Here’s the rest of yesterday’s rant.
My mother’s approach to holidays is militaristic—they are something to conquer and subdue. Although she’s not one to decorate the house, her meals are impeccable–created with precision, pride and perfection. I remember my shock when I first began to spend holidays with other families–if a meal was not perfect, so what? The holiday was not “ruined” because of a burnt pie/steak/turkey.
I confess that I have inherited a certain amount of holiday fastidiousness, but I’ve learned that even though a delicious meal is appreciated, it is not requisite. So when Mom showed up yesterday afternoon with two boxes of cooking supplies, I should have been prepared for the clash of the cooks.
Box one contained two quarts of her crystal clear turkey broth for gravy (my own broth was murky, since I boiled the crap out of it). Also present was her vast personal spice assortment, which I’m certain she hand-picked and blended herself.
Box two was the shocker—she brought her eclectic cutlery collection, her favorite chopping block, five mismatched measuring cups, plus a hodgepodge of bowls, plates and dishes. Mom’s collection of six knives was clearly selected to optimize the chopping, dicing and cubing of specific ingredients for tomorrow’s meal. A knife for onions, a knife for celery, a knife for me to stab myself in the ear with, etc…
As I helped equip her cooking station, I was horrified to see her chopping block. It looked like Satan’s missing front tooth. Once white, it was now a hideous moldy yellow with dark brown stains etching an overabundance of knife marks. How could this be my mother’s chopping block? Then I remembered. Mom always microwaves her chopping block since bleaching ruins the food cut on it. Heh.
Mom launched her chopping ceremony with a knife sharpening ritual (she also brought her own kit) while I washed veggies and used the food processor to dice Vidalia onions for my famous green chile cranberry sauce. This utterly scandalized my mom, who proceeded to talk to our dog Misty about my barbaric cooking techniques (I kid you not). Later I joined her at my cooking station, defiant with my super-ultra-bleached white chopping block.
Eventually we made peace with each other and the afternoon proceeded smoothly. I offered her my special nut chopping knife and she asked me about my beloved cranberry sauce. Later, she surfed the web while I sautéed her meticulously diced vegetables destined for stuffing. To save time, I decided to wash dishes while sautéing. So naturally, I over- browned the precious veggies. Sigh. I immediately mixed them with some wild rice for camouflage. I wonder if anyone will notice.
ETA: Sheesh. Rant over, I promise! Happy Turkey Day Everybody!