Thursday, December 22, 2011
A Mountain of Food
For as long as I can remember—seriously, all of my life—my sisters have gotten together for Christmas. First, the ones who had moved out of our parents' house came back for the holiday, and later we all came back with our husbands and children. Christmas was often the only time we would see each other all year, and we would spend two solid days cackling and singing and telling stories. Fun.
Well, this year my family unit has decided to do something different and stay home for Christmas. We did this once before—after 9/11, the Chicago sister was uneasy about flying, so we all agreed to spend the holiday at our respective houses instead of traveling to Georgia. That was the one Christmas meal I cooked for my family, and this year I get to do it again.
It's just one meal for one day, but I've been planning, searching for recipes and menu ideas, making a grocery list that fills an entire 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, making a schedule for when to make what. I can make the cranberry chutney in advance, for example, and I'll need to make the pumpkin cheesecake on Saturday so it will be ready on Sunday.
Today, according to my schedule, I pushed a large cart through the grocery store and filled that massive list, piling the cart high with the goods—fennel, leeks, lemons, cranberries, onions, ginger, sweet potatoes, candied pecans, chocolate...—and heaving it around each corner of every aisle. I don't buy a lot of prepackaged stuff, so I usually buy groceries around the perimeter of the store, skipping all the middle aisles with all the junk. But this morning, I covered every square foot of the store, possibly twice. I would get all the way to the cookie aisle and remember I hadn't picked up crystalized ginger in the baking aisle, and I'd have to go back. The same thing happened with the vegetable broth and the ginger snaps.
When I buy groceries, I do what my kids call "power shopping." I waste no time dilly dallying in the store, and I walk with purpose. If I'm going in for milk, I go in for milk, and don't get in my way as I go. That's not to say I don't get sidetracked by shiny things now and then, but I tend to move quickly even in my distractions. Today, however, the place was packed with people, and the lines were long at the check out, so I had to take a deep breath and go with the flow, or relax with the flow as the case was.
Maybe that slower pace will stick with me when I start working in the kitchen for this grand feast, and I will enjoy the whole process. Maybe. Or maybe I'll charge full speed and mix the snack mix (thus, the Bugles) and make the tomato tarts (thus, the puff pastry) and bake cheese cake (thus, the cream cheese). There's work to be done. It's a real pity there will be no sisters to help make the work go by quickly with singing and giggling, but we'll make it a feast all our own.
at 3:10 PM