Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Cooking

Thanksgiving is a feast day, so it involves LOTS of cooking. Around the country, kitchens are alive with mixing bowls, rolling pins, and chopping boards, and the heat from many stoves is surely competing with furnaces and wood heaters. At my son's house, they've been working on pie making for two days.

At our house, we started cooking last night after what was a short but rather intense week of work for both of us. We only had to make 4 dishes to take to dinner at Culley's, but it was enough to use almost every piece of cooking paraphernalia we own and conclude with a mountain of dishes in the sink.

Before I describe our creations, let me preface by saying that Cindy and I fall somewhere near the lower 10th percentile in the bell curve of cooking expertise. We each have our specialties, but beyond one or two dishes, we are not particularly skillful OR creative in the kitchen. That said, I have to say I think we did a swell job of cooking last night.

We each prepared a traditional dish from our childhood Thanksgivings. For me, that is the version of sauerkraut that my Polish grandma made and for Cindy it is a fruity Jello-Cool Whip concoction. These dishes came together with minimal effort. The Jello has to be made in stages which Cindy worked on in between doing the tedious aspect of her day's work: entering the jobs on the work web-sites. Meanwhile, the kitchen filled with the smell of sauteing onion, pungent sauerkraut being rinsed in the sink, and the nutty aroma of roasting caraway seeds as I fixed my dish.

After finishing the sauerkraut, I moved on to the artichoke dip. This dish is NOT in our repertoire. Our theory is that Andrea assigned it to us so we would branch out a little. When I said I didn't know how to make it, she said, "But you know how to use the World Wide Web."

Point well taken I thought. So I went to the WWW and found a gazillion recipes for artichoke dip, most of which called for gobs of mayonnaise. Not being a fan of mayonnaise, I was appalled and called her back and said, "Is this for REAL?!!!"

"Yes," she replied, "Get over it!"

I found one that called for half sour cream (low-fat) and half mayonnaise which felt a tad more friendly to my overloaded cholesterol bloodstream. I stood with assembled ingredients last night and re-read the instructions which called for a food processor. Cindy has one, but I'd never used it, so I interrupted her work for a lesson and volunteered to wash the many parts of the contraption in exchange for her expertise. In short order, she took over chopping the hearts.

The instructions also called for transferring the appetizer, once cooked, into a chafing dish with some kind of warming device. I called Andrea again to determine exactly what chafing dish meant and if it was necessary. "NO," said she, laughing kindly at the question. "Just bring it in the casserole dish you cook it in."

When my part was done, I washed dishes while Cindy started the brownies. Andrea said that brownies would be a good addition to pie and that's another of Cindy's regular contributions to family dinners so we were happy with this assignment.

I finished the dishes and as I headed to bed eager to snuggle up with book, the smell of baking chocolate permeated the house. It wasn't a traditional Thanksgiving aroma-- like roasting turkey or baking sweet potatoes-- but it was nevertheless a delicious reminder of the feast to come.

Eat joyously and slowly and blessings to ALL!

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