I’m not sure at what specific point in time I was deemed a Culinary Liability. It could have been years ago, when I neglected to put cake mix in the mixing bowl and wondered why the batter was so runny. Or it could have been during what is now referred to as “Ill-Fated Low-Fat Velveeta Mac and Cheese-Gate.” Don’t ask. It was a horror show.
So the holidays are upon us. My family has get-togethers, to which everyone brings something or many somethings. My Sister The Organizer and I have this dance that we do prior to each gathering that goes something like this:
Her: “Ok so everyone come around 4-ish, and we’ll have this, that and the other delicious thing that everyone will work really hard all day or possibly weekend on.”
Me: “Ok, what should I bring?”
Her: “Well…..let’s see……I think we’re covered for most things….um……I dunno…..maybe……I know, ROLLS!!! We totally need rolls. You could bring rolls!”
We both know this is how the conversation is going to go, but we have it each time because it offers up the illusion that I *could* absolutely whip up something amazing to bring if it was necessary, but by the time we talk everything has been spoken for and I really do have self worth as evidenced by the fact that we need rolls, and I am just the person to bring them. And sometimes? Soda too.
This year, as my Mom would have said, I got a “Wild Hair” and decided to make a pie. Then I decided I was going to try to make her from-scratch mac and cheese recipe (no Velveeta in sight.) I was going to make it for just the little Thanksgiving meal I had with my boyfriend and daughter (7 years old), you know, to test it out. I wasn’t feeling ready for the Big Show yet. I announced to them: “I’m going to make a pie.” Their responses:
Boyfriend: “What do you mean?”
Daughter: “What if you burn the house down?!”
My other family members on the other hand, acted similarly to how I imagine they would act when I announce my Nobel Peace Prize. There were exclamations of pride, congratulations, wonder and well-wishes. Wow, I thought.
The day before Thanksgiving, I had to bring my daughter in to work with me for a little while. She told anyone and everyone there and then in every establishment we went to that day “My mom is going to make a pie. She’s probably going to burn the house down and we will be hobos the next day.” I was like geez, it’s just a chocolate pie, and it’s not like I’m going to make the crust, I’m leaving that to the geniuses at Keebler and their graham cracker brilliance. I explained to her that I was only going to have to heat pudding, from what I understood. She exclaimed, panic shaking her voice “Yeah, but you’ll have to be near the stove!!”
The morning arrived, and I was ready. I started with the pie. Boyfriend did an excellent job of lurking around without making it totally obvious he was making sure I didn’t blow myself up. He offered support and encouragement and giggled appropriately when I snapped a hundred pictures from every angle when I poured the pudding into the crust and it looked beautiful. When I moved on to the mac and cheese, he did more subtle monitoring, although sometimes he would look over my shoulder and exclaim “OH MY GOD!” and I’d jump and stop what I was doing and say “WHAT?!” and he’d say, catching his breath, “Oh! Nothing!! It’s just that…..well…..you’re just so….*cute*! That’s all!” Suspicious.
It would be fun to end this story with vivid descriptions of projectile puking or other food related bathroom emergencies, but there were none. The pie was delicious, although only two pieces were eaten because it got left out too long and sort of ended up like a soggy chocolate sponge. The mac and cheese was, for my first attempt, nothing short of a triumph. I reported back to my sister, who immediately wondered who had kidnapped the *real* Kate. I said “I’m here, and I didn’t blow anything up!!” She said “Great! You can bring more than rolls next year!!” “Hmmmmmmm” I said. “Let’s not get crazy……”