The Holiday Feast

Gourmet cooking is wasted on me.  I can’t discern the subtleties.   If you gave me home-made cranberry relish, lovingly created with orange zest and other special or even secret ingredients I would either not tell the difference between that and canned Ocean Spray, or I’d like the Ocean Spray more.  I’m sorry.  As many of my high school girlfriends told me, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

But we don’t use jellied cranberry sauce in my house.  I like the texture of the stuff with the berries still in it.  My mom thought being fancy at Thanksgiving meant getting the canned, jellied cranberry sauce, cutting out both ends of the can, pushing the whole contents out in one jellied cylinder and then presenting it sliced into disks that looked like purple hockey pucks in a special cut-glass serving dish.  You can’t do that anymore.  Today’s cans are extruded and don`t have a lid you can open on the bottom.

I grew up reasonably big, and reasonably healthy, so I can’t complain too much about my mom’s cooking.  My wife is a better cook.  There are a few things she makes I’d change, but she does so well, I have no cause to complain and I don’t.  I’d prefer beef stew with a tomato base rather than a gravy base.  That’s one example.  But the gravy is good and I love her, so I keep my mouth shut, except when I’m shoveling in the stew.  My wife has been known to make chicken soup with so much rice that it sops up most of the broth.  She makes it that way if I ask her to.  My mom probably made it that way because she added more rice to the soup than the recipe called for.

The most idiosyncratic thing about my mom’s cooking was that she served the same things together most if not all the time, and that she served the same meals on the same days of the week, or the same holidays.  Maybe that’s why I usually eat the same thing for breakfast and the same thing for lunch every day until I get sick of them and then move on to another same thing.

The worst of these concoctions was scrambled eggs, and canned spaghetti.  We had that a lot on Friday nights.  For Easter, it was always leg of lamb with creamed onions, green beans, and pan-broiled potatoes.  It`s only a slight exaggeration to say that I thought when we had steak that French fries, and peas were also parts of a cow.  You  might have a different green vegetable with turkey on different occasions, but you would have turkey for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, maybe for New Years Day too; never any other time though.  And when you had turkey, you would have mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, giblet gravy and that purple disk.

I don`t want you to think I miss my mother`s cooking; I don’t, but I do remember it.

Things I Know

  • With Thanksgiving this Thursday, it’s time for me to share my recipe for roast turkey.  Remove the giblets, wash the carcass, blot it dry and season it to taste.  Stuff the bird with un-popped popcorn.  Put the turkey in a pre-heated, 350-degree oven, and baste it every 15 minutes with Wild Turkey whiskey.  When the bird blows up, throw it away and drink the gravy!  Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • Ours is the only family I’ve ever heard of that does this and it comes from my mother’s mother.  If you put whipped cream on pumpkin pie and think it needs a little something else, try this:  spread a generous layer of Damson plum jam on the pie and then slather on the whipped cream.  I won’t eat pumpkin pie any other way.  I won’t eat Damson plum jam any other way either, but I will eat whipped cream entirely without provocation, and either by itself or by myself.

  • As long as we’re talking about my grandmother as a cook, she used to make plum pudding for special occasions, but no occasion was special enough to get me to eat the nasty stuff.

  • Here’s the latest genius idea from Tom’s kitchen:  Lipitor-chip cookies.

  • The woman in Boynton Beach Florida who was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband.   According to an interview question on the Today show, the loving couple met when he hired her as an escort.  I’d consider that one strike against a rewarding life-long union.

  • The St. Petersburg FL, Times reported that there are over 700,000 licensed drivers in Florida who are over the age of 80.  I hope I can drive safely when and if I reach 80 years of age, but at some point, senior citizens ought to have to take another driving test.

  • I like old-time radio.  I remember the few shows that were still on in the late 1950’s, but I like a lot of it.  I’m a little behind the times because I realized only the other day that iTunes has a bunch of old-time radio podcasts.  I haven’t reviewed all of them, but the ones I have seen are free.  So, I downloaded all the “X Minus One” shows.  It just seems a little odd to hear an old-time radio show sponsored by Carbonite On-Line Back Up, a company and a service that didnt exist when the show was first aired.

  • Big Bird is 75 years old.  Well, the puppeteer who plays him is.

