My 35 year run as the cook in charge of our family Thanksgiving feast ends this year. I’ve passed the aprons on to my son Ben and son in law Charlie. They are in charge of the meal. It’s their menu, and they will cook it all. Except for the pies. I’m making the pies.
To implement this plan, it will be necessary for me to be out of the kitchen preferably with a baby in my arms pinning me to a sofa. This is because I am a terrible backseat cook. My children are all very grown up, and they have run their own kitchens for decades. In fact, they are all fantastic cooks, but that doesn’t stop me from “trying to be helpful” in a most irritating way.
I had a great aunt who was a book editor in New York City. I’m not sure a mixing bowl or dirty dish was ever part of her repertoire. Did she dine nightly at the Algonquin Club? I do not know. I do know she was Margaret Mitchell’s best friend and edited Gone with the Wind. Anyways, Great Aunt Lois would always come through the kitchen after an enormous family feast as if she were Queen Elizabeth I on a royal visit to a country village. Dressed to the nines, she would peer over piles of dirty dishes to make contact with all of us at the sink and say, “I’d love to help, but you are doing such a wonderful job, I won’t interfere.”
I will need to channel Great Aunt Lois on Thursday.
One of the Thanksgiving chefs, Ben, came through on Sunday for a visit. He lives over the river in Vermont. I made a vow NOT to ask any questions about the meal or offer to shop for anything or make any suggestions. My daughter Elizabeth was there during Ben’s visit (probably to keep me true to my vow). She noticed me starting sentences then stopping to look out the window and pretend I wasn’t really going to say, “What’s the plan for the stuffing?”
It was touch and go but I got through the visit with only six or eight moments in which I was staring out the window with a bit of a grimace on my face.
I’ve heard some menu rumors. Charlie’s mother’s family comes from Kennett Square in Pennsylvania so mushrooms feature heavily at their family occasions. I’ve heard tell that Charlie is bringing an enormous box of mushrooms. This is the extent of the rumors.
I don’t know much about the rest on the menu or when we will eat. Like Great Aunt Lois I will enjoy the meal when called to the table. Until then I will regale people with clever stories as she did or perhaps (and preferably) burp the newest grandchild George who will be just shy of three months at this his first Thanksgiving celebration.
I did appreciate Ben and Charlie taking pity on me by throwing me the bone of the pies. I will make them today so that tomorrow at the Wednesday night meal (also taken out of my hands) I can impersonate Great Aunt Lois and put on pearls, heels and some sort of old school scent like Shalimar then waltz through the kitchen once or twice looking completely disinterested.
This will give me practice for game day, Thanksgiving when I will once again don the pearls and wrestle my backseat cooking to the ground once and for all. Wish me luck!