Food fight?

By Mir
November 19, 2012

Wow, I had no idea until that last post how strongly people feel about 1) mayonnaise in general and 2) deviled eggs. I was left feeling like I should get my menu approved by everyone here before letting our guests into the house on Thanksgiving, and also like that could possibly end in blows while people scream at each other about hors d’oeuvres.

[I’m not saying y’all are that crass. I’m just saying that after the year we’ve had, nothing surprises me anymore. NOTHING.]

So I got to thinking about whether or not I need to be figuring out more pre-dinner munchies for Thursday, and in talking about it with Otto, my darling husband decided the solution to my confusion was to invite some folks over tonight, as well, and that’s entertaining twice in a week and THE SUNLIGHT, IT BURNS, and so now I am thoroughly befuddled and also, apparently the hostess with the mostess (what I have the most of remains a mystery). So.

[I’m actually not worried about tonight at all, on account of Otto suggested it and I probably looked horrified and he hurried to continue “… and I will clean the house and go buy some wine and cheese” and then I smiled and said that sounded lovely. Basically all I have to do tonight is show up and try not to spill my wine. I can do that! Or I’ll spill my wine, but it’s in my own house, so whatever.]

For Thanksgiving, on the other hand, I am already experiencing technical difficulties.

This weekend I attempted a gluten-free version of Kira‘s amazing molasses cookies. (I just went back and searched my blog for my first mention of these cookies. Turns out I have been waxing drool-iffic about them for over eight years. They are THAT good.) See, our Thanksgiving guests are bringing pies. But I can’t have pie (WAHHHHH) because the joys of being gluten-free are just neverending. I thought I’d make a pumpkin cheesecake, just in case our giant dinner of excess is somehow not gluttonous enough, and I thought that Kira’s cookies would be delicious for the crust. So I donned my lab coat (apron; whatever) and began mixing and measuring and attempting a safe version of my favorite cookie.

The good news is that, you know, for a cheesecake crust you grind up everything into crumbs, so as long as it tastes good, it can look ugly in cookie format. The bad news is that yeah, those were some ugly cookies. Delicious, though! And now I know that my tweaked version is flatter/crispier/more oozy than their wheat-filled counterparts. But hey, it’s all good, I have my bag of delicious cookie crumbs ready to be made into crust on Wednesday. Perfect.

After I mangled that batch of cookies, I went on to make cornbread. You know, for the stuffing. Fortunately I make gluten-free cornbread all the time, so this was less traumatic. But when it comes to making it for stuffing I always find myself getting a little wild and crazy and adding extra things (teff flour! why not?) and there was a minute there, when I pulled the pan out of the oven, that I was worried because the bread didn’t appear to have the same rise as usual. But then I remembered that I’m going to mix it up with a million other things and saturate it with chicken broth and I ceased caring. So we’re calling that one a win.

Also! On Saturday night a TERRIBLE THING happened. Otto and I went out for a date night (this is not the terrible thing; it was our first real date night in forever and I really like that guy) and between dinner and the new James Bond movie we went to the liquor store because I need bourbon for the Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. (Obviously.) I never fail to be amused by the southern penchant for chatting up absolutely anyone, at any time. So there we are about to pick up some Maker’s Mark (Otto’s regular choice), there amongst the drunken college kids who are looking to become even more drunk, and some random employee basically puts Otto into a headlock to tell him all about how there’s a new fantastic small-batch bourbon aged in beer barrels and if he’s looking for a bourbon with an extra kick of sweetness he simply HAS to try it. I watch the two of them discuss bourbon for, I don’t know, what felt like several hours. It was probably only a few minutes. And then we went up to the counter to pay and THAT is when the horrible thing happened: We weren’t carded.

Listen, I have no illusions about looking young, especially now that I’ve stopped covering my gray, but still. It’s a nice little mind trick I like to play with myself whenever I’m asked for proof of age. “Oh, they think I’m YOUNG! How sweet!” I’m not saying it’s logical, I’m just saying it usually makes me giggle a little. And when I commented that HEY HE DIDN’T CARD US, the bemused register jockey confided that the ones who are underage aren’t generally, you know, buying small-batch bourbon. Point taken, sir. Now GET OFF MY LAWN.

