Over the last several years I have come to be the host of Thanksgiving dinners for a regular group of my friends whom I think of as “The Children.” As in “The Children are coming to dinner.” Mostly because they are all young enough to actually be my offspring, were I wacky enough to spring off, but also because, as in the case of providing the traditional Thanksgiving, I have somehow morphed into a mother figure. To be more accurate, a grandmother figure.
Four of the Children are out of town this holiday and I was remarking to Super Agent Fred (the only one who would be around) how I was looking forward to taking drugs and sleeping all day instead of cooking. Fred looked absolutely stricken and protested that he was looking forward to turkey. And gravy. And mashed potatoes. And dressing.
Of course I relented and thus wound up slinging a menu that exactly reproduced what my grannies would have knocked out 80 years ago. And it was delicious, thank you very much, so I guess I’m glad I did, but the dinner did leave behind a refrigerator full of left overs because it turns out scaling down a celebratory dinner for 10 to one for 2 does not work. I just don’t know how to make my granny’s cornbread dressing in a size smaller than what could be described as a vat. We will be dining on that fucking turkey all week. Turkey salad, Turkey Tetrazini, turkey sammiches. OK by me.
Also in other domestic news, the garden always looks sort of shaggy around this time of year. Most thing suddenly green from the rain finally starting, but also quietly revving up for the burst of flowers spring will have. The most appealing contradictions are the Australian Tea Trees, brilliant rose and pink and crimson right now. The two in the picture are about 20 years old and have taken that long to really get established and turn out such show off blooming. I see them from my bathroom window every time I go pee. That is not what the average garden planning book would consider, but I’m glad I planted them where I did.
The view from the toilet.
Oh, hay. Do I still have a blog? Waddya know?
Do you remember Thanksgiving? A couple of weeks ago? Some friends and I went down to Big Sur to spend the Feast of Fat in this place that was astonishingly sumptuous.
This is the view from the backyard.
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to Northern California’s excessive prettiness.” Sometimes it’s sort of oppressive, much like what I assume dating this guy might be like.
I made turkey and cornbread dressing and gravy, all of which was totally delicious, if I say so myself, and our friend J made pulled pork for sammiches, which was even more tasty and the place even had a dance floor where mrpeenee demonstrated the moves that made him the terror of bars throughout the 80s
and there was a giant soaking jacuzzi tub for after dancing. All fabulous. And that’s when the cocaine came out.
Oh my little schnitzels, I haven’t done any coke since Ronald Reagan was president, but it turns out I can still snorfle it up like a Dyson. My co-miscreants, all of whom are considerably younger than me and were not around for the Liza Minnelli years were most impressed. Apparently they had fallen for my respectable facade all these years.
Equally impressive to them was at the very end, when there was only smallish pile left and someone (NOT ME) spilled water on it. I had only the briefest pause before I announced “I’m licking that up.” Who wants to waste cocaine? It was one of those decisions you make that even as you’re processing it, you think “Probably not the best idea,” but that doesn’t stop you. And besides the feeling returned to my tongue by the next morning. Pretty much.
A lovely Thanksgiving.
|Everything counts in large amounts.
Thanksgiving, yes, it actually can be amusing, especially if you cut out all the family drama and sneak off to the beauties of Big Sur instead.
Food was terribly tasty. Nom nom, in fact.
We went hiking along a trail I remembered from years ago as both easy and charming, wandering back and forth along a small creek up to some waterfalls. But when we got to the start, the path made a sharp left and then veered up a steep ravine. After we had slogged there and back, I read the park’s brochure and found out the old trail had been the victim of a big fire down there in 2008 and they rerouted it so the old one could recuperate. Burned, schmurned, I say. The end was the only good part.
But then, we went to the beach a couple of times cause, you know, it’s California and stuff. Man, was that ever worth it.
Balmy, sunny weather down amongst the gorgeous rock formations and a few notably cute boys just to make things interesting.
Also, we played Yahtzee every night, including the evening where I hit 7 (SEVEN) yahtzees in four hands and still only won one of them. I had obviously fallen in with a rough crowd. Dice sharks.
