Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Nasties

My first big Thanksgiving endeavor I was a brave, brave girl.  I invited not only my mom and her best friend over to our duplex with a 7 x 7 (maybe) galley kitchen, I invited my in law parents as well.
I insisted we cook everything.  From scratch, of course.

Oh, and I was 23.

I begged my mom to come over and help.  Believe me, there was no way I could get it done by myself.  Hubs hadn't developed his love of the kitchen yet and although he was always helpful, we needed the precious real estate to maneuver all these dishes in and out of the oven (which was across from the sink so mom and I could stand butt to butt for hours on end).

I did have an advantage.  I had watched my mom cook Thanksgiving feasts my whole life.  Not just "hung around the smells" kind of watching.... staring intently, trying to soak up the knowledge of how she could amazingly get everything perfectly cooked on the table at the same time.

That has always been my end goal as a cook - how to get it all done and presented beautifully.  I have to admit I'm a little bit anal about it and freak out when it doesn't go my way.

4 am, we started a pot of coffee.  Or maybe even another one, I can't remember.  My mother could drink coffee 24/7 and did.  She bequeathed that awesome skill to my bestie who gulps caffeine goodness all day and night.

I was insistent to handle the bird.  I wanted to be able to say I did it.  Pulling the bag from the inside, I turned to chuck it in the trash when my mom slapped at me furiously (yes, she did that a lot).

"STOP!  Don't throw that away!"

"Isn't it just the neck and insides, mom?  The yucky stuff?"

"It's the gold, dear.  We have to use it to make everything taste good.  Get me a pot."

Confused, I lean over to grab a stockpot.  I watch intrepidly as she fills it with cold water, empties the contents of the nasty bag into it and sets it on the stove over the flame.

"We have to make a stock, you know... broth."

Oooh.  Broth.  Okay, I think I'd heard of that somewhere.  

{I can't help but laugh as I type this... my daughter and I would laugh now at such foolishness.  Everyone knows all you have to do is Google it.....}

We played dice at the table, her drinking coffee with clouds and me I'm sure drinking a RED coca cola (my staple in my early 20's) waiting.  The bird was cooking, the nasties were simmering and all was good in the world.  Hubs and Bubba emerged for the morning to smells of goodness all around.

And then, it was time.

We entered the kitchen to deal with the nasties.  Grabbing a colander and a bowl, I strained the golden juice from the pan.  I have to admit, it did smell amazingly yummy.  She was right.  Damnit, she was always right.

As I stepped towards the trash with the icky remnants, she grabbed me once again.

"Little lady, where do you think you are going with that?"

"It's trash, mom!  I'm going to the trash!"

"Nope, get back over here with that right now."

I handed her the colander and stood back in horror.  Her hands sifted through the mess, pulling out the heart, the kidneys, the liver.  As she handed me back the colander with the neck and lungs still present, I pushed down the bile rising in my throat.  I turned and chucked the nasties into the trash, wishing I could just jam them down a garbage disposal (of which we didn't have at that time).

Yielding a knife, she went to work chopping the organs into teeny, tiny pieces.  I was horrified - what in the hell was she doing?  She scooped up her prize possessions and threw them straight into the pyrex pan holding the bread cubes.

The stuffing.  She put that icky crap into the stuffing.

"Mom, what are you doing?!  You can't put that nasty stuff in there!"

"My dear, you have eaten my stuffing since you were born.  Do you think I just made this up for your benefit today?  This is my recipe and has been for years.... and you love it."

Gasp.  I almost wanted to cry.  Actually, I think I may have.

All those years she had lied.  Well, did she?  She never told me that junk was in there but then again, I never noticed.

I watched as she ladled our golden juice into the stuffing as well, tossing it together and covering it with foil.  She smiled as she popped it into the oven and returned to her spot at the table, lifting her coffee with a final sly grin.


The dinner was a hit.  We were cramped and crowded, with only one bathroom for 7 people and less than 500 sq ft.  We laughed, we ate and we loved.

And we even ate the stuffing.  All of it.  Oh, and the juice also went in the awesome gravy, too....

I am thankful for that experience and the other 18 Thanksgivings that followed it.  I have always loved this day and always will.  I miss my mom especially on this day but cannot help but reflect on our laughs, our jokes (almost always inappropriate) and our love for one another.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and family.  I am thankful for YOU.


1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving ! I couldn't bring myself to put the nasties in my stuffing. Lol
    We need to get together soon!