Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chef Laura

I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, and started cooking.

Okay, maybe I ate breakfast and got dressed and so forth first, but it was the first thing I did that wasn't routine.

I spent the first half of my day making the stuffed part of stuffed mushrooms, rehydrating the fancy mushrooms that get minced, making breadcrumbs from lovely bakery bread, browning pancetta, mincing parsley, and so forth. Oh, it was fantastic!

This is what I decided to do after last Thanksgiving. Mom and I went all out with everything. I made my pumpkin pie from scratch, adding pureed yams and maple syrup to draw out the pumpkin flavor and passing the whole mixture through a fine strainer to remove any and all non-perfect portions. It took 3 hours to make the mixture, not counting cooking time, and when I plopped it down on the table for people to gobble up; my family ate it like I'd poured canned pumpkin pie filling into the shell and went on with my life.

I hate baking. Hate, hate, hate. So much that I cried when I finished the pumpkin pies last year, because they were finally over. Paul thought I was having a nervous breakdown.

And do you know what? No one cared. Not about my crying--about the pie. They couldn't tell a difference. I could, but if they couldn't, why bother? Clearly their palates are not so refined as to justify my constant pie-related misery.

This year, Mom is making the pies. Thank God.

I am brining the turkey, in order to make it extra juicy and nice. This involves a bottle of dry white wine, more salt than I want to look at during any given period, water, peppercorns, bay leaves, a bunch of thyme, thinly sliced onions, and about six cloves of garlic. The turkey sits in this overnight, is removed, rinsed well, and then patted dry. After that, we rub it with butter, throw on some more spices, and pop it into the roasting pan.

Then I will make fantastic stuffing and gravy from scratch, I have the stock done already, and I will have my apron and my whisk and I will feel like a chef.

And I will do all of this while downing stuffed mushrooms, which I am making mostly for me. Oh, are they tasty.

Because on this Thanksgiving, I am (knock on wood) actually not sick. And the only thing that can go wrong is, well, more to do with interpersonal conflict than anything else. And I have decided that my response to the half-dozen times I will be asked "Have they fired you from that job yet" will be complete silence. I will pretend that certain people at the dinner do not speak the same language that I do, and that I perhaps am not genetically related to them.

That will work, right?

I am also making something I adore--the stuffed mushrooms I was telling you about.

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