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well, i won’t say much about thanksgiving…what is there to say when you’re in a house with foot-and-knee-straining tile floors, your mother has a broken foot, and your brother brings home a very nice mexican girl (invited, not by your brother, but by your father) who cannot speak english; yes, this is the self-same brother of whom you learn, from your 83 year-old latin grandmother, that he believes to have been given the gift of celibacy (a tid-bit you find very curious and want to ask him about…but how do you ask this self-same brother who who has a passel of best-friends, all of whom are single girls, all of whom reside in different cities, whether, in fact, he has decided now, here in his late 20s, to remain celibate?); you learn this from the grandmother who is convinced she is going senile (not the 67 year-old step-grandmother who lives next door and believes you to be her eldest step-son; no, the one who is so worried about her impending dementia that she cannot sleep at night without pills…and, to be fair, the docs do say that she is showing signs of alzheimers, but she is still sharp enough to be rude in all the ways she’s always been rude to other latins, especially this mexican girl, unless, of course, these latins are highly educated and/or come from old money)...what is there to say when the girl brought home by your brother spends most of the time depressed because no speaks to her (your latin grandmother won’t because she is a female friend of her favorite grandchild, the grandchild whose name she will call upon to give you and your sister a guilt trip, the grandchild who would sit on her lap at 4 and eat candy and watch days of our lives when your mother had specifically requested that she neither let us watch soap-operas nor eat candy in the middle of the day…you’re mother doesn’t and you don’t know why, except that she’s run ragged caring for the grandmother who lives next door (who now only has three conversations a day, over and over and over again) that she hasn’t been paying attention to things and so answers in english when your dad, your brother and you ask her questions in spanish to include the girl, but then again, she’s sick with a cold or something, she’s got a broken foot, and she’s run ragged…your adopted sisters don’t because they can’t speak spanish anymore, and the one that does is too busy making eyes at her much younger boyfriend…you don’t because you spend two straight days in the kitchen cooking for 12 people, and when not cooking you try to relieve your wife from caring for your 9 month-old…and your wife tries by asking your brother to translate for her, but he, for some reason, proves to be a rather poor translator)...what is there to say when this girl confesses that she was so looking forward to meeting your brother’s family because he, like your sister (who is a missionary far-far-away, but has called to let everyone know how much she wants to be a part of this circus), has an idealized view of what his family is and was, and she has found out first-hand that we are just a bunch of well-meaning maniacs…what is there to say when thanksgiving is your father’s favorite holiday because it has no pagan undertones, but he spends it working in an emergency room and so you eat thanksgiving on friday (because he never remembers when thanksgiving is and has for the past 4 or 5 years voluntarily put his name down to work on this most united-statsian of holidays)...and then you make an ass of yourself because you, after having spent 12 hours in the kitchen the previous day, have been up since 8 cooking and are hungry (even as a baby you would cry when mom fed you too slowly, and the family joke is to not bother you when hungry because who knows whether the joker will leave with their life…but you don’t snack too much while cooking because you don’t want it to spoil the meal, consequently you are famished and in a rather bad mood); but dad wants to be thankful and have a 30 minute devotional before eating, while you just want to eat; and as you finish getting things together and on to the table, your mother and grandmother keep standing over the stove and in your way, and your grandmother makes a snarky remark about how your gravy is going to turn out lumpy (which it didn’t, but she was right in that you didn’t follow procedure) and you snap at her; all the while your dad keeps calling you into the living room to take part of the singing (which, except for one song is all in english…and so high church that only those older than 30 know the songs); and you keep putting things on the table, now frustrated because the homemade yeast rolls you made (folding and freezing, folding and freezing and letting them rise) are no longer warm, and now even more frustrated because you realize how petty it is to worry about whether this meal you’ve been preparing for two days is cold or not when they are singing songs to God; them so spiritual and you so base and material; yet you get your way and they come to the table; they come not to pray and eat, however; instead to read a thirty verse psalm about thanksgiving and then have a five minute prayer (and the sweet-potatoes with jalapeños, cumin, thyme and cream-cheese are cold, as are the mashed yukon golds with roasted garlic and brie) and then a song…and you blow up when your father proposes a toast because you can’t take it anymore and when everyone else was at their most thankful you ruin the meal that you’d spent 2 days cooking and that had been elaborately blessed.



