On Thanksgiving Day I feared I was going to run out of flour so I sent J to the store to get some more before they closed for the day. It turns out I didn’t need the flour so it wasn’t until Friday that I discovered that he picked up the wrong kind of flour. I needed “All Purpose Flour” and he chose “Self Rising”.
“I can’t use it,” I said, handing him the package. “You need to take it back.”
He looked at me as if I sprung two heads. He leaned back, cocking his head to the side, and said,”You better use it. I’m not taking it back.”
See, I knew I should have had a canned dinner.
It was my idea at the beginning of the week to just purchased prepackaged, pre-prepared food for Thanksgiving. I thought of it after I dropped off our big box of canned goods and frozen turkey for the poor to the church this year. J and I bought the food together, picking up a big box of generic stove top stuffing and then a store brand of canned corn. At first I felt guilty and thought, maybe I should get a brand name of canned vegetables but then thought “Why?” All canned food is gross anyway. Once you eat fresh, in season fruit and vegetables you get spoiled and you don’t really want a canned substitute. But I’m getting that for the poor. I felt bad and wanted to put the stuff back on the shelf and head over to the produce aisle to get some kale and string beans for the folks. But it wasn’t on the list and I didn’t know how long the fresh food would sit in the box so I got the canned food instead.
But carrots and potatoes were on the list. What sense did that make when I couldn’t buy milk or butter? How can someone make mashed potatoes without fresh milk or butter?
So after I dropped off the food at church with frozen turkey I thought, maybe this is the way to go. Some family was going to be happy to get those things to feed their family and just be together on the holiday. And as far as I knew it was just going to be me and J for the day. Cricket was staying over at college and wouldn’t be back until Christmas and J2 was going to be spending the holiday in Cleveland. It seemed redunkulous to do all that cooking just for two people. I was making plans to find a restaurant open that day or hop from relative to relative to get fed.
But then J2 got a reprieve from his mother, so it ends up that it would be three instead of two. That’s when I got the bright idea for canned Thanksgiving dinner.
“But J2 likes your cooking,” J whined.
“No, he doesn’t. J2 doesn’t know the difference between biscuits from scratch and those refrigerator biscuits you buy.”
“But you like to cook–”
“No I don’t. I hate it. I just do it because I want to eat healthy, but at Thanksgiving no one eats healthy.”
“You want to cook it.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t.”
J and I went around and around like that for a minute. “You know you want to cook it.”
“No, I don’t. Cricket won’t be home. She’s my sous chef.” It would also be my first Thanksgiving dinner without her in 19 years. It was weird to not have her around. And, really, the Js eat too damn much. I didn’t want to take that on by myself.
“I’ll help you cook. Whatever you want.”
“You lie,” I said with a raised eyebrow.
“No, I will help, whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it.”
“And you wont’ complain?”
“I promise. Just make your dinner.”
I know, I’m stupid. A man will make desperate promises when they are either horny or hungry, you can never trust them when either one is in play. I gave in and planned a southern style dinner: rosemary turkey, cornbread dressing with sausage, balsamic collard greens with sundried tomatoes, buttery garlic Brussel sprouts, buttermilk garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry-persimmon sauce, turkey ham (that’s already cooked, I just preheat) sweet potato biscuits, rosemary rolls. I even planned dessert, and I rarely make dessert, which was sweet potato pie and applesauce spice cake.
On Thanksgiving Eve I made the desserts, cranberry sauce and greens. I should have known then to scrap the whole idea and just go get some cans. After I made the cake and had it in the oven I needed J to washed the dishes so I called him in the kitchen.
“I’ll do them tomorrow!” he called out.
“No! ” I called back. “Tonight! You need to do it now!”
J stomped into the kitchen, grumbling. He did it several more times as I asked him to wash after the other things. He was mad that I was cutting into his study time although he was studying in front of the TV and toggling back and forth between a video game and his paper on the computer.
