I had pumpkin pie for breakfast, as I consider that the inalienable right of anyone who spends two straight days cooking. I’m sorry; don’t try to convince me otherwise. The rules are clearly such that the day after Thanksgiving means any red-blooded American must do a few (if not all) of the following things:
1) Sleep late.
2) Eat pie for breakfast.
3) Put away the (third) batch of Thanksgiving dishes that had been drying.
4) Start a pot of soup with the turkey carcass.
5) Announce that even though the fridge is stuffed to bursting with all manner of food, we need to go grocery shopping, because we’re out of milk.
6) Yell upstairs to the playing children “Have you eaten? No? You should eat something!” and then just leave them be, because really, they are not going to starve to death and they ARE playing nicely.
And that’s the true meaning of Christmas. Wait. (Oh, crap. Christmas. Number 7 is try to figure out where your Christmas stuff is.)
The food yesterday was AMAZING. And I don’t just mean in the “man, I’m an awesome cook, and also very modest” sort of way. First of all, I didn’t make all the food. Second, I don’t really regard following someone else’s recipe as a personal triumph. Maybe we could commend my good taste for choosing said recipe, or congratulate me on, I don’t know, KNOWING HOW TO READ, but really, cooking is art wrought by the recipe-inventor, I think.
(That said, I did make up the stuffing recipe and it was really good. HA!)
But, for example, I made a conventional cranberry sauce and then I also made spicy cranberry-tangerine chutney and the spicy stuff made me wonder why anyone would ever eat the plain cranberry stuff voluntarily. (And I like the plain stuff! Er, I did!)
And ye brining unbelievers, you have not LIVED until you’ve had a brined turkey. Mmmm. Otto rocked the turkey. I don’t know if it was the brining or his mad cooking skillz (I am putting that Z there just to irritate him) (hi honey! love you!), but the turkey was the most tender and flavorful I’ve ever had. And while it’s POSSIBLE that I’ve just always cooked really terrible turkey, I think it’s more likely that brining just makes it extra super duper good.
Everything was delicious, is my point, including a homemade mac-and-cheese one of our guests brought which he told me “is so good, we call it the Widowmaker!” I appear to still have a (living) husband so it may be slightly misnamed, but only slightly.
The thing is, though, the food was not the highlight of my day. I mean, I LIKE food—I mean, I RILLY RILLY RILLY LIKE FOOD—but that was really just the icing on the cake.
When I was a young single, I never really entertained. I mean, no one I knew really did; we were all young and poor and living in dumpy apartments, for the most part. When I was married the first time, we almost never entertained. On those rare occasions when we did, it was always an occasion for great stress. My ex would try to help, I suppose, but he didn’t cook (at all) and truth be known I maybe should’ve taken a clue from our inability to coordinate on any task without getting into an argument. So when we TRIED to prepare for guests I generally was left with an overwhelming urge to poison his food. And after I divorced I didn’t entertain because I was either broke or overwhelmed or both.
And I know I say this EVERY TIME that Otto and I have people over, but GOOD LORD, why didn’t anyone tell me this is supposed to be FUN? I mean, that it CAN BE and absolutely IS fun?
To wit: Around noon yesterday, Otto peeled the potatoes while I finally hopped into the shower. When I came out, it was to discover Otto mumbling at the sink… which was half-full of water.
“You clogged the disposal?” I asked. We’ve done it before. Actually, it’s ME that did it before. And that was just one of the many demonstrations of Otto’s love for me, when he took apart the trap and emptied it of years-old vegetable matter and didn’t yell at me even once while he did so, even though there was quite a big of gagging involved.
“Yes. Argh. Stupid.” Otto was annoyed, to say the least.
I, on the other hand—having spent a day and a half in the kitchen with him, having spent most of the week in preparation for the gathering we were to have in just a few hours—found this to be a relief. And I started to laugh.
He, of course, looked at me in a way that conveyed he was concerned I’d finally lost it.
Through giggles, I was able to explain that every major holiday needs to have at least one disaster, and in the grand scheme of things the clogged disposal was hardly a big deal. In fact, I figured this would protect us against a grander failure, like the oven going on the fritz or one of us dropping the turkey. After a few moments Otto understood and relaxed.
And we kept on getting things ready and we even had time to snap a Christmas card picture before our guests arrived. I looked at the picture on the little camera screen, and I saw a happy family.
(A happy family about to eat themselves into a stupor!)
So the house was full of people for a few hours, and we ate and talked and laughed and I was happy to be in the kind of house and the kind of marriage where having people over to share a meal doesn’t feel like work, but like a blessing. And that last sentence there was even cornier than my cornbread stuffing, but it’s true.
And I would’ve said that even if I hadn’t had pie for breakfast.