Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Holiday Meals

Holiday family meals were rarely high on my favorite memories list. If I really focus intently I can squeeze out lingering tastes of stuffed celery with cream cheese and pecans with a tad of mayo and paprika. And then there were the stuffed prunes with a dollop of cream cheese topped with a pecan or walnut half. Many of us love a moist cooked turkey with a good gravy. My Mom is the Queen of Stuffing, or Dressing in her book. I have yet to taste any better, especially West of the Mississippi. Her simple combination of dried cornbread, celery, onion, sage, eggs and broth, are always just right. The fresher and crisper the veggies are cooked, the better, whether green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, of course that wasn’t the case in my former days in the south. I have yet to understand everyone’s passion for all the carbs, especially at holiday dinners. Mashed potatoes, mashed yams/sweet potatoes, mashed squash of some sort, all in the same meal, when you probably already have stuffing and gravy. Where to put the pie??
My Aunt Mae Ellis was always known as the great cook of the family as I was growing up. The truth was she would starve everyone to death by filling us with alcohol until most any morsel was heavenly. We did love her food though, at those big family gatherings, especially in the summer, when my Uncle Roy would feed us from his abundant garden, of which he was known for his hot peppers. Now as I look back, I wonder if he was teasing those siblings, my aunt, my dad, another aunt, and two step-uncles. They would all see who could eat the hottest peppers, all the while my uncle saying he didn’t dislike himself that much, he never partook. Nor did my Mom. There was wonderful corn from that garden, usually we’d do it on the cob, but sometimes my mom would insist on creaming it, which was always a sugary treat. The corn rarely made it to Thanksgiving.
Even before health food, my aunt’s cooking angel bubble burst, when I discovered her au gratin potatoes we all loved came from a box.
But it was usually a gastronomically satisfying time, unless too much alcohol was consumed, which it usually was, then a family feud of usually the same ole stuff would ensue.
Time to take my tummy full of treasures and disappear.

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