And finally in this weekend’s food follies, while surfing recipe porn various suggestions for Thanksgiving side dishes, I somehow became convinced that a multi-root-vegetable-mash would be superior to plain ol’ mashed potatoes. Otto was immediately suspicious, because his family is Irish and you don’t mess with his potatoes, yo. But I told him I’d do a test run and if he didn’t approve we’d go back to just potatoes. So yesterday I made a rutabaga-potato puree thing which I thought was DELICIOUS but both gentlemen of the house were all, “I love you, but do I have to eat this?” So back to mashed potatoes for the Thanksgiving menu it us.

The saddest part about that is that I bought a TON of rutabagas. Whoops. Guess I know what I’m eating for the next two weeks. Actually, wait. The SADDEST part is that rutabagas are really hard to cut up, especially if your knives need sharpening (mine do), and somehow while hacking away at one yesterday I, at some point, came down on it in such a way that a piece of waxed rutabaga skin kind of lodged under my thumbnail for a second. It hurt, yeah, but I picked it out and resumed swearing and hacking, no biggie. But this morning that thumbnail area was red and unhappy, so I grabbed our one and only shot glass and filled it with salt and hot water and soaked my thumb for a bit (as one does after suffering a minor rutabaga injury). When I was done, I put the shot glass on the kitchen counter, next to the sink, thinking I’d leave it out so I can soak my thumb again later. This was at about 6:30 this morning.

Well, Monkey finally got up this morning around 9:00, and stumbled downstairs to snuggle with the dog, and when I sent him into the kitchen to get himself some breakfast, he called back to me, “Why is there a SHOT GLASS out in here?” His tone was disapproving, to say the least.

I explained about the rutabaga and my thumb and the soaking. To my great surprise, he was overcome with concern.

“So let me get this straight,” he said, coming back into my office to lay a gentle hand on his poor, beleaguered mother. “First you broke one hand on an apple, and now you nearly lost a thumb on the OTHER hand on a rutabaga?” I muffled a giggle, opting instead for a sad face to go along with solemn nodding. Monkey threw his hands into the air in exasperation. “MOM! What IS it with you and produce? Next thing you know you’re probably going to fall and hit your head on a banana!”

You know, that kid is pretty smart. Note to self: Don’t buy bananas for a while.


  1. Jen H.

    I love that Monkey of yours…

  2. Little Bird

    Get those knives sharpened!!! That way you have weaponry for the next (god forbid) cashier who doesn’t card you.
    Oh, add some parsnips to that mashed rutabaga, and don’t tell the menfolk.

  3. Beth R

    I needed a dose of Mir to make my Monday morning a little more bearable, and I got a bonus hit of Monkey. Can’t beat that!

  4. Rach

    I was thinking the same thing as Monkey. Time to stay away from the veggies. :)

  5. Lucinda

    Monkey rocks. So do ceramic knives. Worth every penny and barely need sharpening. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but my sister-in-law showed me a few years ago to bake yukon golds before mashing them. Then you have extra yummy potatoes and the added bonus of skins as an appetizer (with a little melted cheese of course). Happy Thanksgiving. Hope the shot glass gets better use soon.

  6. Diane

    The last time I bought wine at the grocery and whined about being carded (can never find my license), the clerk explained they card everyone, including the 92 year old man who was in the day before.

    Serves me right for buying grocery store wine.

    For a GREAT pre-meal appetizer that takes minimal prep, try Buffalo Chicken Dip. I think, though I’m not sure, it may be gluten free. Recipe here –

    You’d have to check the dressing and hot sauce, but it should be easy to adjust.

  7. Karen R

    Monkey just keeps getting better and better.

    Pumpkin pie — I’m making the pies for my mother. GF ginger cookie crumbs for the pie crust. I’ve also done the ginger cookie crumbs for pumpkin cheesecake — yum! Is Kira’s cookie recipe available anywhere?

  8. Becky

    Thank goodness it’s practically winter, otherwise we’d have to worry about what the tomatoes might have in store for you.

  9. Nelson's Mama

    I had to back up and read the mayo comments, cause I missed all that kerfuffle! Deviled eggs are summer food and should be prepared with Miracle Whip in my humble opinion. I prefer Hellman’s over Duke’s. Whew…

    Love my home state of Kentucky and the bourbons thereof…but Otto needs to keep in mind that we have a college age child ;-) Tennessee products, please :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  10. sassymonkey

    Mixing rutabagas and potatoes is a crime against potatoes. ;)

  11. not supergirl

    I have never prepared rutabagas. Honestly, I don’t even know if I’ve eaten one. Maybe there’s some restriction against rutabagas in iowa that I dont’ know about. I should find out.

