As holidays get rolling, baking fever ignites
So here we go, rushing into the season, still tripping over the pumpkins on the front porch.
Hubs has taken to surprising me by putting up, without prompting, the seasonal flags. I came home Friday after Thanksgiving to find the scarecrow banner gone and reindeer flying.
It's funny, the stuff husbands think to do around the house. And the stuff they don't. The bright red Christmas flag may be on the porch, but the pumpkin lights still glow orange, the fall wreath still boasts brown and yellow leaves and the aforementioned pumpkins remain staunchly in place.
Point that out and he looks bewildered, "Pumpkins aren't a Christmas thing?"
"They are orange," I say, believing no further explanation is needed.
Hubs, who has never had his colors explained, let alone done, may wonder why tangerines are acceptable Christmas fruit.
Holiday produce confounds him. Having only recently come to terms with tangerines as ornaments, he is currently puzzled by pomegranates.
Last year for purposes of decoration, I stole dried pomegranates from Sister Sue's backyard bush in Arizona. When she found out what they cost in stores, she promised me this year's crop, a fortune in pomegranates. I came home from Phoenix recently with a suitcase full.
Hubs was mystified until Martha Stewart wrote about pomegranates as decorations. He came racing my way waving the headline, saying, "Did you see this? She uses pomegranates, too."
I managed a look both smug and exasperated, an expression perfected by all women who believe they are one jump ahead of Martha. The look was lost on Hubs who wandered off studying the paper saying something like, "What are the odds that two women in the same country will decorate with pomegranates?"
Probably about the same, I bet, as two guys in a tie vote for president.
Hubs spends much of his time at this season on quests for exotic groceries, almond bark, fresh marjoram, hummingbird tongues.
This is the time of year I cook. I begin warming up at Thanksgiving and by Christmas, I am truly hot. Something about the holidays ignites my inner-cookery sensors. I make a broth of every leftover. Looking for recipes, I rip open magazines six months old and still in their virginal plastic coverings.
I develop four kinds of streusel topping. I long for appliances, kitchen ware and sets of tiered plates, the better to show off 42 kinds of cookies made painstakingly by hand.
The publisher and I were talking about this. He was wanting a set of spendy pots and pans. I was thinking of a Kitchen Aid mixer. But neither one of us wants non-fat dressing.
I am pretty sure I do not want one of those things that deep-fries a turkey. I first heard of deep-fried turkeys about 10 years ago, a mostly Southern practice that works pretty good in mild weather with the big tub of boiling hot fat outside on what passes as a lawn.
These days you can buy a turkey deep-fryer almost anywhere.
"It still doesn't seem like a good idea," says my friend, Bob, who used to work at Hanford and should know a thing or two about hazards. "There you are with all that hot fat and a wet slippery turkey and you are bound to drop that thing. Nothing good can come of that."
As it turns out, Bob is kind of a prophet. A Northwest newspaper that shall remain nameless, ran a whole spread before Thanksgiving on the art of deep-frying turkeys. Such is the power of the press that two houses in that community caught fire with combustible turkeys listed as the cause.
My own matches were confiscated last year when I took a notion to make Cherries Jubilee. The flaming brandy somehow escaped the pan and we had to pound out a considerable blaze on the table top. It was an exciting dessert, but offhand I'd say there was more screaming than jubilation over those cherries.
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