Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Closer now

I don't understand why people planning a trip expect the person they're visiting to finalize their plans. Doesn't make sense to me.

Beanie didn't even know when they were supposed to get here on Saturday and it looks like Carol is making all the arrangements, at leas that is what it looks like. They don't have any idea what hotel they'll stay in when they get here or what rental company to use for their car. They know when they're leaving on Thursday and how long they'll lay over in Chicago, but everything else seems a bit fuzzy. I called the bus terminal here to find out if there was a rental car agency near by (Enterprise just three blocks down) and called around town to find good rates on a hotel. It isn't that I mind, but you'd think since they have known where they're going and when they'll get here they should have figured all of this out, but...no. Only four more days until they get here.

At least we solved the issue of the oatmeal cake. Beanie makes the best oatmeal cake with broiled coconut-walnut-brown sugar topping. She was going to surprise me and bring it with her but I convinced her it would be better to buy the ingredients here so it would be fresh from the oven (the apartment will smell like oatmeal cake and spices) and Mom wouldn't have snitched the corners already. She can make it when Mom and Carol are at the motel.

Mom informed me yesterday that as soon as she gets here she wants to go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients for me to make her salmon patties with horseradish cream sauce. I knew that was coming. I also promised Beanie I'd make crab cakes and gumbo for her since she hasn't had them since I left Columbus, and that was seven years ago. You'd think the only reason they're coming to visit is for me to cook for them, not that I mind. Almost everyone in our family has a specialty.

Mom makes the best crazy cake you every had, which is definitely old fashioned death by chocolate. She has a special pan for it. She's not so hot when it comes to baked beans. They're good, but inconsistent, sometimes soupy and other times dry and nearly burnt. Mom's specialty seems to be desserts which is a feat when you consider she couldn't boil water when she married Dad. Now Dad is a chef extraordinaire and everything he makes is excellent. I can't think of anything that he doesn't make well or any one special thing; everything is special. Thanksgiving is Dad's day to really shine though. His turkey is always moist and flavorful and the dressing absolutely superb alongside Mom's baked beans (the bacon on top is always good no matter how the beans turn out). Mom usually adds a side of candied yams to the mix that turn out much like the beans, inconsistent but tasty.

My brother makes a really good peach cobbler. It's not nearly as good as Gram's but it's definitely close. He also does home baked breads that are surprisingly good. Beanie, of course, is the queen of oatmeal cake, which leaves me. Basically, I'm a really good cook and can make anything, except for Grandpa's homemade vegetable beef soup. I haven't cracked that recipe yet. Beanie would say my specialty is crab cakes and sausage-smoked turkey gumbo and Mom would say it's salmon patties.

The funny thing about the salmon patties is that about 25 years ago I had Mom, Gram, Aunt Joan and Dad over to dinner and salmon patties were part of the entree. I also made a lemon dessert souffle that had my Aunt Joan scraping the bowl when everyone had had their fill. Mom said she wouldn't eat salmon patties, that she hated them because Gram made her eat them when she was a kid. I asked that she try them and for the sake of being nice she did. The result is that she ate four of them and took the leftovers home, along with the horseradish sauce. Since then she has asked for them every time we have a family dinner (or when she comes to visit) and she maintains that if I would make salmon patties for the men I date they would all ask me to marry them. Maybe that's the problem; I haven't made any of them salmon patties, but there have been guys who have tasted my food and said they'd marry me sight unseen because of my cooking, which is a pretty decent compliment.

One guy I dated for a couple years told me once that he would marry the woman who could crack the recipe for his aunt's family dinner treat -- almonds. The first time he told me about them he got this gleam of naked desire in his eyes as he described the way they popped softly in your mouth with just a hint of salt. I asked him how they looked and if he had tried to crack the recipe and he had. He had also had both his wives work on the recipe but they couldn't get it just right. I have finally cracked the code. Of course, I can't tell him that because he's in Cleveland and I'm here and neither of us is budging, but I think for the holidays I may send him a tin of almonds anonymously. I don't need to know if he liked them because I already know I have figured out the recipe and I will not reveal it to him. It's really fairly simple if you know about food and how different methods affect ingredients -- and I do.

Food is on my mind this morning because of the landlady's generosity yesterday. She invited me down for grilled hamburgers (no hormones, no antibiotics, free range and organically raised) with melted Havarti cheese, sesame seed buns and salad. When it was time for me to go back to work she loaded me down with hamburger patties, pork chops, French baguette, caponata and some of her homemade vegetable soup. The smell of cooking pork while I typed was too much for me and so ...

Anyway, it's time for me to get back to work since the little baguette piece and pork chop are now gone and there is work waiting to be done. The air is scented with spicy smoked scented autumn coming through the windows mingling with cooked pork chop and almond dish detergent (I did the dishes while I cooked) and I'd rather curl up here on the sofa and drown in the scent but work calls. I have to get the jobs before the sharks back in New Jersey and New York beat me to it. No work, no money and thus no food in the house or a house to cook the food in. Funny how that works.

That is all. Disperse.

No comments: