Well, another Christmas season is tucked into bed, visions of sugar plums dancing on our hips. Sigh. I wasn’t born with a big sweet tooth, thankfully, as snowballs, fudge, and all varieties of cookies and baked goods have been shoved in my direction at every turn in the bend over the past few weeks. Not wanting to insult those offering, I’d take one, roll it in a napkin, and slip it in my purse. By the time I’d made the rounds of family and friends the bottom of my bag was attracting ants. Had a diabetic sat down next to me they would have drifted into shock from the fumes.
For my part you can keep sugary goodies. Salty carbs are more my guilty pleasure. Give me a mound of fries or a mountain of beer battered onion rings and I’m on my way to a good time. I resist these delicious artery clogging treats opting for healthier fare most days, but sometimes my willpower loses the battle with my cravings. On such occasions I can be spotted in the drive thru at McDonald’s wearing a plastic nose and glasses. If I was on death row waiting for them to pull the switch you would smell the grease heating up in the kitchen before my last meal was delivered. I’m just sayin.
As usual my holiday experience was not without mishap. I did not cook Christmas dinner this year. The first year in many I have not. There were to be only six of us so we opted to get a pre-made meal leaving more time for socializing and less time for cleaning up. Dinner was ordered before I boarded the train so no worries on arrival about getting something to load on the plates. My son had suggested a local restaurant chain as a good choice. With that in mind I ordered the turkey feast for six and we were good to go. From the website description they appeared very well-organized. Dinner came with all the typical holiday sides; a bread choice, truly yummy gravy, cranberry sauce, what appeared to be turkey and a choice of pie. Hoping to avoid the Christmas Day stampede, we opted to pick it up on 24th as soon as the restaurant opened. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, my mom has a handicapped plaque. Difficult for her to walk any distance, we were able to park near the entrance without a problem. Entering the restaurant we were pointed in the direction of the bar. It was bustling with activity with staff members taking paperwork from people as they arrived and filling their orders. We were third in line. A victory at last. Handing the gentlemen my order confirmation, he returned shortly with a huge box of goodies. Running quickly over the contents, and gathering our pumpkin pie, he said jollily (well, it was the time of year for it), “Have a Merry Christmas. You’re good to go.” I understand this is not the politically correct holiday greeting, but for me it was just dandy, thank you. Driving the twenty-five minutes or so back to the house, we unloaded the box and began the process of finding spots in my mother’s two ridiculously overly burdened refrigerators for our dinner.
“Let’s see, mashed potatoes, yams, dressing, veggies, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, check.” Something was missing, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it? Anything glaring on your end? You win the stuffed rabbit if you went for turkey. Looking in the empty box again just to reassure myself they hadn’t sewn the bird into the lining, I picked up the phone. Sure enough, the girl told me, the gentlemen in the bar realized his mistake as we were already driving out of the parking lot. Sigh. Back in the car I drove the 25 minutes return trip to the restaurant only to find the parking lot now filled to capacity and spilling out into the side streets. Fine.
Switching into full hiking gear, I trekked the two miles (the same two your parents walked to school) to the restaurant. Once again in the bar (I entertained placing an order at this point) I whizzed past the long line attracting stares which Santa might deem worthy of a lump of coal. Greeted by the same gentlemen assisting us the first time he announced loudly, “ah, the lady who forgot her turkey”. “Hey, I didn’t forget the turkey, funny man”, my mind replied. My lips, however, well brought up, said sweetly, “that would be me”. Never mind, I thought. Santa is writing this stuff down. The fact that the blonde had forgotten the turkey brought a huge laugh from the people waiting. Thank you. I didn’t feel stupid enough already, it was nice to have a cheering section. One lady commented I could have put the whole box in the refrigerator and not noticed it until Christmas Day. Now that would have been a tragedy. Had to admit she had a point. At least we had a turkey to put on our plates. One must be thankful for their gifts. In the end I took a little harmless ribbing, gathered my bird,and drove the 25 minutes back to my mother’s only to discover she now needed something from the store. Really? Perhaps a quick call to the cell phone would have been an idea? Leaving the turkey in the bag it came in, I deposited it in the fridge after once again rearranging to make room. Seating in my still warm seat I headed for the store. Good news. 3,420 other people had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time. They were all standing in line waiting for me when I arrived. The store, thinking ahead, had three checkers working the twelve available check out areas. Grumbling in the crowd about adding more checkers resulted in a manager saying, “they’re on break”. After that announcement things began to get ugly. I decided to take the high road and smile and be sunny in line. Luckily there wasn’t a mob rush on my person before I paid my bill. Announcing they were out of paper bags temporarily didn’t serve to cheer up the crowd. Not use to having to provide my own bags, I juggled my way out to the car. A recruiter from Barnum and Bailey circling the area dropped a business card in my pocket suggesting I contact him after the holidays. See, there’s always a silver lining.
Dinner was very good for the most part and easey peasey. Pop in the microwave, push the indicated amount of time and deposit on the warming unit. Yea. The turkey, or at least it was labeled as such, was another matter. Opening the bag I found a large oval shaped object inside wrapped in plastic. The instructions indicated we were to put this item referred to as turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan, cover it with foil, and heat for 2 hours. Conjecture ran rampant through the group. Could it be a freeze-dried bird? Perhaps if we added water the thing would swell to its original shape and form. My mother kept looking underneath it. When I asked why she was doing this odd behavior she said it was to see if perhaps the legs and wings might spring out when the body was lifted. This was after a stiff egg nog but really? As you can see the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree in this family. Perhaps it was a fakurkey, someone else suggested. Not a real turkey at all but a fake turkey molded to look like turkey. Once cooked and on the plate we were left with another one of life’s unanswered questions. Jury’s still out.
Questioning my son about this later it appeared we ordered a turkey breast feast rather than the full monty featuring the entire bird. Ahhh. This, at least leaves us with one question answered.
All in all it was fun and silly.
These potatoes were perfect with my spicy pork loin. Rich, gooey, and yum.
Scalloped Potatoes with Parmesan and Onions
5 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 cup Romano cheese, shredded, divided
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 2 quart casserole with cooking spray. Place 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom. Top with 1/2 of the onions, and 1/3 cup Romano cheese. Repeat layers ending with the potatoes. Reserve 1/3 cup cheese.
Melt butter over med. heat. Whisk in flour. Cook 2 mins. until smooth.Gradually add chicken broth and remaining ingredients. Pour over potatoes. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheese. Return to oven for 1/2 hour or until golden brown. Allow to sit for 8 mins. before serving.