So there I was, in the kitchen, standing over a mixing bowl of God only knows what. It’s an odd sighting when I’m in the kitchen doing something other than looking for food in the fridge. I usually just stand there waiting for something to magically appear, while the cold escapes from the open door, but the shelves still remain empty. I figure if I stand there long enough, something will materialize that I’m not seeing. Sometimes I shut the door and open it again, giving the hidden food time to make its way to the front of the fridge. That rarely happens. Grocery shopping would probably rectify that problem. Short term, anyway.
Strangely enough I volunteered to make a dish for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not quite sure I know what possessed me to volunteer…considering I don’t cook, let alone cook for 11 people. I guess since most of the guests were my family, I figured I should probably contribute. I couldn’t just say I would bring dessert…no…I had to offer to do something I had rarely done my entire life…follow a recipe. And when I say follow a recipe…I mean I had to Google half the ingredients to see exactly what they were in order to understand what the hell the recipe was asking for. And I was cooking something I would never eat if it was the last edible item on earth…sweet potato pudding. As a kid, I just picked off the half-burnt marshmallows when no one was looking, and shoved them in my mouth. I would wipe off the icky orange stuff first, though, before popping the fluff in my mouth. For some reason, the adults never questioned why my cheeks were so puffy after dinner. They probably knew I was storing the missing marshmallows for later, yet I thought I was being ever so sly.
But most people love sweet potato pudding…so I decided I would attempt to surprise myself and hopefully produce a dish that was somewhat edible. I was fortunate enough to run into a friend at the market while I was shopping for the necessary items for my cooking venture, since I hadn’t seen a sign for sweet potatoes and was wandering around like a prisoner looking for an escape route. I did see yams so I was able to ask her, without feeling like a total idiot, if they were the same thing. I thought they were, but she said yams were sweeter. I must say…I was quite proud of myself for knowing they were at least in the same family.
I gathered all the ingredients that the recipe I stole off the internet required, with a little help from my friend. Why I didn’t just ask my mom for her recipe is still baffling me. Everyone always raved about my mom’s sweet potato pudding, but no…I decided to seek out my own, being the risk taker that I am. I guess I wouldn’t know if it was good or not since I think sweet potatoes are gross anyway, so tasting the finished product would do me no good. Therefore, once that dish was finished…I wouldn’t know how it was until everyone started eating it. If they turned green or started barfing, I’d have my answer.
There were a few different recipes on line that I checked out. Based on the ingredients and difficulty level, I decided which one I would tackle. One of them had 2 teaspoons of grated orange peel. Huh? How does that one work? I can’t even picture that in my head. You peel an orange and grate the skin until it’s just like pencil shavings? Is that right? That wasn’t gonna happen. Way too much work and I would end up scraping off half my knuckles and instead of orange peel…it would be 2 teaspoons of shaved skin. I decided to save my guests from eating half my fingers so I used orange juice - store bought. I certainly wasn’t about to stand there and squeeze oranges. Wow…cooking sure is exhausting. Actually, just reading the recipe was exhausting.
Another one had 3 cups of mashed potatoes. Please tell me how I was supposed to know how many potatoes I needed to mash if they were telling me 3 cups, but not telling me how many potatoes that was? That meant that I had to guess how many potatoes to boil and then if I didn’t make enough, I’d have to do it all again and cook more to find out that I still may not have had enough? Couldn’t they just say ‘boil 5 potatoes’ for so and so amount? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Who do they think I am…Giada De Laurentiis? (Impressed that I even knew who that was? I didn't...I had to Google 'female cook.')
Well…I wasn’t about to take on that guessing game…so I just kept thinking, “What would Carol Brady do?”
She would ask Alice, but I didn’t have an Alice, so I just looked for the simplest recipe with the most ingredients that I knew of. I mean…I don’t know a spice from an herb… [And I just had to Google that to see if there was even a difference between herbs and spices as I was writing this.] The only spices I know are salt, pepper, Posh and cinnamon. I wanted to find one which had an abundant amount of sugar and the least work possible. How can you go wrong when there’s sugar…and an ungodly amount at that? If it doesn’t taste like a side dish at least it will taste like dessert. So of course I looked for a recipe where everyone looks for recipes...
I boiled the 6 yams til they were 'mash' ready. I have to say...the smell was nauseating. I don't know how anyone eats that crap. I smashed the shit out of them...added the 18 lbs of white sugar; the 16 lbs of brown sugar; the 10 lbs of butter; a cup of OJ; a teaspoon of vanilla and 4 beaten eggs, which I beat the shit out of, too. I think cooking is just not my thing, but probably quite cathartic if you have some anger issues.
I spread it in a casserole dish (had to Google that, too) and shoved it in the oven. There was no direction on putting marshmallows on top so I decided to take an educated guess. HA! Educated guess when it comes to cooking for me is hilarious. You may as well ask me how to perform open heart surgery. That guess would probably be more accurate.
Once the timer went off, I took it from the oven and let it cool until we left. It looked like it may be good. Let’s just say it looked presentable and I didn’t make it look like someone threw up in a dish. That to me was success. [As was not grabbing it right from the oven with bare hands.]
Once we arrived at our dinner destination, I popped the casserole in the oven with 2 bags of marshmallows laid out perfectly on top. I think there were enough marshmallows...
We all sat down to dinner and everything was scrumptious. And my casserole? I can't begin to tell you what a hit it was. I even tasted it after much coaxing...and it was fabulous. I was actually eating yams. Shocking...just shocking! Shortly after though...
Do you think there may have been just a tad too much sugar?
And for their parting gifts...
Just in case!