Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My mother's ability to cook has always been both a blessing and a curse. Growing up, I don't remember a single meal that wasn't well prepared and delicious. I mean there were things I wouldn't eat, but that was more about me being a little bitch than her culinary skills. Birthday cakes were homemade, cookie dough was made from scratch, and frozen TV dinners were looked down upon with scorn and derision.

But with every bite of every scrumptious meal grew the fear that I would never be able to live up to this. My cookies are never as moist. My chicken seems a bit bland. My meringue is laughable. And I don't think I'll ever figure out how to properly make an egg sandwich.

The situation hasn't been helped by, what I perceive as, my mother's complete lack of faith in my abilities. I'm sure she doesn't mean to be discouraging, but it's hard not to take it personally when each time I ask for a recipe she responds with, "Well...that one's kind of...involved."

The situation boiled over a few years ago as I was prepping for our first ever "Friendsgiving." It's exactly what it sounds like. Thanksgiving, but without all that family drama mixed in. We have it a few weeks before real Thanksgiving, and I was making the stuffing.

I called my mother to talk through the recipe, and the conversation that ensued nearly led me to a nervous breakdown.

"Now you're going to add the sage." - Mom
"Okay, how much?" - Me
"To taste."
"Okay, well I don't know what different amounts of sage are going to taste like. Can you tell me how much I'll be using?"
"A lot."
"A lot?"
"Yes, a lot."
"How much is a lot?"
"I don't know, quite a bit?"
"Like a cup?"
"Oh no, that's way too much. Don't use too much or you'll ruin it." 
"Are you kidding me right now? Use a lot, but just not too much or I'll RUIN it?! That's all you can give me?"
"Use about a third of the jar."
"But what size jar are you talking about?"
"I don't know the EXACT size of the jar, Chris, it's a little one."
"So...use less than half of a tiny container of sage...that's what you mean by a lot?"
"Please tell me that you are also hearing how crazy this all sounds, and I'm not just losing my mind."
"I told you it was involved."
"Chris? Hello?"
"...I'm here. So...I'll be using a lot?"
"Yes, but not too much."

I was a shaking, anxious mess the entire six hours the stuffing was in the crock pot, but I made it through, and it turned out wonderfully. So when it came time to start organizing this year's Friendsgiving I knew that I had the skills to once again pull it off, but I just wasn't sure if emotionally I was prepared. Nevertheless I agreed to take care of the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, and...the stuffing.

I still had Mom's recipes from the last time I'd attempted, so I was leaving her out of it. I was going to assert my adulthood, and adults don't need to call their mommy every time they have a dinner party to go to. quick question can't hurt.

"How many potatoes should I use for the mashed potatoes? I've never cooked for 8 people before."
"One per person."
"Only 8 potatoes? Are you sure that's right? That doesn't seem like it will be enough."
"It will be."
"But they're red potatoes."
"Yes, 8 will do."
"Yeah...but red potatoes are smaller than normal potatoes, so I'll probably need a few more, right?"
"Well, you can use a few more if it'll make you feel better."
"Are you sure that will be enough?"
"Yes, Chris, I'm sure."
"...that can't be right."

It's amazing that she's never hit me.

When the day arrived, I woke up early (11:45) so I could get the stuffing going. I ran into problems immediately when I realized that I didn't know how to properly cook the onions and celery. I'd made Beth do that part the last time, and because of the sage breakdown, I wasn't paying too close attention to what she did.

So I panicked and called home.

"Hello Christopher."
"Dad, is Mom there?!"
"No, she's out."
"She should be home in an hour."
"Is it something that I can help you with?"
"Well...what do you know about stuffing?"
"You'll need to talk to your mother."
"I can't WAIT that long!"
"Well aren't the instructions on the box?"

"That's...not what's happening here."

After I Googled "How do I cook onions?" I got the show back on the road. 

I got everything in the crock pot (nearly forgetting the sage), and headed over to Jamie's where Friendsgiving was being held. We had hours to kill that I had just planned on drinking wine and watching TV during, but Jamie had other ideas. Apparently, the responsible thing to do is to prep the meal first and reward yourself after

I don't know about you, but I prefer my gratification to be instant.

At this point I was going to go into a whole long thing about how important friendship is, and how thankful I am for everything, but it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I just got a little wine drunk with my family and really just don't feel like it anymore. So f#%! the rest of this blog, I'll just share some photos from the evening.

Veggie tray turkey by Emma
Cranberry dip by Julie

James by Julie and Ben
Pies by Julie
At this point I'd typically give you links to recipes or whatever, but there's another bottle to be uncorked, so let me know if you want something in the comments and I'll make sure you get it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I'm going to leave you with a bit of advice my grandmother gave me after sharing the sage story.

"Don't worry about it. You can use too much sage. It'll taste like shit, but you can do it."

Now that's the empowerment I was looking for.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love to the family. Wish I could be there... with or without the sage.