    You remind me of my mom (in only one way, and it is not age-related because you and I are within a few years of each other, so I know you’re both young and pretty). Here’s what made me think of my mom. In our kitchen, we had these spots on the ceiling. They were faint, and they went in a line across a corner of the ceiling. We could never get them completely cleaned off. Those spots were evidence of one of the many times my mom hurt herself cooking. This particular time, she was using a sharp chef’s knife and managed to slice a blood vessel in her hand. It must have been an artery, because my mom’s not tall (5 feet, just two inches shorter than me), but there were splatters of blood that had been pumped out of her hand and spurted all the way to the ceiling. She went to the ER for that one, I think. Poor Mom. Good cook, though. She would’ve really concerned Monkey.

  12. Mame

    I’m Irish (Mame – what else would I be), mashed potatoes are certainly part of the meal, but since you have a ton of rutabagas, I think you should serve some mashed rutabaga as well. Maybe you need to sharpen the knives to protect yourself the next time produce attacks.

  13. Katherine

    I was thinking slipping on a banana skin might be the problem, but really I think the solution is to get Otto and Monkey to do all the produce prep.

    Rutabaga. Bleck. I hate the smell of rutabaga cooking. Haven’t had any since high school, but my grandmother used to cook them and I could tell the minute I walked into her place. On the other hand DH’s family is big on parsnips and roasted, they are quite tasty. Maybe rutabagas need roasting, not boiling?

  14. CuriousCat

    Are you still taking those pain meds? Because I can’t imagine what else would make you think substituting rutabagas for mashed potatoes would be acceptable. First, the deviled eggs (or lack of) and now this. You’re killing me here, Mir.

    I am also concerned with you actually surviving the making of Thanksgiving dinner. Monkey has a valid point; your best option may be having everyone, or anyone, or someone else prepare dinner while you sit quietly in the corner sipping from the bottle of Maker’s Mark. No, wait. That’s a GLASS bottle so scratch that. Make that sipping from a plastic tumbler of Maker’s Mark. I don’t think wine is going to cut it this year.

    Root-vegetable mash. Sigh.

  15. beverly

    If you stick rutabaga in microwave for a few minutes first (also works on butternut squash) it softenes it just a touch + it is much easier to cut up.

  16. Laura

    Ha! I’m going to start a list of all the ways that produce can be dangerous…

    As for mayo/deviled eggs, my perspective is that you need one REALLY REALLY horrible Thanksgiving dish so that everything else will be fantastically amazing by comparison. I think this may be your opportunity! Mayo plus jello, maybe? Deviled eggs are too easy to make tasty. You have a world of opportunity here.

  17. Therese

    How about substituting mashed cauliflower or mashed turnips for potatoes? I have used both successfully, and even the kids liked them.

  18. Angela

    Apparently you’re the hostess with the mostess GUESTS! :-P

  19. kapgaf

    Rutabagas ? That’s a turnip for the books!

    I adore them and have a fab recipe for rutabaga chips (fries) that are in fact made in the oven.
    The title, translated loosely, is “Rutabaga French fries with curry or how to make rutabagas sexy”. If you would like the recipe, let me know and I will e-mail it to you.

    How do Americans manage to cope with Thanksgiving (which sounds like a major production) and then Christmas (which is a blockbuster production) only a few weeks later ? Too much turkey for me!

  20. Ruta M

    Once I’d worked out that your rutabaga is what we in the UK call a swede I thought I’d pass on how we like them. Mashed with lots of pepper and butter, (our local carvery adds cream). Carrot and swede mash is good too.

  21. Andrea

    I have an English friend that made an awesome “veggie mash” and it’s now a family staple at Thanksgiving!
    Boil up rutabaga, turnips, and carrots until they’re soft. Mash’em and butter’em. A little salt and pepper and you’re all set. So tasty!

  22. Tracy B

    That Monkey— he’s the smartest one of all! :0)

  23. s

    I’m frankly still stuck on the part where you thought messing with mashed potatoes was a good idea!!

  24. Kati

    Being from the South, it took a Yankee boyfriend (in college) to point out that “most” folks have white potato with Thanksgiving turkey rather than the usual (to me) sweet potato. I fixed that situation by then dating and marrying a boy from Nashville. It’s sweet-potato-only at Thanksgiving for us.

  25. Jeanie

    My father used to insist that you’d never get cut with a sharp knife, only one that needs sharpening. I still don’t get it. That Monkey is a smart boy!

