Every year around this time I think I’m going to have a small menu for our holiday dinners. I start out thinking in terms of one meat, one vegetable, and one starch. It has never worked out that way, and I probably wouldn’t be as happy if it did. I love the time I spend in my kitchen making the food that pleases the people who consume it.
The reason why some of my holiday meals get so out of control is because I lose control over how many dishes I’m making. While I’m in there, I think of something else someone might enjoy and set about its creation. The basics are easy, though: turkey and ham. After that things sort of get complicated.
My oldest and I absolutely adored my grandmother’s stuffing. It’s homemade, moist, and ever so flavorful. Making it brings back all those childhood smells that cause memories to flood through my kitchen, and for a few minutes it’s as if she’s there with me, chopping celery and onions to cook slowly in a small vat of butter.
Husband doesn’t like that kind of stuffing though. It reminds him of bread pudding, which he unequivocally hates. He likes the stove top packaged stuffing, which is a little drier. It’s easy to do and it pleases him, so I just make both. My youngest likes neither.
Everyone wants mashed potatoes, and a couple of us will want sweet potatoes in some form.
I’m already at two meats, two types of potatoes, and two types of stuffing. But wait! There’s more.
Husband and I want green bean casserole, which I really love to make ever since I saw some dude on television make it from scratch. I put my own spin on it, of course, but it’s fabulous. For years I thought I hated that casserole. Turns out what I hated was the combination of various creams-of-something soup with green beans mixed in.
Youngest won’t touch it; but she likes corn.
Two meats, two potatoes, two stuffings, two vegetables – sort of – if you can count green bean casserole with its bacon and gravy as a vegetable.
I can’t have turkey the day after without macaroni salad. Just in case someone else might want some too, I make it ahead of time. Husband loves deviled eggs, so I make a batch of those, too.
Something always pulls at me to get a can of cranberry sauce while I’m at the grocery store. It was always on the table growing up, laying in an elongated blob in a saucer. It was the exact shape of the tin can that had held it for so long, and it quivered every time someone passed something over it. It glistened with the reflection of light that bounced off shiny forks. When dinner was over, that tube shaped blob was covered with plastic wrap and placed in the fridge with everything else. Some days later, it was disposed of whole.
While the sight of it on the table might be traditional, I refuse to buy it. After all, there’s certainly plenty to go around without it.
And I can’t wait to get started.