By Stewart Dobson
Just because you like to cook, which I do, doesn’t mean you’re always good at it.
I say that because the results of my turns in the kitchen depend on how creative I feel at the time. The more creative I think I am, the greater the odds are that I will produce the next “As seen on TV miracle waterproofing material.”
Because I prefer to wing it over actually trying to learn what works and what doesn’t, things can get ugly.
As interesting and entertaining as it might sound, for instance, a cored-out potato stuffed with raw hamburger and then baked will result in a big yak attack.
For whatever reason, stupidity being one possibility, I failed to consider the grease absorption factor, which was somewhere between monumental and Pepto Bismol. Think baked potato with Permalube stuffing.
The real subject here, of course, is the Thanksgiving feast, in which I am not allowed to participate, except for doing things that can’t be made nasty. Gravy comes to mind.
The inevitable strange table fare, however, still appears courtesy of others. It is the one day, after all, when someone can present that singular dish that would normally result in a “what the …?” moment at any other time of year.
Take any recipe that includes among its steps: “Add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup.” Mushroom soup alone is enough to make me issue a noise that sounds like “yogurt” without the vowels.
For whatever reason, and despite assurances from others that “it’s really good, you don’t know what you’re missing” I would just as soon make broth in the bird bath as eat that stuff. I’m just finicky that way.
Even so and without any regard to my needs, my sister would routinely construct her “casserole supreme,” which, if I am not mistaken, combined all the elements in the periodic table with mushroom soup and a sprinkling of those canned fried onions.
Some of our annual Thanksgiving Day participants would actually say, “Yum,” which indicated that either they had gone without food for the last two months and would have wrestled the dog for the last Meaty Bone, or their taste buds had been hijacked and were being held for ransom by Somalian warlords.
This is not to say that I haven’t created my own highly creative monsters, having fashioned what the recipe said was “The All-Time Best Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing With Bourbon.”
The short version of this decades old debacle is that the ingredients included all known fruit and vegetable matter on the earth, with the exception of mushrooms, but added a fair amount of whiskey. Then: stuff turkey, using a battering ram if necessary, cook, serve and enjoy.
Except that the subsequent huge orb of dressing not only looked like a basketball and tasted like a basketball, but Kevin Durant could have dunked it like a basketball without loosening one crumb of it. It had the density of weapons grade plutonium and even now it is probably radiating away in a salt mine somewhere in Utah.
Luckily, I did not use all the whiskey called for in the recipe, having set some aside just in case.
Suffice to say it isn’t good when you eat stuffing that requires a whiskey chaser.
As a result, I don’t do stuffing anymore, but concentrate instead on plain old gravy, while allowing others to do the big jobs. Still, I have been thinking of spicing up the gravy a little come Christmas time. I have plenty of time to create a recipe and am well aware, given the stuffing episode, that gravy is not good if it bounces back at you.