Dear Foodies,

T- Day is when ... we cook and eat turkey. The fancy hostess takes an inventory of her plates, silverware, china, napkins and cutlery. She plans a special menu, makes a seating chart and puts clean towels in the bathroom.

Then there's the "Grumpy Old Troll," who regards Thanksgiving as that repulsive occasion when you spend the best part of a day with people you've successfully avoided all year. I imagine only a small group of people will be celebrating the day with NFL games on TV, and lots of turkey. Let's not forget (while we're carving the turkey) that Thanksgiving began as a religious holiday in observance for giving thanks to God for his many blessings to mankind.

I'm grateful for....

having such a united and loving family. Thanksgiving is not only about eating ... it's about listening. Here's an easy project I came across in a children's magazine (FamilyFun.Com/magazine) - it said: Cut out paper chestnuts and have everyone answer these questions - once you're done, read your answers out loud. I thought that was a great idea (put them in a family scrapbook)....for the whole family! I suggest doing this right before you (men) pass out from a tryptophan (hormone that induces the after-meal snooze)-induced coma. Remember, sharing is caring.

The questions I'm answering (all food-related) were on the chestnuts.

What are you most grateful for? Coffee Zone (Edinburg) - one of my personal favorites! Enjoy delicious, high quality, house-made specialties for breakfast, lunch or dinner with family and friends. Foodies ... Friday and Saturday evenings are perfect if you're in the mood for a juicy T-bone steak or ribeye served with a loaded baked potato and salad. Another must have is the beautifully prepared Beef Wellington served with a reduced red wine sauce and a side of fresh seasonal vegetables ($16.99). The owners have managed to develop the right menu, the right attitude and the right atmosphere. You're invited to bring your wine or alcoholic beverage to enjoy.

Great NEWS! Hardy breakfast entrees are now available on Saturdays until 3:00 p.m. Let the sunshine in with a warm cup of java (Kona) a plate of freshly baked white chocolate-cranberry scones ($2.29) and a side of fluffy eggs with crispy Applewood-smoked bacon.*Closed on Sundays. 956-381-5462.

Which season do you appreciate the most? Winter means ... it's time for sugar and spice and everything nice. I start craving pumpkin rolls (anything pumpkin) and decorative Yule logs (Buche de Noel) baked by Desserts First (both $15.00). Don't worry...they also specialize in sugar-free, vegan, and organic baked goods. 956-369-7718.

Is there someone at the table you have a reason to thank? I would like to thank all of the local farmers in San Benito who grow fruits and vegetables with tender love and care (pesticides not included). I'm also thankful for restaurants such as Sahadi's Cafe, House.Wine and Alhambra who promote local sourcing - GO TEXAN! This is what I call back-to-basics cooking. Place your orders with Yahweh's All Natural Farm. 956-412-4916.

Besides saying "thank you," how do you show your appreciation? I show my appreciation by highlighting certain restaurants, farmers, waiters (Joey from Alhambra - extremely courteous & attentive) or establishments each week. A heartfelt thank you goes out to CC'S Sweets & Tweets for giving me the pleasure of tasting all of their yummy picture perfect cupcakes. Roberta (owner-baker) is known for baking everyone happy - even, Santa Claus. Yes, CC's will be taking orders for anyone who would like to purchase a beautiful plate with decorative cookies (6) for Santa (glass of milk not included). $25.00 will take the "naughty" off your list. 956-627-2420.

What was the nicest thing someone else ever did for you? That someone is ... Andrea Rodriguez, director of sales and marketing at the Embassy Suites Hotel in McAllen. She has always been extremely professional, considerate and generous. Whenever there's a special event (TOP CHEF) or Remington's Steak House Chef is featuring a new innovative dish ... I'm her guest. I really appreciate the V.I.P. treatment -- muchas gracias a todos!

Foodies, if you're taking it easy in the kitchen (not cooking) this year and you haven't made any reservations, don't worry! The Embassy Suites Hotel has a sensational Thanksgiving Day Buffet (this could be a Norman Rockwell moment) with all the trimmings! Chef carved certified Angus Prime Rib, roasted turkey, sliced ham, ambrosia fruit salad, crab meat pasta, traditional cornbread, roasted potatoes, garlic green beans, cranberry rice and more! There's also a wide variety of salads and desserts (pies galore).Thursday, Nov. 24. Children under 10 ($16.95), Adults ($32.95), Seniors - over 60 ($28.95). Call 956-686-3000 for reservations.

Gobble, gobble,

Madame Gourmand