  • I borrowed my friend’s spirit level to hang a towel bar in my bathroom.  Borrowing his didn’t help me find the one I lost.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Who watches infomercials?  Somebody must, or there wouldn’t be so many of them.

  • South Florida hunter Jamey Mosch was found in reasonably good shape after being missing for four days in the Everglades.  I can understand how he could lose his way in the Everglades, but how exactly did he lose his pants?

  • I can’t find my spirit level.  Here’s the experiment.  Does borrowing someone else’s tool help you to find your own, or do you have to buy another one before you can find the one you lost?

  • Do you suppose scruples or ineptitude kept Ashley Dupree from cashing in on her tryst with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer early last year?

  • Why do they call it candy corn?  I’ve seen close matches for the color in nature, but not all on one ear of corn and have you ever seen a corn kernel shaped like that?

  • Can you be in a hair band if you’ve gone bald?

Great News!

Tonight at 6:00 PM, people in California who took the Bar Exam last summer were notified whether they passed, or whether they have to go back to studying for the next one.  Our son called at 6:03 PM.   He passed!  He was almost as happy as his mother and I were.

Happy Birthday to Me

I’ve already shared with you the story of my humiliation on Leslie’s birthday.  Today is my birthday, so in honor of that here are three more birthday stories.

My birthday is the anniversary of the day I slept with one of my female high school classmates.  It was nothing salacious though.  I learned in art class one day that this girl was two or three days older than me.  In the course of talking about it, we discovered that we were born in the same hospital.  So, I figure we must have spent at least one night together in the same hospital nursery. 

My sister’s birthday is the day before mine, although she’s four years younger.  I remember my parents bringing her from the hospital for the first time, not home to our apartment, but to my maternal grandmother’s house.  I stayed with my grandmother while my mother was hospitalized for the blessed event.  I also remember sitting on the couch that day in my grandmother’s living room and being allowed to hold my baby sister.  I thought it was pretty special.  But within a few weeks, I wanted my parents to take her back to where they got her. 

I still feel that way.

Many years after my high school junior prom, I met my date again.  I told her I’d like to send her a birthday card and a Christmas card and while I remembered when Christmas was, I didn’t remember the date of her birth.  No humiliation for me surrounded the day, so I forgot it in the ensuing years.  She told me she was born on December 18th, but that she would not tell me what year.

Hello!  I’m pretty good with math.  If I knew how old you were when I was 16, I still know how old you are.  That’s one I can still do in my head.

I’m not going to tell you how old I am, but if we have a cake with the requisite number of candles, the local building code mandates either fire sprinklers or a Halon fire suppression system.

Things I Know

  • Somebody asked me yesterday if I had worked for my current employer all of my life.  Not yet is the obvious joke, but the real answer is no; it just seems like it sometimes.

  • If English spelling and pronunciation made any sense at all, said and paid would rhyme.

  • On cable TV after that terrible tragedy at Ft Hood, I saw someone say the Army is one big family.  I thought maybe, but no sergeant I served under ever expressed that idea in words or deeds.

  • According to the Fort Myers News-Press, Dan Ross, a guy in Lehigh Acres FL tried to send a bouquet of yellow roses to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan the man accused of the Fort Hood shootings.  The florist didn’t fill the order and instead of getting a bill for the flowers, Ross got a visit from the FBI.

  • I’m writing this on Veteran’s Day.  If you are a veteran, thank you for your service to our country.

  • There are valid arguments on either side of the death penalty issue, but it seems to me the execution of John Allen Muhammad was more justified than most.

  • Our house is more than 100-years old.  If you were to infer that nothing in the house is plumb, level or square, you would have been correct until we finished remodeling the kitchen last year.  There is still very little that’s plumb, level or square, but if I put an egg on the kitchen counter and walk away, when I return, the egg will be where I left it.  Last year, it would have been on the floor.

  • Today is the anniversary of the first time I noticed my wife.  She says we met before that.  Her friend mooched a ride home from a school play for the two of them.  Neither of them would sit in the front seat with me; they both sat in back.  Beginning three days later, and for all the years since, she has sat beside me.  Maybe we’ll go for a ride today and to commemorate the event she can sit in the back seat again.