Monthly Archives: November 2013

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday

Have you heard of Black Friday? It’s another name for the day after Thanksgiving. But why is it called Black Friday?

Thanksgiving is a busy week! You may or may not work on Monday and Tuesday. You cook or travel on Wednesday, you eat on Thursday. After such a busy week, you usually do one of two things on Friday: sleep or shop.

On Friday, everyone is either too tired from eating all that food that they take it easy or, if they have any energy left, they join more hordes of people to go shopping and take advantage of Black Friday sales. It’s called Black Friday because so many people start their Christmas shopping on this day that retail stores traditionally go from being in the red to being in the black, financially.

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There are plenty of good sales on this day to encourage everyone to shop, and to continue shopping throughout the holiday weekend! Some people get up ridiculously early and wait outside big shopping malls at 5 or 6am to get the early bird deals. Some people have actually been killed in the stampede!

Interested in more expressions and posts about Thanksgiving? See Thanksgiving part 1 and part 2.

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Thanksgiving is a big deal

The countdown has begun! Less than two weeks until Thanksgiving!

So how big of a deal is Thanksgiving actually?

When you ask if something is “a big deal” you want to know if it’s important.

Since it always falls on a Thursday, schools always give Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off. Thanksgiving is the only actual “holiday” but many adults also take off Wednesday and Friday, or at least Friday. Wednesday is usually necessary because great hordes of people travel to see their relatives on Wednesday, and since lots of families live quite far apart in the US, that’s a very busy day for the airlines.

In fact, the Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel period of the year. So Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal!

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Thanksgiving is more like a holiday week, since you can imagine that not much gets accomplished on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is a pretty busy day for those not travelling as they have to start preparing the huge meal on Thursday!

Speaking of food…

As we saw last week, food takes center stage at Thanksgiving. One of the most traditional foods for the Fall and Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie, so this week I decided to share a traditional pumpkin pie recipe! Fresh pumpkin pie is creamy and delicious and best served with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:

250g walnuts

2 tablespoons butter

Puree the walnuts and butter together in a food processor. Spread and pack into the bottom of a pie pan using your fingers. Bake for about 10 minutes at 175 C (I’m not really sure if this is necessary!) Easy peasy!

For the Filling:

3 cups pumpkin puree (roast a pumpkin or two in the oven, scrape out the flesh and puree)

1 cup sugar (metric: 200 grams)

1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice (piment)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

4 large eggs

1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (koffiemelk in the Netherlands ~500 ml, but you can also use coconut milk, soy milk, or whipped cream, whatever you want, really!)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and bake at 210 C  for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 175 C and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is what the finished product looks like:

English

The filling recipe originally comes from this fabulous site.

Interested in more posts about Thanksgiving? See Thanksgiving part 1.

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Thanksgiving, food-wise

American Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November every year, while Canadian Thanksgiving falls about a month and a half earlier, on the second Monday in October.

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At least in the US, Thanksgiving is all about food. Fall is one of the best times of the year food-wise.  Anything -wise is a pretty hard expression for non native English speakers to master, so once you read through the explanation, you get a free Thanksgiving recipe to try as a little reward. You could just scroll down for the recipe, or you could stick it and out and try to learn a new expression. Ready?

Food-wise

Adding “-wise” behind nouns can mean “with reference to…” or “in terms of…” So “food-wise” means “with reference to food/in terms of food.” That’s a pretty awkward expression, which is why we just say “food-wise.” This is spoken English, not formal, written English and is useful when another construction would sound strange. There is no one rule that can tell you when you can use it–it is just a feeling that you have to develop.

I’m doing terribly bad homework-wise. (I’m doing badly with my homework.)

There’s nothing around downtown dinner-wise. (There’s nothing to eat that would be suitable for dinner.)

I’ve made no progress job-wise. (I’ve still got no prospects for my job search.)

What’s he like, appearance-wise? (What does he look like?)

They all kept up with me, drinking-wise. (They could all drink as much as me.)

Did I do the right thing etiquette-wise? (Did I behave properly?)

He seems ok, health-wise. (His health seems ok.)

