What’s cooking?

November 24, 2007

I’m slow in getting back to the blog because I, like everyone else in the states, am lulled to immobility by turkey. Since I am still in therapy after last year’s unidentified buffet food (probably yam balls, but definitely not chicken croquettes) I decided to play it safe and make my own.

If you can call that safety.

It’s not that I am a bad cook, precisely. But cooking does not come as naturally to me as it does to some people. I have a tendency to wander away in the middle of cooking something, and forget what I’m doing. Then I have to devote extra time to fixing whatever it was that went wrong, while my mind was momentarily diverted.

This can lead to memorable family recipes like “pasty joes” (what happens when you are out of ketchup, and instead add the wrong size can of tomato sauce to sloppy joes, then realize it is too runny and add some instant mashed potatoes (which is a great emergency thickener for all soup-related mistakes. Usually, it is flavorless and disappears. trust me.) But then you miscalculate the amount of potatoes, and find you’ve invented something rather like tomato and ground beef spackle. And you’ve done it all under the guise of teaching #2 son to cook, so now there is an eyewitness who will never let you forget).

Eventually, you end up with a whole file of incidents that fall into the category: “Just how hungry ARE you?”

Whenever possible, I save time, and wander away from cooking before I start.

But this week, I was feeling the need to clean the kitchen and get back in the game. Last weekend, the menfolk went up north to hunt, and were temporarily in the care of my sister in law, Lisa. Lisa has a black belt in the kitchen. I stand in awe of her abilities. She is the one who has the Christmas cookie recipe that can, in a pinch, be made using unconsecrated communion wafers, because the regular ingredients are sometimes “hard to find”.

I do not have any recipes that would call for me to stop by the nearest church and borrow a cuppa anything. More often, my ingredients tend to fall in the “hard to lose” category. I end up having to add other things to kill the taste.

But Lisa is the sort who, when she heard that my kids were pining for the Thanksgiving they might not get, whipped up a turkey dinner and trimmings, on the fly last weekend. She also gave them real home cooked breakfasts, before they went out hunting, which probably involved her getting up before sunrise at times I know, in theory, exist, but have no desire to experience, first hand.

Thank you, Lisa.

But the kids came back from this with false hope. While they were gone, I’d had my usual, private, pre-Thanksgiving binge on cold shrimp, cheap wine, and good cheese (the double Gloucester with stilton was a cheese related religious experience). But I had not done any of the normal grocery shopping. We were out of bread, cereal, milk, and most normal fruit (the pummelo I’d gotten for myself was not deemed breakfast material).

#1 son looked at me and said, “What’s for breakfast?” in a tone that said he was expecting a straight answer.

I handed him a fist full of almonds and a slim fast bar.

He said, “You’re giving me an appetite suppressant for breakfast?”

And that was when I decided to make a Thanksgiving dinner.