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RSincere
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My mom's cooking style is that of a midwestern 1950s woman complete with Campbells Soup, onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt substituted for onion, garlic, and celery.

I wrote her an email flat-out begging her to assign a couple dishes or desserts to me for Thanksgiving. I explained how I wanted a distraction and would have so much fun perusing my cookbooks and deciding what to make.

She wrote back in all seriousness and asked me to make Jello Jigglers. :hmmm: And maybe something with carrot so that there's color at the table.

I wrote her back and said, "I have 60 cookbooks and you're asking me to make Jigglers? Who in the what now?!" Still have yet to hear from her. If I'm lucky, I'll get to make the green bean casserole. :raz:

Anyone else not allowed to contribute in a meaningful way, even though you want to?

Am I the only 31-year-old who will be sitting at the kids' table this year?

----

I want to add that I do realize that someday I will feel that I'd give anything just to have my mom around for Thanksgiving again. However, that will not stop me from bitching while she's still around. :raz:

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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You need a gradual approach. Don't allow yourself to be shooed out of the kitchen. When Mom starts something, offer to finish it for her. Do dishes if she won't let you do anything else. Eventually you'll wear her down.

Not only does Mom allow me to contribute in a meaningful way, she actually sous-chefs and allows me to manage kitchen operations as the chief decision-maker when I come home. She's a good cook, but she recognizes that I'm better. And we have a lifetime of cooking together that makes it easy and comfortable to be in the same kitchen at the same time. :wub:

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My mom is great with letting me help with holiday dinners. I always make the desserts since she stopped baking a long time ago. Usually, she makes the Chinese dishes that we all love (like sticky rice) and I make the western-style dishes (like my favorite sausage, artichoke, and sourdough stuffing). Before the day, she will ask me for a list of ingredients I need to make the dishes I've planned, and she will even do the grocery shopping! :biggrin:

Edited by Ling (log)
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I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My mom can cook. Really cook. I would pay extremely good money to eat what she puts on the table.

But, even if she couldn't, I would still be glad to sit at her table and I hope that I get to do that for many, many years to come.

And no, she still won't let any of us cook-even though a couple of us boy can handle it as well as she can, at this point. But that's ok by me. I'll have my boys at my house someday and they won't be able to cook because I won't let them. I 'll have my time. I'm just glad I have then one with my mom now, you know?

But I know exactly how you feel, and believe me, I used to fight it (til I was about your age, 15 years later I am happy enough to accept it and get on with my life) :laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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My mom cooks in the same way as yours, RSincere, but luckily she likes to be relieved of the task of entertaining. What my parents may not like as well is my need to be in control of all the cooking at all family gatherings-I won't LET them make anything anymore. I'm always appalled at what my parents will serve to guests (old coffee heated up in the microwave! Gravy from an instant mix! Foods that are CLEARLY well past their prime ie brown lettuce!) and I think they are a little hurt about this. It may be insensitive, but I completely ignore any hurt feelings they may have as I put them in charge of supplying wine and only wine.

Edited by kiliki (log)
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My mom was a good cook and her holiday meals were wonderful. She also loved my cooking and not only didn't mind when I brought dishes to meals she hosted, she also welcomed it when I became the family hostess for a number of years. I miss her so much!

Rachel, take them by surprise and show up with something with a nice 'wow' factor. How could anyone resist a delicious dish, made with love?

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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As far as I recall it, it was tough getting my mother to let me cook for Christmas as young adult, because she was having a hard time getting anything delegated to her from HER mother :raz: .

