Good afternoon my darlings. I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween. I always like to think of Halloween as the fun kick off to the holidays. The candy fueled, costumed fun-fest before the more serious minded holidays arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the upcoming holidays. I love picking out just the right gift and because I limit my cooking to more healthy options I love the mass baking and preparing of the feast. Actually that is the one thing that I really don’t like about my weight loss plan.
I don’t get to bake as much.
I know, part of the reason for the weigh gain was me trying to perfect baking recipes in the first place. Hence the limiting. But all that is off for the holidays. Especially since there will be more people around so the portion size I consume will be much smaller.
However there is always something special about Halloween. Sure there may be candy that not every child can eat lurking in the candy bag, but no one shows up and asks for the organic origins of the kit kat bar.
This morning was the annual family conference call about the upcoming holidays. It was a bit more interesting than in years past. We always plan the meeting for the first of November. we then break down the upcoming holidays (from Thanksgiving to Easter actually) based on who is hosting, who will actually be traveling to the gathering (versus those who will not be able to make it in person) and of course who is bringing what. I host Easter typically so I typically just bring pies to Thanksgiving. this year since my mother had the operation and is still healing I am bringing the pies and coming home a day early to take care of the turkey.
Part of the discussion is the inevitable food allergies. Everyone likes sticking with tradition but no one wants to risk a hospital visit. We even have a couple of vegan options for a couple of vegan family members. In fact part of the discussion was making sure there were enough options so that it is a decadent feast for the vegans attending as well as the omnivores.
However there was one person who decided to use this as an opportunity to jump in. She had very specific ingredients she wanted for specific items. She wanted items substituted for ones she felt were better. While I have plenty of my own food specifics I don’t actually mind that, however it is amusing that the person wanting the substitutions doesn’t cook. I mean at all, flat out doesn’t cook. I agree with going organic and sustainable and agree with that side, but some of her suggestions didn’t quite work because she doesn’t cook and didn’t seem to really get how recipe substitutions work in some cases.
Most of it had little do do with me (other than the fact that i will be eating).. It was the apple pie that was my issue though as that is on the list of things I am usually responsible for. For my apple pie I use granny smiths because I like the tartness to balance the sweet and I like the texture when it cooks up. Also we have a local orchard that sells them at the right time of year so it is kind of a win win.
She too wanted a specific apple. She wanted to use Pink Lady apples, and specifically Pink Lady apples from a specific farm. Personally while I like to eat pink lady apples I find I don’t like the texture when I bake them in a pie. in addition with all of the other cooking done on Thanksgiving, i tend to bake my pies at my house and then put them in the cooler and drive them down rather than baking them. So while i don’t mind changing apples if it is wanted by everyone, I’m still going to use apples i can get locally rather than use specific apples grown several hundred miles away.
I didn’t actually get to voice any comments, polite or otherwise. I would have been polite, but I did not get the chance. By this point there had already been the great mashed potato discussion and the disastrous Brussel’s Sprout talk.
Here is a hint for free, if you have an English woman in her mid seventies at your family gathering whose one culinary achievement is her her Brussel’s sprouts and it is the one dish she presents year after year flawlessly and feels it is the one thing that redeems traditional British cuisine in the face of potential commentary from the French side of the family, leave the recipe alone. That is her dish and you need to leave it be.
First of all, they are delicious. Second, it is her dish and you just need to walk away.
Yeah so things were pretty tense by the time we got to pie. I was just going to agree and let it go, maybe look for the name of the orchard she uses at the store if i needed to. but we have a 98 year old woman from my mother’s church who has more or less been adopted into the family and spends all holiday meals with us. And has for at least 20 years. (our big gatherings tend to be a mix of family, friends and people who can’t get home for the holiday. It is always a bit wild.)
Anyway before i could say anything about the pie, Miss Emily sweetly suggested that with so many detailed elements thought through that perhaps it would be best if i didn’t make the apple pie this year since I am also taking on the turkey. There was a chorus of agreement that was impossible to refuse. I’m still making the chocolate mouse pie, the mince pie, and the pecan pie in case you are wondering.
But someone else is going to be making their first apple pie.
Which might prove interesting.
I know this is me making fun of someone a bit, and I do feel a little mean about it. But here is the thing. I am willing to work with you on allergies and food choices (like veganism, or vegetarianism). that doesn’t bother me, and truthfully I don’t think such a discussion should bother anyone. The real tradition is the gathering.
Food changes. It changes slowly, but it still changes even if it is traditional. An apple pie may be traditional with our family, but I know that the spices I put in and that are liked by the people who are eating it now aren’t the same spices my grandmother put in when she made the pie and might not have been appreciated when she started making apple pie.
I am already anticipating commentary on the way I make the turkey versus how other people have made it in the past. I have accepted i will have at least three older women watching everything I do when i cook. but I also know, they will eat it when all is said and done and whatever I do differently will be more or less forgotten by the time we all sit down to eat.
It is a meal prepared by many and enjoyed as a singular group. If there is something you don’t eat, don’t put it on the plate. (Its why there are enough options for everyone to get a full meal regardless of what they do and don’t eat. And honestly there will be mass left overs divides among everyone before they are allowed to leave so there is clearly plenty). Yes, there will be things that are done differently from how you would do them. That is inevitable. So you either accept that, avoid the dish, or accept that you might be the one required to make it.
I can’t feel too high minded about passing on a lesson it took me a really long time to learn, because while I was polite I did get a bit of a petty thrill when Miss Emily transferred the apple pie out of my kitchen. But it is a lesson that helps me survive the holidays and actually remembering it takes off a lot of unnecessary stress from the season.
The tradition is the gathering, the love and the sharing. Everything else is a detail that doesn’t really matter.
That thought helps me out during the more stressful holiday seasons and I hope it helps you out. It is my one piece of wisdom.
Well that and don’t mess with the Brussel Sprouts.
There was no makeup today as the conversation took longer than expected this year. And so with this i will leave you and get back to work. have a great day.