There’s a gap where the kitchen should be.

If you haven’t already guessed by now from my experiments in devious baking, I’ve got this certain style in the kitchen. It reached its height in development around the time I was getting rid of the last of the cancer, and they wanted me to go on a low iodine diet. There’s nothing like forced eating habits to wrench a little creativity out of you, because make no mistake folks — iodine is everywhere. Even where you think it can’t possibly be. It’s kind of insidious like that.

So as I said, I’ve got a fly by the seat of my pants way of cooking. I call it the Kamikaze Chef. Sure, that spice has never even touched that meat before in the history of man, but who cares! It looks kinda pretty, and it might taste good!

As strange as it sometimes looks, it’s always seemed to turn out well. With, of course, one or two exceptions. I’ve got a way of accidentally drying out meat, and sometimes things might get a little overcooked if I’m doing too much at once. That, and my knack for getting heavy handed with spices, can get me in trouble. But for the most part, it works.

Except for when it’s going up against my mother.

See, in a Dysfunctional Family, there’re big wars sometimes. Something like this, only there’s two of them, and they’re coming at each other like something out of a John Woo movie. Except with words. … Yeah.

But there’s also little wars too. The ones that just involve the two monsters, at about that volume. With Turkey Day approaching and eight hungry souls expected to be seated at the table, pulses have begun to race, so my mother and I had ourselves one of those little wars over the meals. Actually, pretty much all the food.

My mother’s got a very  classical way of doing things. There’s a recipe, you follow it. You add your own flair if need be, or improvise if you’re missing ingredients, but more or less it’s all about the cook books. This has its own merit, and I swear I mean that. I’ve looked up recipes online, and checked out the occasional cookbook. It’s just rare. It’s like Indie and Mainstream Cinema going head to head over what will hopefully be a blockbuster Thanksgiving dinner.

Or at least get into the black at the box office. We’d take that too.

But since she wanted to have a game plan, and wanted help in the kitchen, we were discussing what we were going to eat and how we were going to go about making it. And I have a problem with being a kitchen drone, while she just wants me to shut up and get things done. Which, given the stress levels with putting together a big meal, I can understand.


Then, my temper started to flare. I like putting my own spin on things, and I wanted to work with impunity. Which was just not going to happen. And with my Godmother, aka her best friend, working with us in the kitchen, I’d be one outnumbered kitchen drone. Tensions started rising, and words were exchanged, and I explained to her that if we were going to coexist for all the holidays to come, she might want to re-examine why this is such a problem for her. Honestly, I’m surprised one of us didn’t fall into the endless abyss that was the crevasse-like generational gap between us.

And then, much to my surprise… She agreed it was wrong.

Everything cooled back down after that, because like all Italian-Portuguese-Irish women, I love it when someone else admits they’re the wrong ones first. And it made it easier for me to say I get why this is stressful, and that I didn’t mind checking with her about what I’d do to whatever I cooked after that. So I’m handling potatoes (Cheddary Bacony Whipped Goodness), and one dessert (Apple Cinnamon Cake), with the agreement that all ingredients will be greenlit before they go into the pot. Which means no red pepper. Damn it.

Will this serene sense of understanding actually carry over into the day itself, or every holiday from here on out? I doubt it. But at least the seed was planted, so it has a shot of growing again when a great big motorcycle boot stomps the crap out of it.

Don’t you just love the holidays?


~ by Sara on November 22, 2011.

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