I washed the last of the dishes and finished the pies by 2am. I was tired and J had already gone to bed. But I was up by 7am to make the rolls and then the biscuits. By 9:30 I had the cornbread in the oven and was making croutons when J came downstairs looking like who did it and what for.
“Coffee,” he mumbled. “I need coffee.”
There were a few bowls in the sink so I said,” I need you to wash those.” J spun around. “I just woke up.” he whined. “Let me get some coffee first.”
“Go ahead,” I said. And he did. By 10am he was caffeinated, mouthy and ready to supervise.
“Why isn’t the turkey in the oven? What? When did you plan to make it? We won’t be eating until 10 tonight! It takes forever to cook!”
I turned my back to him as I placed some rolls on the cooking sheet. “J shut up. And if you are really worried about it why don’t you wash some dishes.” I turned around and he was gone.
We need a dishwasher instead we just have a small sink with a dish tub. We can’t just let the dishes pile up because there isn’t any room for it, although it not like J hasn’t tried. But in keeping the meal moving I can’t let the dishes get out of hand so I go and retrieve him.
J melts down, “You don’t respect me being in graduate school. I don’t have time to do all of these dishes. I was in the middle of a thought and now it’s gone.”
That crazy ass Korean! He was in the middle of watching a football game. I was 10 seconds from drop kicking his behind into the flat screen. Through clenched teeth I said, “Just wash the dishes.”
He grumbled, traisping over the the sink, mad. “I don’t see why you need all these dishes…. why did you make all these rolls, no one wants rolls… ”
“You wanted me to cook; I wanted canned food.”
“I didn’t want ro-ollls”, he said splashing in the water. I think instead of turkey we should have roasted J instead. I think of how I could have my own segment on TLC’s Snapped. It would be really creative. The sheriff would say, “I never seen anyone truss a 220lb man before and stuff him in the oven, but she did. He even had a nice golden glaze, it held up well as evidence.”
J stomps out the room after the dishes are washed. I go to him, take his hand and look him in his eyes, “Is your mantrum over?”
“I wasn’t throwing a mantrum.”
I decide to overlook the obvious. I apologize for cutting into his study time (although I note he’s still watching TV) and ask him to go to the store to buy eggs, flour, fresh rosemary and butter.
“You have flour,” he says.
“It’s almost gone.”
“You don’t need it.”
“Yes, I do.” He leaves, grumbling out the door.
J2 stays in his room most of the day, out of the way. He doesn’t know how to wash dishes because J thinks he’s too klutzy and will break them instead of washing them. He hasn’t eaten anything all day and I suspect that he’s going on a morning fast just so he can eat more when the meal is done.
By the time J comes back home I have turkey is nearly ready to go in the oven, I only need the fresh rosemary to make a quick paste. After that I spend the rest of the afternoon basting the turkey every 15 minutes along with making the brussel sprouts and dressing. The turkey is done by 3:30. I bake the rest of the food and we were ready to eat by 5pm.
Except me. After I laid out all the food on the dining room table I realized I made way too much for just three people. We live so far out that my nephews, niece and cousins wouldn’t just drop in for a plate of food –the nephew who came last year I had to go pick up. And I was tired. I sat down while the Js attacked the table, happy I decided to go the usual formalities of making them say what they were thankful for. I was drifting in and out of sleep by 5:30.
J woke me up. “Thank you,” he said sweetly. He was on his 2nd plate. He give him a frown as I try to drift back to sleep. He’s a damn spoiled ass.
It’s been just a few days and there isnt’ much left of the meal. J2 ate both sweet potato pies by himself and J has set aside pieces of cake for the women in his store. He even said the little old ladies are awaiting the assortment of muffins that I made a few years ago.
“I can’t make it with the self rising dough,” I said.
“Yes you can.”
“No, I can’t. You don’t bake you don’t know.”
“Just make the muffins for them. ”
“It’s too much work. Cricket isnt’ here to help me and I can’t use the flour.”
“I’ll take the flour.”
“It’s still too much work–”
“I’ll help you.”
Where did I hear that before?