  26. Mary K. in Rockport

    What do you have the mostess of? Obviously, mayonnaise. Duh!

  27. KateB

    Does everyone here already know the molasses cookie recipe??? I am salivating over here and don’t see it on the links above. Help!!!

  28. Tracie

    Rutabaga and carrots mashed!!! Delish! A little butter and a dash of maple syrup.

  29. Susan

    First thing you need to do is get your knives sharpened.

  30. Little Bird

    The reason sharp knives are less likely to damage you is they require less effort and straining to cut whatever it is you’re cutting. The more force you have to use, the more likely you are to slip. However, it should be noted, that the first day after having said knives sharpened, you should be a little extra careful, it might go a little easier than expected!

  31. The other Dawn

    Kids don’t realize how savage foodstuffs can be. Why I, myself, am at this very moment sporting a laceration under my thumbnail from a sliver of hardened pasta that I attempted to scrape off a pot. Cooking. It’s not for the faint of heart.

  32. peg

    Put the rudabaga in the microwave for a minute or 2 and it’s not so hard to peel or cut. Watch it though the wax gets hot

  33. Vickie

    This is a line of Gluten free pie crust mixes that are very good. We think they are better than the real thing.

    Ditto with bob’s red mill gluten free pancake mix:

    Even the kids at my house who are not gluten free prefer these.

  34. bryan

    Ma’am, step AWAY from the sugar snap peas.

  35. suburbancorrespondent

    Monkey has it backwards – first you slip on the banana peel and THEN you hit your head.

    And you are making Thanksgiving WAY too difficult. Here’s some expert advice.

  36. Tenessa

    You know, I don’t mind not being carded. When I was 20 (and still a smoker), I was carded all the time, as I should have been, but one time I go into this gas station near my townhouse to buy a pack and the clerk is all, “Let me see your ID.” So I show it to him. No biggie. He says, “Let me see that. I think it’s fake.” So now I’m insulted. I say, “So you think I’m stupid enough to what, get an ID that allows me to buy cigarettes, vote, and die in a war?!? Right.” I’ve pretty much decided that if I don’t get carded? That’s one less thing I have to deal with in a day.

  37. Gaylin

    Basic Pie Crust
    Makes one 9″ crust

    1 1/4 quinoa flour
    optional – up to 3 tbsp sugar
    optional 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 cup butter melted & cooled
    1 tbsp cold water

    Combine ingredients (I use 1 tbsp of sugar & the cinnamon when making this for pumpkin pie). Will make a crumbly soft dough, sort of, more crumbly than doughy.

    Press into 9″ pie plate with finger tips.

    If baking the shell empty, 350 oven for 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.

    To make pumpkin pie, make the pie crust and set aside.

    Mix together
    14 oz of pumpkin puree
    2 large eggs
    1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (unsulphered) optional
    1/2 cup milk (almond milk works fine)
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    2 tbsp quinoa or coconut flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp cloves
    1/2 tsp to 1 tsp ground ginger

    Mix together well, pour in crust and bake for 40-45 minutes at 350.

    If you like nutmeg & mace, you can use them instead of cloves, I don’t like them so I use the cloves.

    This has become a very popular pie for me to make and bring places, even to people who have no allergies.

  38. Amanda

    I sometimes slip some parsnips into our potatoes. Once it’s been through the ricer, no one is the wiser – or at least they don’t say anything.

  39. karen

    LOL… Happy Thanksgiving, Mir & Family.

  40. Susan Getgood

    Love that Monkey!

  41. Elizabeth

    Hi! I know this woman who runs a bargain shopping website, and she might be able to find you a good price on some new knives. Or a knife sharpener?

  42. brigitte

    Heh, now you’ve got a root veggie war on your hands. We usually have the basic mashed potatoes, but I sometimes long for the mashed carrot/potato mix of my Canadian youth.

    My never-properly-sharp knives find sweet potatoes and winter squash particularly treacherous!

  43. Jan in Norman, OK

    Knives seldom really need sharpening. Most often, they need to have the edge straightened. Get yourself a good knife steel and use it often. Makes a huge difference.

  44. 12tequilas

    What is it with these men? I can’t make Brussels sprouts, acorn squash, rutabaga, or other yummy things in my house full of men.

    THANKS to your commenters for the tip about microwaving the rutabaga! I do make a beef-roast-with-root-veg recipe and have been afraid of the cutting step.

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