I know this is not what Brian Eno playing a fast hand of Yahtzee actually looks like, but it is what I think he SHOULD look like.
Don’t mind me sweetie, I’m cooking, Thanksgiving dinner to be precise, and you know how slightly psycho I get when in my hash-slinging modus. It’s true, the total kitchen bitch. Fortunately I am here all alone so no one has to put up with my shrieking and cursing. Even Saki has been exiled to one of the bedrooms upstairs, aka Cat Jail.
We’re leaving tomorrow to drive down the coast to Big Sur for a few days and since I suspect the kitchen in the cabin we’ve rented is rudimentary, I thought it would be smart to get the cooking out of the way. Plus I don’t want to share my madness with the friends I’m going with.
So now I’ve roasted a boneless turkey breast with a French garnish under the skin
My recreation of my grandmother’s cornbread dressing, because I am as big a Southern girl at heart as Paula Dean.
Speaking of the Queen of Grease Refinement, I also have gravy. But of course. Smooth as silk, but much, much tastier.
The beautiful, beautiful Cranberry Apricot Ginger Chutney.
The vicodin is especially handy since I clumsily tangled with the handle of the roasting pan while getting it out of the oven. Ouchywow.
We had a planning meeting last weekend for this trip and I have to say, I’m looking forward to it immensely. Food, hanging around, card games, maybe hiking, if I’m not too lazy, woo to the hoo, in short, even if we aren’t able to share it with Diane von Austinburg. Rats.
Although we will technicaly be at the beach, I do not expect any of this.
Tragic, I know.
OK, you can consider me officially bummed out. Man. Our beloved Diane von Austinburg was scheduled to come out for Thanksgiving and we were going to go down the coast to Big Sur to hang out for the annual celebration of carbohydrates. Then last month, Diane broke her tail bone. Sitting is very painful, so a four hour plane ride and then a three hour drive down the thrilling but zig zaggy coastal highway is just such a dumb idea not even I can endorse it, despite my astonishing powers of being delusional.
Let me make clear I really am disappointed and feel awful about the poor thing’s on-going pain. That said, because I have the sense of humor of a sixth grader, I cannot let go of the inherent sniggering in a bone named “coccyx” and commonly referred to as the “tail bone.” I am ashamed. I am a bad friend. And yet, I snigger.
I’m not alone in this. Our friend Super Agent Fred asked her if she cracked it practicing her triple axle lutz. John, another pal, suggested the break had obviously come about during a skateboarding spree. I favor a simpler and more broad reaching conclusion: shenanigans. She can blame tripping over her cat all she wants, there is still a free floating implication of sexual gymnastics gone bad, terribly, terribly bad.
So, now that I have that more or less out of my system, let me reiterate how sorry I am for her. Poor thing.
Houseboy Jinx Nocturnus demonstrates a functional coccyx:
Three years ago, we hosted twelve people for Thanksgiving dinner. Much beloved, one and all, but dear god, what a butt load of work. We had to have an overflow table; in order to not make sure no one felt second best seated there, I made up place cards consisting of photos of famous (or infamous) women (or sort-of women,) had people draw names, and then match their draws with the pictures. It was a supremely Martha Stewart moment, even if I did have to explain who some of the gals were. My favorite was Zsa Zsa Gabor’s mug shot from when she slapped that cop, but I was plenty happy with drawing Divine.
Thank the goddess for Diane von Austinberg who was such a tremendous help in cooking, but I still turned into the Kitchen Nazi once again, barking orders and withering comments on my guests’ attempts at prep work. “GO. Drink on the goddam patio and get out of my fucking kitchen,” tends to be my byword in these situations. I had spread sheets breaking down the whole thing into 15 minute increments for three days. R Man and those other unfortunates who get in my way think that because I am a flipped out, shrieking queen, I am not enjoying myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. I revel in the challenge and I triumph, bitches. Triumph. As I tuck into my version of my granny’s cornbread dressing, I think “Yes, I did it. I am invincible.”
This year, swinging to the complete polar opposite, we will be joining two of our friends at the Hotel W for a massive lunch and then we will come home for a nap. I plan on reveling in that, too.