The bird was always the job of the person whose home the meal was served at. My mother made the Christmas cake and pudding. Vegetables and special sauces (other than gravy) were my job. Eventually I got to do the stuffing for the bird as well. :smile:

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My father might or might not let me do any cooking. I think he'd probably rather do all the cooking himself and will be happy for me to wash dishes, do some prep work, perhaps do some basting or stirring, and find whatever spices he needs that are in the spice cupboard. My father is a very good cook, though, better than I am, so I don't have the problem some of you do. My mother is also a very good cook, possibly still a bit better than my father, but after having been the primary cook for about 40 years, she usually doesn't cook nowadays and is delighted to relax and have dinner served to her.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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My mother is also a very good cook. She's the boss on Thanksgiving. There's usually a team of us in the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving and the day of, cooking up a storm, same folks almost every year. We've each developed our own specialties, but the mother is *clearly* in charge. No deviations from the plan are allowed, but suggestions are welcome. For some reason, she always takes control of the soup and the chicken & dumplings... nobody else gets to touch 'em. Except when we sneak tastes behind her back.

I almost always do most of the desserts (not only at Thanksgiving, but at most family gatherings), particularly the more time-consuming or difficult ones. As a result, over the years, I've gotten fairly good at baking for a home cook. I'm pretty anal about following the recipe and mapping it out, so she knows if she gives me a centerpiece cake that will take all day, I'll get it done to the letter, and I'm fairly creative about decorating.

This does not extend to the fruit pies...I am not allowed to do them. Even though I make better crust than the neighbor who does them year after year. It's a political thing. She makes the fruit pies every year, and would be hurt if she wasn't asked to make them.

I never get to touch the side dishes. There's a neighbor and an aunt that are usually in charge of that.

Either the kids or the men are in charge of cleaning and prep work. My father can cook, but it would be 2005 before it was ready. Each dice of onion would be exactly the same size. And every dish in the house would be dirty.

Another neighbor can't really cook, so she always does the decorations, and she really gets into it.

I was allowed to *host* Thanksgiving one year. IMHO, it was a commendable first attempt (most of my screw-ups were timing related in terms of food being ready all at the same time). However, I don't think I'll ever be allowed to host again, because of the loss of control on my mother's part. She was definitely agitated because I was in charge and she wasn't in command!

However, because I had an outstanding turkey, and I'm obsessive-compulsive, I have now graduated to being responsible for *one* of the turkeys. My uncle is responsible for the other, so we have a little competition going year after year.

ETA that I also had a very good soup, that the mother tried to duplicate the following year. She wouldn't let me touch it, so it didn't turn out the same. Heh.

On the other hand, we have my sister, who strategically screws up several easy recipes (like chocolate chip cookies... oh, did they need a whole stick of butter?), thereby convincing the mother that she can't cook, and getting out of all cooking duties. She's usually just in charge of monitoring my father and making sure he's not in the way.

Edited by viva (log)

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Lots of great input!

I did some thinking, and realized that at other Thanksgivings I was asked to bring food. However, it was always because it was gimmick food, for lack of a better term. I was a strict vegetarian for many years, so my mom would ask me to bring a few vegetarian dishes so that my own family would have something to eat. Then, a couple of years ago I was low-carbing, so two Thanksgivings in a row my mom asked me to bring sugar-free desserts so my diabetic uncle could have something. Now that I don't have a "gimmick," I'm relegated to Jello Jigglers. Hmmmmm. Maybe I can exploit this angle somehow.

The thing is, I have never, ever thought of my mom as a control freak. She's always been the kind of person who puts everyone else first, she volunteers in so many different directions, and she never insists on having her own way. But I remember a big to-do last year because my sister-in-law, who is a very good cook, insisted on doing Thanksgiving at her house last year. But my mom wouldn't go there on Thanksgiving because mom's dad lives in town and wouldn't be able to travel to my brother's house, and she didn't want him to be home alone on the holiday. So we had the big meal on the actual day at my parents' house, then the next day traveled to my brother's so sis-in-law could have her moment.

I think I'll take your suggestions and figure out something to just bring. I'll definitely make a sugar-free dessert for my uncle, otherwise he won't get anything, and try to figure out a really great side dish or dishes that can travel for 3 hours in the car. And, of course, those Jello Jigglers. I think there's a recipe for those in the Les Halles cookbook. :wink:

Rachel Sincere
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I am lucky in that both of my parents can cook very well when they want, and under the obligations of major holidays will pull out all the stops, but at the same time will never turn down help in the kitchen if it is offered.

