Hell of a Guy

Parsnips, Rutabaga, Kale and another Thanksgiving


The Nancy and I get to spend our second Thanksgiving at the Millennium3 Farm, nestled between the Sleepy Creek and Cacapon mountains.  We are so looking forward to having guests here in our home and sharing some meager victuals with them.

Unfortunately, not all our invited guests are going to make it to be with us this year.  Our oldest and youngest are both RNs and will be working Thanksgiving Day supporting others.  So their work schedule keeps seven of our family members from being here.  The middle daughter’s husband’s birthday in the 23rd and they will spend the day, a tradition at their house, with his parents and family.  Some invitees have other issues that are causing them not to be able to be with us.  So now it appears we will be down to about eleven instead of the twenty six we thought we might have…or were hoping to have.  This will make it a little easier but not nearly as much fun.

The turkey and other stuff are all purchased and ready for action.  As I speak the bird and a half (breast) is brining in a refrigerator in the basement.  I made a chestnut stuffing, meatless of course, for me and the more adventurous souls.  Monday I baked four pies – two of which look very much like I made them, both are a little lopsided.  Sunday I got four dozen potato rolls made and ready to serve – just need a little heat in them.  Tomorrow it’s sweet potato casserole.  I’ll roast the turkey breast on Wednesday and “Big Bird” Thursday morning, just so the smell of roasting turkey hits the arriving guests as they enter our home on Thanksgiving.  Kind of takes me back to Thanksgivings when I was growing up.

My mother, God bless her, was not a great cook.  I think she could have been, but it was never her passion.  Thanksgiving dinner consisted of the mundane: over done turkey (dry and grainy) stuffed with very moist dressing, watery gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe some carrots and peas, and the requisite store-bought pumpkin pie.  We grew up thinking this was the way the meal was supposed to taste and that it was the traditional meal.  Since we didn’t have any others to gauge, this one was perfect.  No one ever died or even got sick when my mother cooked.  Everything was cooked beyond thorough.

I began to cook early on.  My mother always told me if I didn’t like what she fixed, fix my own.  I often did just that.  I began to cook in earnest when my first wife was pregnant with our first child.  Once that happened I began to cook a lot and I also began to love it.  When I moved into an apartment alone, I began cooking all the time and experimented with a wide range of stir fries and soups.  It wasn’t until I quit eating animal flesh in 1995 that I really began to “cook,” as Emeril says.  Cook books dotted my counter tops, recipes were cut from magazines and saved.  I can do good soup.  Hell, I thought this morning about assembling all my favorite recipes and putting together a cook book, more a cook pamphlet.  I am not good at originated dishes, but I can follow a recipe.

Nancy enjoys cooking about as much as my mother.  She has no issue with me playing in the kitchen.  She allows me to plan our meals and is happy with them as long as there is a hunk of critter on her plate (palm size to meet the government’s standard).  Nancy has had a tremendous effect on my cooking skill or whatever the hell one would call it.  I do love to play in the kitchen.  Nancy is content to sit at the kitchen counter with a crossword puzzle as I mess up the counters, floor and cabinet doors with flour and grease, bits and pieces of onion and potato and carrots and whatever else is on the cutting board, and lot of pots, pans and dishes.  Passion is in direct proportion to the mess created in the work area…at least in my case.

Things I would have never dreamed of putting in my mouth as a kid seem to thrill me these days.  I love spinach.  I never ate it as a kid.  I so remember my dad saying “try it.”  Me so wanting to say, “I ain’t eating that shit.”  But convention kept me from it and so did the thought of a dad backhander.  He ate some weird stuff like collard and mustard greens, kale, turnip greens and loved them all.  I couldn’t get past the look (they were always cooked into a mushy looking substance reminding me of something a newborn would pass anally).

I have grown so much.  Today one of my favorite root vegetables is rutabaga (aka Swede).  I adore parsnips and Swiss chard.  Celery root makes an excellent bisque and adds a succulent flavor to other soups and mashed potatoes.  Garlic is something my mother would never have thought about using in any dish.  The Nancy and I buy it almost every time we shop.  I love to hang out in the produce section at the grocery store – that is any but the Food Lion…theirs sucks big time. 

I suppose the point of all this babbling is that one should never limit themselves (big talk for a guy who won’t eat critter any longer) whether it be in what they eat or what they do.

Gee!  I think I’ll go sky diving, and that is all I have to say about that…   

Next entry: And on to December… Previous entry: My Definition of a Good Day and Today’s Test

I haven’t been to your website for quite awhile.  Thought I would get caught up on David T. and The Nancy.  Enjoy Thanksgiving and half a house-full.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  09:02 PM

Trust me, I regret not being able to come this year, as I do every year. We are eating at 12:30pm - we shall rename it “Thanksgiving Brunch”.

I do have one comment about one thing you said: “Passion is in direct proportion to the mess created in the work area…at least in my case.”

I have never known a more anally retentive chef. If Phil Hartman were alive, he could do a skit about you in particular—David, the Anal Retentive Cook. Of course, I learned the White clean-as-you-go philosophy from you.

If you allowed yourself a chance to sit down before cleaning up, I might fall over. If dishes were given the opportunity to rest comfortably on the table for more than a few minutes past their empty stage, my jaw would hit the floor.

But in reality, Dad, your kitchen is no more chaotic than your car, your living room or the neatly arranged bookshelves in your home.

Posted by Meredith  on  11/20  at  09:23 PM

I too regret that I won’t be there. You are the best chef I know. When we visit, we hope we aren’t going out so we can see what you will whip up for us! I must second my sister’s comment….there is NEVER a mess in your house, kitchen or otherwise! Have a great day and I’ll look forward to having you here over Christmas. Vivienne is going to LOVE it this year, and I can’t wait to watch her in all of her innocent, joyful glory.
I love you!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  07:22 PM

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