Nov 28, 2010 - 3:46 am
(David Bowie reference)
My brother and his wife didn't make it up for Thanksgiving, due to an injury in the family (their cat was attacked by a werewolf or something in the night, surgery was required, and they were also both, at the same time, trying to quit smoking, not the werewolf or the cat (although that might explain the disposition of either or both), but my brother and his wife, and that was probably a scarier proposition). We will hook up soon, I am sure, but it was rather sad not having them around. My little brother is my best friend, after all.
And, of course, it meant that Kim was not coming with her special cheesecake.
(Couldn't HE have stayed home with the cat while she came with the cheesecake?)
That put just a minimal damper on things, and then I discovered that my sister and her husband were already in Texas, so they would not be coming to our little wing-ding, which means that if you are in the fantasy gene pool league, I was going to be slightly behind on Thanksgiving Day, outnumbered, as it were, by the wife's side, not that that matters of course. Unless, of course, you are playing for money.
I felt like my oysters rockefeller came out well. I was pleased with the blended texture of the spinach, was pleased with the overlay of parmesan cheese and additional garlic. It all looked good and awaited only a good baking to achieve success previously unknown in the culinary world. I was excited.
To be fair, my wife was very excited too. There was no one coming that hadn't come before, except for me, in her mind. I hadn't been a participant in this event since 2004, prior to the head/neck cancer surgery.
Oh, yeah, I had BEEN there, had sat there (although not always: you all know about those times during chemotherapy or rads when you just want to hide away in darkness...or maybe that is just me). I had tried to eat, had had minor success. But the frustration too often outweighed the benefit of being with friends and family, especially when they were wolfing things down while I was still on my first fresh kill: a bit of cranberry slice, a forkful of mashed potatoes.
Talking with their mouths full... what a gift that now seems :).
But that is a gross aside.
I did my job, I made the oysters rockefeller, I wrapped them up, I placed them carefully in the fridge, and was so excited for the day to come. Of course, I had spent the entire evening working this out and it was well into Thanksgiving morning, while I was also doing laundry BY THE WAY, among other things, that I got after it.
Some of you have read of it. I will leave that there. Let us just say that it was ready, and so was I.
When everybody ELSE woke up around 8AM, I was still WIDE-AWAKE and so looking forward to the same sort of thing my wife was, a first. Another first.
After cancer, now that I think about it, there are, there can be, new firsts. This was going to be one of those. I had every intention of sitting with family, with friends, with the widows, and chowing down. I fully expected to eat at least a little bit of everything availabe, and a lot of some of it.
My wife acted like it was the first time I had ever eaten. When I finally DID get around to it (I will explain, trust me), I discovered that the hardest part of eating was FINDING stuff within the TWO refrigerators, it was so congested.
(Well, okay, the beer was easy to find. I suspect they package better than say, my wife does. It is much easier to determine that THIS package contains 12 of those than it is to decide THAT little container among 20 or 30 MUST be the squash casserole.
Yes, I eat squash casserole. I am shameless. I began eating it when I first went to my wife's parents' house for some sort of holiday, thinking it was a requirement, and, like all things you do repetitively, I guess, I came to like it. I like it.
So I eat squash casserole. And bean casserole. Yes, the cliched one, with the little crunchy things and some sort of cream of mushroom thing going on. Now, of course, I love them even more, because I can eat them still.
You had to be there.
But I digress. As usual.
Right around 1PM, when the first NFL game came on, a thing I am usually DEEPLY involved in, I realized that I would not be deeply involved in it, that I was barely awake.
We were eating at 2. I said to wife, while my beloved oysters were finally getting the opportunity to bake (and you are missing most of this story, trust me), I'm not going to make it.
She of course wanted to know what I was saying and I explained that almost exactly at 2PM I was going to crash and burn.
This from the guy who had been up all night, doing laundry while making oysters rockefeller, the guy who was re-arranging the plants (again), the guy who was decorating the table (again) along with various areas of the house: I am not going to make it.
Of course, my friend Lady Willpower (the widowed lady who admired my 'willpower' on a previous occasion at my table) and Dottie (the name speaks for itself) were late.
But I was not: at 2PM I was disappointedly ensconced in bed, door closed to shut out the clutter of chat and silverware, somewhat a distant reminder of Thanksgivings I'd had over the previous four or five years, and quickly asleep, despite the fact the NFL had games on, and that I had interest in all of them, especially the first one.
I was GONE.
I missed it all. My family, my friends, the weird things the widows said, the weird things my mother-in-law probably said. I missed it all. I slept through it. I also slept through the exciting comeback by the Patriots along with most of the Cowboys' game against the Lions.
I'm just saying.
When I did awaken, I guess five or six hours later, I could hear voices that I knew did not belong in my house, and so I chose to sleep for another hour. When I finally decided to do the right thing and get out of bed and head out to the fracas (which is to say, when I was actually starving so much that I couldn't even sleep any more), I discovered that while Dottie was gone, Carolyn was still in the building along with my mother in law, brother in law and a few others.
My first thought: did they bring tents?
Okay, that's mean.
But even people I know REALLY well were saying afterward, I thought they'd never leave.
The thing is, Thanksgiving is a celebration and I appreciate that we should go beyond the food and those sort of festivities, and share in other things, but a game of Monopoly?
Okay, they didn't do that. Forget I brought it up. Probably not a long time for a lot of people, even if it was drawing on eight, nine hours.
