With the holidays on the horizon the usual tugging and twisting of arm is going on among my family as to who is going where for what. In an effort to please everybody, as is typical, ain’t nobody happy. Sometimes I feel like Gumby, my arms stretched in a rubbery imitation of my former self.
If you have read my blogs before you might note I am one of those beings who floats along on the crest of the wave. Not often do I sink down in the dark depths lurking in between each peak. Because my life has been peppered here and there with truly large crises, I seriously try to not sweat the small stuff. This way I keep from taking something appearing as a small blip on a radar screen from swelling into a national incident. Life is too short, and I am unwilling to waste a morsel of it on trivialities. This is my mantra and I shall carry my banner high.
That being said, there are times when I’d like to abandon ship around this time of year and pitch a tent on a white sandy beach somewhere tropical. Mai tai in hand I could bring in the New Year without guilt or frustration. In the end, however, my family and friends are worth the effort so I stay here and fight the good fight, turkey baster in one hand and meat thermometer in the other. Sigh.
I find there are a number of factions at play. There are those who don’t want to cook, preferring to contribute a pie or rolls to the party held at someone else’s home or share a meal at a restaurant. Then there are those people who hate to travel on the holidays, but like to cook who would love you to come to their house but don’t want to come to yours. There are always the diehard cooks in the bunch. Those who have made the same stuffing their mother, her mother and all the mothers before her made on the holidays and will refuse to eat anything anyone else prepared involving cubes of bread, butter, and typical Thanksgiving seasonings. Arguments break out over whether to fry the bird or slow cook it in oven. Do you stuff the bloody beast first or cook the stuffing separately? Fluffy whipped potatoes, or slightly lumpy for texture? Green bean casserole, candied yams, or both? Do you allow Aunt Jean to bring the Jello casserole for the third year in the row with the little crunchy things imbedded inside if analyzed by NASA would probably be determined as not of this planet or feed it to the garbage disposal as you’ve done in years past?
One year we decided on prime rib for a change. I took it over to my daughter-in-laws and dropped it off early in the morning with explicit cooking instructions. The dinner was to be in her home, but we were providing the beef. A crowd was expected. I peeled an army sized pot of potatoes and mashed them popping them in the slow cooker to keep warm. The broccoli casserole was next made with the stuffing mix. Yum. Asked to bring the cheese biscuits, and several appetizers, I got them going, running the dishwasher for the second time that day. Plates and silverware were running short on the other end apparently per a phone call from our daughter-in-law later in the day. I boxed up our extra plates, the silverware, and the napkins requested during a follow-up phone call saying they were out. Oh, and could we pick up some sparkling cider on our way over? An hour before guests were to arrive Rick and I loaded up a U-Haul van and questioned why we weren’t simply eating at our house since we seemed to be taking everything we owned with us to theirs.
There is always someone at every party who insists on filling their glass too many times or decides to air an unpopular political opinion or start a debate on religion. I keep an extra roll of holiday themed duct tape in the my drawer for such occasions.
We are staying here for Thanksgiving this year as we did last year. Air travel is weird enough on low travel days lately but on the busiest travel days of the year you won’t find me in an airport unless I’m being held for ransom. A friend of mine recently returned from Atlanta. The person sitting behind her put her rarely washed, flip-flop wearing feet in between the seats so she could stretch out. The woman fell asleep and was actually tickling my friend’s elbow with her long half painted toenail every time she moved in her sleep. That would have done it for me.
Each year we discuss what to cook on Thanksgiving. Should we have ham, prime rib, turkey? Why we do this I have no clue because in the end it’s a yard bird sitting feet up in a roasting pan in our oven. Tradition is tradition I guess, and old dogs tend to follow the same route to the butcher shop or something like that.
Yesterday I was making tomato basil soup. Had a lot of Roma tomatoes to use up and thought that would be the perfect way to put them to use. Taking a sniff while in the kitchen Rick said often things smell even more delicious than they taste. Coffee being the example he used. Brewing coffee or perhaps chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven both smell, if possible, even better than they taste.
Smell does play a big part in the decision of what to cook on the holiday I do agree. If they could make a roasting turkey spray, like the new car spray they use when you get your car washed. Perhaps then I could put a piece of cow or a leg of lamb in the oven. Until then Tom shall go in and be served with all the trimmings. My mom likes to go out to eat. I guess after years of basting she’s hung up her baster. I need the actual ritual of doing it and will cook a turkey whether I eat at home or at someone else’s house.
In anticipation of feasts to come I offer you this corn casserole. Creamy and delicious. I could eat it by itself. If I have a couple of ears of leftover cooked corn I use those, or grab a package of frozen corn from the freezer and use that.
Mexicali Corn and Bell Pepper Casserole
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. hot chunky salsa
5 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
2 cups corn kernels (if using frozen thaw first)
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray 1 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and peppers to skillet. Cook over med.-low heat for 10 mins. Add garlic to pan. Cook for 1 min.
Add salsa, bacon, corn kernels, and parsley to skillet.
In separate bowl whisk together eggs, cream, salt, peppers, and cumin.
Add vegetable mixture and incorporate well with egg mixture. Mix 1 cup of cheese with 1 tsp. cornstarch. Fold into egg vegetable mixture.
Pour into pan. Bake for 25 mins. Top with remaining cheese. Bake an additional 10 mins.