.

Clinton began to rise in the polls after those reports until this past week. The FBI has indicated they are reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. It has something to do with disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is also the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, the top aide for Clinton. FBI director James Comey said Friday that there might be more unread emails from Clinton, or about Clinton, in regards to Weiner, who can’t seem to stop from texting messages and sending lurid cellphone photos of himself to women and girls.

I don’t oppose polls. They provide a barometer of what people are thinking about at a given time.

Last month, we received information about World Food Day, which was Oct. 16. The personal-finance website WalletHub took a survey of the “Best and Worst Foodie Cities.” The criteria for some of these polls or surveys are somewhat vague. Perhaps I should become more knowledgeable about these lists. For instance, I did not know Oct. 16 was World Food Day.

But in terms of food, I would believe Chicago would rank right up there with the best. I think most Chicagoans, even Cubs and White Sox fans, would agree that the food in restaurants and fast food chains would be near the top.

WalletHub compared the 150 most populated cities across 21 key metrics, ranging from “cost of groceries” to “affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants” to “number of food festivals per capita” for their list.

According to WalletHub, Orlando ranks first, followed by Portland, Ore.; Miami, Tampa and San Francisco. Looking over the top five, I could see San Francisco in there. I’m not sure why Orlando is at the top. Disney World is there and other themed amusement parks are there. Maybe the quality of food for the amount you pay is a bargain.

So I look over the list from six to 10 expecting to see Chicago in there. But to my surprise, it is nowhere to be seen. The rest of the top 10 includes Cincinnati, St. Louis, Salt Lake City and Richmond, Va. I’ve been to Cincinnati and don’t recall being knocked out by the quality of the food or their prices. St. Louis has a range of quality restaurants. I won’t argue with that.

But so far I have not seen Chicago. For that matter, I have not seen Los Angeles, New York City and Boston. Turns out I have to keep going deeper into this list. Boston shows up at 51st. The food I had in Boston was very good. Maybe it is down on the list because of expense. Los Angeles shows up as 53rd on the WalletHub list. Right after LA is New York City at 54th. Again, I try to reason that the food in their restaurants is too pricy.

But I still have not seen Chicago. I have to continue to go through the list and there it is, at 70th. How can this be? Chicago has expensive restaurants, but it also has reasonably-priced items at restaurants in the city and the suburbs. All you have to do is go through the southwest suburbs and most residents can find a restaurant they like that doesn’t dig too deep into their pocketbook.

Bakersfield, Calif., for instance, ranks higher than Chicago at 56th on the list. And in the case of pizza, name another American city that has better quality pizza than Chicago? I’ve gone to other cities and towns and I’m disappointed in the quality of pizza. I’ve always said that even our more marginal pizzas are superior to what I’ve eaten elsewhere.

I guess it could be worse. We could live in Aurora, Ill., which ranks 145th. North Las Vegas is last on the WalletHub list at 150th.

According to WalletHub, Orlando has the most restaurants per 100,000 residents. But they don’t point out the quality of the restaurants or the overall prices. That’s great that Orlando has a lot of restaurants in comparison to their population, but I believe Chicago can match that.

These polls just show latest fads and trends. Like the presidential election, people will decide what is best. Just pass me a thin slice or a deep dish pizza. I don’t need a poll or survey to tell me that Chicago food ranks with the best.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .