Well, we finally nailed down our menu for Thanksgiving 2014!
Stij will, obviously, be making the turkey because of last year. Things were going along just fine until I decided to fill the cavity with cranberries.
Unfortunately, I failed to take them out of those heavy plastic bags they were packed in, and about an hour into cooking, the five bags I jammed in exploded, jet propelling the turkey from the oven like some avenging gargoyle, leaving a trail of vaporized cranberry mist in its wake. The walls looked like we were having Ted Bundy over for dinner and wanted to make him feel at home.
So this year, Stij is letting me make the soup course, because soup is the only thing I haven’t screwed up, so far.
Since I work an overnight shift for my day job, and maintain this schedule on my nights off, I figured I’d make the soup in advance and surprise him.
There were only four or five ingredients, and Stij wrote the recipe down in so much detail that a half-drowned four-year-old in Intensive Care could have understood it, and made a damned fine soup…even on a ventilator.
What could go wrong?
Do I hear sniggering out there?Anyhow, at 11:00 last night, I drove over to the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market nearby, to procure the following: Six large sweet onions, Beef base for soup, a baguette loaf of bread, and Swiss cheese.
I dashed into the store and headed for the Produce department.
They were out of onions! I was wiping away a tear when a kindly customer asked me what was wrong.
“I need onions and they’re out!”
“That’s no problem!” she declared. “Just use chives instead—same flavor. They’re right over there.”
I turned and saw a huge display of chives. I was saved!” Oh, thank you so much. You saved the day.”
Of course, I had neglected to tell her that I wanted to make French onion soup.
At any rate, I bounded over and snatched up what I thought would be the equivalent amount of chives to six large onions. I figured 100 bunches would about do it.
Before I bagged them all up, I tasted a chive. Wow! I don’t know if chives are normally this way, but these tasted like their fore-chives had had serious relationships with Jalapenoes! I mentioned this to my ‘advisor,’ after telling her I wanted to use them in soup.
Of course, I didn’t tell her the extent of how they’d be used in soup.
“Oh, that’s not a problem,” Julia Child said. Just add some potato to your soup and that will calm them down.”
So I bought a 20-lb bag.
I found the beef soup base all right, but one jar just didn’t seem like enough for the big pot I was planning to make, so I bought six, just to be sure.
No problem with the baguette, either. After the bread incident, Stij gets shaky and has to lie down whenever I mention homemade bread, so now we buy it already made.
The last thing on the list—Swiss cheese.
But that seemed so ordinary, somehow.
I made my way, instead, to the expensive cheeses and bought two pounds of a cheese from Wisconsin that looked more interesting. It was aged six months and packaged in what looked like tempered steel. With the help of another customer, I threw it into my cart.
After paying my $300 grocery bill (man, that cheese was pricey!) I headed home.
Upon arrival, I grabbed the hand truck (for the cheese) and brought it and the rest of my purchases in the house.
First, I washed all the chives, then threw them into the six gallon pot I using for the soup. I had to mash them down—100 bunches is a lot of chives! I then added the correct amount of water and set it on to simmer.
I decided to do a little writing while waiting for the next step in the soup procedure, so cranked up the computer and sat down.
About ten minutes into a short story that was going rather well, my monitor melted.
The smell was incredible and my eyes felt like they were bleeding.
I dashed to the kitchen. Man, it was a good thing I bought those potatoes!
I hastily donned the handy welder’s mask I always keep in the kitchen when I cook, and peeled potatoes faster than I ever have in my entire life. Those chives needed a lot of taming down, so I peeled all 20 pounds and threw them in—whole—then covered the pot, turned the burner up to boil, opened the front and the back doors to air out the house, and went back to work.
I got so involved in my short story, that it was two hours before I got back to the kitchen.
I opened the pot and the potatoes worked. The smell was completely gone! I got out a putty knife and scraped off a piece of soup to taste, and it wasn’t too bad, so I added the six jars of Beef soup base, a little more water, and went back to work.
My husband loves French onion soup, and I’ve seen him eat it for breakfast before, so I planned to surprise him with mine in the morning.
I checked it again at about five AM and, though kind of thick, the beef base had mixed in well, but between the chives and the soup base, it was now the color of raw sewage.
Well, the French bread and the cheese would cover it up.
An hour later, I heard the bedroom alarm clock go off, and I knew Stij would be getting up and heading directly for the shower.
Once I heard the shower running, I dashed to the kitchen, threw a slice of baguette into the toaster, then grabbed a glazed onion soup crock and spooned (well, really, ‘pried’ would be a better word) a generous portion into it. Baguette toasted, I pressed it into the surface of the soup (and it took some doing), then hauled out that cheese I bought, grabbed the steel-reinforced pull tab that had ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ printed on it, and opened it.
Jesus tap-dancing Christ! It smelled like the result of 17 drunken cats with diarrhea vomiting up a dead Wildebeest!
But I gamely spread it atop the soup.
It was great timing. Stij came dashing around the corner with a towel around his waist.
“Quick, gimmie the plunger!”
“The toilet is backing up! Can’t you smell it?”
“Uh, no…that’s not the toilet.”
“Did something die under the sink?”
Then he looked at the state of the kitchen. Then he looked at me.
“I made you some French onion soup for breakfast,” I said, proudly.
He gazed down at the bowl. “If you want to collect on my life insurance, there are more subtle, less traceable ways.”
“It’s the cheese that smells bad.”
“Yes, I noticed that your eyebrows have fallen off.”
“It’s a new kind, I think. Here it is.” I dragged over the package, and had to read the label quickly before the stench blinded me. “Limburger.”
“The Swiss are such a peaceful people—why do you not like their cheese?”
“This looked more interesting.”
“More life-threatening, maybe,” he said, grabbing a heavy-duty trash bag. “Throw it in.” He tied it up and put it outside. It only took a moment or two before every single bird fell, stone dead, out of our tree.
“I told you those bags aren’t heavy duty,” I said.
“They aren’t made for toxic waste.”
Back in the kitchen, Stij took the lid off the pot, stirred the soup, and got his cardio in at the same time.
“Congratulations,” he said. “You’ve made beef flavored spackle.”
I think we’ll be eating out this year.