Thanksgiving with my family is always a huge affair. It involves myself, my two younger sisters, my mother and father, our neighbor (an elderly woman with no living family who literally has nowhere else to go), and our old neighbors (close friends of the family). Everyone brings something.

My father is put in charge of the bird and the stuffing usually, along with whatever other time-intensive southern dishes that will be served (slow cook green beans, collard greens, corn bread, pumpin pie, fresh yeast rolls, etc). My mother takes care of the midwestern-style casserole favorites, and all of the things her mother passed down that are now thanksgiving musts (green bean casserole, squash casserole, candied yam casserole, etc). The dear-old lady nexy door (whose company I truly appreciate, she came to see every single recital/concert in which I performed during college, even those my parents could never make time to attend) will bring several home-made desserts, cakes, pies, scones, etc. If she brings her shoe-fly pie this year I Will not hesitate to blow my diet for an evening for a slice.

Our old neighbors have lived all over the country, and to an extent, the world. The wife is Brazilian, the husband a geologist who has travelled and lived in all sorts of fun places, but staples for them are his killer oyster stuffing, fejuada, a fried pork rice dish, usually a wonderful ham, these pretty cool braised turnips, and for desert: bossa nova (a neato brazilian condensed milk/caramel/ice cream thing).

My younger sisters have no interest in cooking, so they usually get out of the way and busy themselves with sneaking off with a bottle of wine whenever they get the chance. At least they keep the dog occupied. The older of the two is sometime enlisted into kitchen help (as my father and mother both believe it is quite important for any woman to know how to cook before leaving the house. A bit chauvenist I agree, but hey, old time Southern values die hard). She does make awesome biscuits and gravey, although those typically don't show up for Thanksgiving.

I am probably the most adventurous cook in the family, and am typically given free reign (and a blank check for ingredients) to just go nuts and see what I come up with. Since I have been low-carbing I have been making lots of Atkins-friendly thanksgiving fare, including sugar-free bourgon cheesecake, hot bacon slaw, low-carb rye and sage sausage stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, baked pumpkin-pecan casserole (great sub for candied yams), more collard greens (my family can not get enough collard greens, we can easily kill off two full pots over thanksgiving weekend), sugar-free pumpkin pie with macadamia nut crust, country style ribs in saurkraut, smoked pork butt, and whatever else I feel like making. We all have lots of fun (hehe, said with a bit of sarcasm, but through all the shouting and threats, it really is fun) cooking in the same kitchen together (and since my parents have redone the kitchen, this is much more tolerable, I would kill to have their kitchen, dual convection-ovens, professional Viking gas range with griddle and grill, acres of granite countertops, etc).

We end up with far more food than the total of nine or ten people can ever hope to eat, but leftovers are half the fun, and on a second-year teacher's salary, I always look forward to the coming week of no grocery shopping needed.

All in all, thanksgiving is easily my second favorite holiday of the year (can't quite surpass Christmas, which isn't really food-oriented around my foilks, but the atmosphere can't be beat). A lot of that comes from just the time spent together working hard for a killer meal that looks positively Caligulan when laid out in front of everyone for the feast.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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This year we are at my dad's and stepmother's. My stepmother is a fairly good cook, and this year she is letting Melkor and me help. Maybe it's because she's my stepmother, but she doesn't have any ego when it comes to us helping out - she just appreciates the assistance. So we're flying in a few days early and plan to all work as a team. We'll see how it goes....

allison

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And, of course, those Jello Jigglers.  I think there's a recipe for those in the Les Halles cookbook.  :wink:

Yes, they but are veal demi-glace jigglers, cut in the shape of pig intestines :biggrin:

How about bringing an amuse? It is easy to pull something together with a big "wow" factor, keeps people out of the kitchen, and staves off hunger until the big meal is served...

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Now that I don't have a "gimmick," I'm relegated to Jello Jigglers.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe I can exploit this angle somehow.

