I have probably mentioned in the past, my mother was not a cook, chose not to be. She had way too many other things she was interested in, and one only had to consume enough calories to keep the machine going. Her theory on the whole thing was, it took more energy to cook all those fancy-schmanchy numbers that would qualify as gastronomical delights, than it did to eat them. That would put one way behind in the energy intake column. That would also mean fading fast on the BLACK DIAMOND run later in the day, or dragging the sled up the hill for a few more runs after dinner had been consumed. Hence my sister and I had always attempted to cook more interesting meals, with not a lot of success I may add.
Age has not improved my understanding of the chemical reactions of butter at certain temperatures, though to my credit, I can get out my little box of science equipment and tell you the specific gravity of any stone you may chance to find. I know, sounds a bit strange but my kids and I always wanted to know exactly what that rock was we were bringing home just 'cause it was pretty.'
We love to eat, though always in a hurry, on the way to something far more exciting,
which doesn't explain why I am descended from an extremely long line of chubby children.....
My Sister Holding Me
(She would later say it had taken far too long for my mother to take the picture and as a result, due to my enormous weight on her thighs, her legs had gone numb and it took her ten minutes for the tingling to go away, which is when she could walk again.)
So every year on Thanksgiving, my mother would set the table for breakfast...
I still use her ruby red/clear glasses, my sister's ruby red vase, my grandfather's drink mixer, and my grandmother's glasses with little clear glass balls forming the bases.
...and make pancakes from a boxed mix, my sister and I watched the parades on TV,
while my father (if he was lucky enough to be home on leave) would finish up any paperwork he had brought home.
We'd eat breakfast, finish watching all the parades, and race off to my grandmother's house,
where we would feast on a perfectly baked turkey, along with all the fixin's, right down to homemade cranberry and orange sauce, on her embroidered tablecloth.
Later in life, my parents, my children, and I would migrate to my sister's house where her husband would do the dirty work ( AKA COOK), and loved it. He was a great cook (he had even made his own trail mix to take with him on the A.T. for his last hike).
And soooo, when the time came that I would be baking my very own Thanksgiving dinner, I called my mother and asked her to send me not only the specific directions for stuffing and cooking the turkey, but the recipe for my grandmother's cranberry and orange sauce.
This is what she sent me....
"Remove Swanson's Frozen Turkey TV Dinner from freezer, then from box, in that order.
Place in oven at specified temperature on box. Set the timer per directions on box, however, do not remove from oven until you see bubbling.
Remove from oven.
Eat the red stuff between the potatoes and peas while arranging other items in an attractive manner on your best china.
Do you have Christmas plates? I saw the prettiest set in Jordan Marsh for 50% off. You ought to go look. Will you be skiing Thanksgiving afternoon? Your sister will be in Vermont at her sister-in-law's so I have made reservations. Talk to you soon. Mother "
She followed up with a short phone call. "Are you still planning on cooking? I taught you how to make reservations. Your father and I are going to the Radisson for their buffet, would you like to drive up and join us?" "No, Thank You, I am still cooking." "Oh, well, make sure the fire extinguisher your father gave you is handy..."
I have since learned to cook a passable Thanksgiving turkey (Thanks to the Butterball Turkey Hot-Line email@example.com ), as well as fit in all the other traditional activities. The least of which would be saying a silent Thank You our ancestors John Alden, and his wife Priscilla Mullins. If they had not gotten on that boat with John's father heaven only knows where I'd be now. I need to reside in a country where one can call for help (specifically help that arrives in either pretty blue cars, or big red trucks....) and expect it to respond in a reasonable fashion.
I have already had my first accidental fire of the season this afternoon while baking my mincemeat pie ( controversial pie, I know, ya either love it or hate it, I simply cannot live without it on Thanksgiving). While attempting to remove the pie from the oven, an advertising flyer flew off the counter, into the oven, and landed perfectly in the bottom of the electric oven. Directly on the element. I thought I distinctly heard my mother saying "I told you to make reservations," while my sister was howling in the background...
When I get up at 4 AM to put the turkey in the oven (yes I am one of those, perish the thought the thing does not fully cook (Thanks Mom, for instilling the fear of salmonella in the very heart of my being...), I will be watching my favorite dysfunctional family Thanksgiving movie...
... and saying my silent Thank You's for all the things I am truly Thankful for, which includes you, dear reader, for your continuing encouragement in my quest to save the odd bits and pieces of my family and my life, for my children and my grandson.