So...my first Thanksgiving meal of 2010 consisted of cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and some sort of creamy, mushy pie thing I can't describe any better than that. The thing about making those your principal entrees is that they ALL lose their taste because you are drowning them among each other. I learned that the hard way :).
It is true. I didn't mind, but it is true.
I did not get to the real stuff. I did not get to the turkey, either my wife's oven roasted one or my son's deep-fried one, and I really wanted to try both. I didn't get, especially to my oysters rockefeller. And, as I may have mentioned, my fridges were so filled with food that, well, where is it?
If you had something specific in mind, good luck.
Through no fault of anyone: my wife later said to me that she wanted me to have the ultimate spread, my 'first Thanksgiving'...and that she did.
The great irony, I guess, is that mashed potatoes make everything easier to eat for me, along with gravy, and I learned upon my awakening that the potatoes had been screwed up. Seems my wife had made them too creamy. Seems that Dotty (the name speaks for itself, although I love her, I do, decided to fix them (I was sleeping, or perhaps I would have moved to Costa Rica), and she added more potatoes and some butter and according to my daughter all was well at that point.
Regrettably, depending on your position on the matter, and everyone I've talked to is using the word 'regrettably', Dotty lost her composure in the great potato-making event. Given the opportunity to cook in my house, she added more butter, she added cheese, she added more milk, she added goat cheese (witnesses assumed it was goat cheese) and a host of other things including spices culled from her purse, so that by the time she had 'fixed' my wife's mashed potatoes, they were basically inedible.
I wasn't there. I don't know. And I like Dotty.
I wasn't even awake yet.
If you have been following along, you know that I have not even gotten to my dish yet.
I am eating pumpkin pie (that is good for you, right? I mean, pumpkin? C'mon, gotta be good for you!), cheesecake (also good for you, right? I mean, cheese? Give me a break!), and um, some sort of gooey thing that came from outside of the house if you know what I mean and I think you do, but which, by the way, tastes awesome.
Those are my entrees when I finally awaken. I am not in the mood to cook leftovers (except for pies) and certainly not in the mood, yet, to rummage through storage containers than appear to have been placed in my fridges by the container obsessive from hell. Which is to say, again, there was a lot of food.
Which is to say for the first time: I wasn't going looking for it at that moment in time when I knew perfectly well where the pies were and knew they were not just edible, not just available, but also good for me :).
I'm sitting comfortably in the den, eating my pies, watching Dallas blow it at the end (what else is new?) when I suddenly feel fingers in my hair. Without turning, I look into the window reflection to see that LadyWillpower has her fingers in my hair and is acting like a mama baboon or something, picking at my nits, as it were.
I am rarely at a loss for words, but at this point, I have nothing to say (plus, the game is still on). As it turns out, my daughter said she was barely holding back her laughter. My son had less pleasant thinks to say, but he, after all, has a way with words. Me, I thought it was hilarious. If I had fleas, after all, she and that rather excitable little poodle that she insists on bringing were responsible. I think it was a poodle such as this one that inspired someone to invent the pogo stick.
I don't have fleas, by the way, not there anyway. (In my hair, not my pogo stick).
Ultimately, everyone else went to bed just as I was getting going, as you might understand, sad as it is to relate. I was really looking forward to eating with my family and friends (and the occasional monkey, I suppose), and was wondering if my foray into the culinary world, the whole oysters rockefeller thing, was really worth it.
After all, I had missed dinner completely, and was now up in the wee hours while they slept and prepared, mother and daugher anyway (my wife and daughter, I should say) for so-called Black Friday.
I can tell you now that I got comments about by oysters rockefeller. My mother in law, as she was leaving (finally) said they were soupy but that I should keep trying. My son said they were not really oysters rockefeller because they were not in a shell (I had been making that argument myself for days, but who listens to me?).
My problem, once I delved into them in that late night foray was that baking them as I did had taken away my ability to easily eat them, if at all. Beyond that, I thought they tasted like crap. Still, there were few left when I got to them, so someone liked them or was being kind (I can really imagine my wife saying "Oh my God, you've got to eat these even if they make you puke, or he will be so upset" or something like that :)).
In the wee hours, I started pulling out dishes, and was completely, utterly blown away. I just wanted to eat; I didn't want to start a restaurant! I didn't count, but I covered the stove, the kitchen table, the counters, I covered everything with stuff that we, that she, had made available on this Thanksgiving when I fell asleep.
That's the kind of guy I am.
In any event, I pulled them all out, looked at each, and chose the ones I thought I could eat, including the asparagus from my mother in law and especially that moist turkey that my son fried outside.
I could not eat the asparagus. Too mushy. More painfully, I could not eat my son' turkey. I might be able to change that: I spoke earlier, previous post, I think, about the nightmare mashed potatoes? My wife made new ones for me and explained that what appeared to be a giant glob of fat was actually gravy. So w we will try that one again.
In the meantime, there were those things I couldn't eat. And I could not eat the oysters rockefeller, what was left of them. I could not eat the turkey, when I really thought I would be able. Ditto with the asparagus.
We agree in my house, sometimes, that it is how it is prepared. I have eaten asparagus, in particular, when it is fresh and crunchy. I will eat it again.
I honestly think the mashed potatoes (my wife remade them, in case I forgot to tell you) and the flubber gravy will help me with turkey, I really do.
But I won't be eating any of that oyster stuff. I can't handle the texture, but most of that might be because they suck :). I didn't do them right, even if everyone else ate almost all of them.
Okay, maybe it's the texture.
I KNOW I can eat clams, the little ones. So I have a new goal for Christmas :)!
Take care, my friends!