I have no idea what jello jigglers are, but if you've been relegated to jello duty, why not do a spectacular jello mold like the one in Rachel Perlow's avatar? That way you'll make mom happy but satisfy your creative needs.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Behemoth, love the idea of the pig intestine jigglers. My parents would freak. I'm still immature enough to relish that possibility. :raz:

"Amuse" means an hors doeuvre, right?

bloviatrix, Jello Jigglers are like jello, only made with less water so they're firmer and can be eaten out of hand. I really don't like them. But I have a bunch of sugar-free Jello to use up from my low-carb days, so it wouldn't be a problem. Love the idea of making that rainbow mold! You want Jello, I'll show you JELLO!

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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She wrote back in all seriousness and asked me to make Jello Jigglers.  :hmmm:  And maybe something with carrot so that there's color at the table.

Tee hee. What if you combined the two requests? There is a description in my Elizabeth Schneider book of a recipe from "Charlie Trotter's Vegetables" for a baby carrot terrine with shiitake salad, carrot juice reduction and balsamic vinegar. You make an aspic out of the carrot juice, (which is sorta like jello... :biggrin: ), then dip the vegetables in it and layer them in a terrine mold, wrap everything in chard leaves etc etc., dot the plate with dill oil, reduced carrot glaze, vinegar etc. I could PM you her description if you like...it sounds phenominal.

If someone here has the CT vegetables cookbook, maybe they could give more precise details. It sounds like a lot of little steps but nothing individually difficult. It would be really funny to walk in with something that spectacular.

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do jello shots--that should relax everyone, and get them in the festive holiday mood!

Hehe, buttered-rum or egg-nog flavored Jello shots, holiday spirit, and relaxing, how perfect ;).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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do jello shots--that should relax everyone, and get them in the festive holiday mood!

Hehe, buttered-rum or egg-nog flavored Jello shots, holiday spirit, and relaxing, how perfect ;).

You'll know it's a success when your Mom and Dad are doing body shots on the dining room table. Take lots of pics!

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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You want Jello, I'll show you JELLO!

:laugh::laugh::laugh: *picking self up off the floor*

Seriously, Rachel is the Jello mold queen. She has done some really creative stuff.

On Thanksgiving, it was usually at my mother's house. Since our parents passing, my sister and I have alternated. We have always all cooked together, including the men, for holidays so there weren't ever any real control issues. It is just something we enjoy doing. We often break with tradition and have fun doing things in the kitchen on a whim so that the final menu doesn't much resemble the original plan. :raz: This year, we have opted to have dinner at the yacht club. But... My nephew is insisting on pans of the cornbread dressing. I may make him help me make it so that he knows what a pain it is. :laugh:

The real switcheroo will be Christmas. My son is having his sister and I to his place in Chicago. We are really looking forward to cooking together, he grew up with that tradition, so I don't have any anticipation of problems. But... I will be careful not to intrude on "his turf" and "his event".

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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My mother was a very good cook, and so was my father ( who mostly took over the cooking after he retired). One year, my mother was not feeling well, she was starting to get older. My father was worried about her, so he did not feel much like cooking either.

It was close to X-mas.

That's when I took over the cooking. After that, it just continued, for holidays, birthdays, etc.

Usually, I bring the whole dinner to their place. That way they still feel like they are inviting us over...They set up the table, buy the wines, etc.

If I don't have the time to prepare the whole meal, I make a few desserts, specially for birthdays, when it falls on a weekdays.

If they would be younger, I don't think they would let me prepare the meals...

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Now that I don't have a "gimmick," I'm relegated to Jello Jigglers.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe I can exploit this angle somehow.

I have no idea what jello jigglers are, but if you've been relegated to jello duty, why not do a spectacular jello mold like the one in Rachel Perlow's avatar? That way you'll make mom happy but satisfy your creative needs.

Make Jello Shooters instead. Liven up the party http://www.holyducttape.com/kps/recipes/j-shooters.html :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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