So I think you went wrong when you put brie in your mashed potatoes. Brie! The height of fatty French arrogance!

Still, can we have the recipe?

For Christmas, if you haven’t yet, read The Corrections.

wooooooooow. this is quite an account. it made me think “hey, 2 days in arkansas (for xmas) can’t possibly rival this story,” and that calmed my nerves. i was overwhelmed by sympathy for the neglected mexican lass and for the under-appreciated chef, and yet my first response upon the story’s conclusion was “make sure you get that mashed potatoes recipe.”

it was adapted from last month’s cooking light. i added a head of roasted garlic (then pealed, before adding, of course), left the peel on the potatoes, added about a tsp+ of fresh thyme, and didn’t add the chives.

also, i only used 1 round not 1 1/2 round of brie, instead of camembert…but they’re so similar that it’s not that different.

1 1/2 (8-ounce) rounds Camembert cheese

11 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 4 1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Garnish

Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Cut well-chilled cheese into 6 wedges. Carefully remove rind from cheese; discard rind (or feed to dog should you have a dog that loves cheese as much as ours). Chop cheese; let stand at room temperature while potato cooks.

Place potato in a large Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander; return potato to pan. Add cheese, milk, salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and thyme; mash with a potato masher until smooth.

this can be prepared ahead of time and reheated…in fact, this lets flavors mix better.

mmmm, thanks!

i should add a disclaimer…but how do you add one without sounding like quentin…”i don’t hate the south, i don’t hate the south.”

going home this time…and i am afriad it will be so for a while, will be melancholy. (so i will probably spend more time coooking at home than i used to…but also because it’s a nice respite for mom)

this trip was so different than last trip related in the deep hermit archives of Monday, January 03, 2005, also known as while at my parents…or a conversation while chopping wood

Families are made to exacerbate. (Just look at the conversation just below 01.03.05….) That’s why Kathy keeps alluding to our Arkansas trip. We haven’t been to Arkansas very often since we got married. My teenage/early-20s cousins have given birth to 4 kids since we were there last. We are both nervous about it. We’ll be there for two days, and in those two days we’ll be shuffled between four houses, potentially three churches, at least 6 barely-vegetarian meals, and an onslaught of questions: “When are you two going to have kids?” “Why don’t you move back to Arkansas?” “What kind of job are you looking for?” “Why don’t you raise your kids here?” “What did you say you do?” “Where’d all that education get you?” “Got any gray hair, and what’s your waist size?” “Why don’t you work at McDonald’s?”

Parts of the trip will be pleasant enough, and it will be very nice to see home. My grandfather’s farm is where I locate my childhood; that memory always is welcome. But there’s so much that I don’t know to expect, and there’s been so many changes there I don’t know how well I’ll be a part of it all again. And Kathy has barely had chance to find a place for herself…

All that to say, home always comes with a disclaimer.

yeah, i remember that conversation…

maybe you guys could get these for stocking stuffers

that is bizarre. i am especially curious about why the uterus is dangling from a tree.

i’m still waiting for the sweet potatoes recipe…we had sweet potato quesadillas tonight but still have a lot of taters to use up.

that last recipe served 12 (i believe)

this one is for 2…it is my normal recipe (i added, however, cumin and thyme to this…i liked it, t did not. it was largely the cumin)

1 1/2 lbs sweet-potatoes

1 tbs olive oil

1 small onion, diced fine

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeño chopped fine(deveined and deseeded, see below)

1/4 cup cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)

freshly ground nutmeg

squeeze of lime

salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400, bake for an hour, or until tender

heat oil in small skillet add onion fry gently (once transparent) add garlic and chile and continue frying until onion is soft and lightly browned

when potatoes are done, peel off skin. mash with cheese, stir in onion mixture, season to taste with nutmeg, lime, salt and pepper

serve immediately

this also can be reheated in oven.

when deveining chiles you get the oil on your hands and it can burn a little (or a lot, depending on the state of your hands’ nerve endings) if you don’t like this, wear surgical gloves. also, be sure to get the veins (the white filmy stuff) and seeds off the cutting board before slicing up chile.

these recipes are really inspiring my new freezing-cold weather food cravings. now i can expand my obsession beyond the pumpkin pie phase…yum…