Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Day Meal

Well, besides being one of "those People" who voted for Barack Obama, I have yet another un-American sin to confess: I don't like Thanksgiving dinner. I adore getting together with family and friends, but cannot think of a more bland menu than turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn and bread. Although, I love pumpkin pie and would eat that anytime, anywhere, for sure.

But the actual bird? Eh... I usually think turkey is pretty dried out and crumbly. And most stuffing is, well, wet bread. Mashed potatoes are fine, but I don't like gravy, so I prefer garlic or wasabi mashed potatoes, but that doesn't go over well with the "likes gravy" crowd. I don't like traditional meals. I'm an adventurous eater and really like to cook, so I enjoy trying new recipes and have little emotional attachment to the traditional trappings.

I've had some interesting times when I try to cook for family, particularly Scott's family. Mine is a little less mired in "the way it's always done," so bringing experimental dishes by isn't quite the transgression that it is at the Olingers.

Here are the rules:

1. Scalloped corn: apparently, it is traditionally NOT made with Swiss cheese in it. Who knew? That's the way my mom traditionally makes it. But bring it to Easter with Swiss cheese and you'll be bringing a lot of it back home. Which is fine, Scott likes it the way I make it. I also add onions and a touch of paprika to my mom's recipe and I think it's good!

2. A vegetable medley must always include corn. Even if scalloped corn (minus Swiss cheese) is served. Otherwise, no matter how bright carrots and broccoli look when combined with the cauliflower, it will go largely untouched.

3. Do not ever bring garlic mashed potatoes to an event at which gravy will also be served. One must never mix garlic with reconstituted powdered gravy. Even though when I make the gravy from drippings, I do throw some roasted garlic in there before adding the flour (not cornstarch) and milk slurry. Hey, I can make kick-ass from scratch gravy, even if I don't care for it.

4. Relish trays should not include exotic fare, such as garlic-stuffed green olives, pickled asparagus, or sun-dried tomato dipping sauce. Ranch only, or else.

5. Pies must always have crusts. Pumpkin mousse is, apparently, weird. And will also come back to your house looked-at, but not eaten.

6. Whatever the case may be, do not ever host Thanksgiving with your mother and Scott's parents. If you do, do not serve duck, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, mushroom wild rice, and said pumpkin mousse. Your mother will go home and roast her own turkey breast so that she may savor the dry crumbles of left-over turkey for a week and your in-laws will politely decline to attend any gathering which you have offered to host where a traditional meal is expected.

Otherwise, enjoy the day!

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