Here are some other uses of “wise” that are common enough to be one word (no hyphen):

clockwise (“in the direction of a clock”) and counter-clockwise

likewise (similarly)

piecewise (“in pieces”)

Now, for the food

One of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes is for cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is a delicious accompaniment for meat, not only for turkey, but for any wild game in the fall. You can buy this in cans in the US, and when it comes out it looks something like this:

cannedcranberrysauce

Mmm, appetizing, no? No? Well, it does get better. You can also make your own cranberry sauce that is 100 times tastier (if only because it doesn’t come out of a can).

The following recipe is easy and delicious. You can buy fresh cranberries (from Maine!) at the Albert Heijn this time of year. Try it out and let me know what you think.

cranberries

Fresh cranberry sauce

1. one 340g bag of fresh cranberries

2. 3/4 cup – 1 cup white sugar (175-225g, depending on your sweet tooth)

3. juice and zest of 1 orange

4. 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional)

5. a good pour of kirsch (45-60ml)–if you don’t have it, use grand marnier or even rum to great effect 🙂

Put the cranberries and sugar in a saucepan. Zest the orange (grate the rind of the orange into the pan, like this) and then squeeze the orange juice into the pan (don’t add the seeds to the pan though). Add the freshly grated ginger if you like ginger. Turn the stove on medium-high until it starts simmering and then turn it down to low. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have popped. Add the kirsch near the end of the cooking time.

The sauce will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s a bit thin when you turn off the stove.

Enjoy!

Vocabulary to remember:

a sweet tooth: a craving for sweet things (“I’ve got a sweet tooth.”)

the rind: the hard outer layer of fruit, cheese, bacon, etc.

to zest: when you scrape off the rind of a citrus fruit in small pieces (you can zest a lemon or an orange, but not a kiwi or a banana, yuck!)

to pour: when liquid streams out of a container. a good pour means that you should pour the liquid directly into the pan in the amount you like. You don’t have to measure it, just “eye it”(~guess/estimate the amount that you think is right)

the stove: also called the cooker or the cooktop, this is the hot gas or electric burner that you put the pan on.

simmer: to cook gently at a slow boil, or just below the boiling point. You should see bubbles coming up, but only few and slowly.

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its or it’s?

Use it correctly, please

Everyone seems to confuse its and it’s. Sometimes it seems like more people use it incorrectly than correctly! This mistake is all over the internet, and I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for all the non-native speakers who see this word misused and think that it must be correct– because if English is someone’s native language, they should be able to write it correctly, right?

Is this distinction really so confusing that even native speakers can’t use it correctly, or is it more that no one cares anymore what the difference is? Could we be in the middle of a grammatical shift or will we continue to judge the its/it’s mistake as grammatically uncouth?

Misuse of these two words will get you at best raised eyebrows, and at worst your resume discarded. Correct use does not actually make you competent in your field, but it does make you appear more competent, which is half the battle sometimes, isn’t it?

Just remember: its means possession and it’s means it is.

Possession: its

When something belongs to you, you say it’s yours.

That’s my mistake

That’s your problem

That’s his way

That’s her prerogative

That’s our opinion

That’s their loss

My, your, his, her, its, our, their

Notice how its belongs with his and her. It is exactly like he and she, but it has no gender, it is neither male nor female.

It=the monster

Its smile is terrifying. (The monster’s smile: his smile/her smile/its smile)

It=the unborn child.

We are keeping its gender a secret. (The child’s gender: his gender/her gender/its gender)

It=the dog on the street

Its dirty paws ruined my pants when it jumped on me! (The dog’s paws: his paws/her paws/its paws)

Notice that when we use a regular noun (the monster, the child, the dog) we use an apostrophe to show possession. But it doesn’t belong with nouns, it belongs with pronouns.

He, she, it → his, her, its

His, her, and its are new words that show possession, there is no “added s” (you don’t say hes and shes, do you?).

Contraction: it’s

When you have a regular noun, you add ‘s to show possession, but we just saw that it is the exception–it isn’t a noun, it is a pronoun. So it’s does not show possession.

it’s always means it is or it has

This is really simple. Read your sentence. If you can replace it’s with it is or it has then you’re right. If you can replace its with my, your, his, her, etc, then you’re right.

itsits

Click here to visit the YUNiversity.

In summary…

Its = my, your, his, her, its, our, their

The Dutch team impressed its foreign competition with its extraordinary command of the English language.

It’s = it is

It’s not a disaster if you use this incorrectly, but it does lose you points with a lot of people.

It’s been a while since we did a purely grammatical post, hasn’t it?

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