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November Blog Hop. We hope you have enjoyed what you have found.
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This is the time of year when cooking special treats and meals and having get-togethers kicks in to high gear. We have Thanksgiving just around the corner with all that entails. And not trailing awfully far behind is Christmas with its own array of cookies, fudge, pies, and parties, etc.
This is also one of the times of the year when I have committed kitchen faux pas. I unfortunately have had some cooking disasters that weren’t related to the holidays as well. I want to say from the outset that my mother has the cooking talent which she passed down to my sister. I’m good at desserts but otherwise Mom I am not. (In my defense, I did get the sewing and crafting genes from Mom.)
Be that as it may, I am thinking about the time I blew up the kitchen trying to fix ethnic food for our women’s book club. It was Daphne’s turn to host the discussion and she had chosen a book about a Yemeni girl who was forced to marry a gnarly middle-aged uncle when she was just the age of 9 (This girl had brains and a lot of pluck and was able to get a divorce at age 10.) So I looked up foods from Yemen and came upon a recipe for a type of stew made with fava beans. (No, I have not read Silence of the Lambs or seen the movie, and don’t intend to ever. So I didn’t know what fava beans looked like.) I finally found them at a type of whole foods market. For those of you who haven’t watched the above mentioned movie or are not from Yemen, fava beans look like giants lima beans only pale yellow in color.
I didn’t even know how much to buy. The recipes I found weren’t too specific about amounts. I bought four 1 pound bags and came home and began to cook them. Head’s up – unless you have the kitchen the size of one in a military mess hall and plan to feed the troops, you only need 1 bag! The beans, once cooked, were to be pureed and added to the spices and vegetables. Oh, my goodness! There were mountains of beans everywhere. I used every pot in the house to contain them. Those beans would not cooperate with the puree process at all. I added water to try to thin the mess down enough to puree and wasn’t really successful. The clock was ticking down to the start of book club and my fava beans were in sad and gummy shape.
I finally figured that I had cooked way too many beans for a group of 15 ladies so I focused on 1 batch. With a lot of water, prayer, and a wheezing blender I managed to get enough for the recipe. I whipped in the peppers and spices and it was bland. (It would have made a great substance to use when putting up wallpaper.) I added more of everything I could find, thinned it with more water, and went to book club. I can tell you that I was really worried when it didn’t look like the recipe picture. I will say that there were only a couple of brave ladies who took a dollop of disaster and tried to smile telling me it was tasty.
Talk about humiliating. And then to have to come home and clean beans from every surface of the kitchen. Nope. I will not fix fava beans ever again. The good news in all of this is that the brave souls who tried my concoction didn’t die. They were at book club the next month. I think I took a salad that time. Not too many ways to ruin a salad.
Moving backward in time to a Thanksgiving at least 15 years ago I invited my dad to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. I usually do a pretty good turkey and my stuffing is heavenly. This year, though, I did not want to fix a turkey. Too many leftovers for my small group. My son doesn’t eat turkey in any form so why waste a bird? I decided to be non-traditional and fix the contribution the Indians had made that first Thanksgiving – fish. Yes, fish. It sounded good to me.
I fixed all the usual side dishes, including my heavenly stuffing and cranberry sauce. I made that for my dad because he loves it. (Not me. The fruit is cooked and squishy and as I have mentioned before – don’t do anything to my fruit!) When my daughter saw me breading the fish she warned me that my dad was going to be very disappointed as was she.
Dad came on time for dinner, told me everything smelled delicious, looked around for the turkey, and the smile melted off his face when he saw the platter of breaded fish. The fish was very good, but it wasn’t turkey. No amount of explaining about the first Americans and their fish contribution could make up for it. Lesson – if you are going to serve fish for Thanksgiving, better have a roasted turkey sitting next to it.
One more Thanksgiving mishap before I close. A few Thanksgivings ago, I decided to stuff the turkey. I usually don’t because everyone loves my stuffing baked as a casserole. My mom always stuffed the turkey and it was delicious so I thought I’d break my tradition and stuff the old boy. I still made a big casserole dish of my stuffing, which as you will see, turned out to be a very good thing. When I went to stuff Ol’ Tom Turkey, I realized the stuffing needed a little more moisture to hold it together. I don’t make glued together stuffing. So I added chicken broth and water till I thought it was the right consistency and stuck it up Ol’ Tom’s behind and set the bird to roast. My family, dear Dad included, were looking forward to having stuffing cooked in the bird.
When the turkey was done and I was getting ready to put the stuffing in a casserole dish, I untied the legs. I didn’t have to scoop out the stuffing. It ran out of Tom like something else does when you’ve eaten too much cabbage and too many prunes. I don’t think any further description is necessary. I stood there shaking my head in dismay. What had I done wrong? It was inedible and way too salty. It took me a long time to realize that the turkey’s own juices contributed to the moisture of the stuffing. Duh! You wouldn’t know I graduated summa cum laude from college, would you? Another round of disappointed faces, but at least I had my stuffing casserole. It saved the meal from another Mama Vicky Not-So-Good-in-the-Kitchen mishap.
I’ll save the story about the ruined spaghetti I attempted to make for the homeless meal in our city. That’s a mishap for another day.
Best Wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your meal be a success and the company delightful. Blog you later!