Trying to avoid the misery of childhood Thanksgivings (my mother, shouting and eventually sobbing: "I got up at dawn to fix this damn turkey! I've been slaving over the stove all day!") I have devised a very stress-free method of assembling a fine home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner.
One secret is to avoid making "traditional" foods that nobody actually wants (for instance, creamed onions) and to eschew labor-intensive gourmet versions of things which exist in a perfectly satisfactory simple form. Zed prefers the canned cranberry sauce - he likes it expelled from the can so that the ridges are preserved - and we all like Pepperidge Farm stuffing. We like steamed vegetables better than gluey fancy casseroles. Also, I do things ahead when possible. I keep cleaning the kitchen as I go along.
Yesterday, however, I wondered if perhaps our dinner was so stress-free that it hardly counted.
Yes, we had a delicious (and very expensive) organic turkey with real gravy, stuffing, cranberry, real mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, not-overcooked broccoli, and my perfect pumpkin pie and lemon meringue pie, but was it -- too easy? Were we too relaxed? Is it really Thanksgiving if nobody is shouting or crying?
Zed and I saw a funny episode of Cosby Tuesday night: Dr. Huxtable was trying to teach his daughter's boyfriend how to simulate cooking. You get a lot of pots with boiling water going on the stove - throw spices and "sticks and leaves" into the pots - wipe your forehead often, whip the lids off the pots, waft the smell of the sticks and leaves around, slam the lids back on the pots, stalk back and forth a lot, whip the lids off the pots again - perhaps that's what I'll try next year.
After the meal, everybody immediately fell asleep and then, after naptime, as night was falling, our guest the neuropsychiatrist (my singing student and pal) showed Zed and Melina how to use the oxyacetalyne torch and there was much welding and burning of holes in aluminum cans. A fine time was had by all except, perhaps, Melina's boyfriend, who might have preferred to watch football.
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