Most readers probably think romance authors glide around the kitchen in slinky outfits and stilettoes, sipping fine wine and thinking about passionate things while they cook up fabulous gourmet meals.
Not at my house.
I’m a lousy cook, the last in a long line of lousy cooks. I say ‘last’ because my daughter, bless her heart, has broken the cycle. She’s a fabulous cook. Probably because she uses those recipe things. How boring is that? Not too, if you want to eat without gagging, I suppose.
My husband’s and my first Christmas dinner as newlyweds was…interesting. Never having done any cooking before (ex: I thought split pea soup was made with canned peas—don’t try that at home), I got out the obligatory wedding gift back then—The Joy of Cooking Cookbook. Joy? Really? Anyway, turning to the section on chicken (why buy a whole turkey when a chicken will do?) I read (and I’m paraphrasing here), “find a nice, plump hen, not too old, get a sharp ax and cut off its head.” That pretty much quashed my cooking urges.
But still…it was Christmas, and every proud American is required to serve up holiday eats during the season, right? So, being a creative person, I enlisted help from the Navy barracks. (Did I mention my husband was in the Navy back then?) Offering a lovely setting for a lavish meal—our two-room apartment, which was still better than the barracks—I invited my husband’s friends over for a dinner. I provided the food, and they did the cooking. It worked out fairly well (really, how bad could it be, being the only woman in an apartment full of sailors?) The turkey only hit the floor once, and the correct football teams prevailed. Win/win. And the best part—I didn’t have to cook a thing! Score!
After my husband’s military discharge, we went back to Texas where his family lived—seven grown children, married to seven other grown children, fierce cooks all, and led by the Momma Of All Culinary Divas—my mother-in-law—who started every holiday recipe with a stick of butter, and ended with enthusiastic applause. Being the youngest in the group (okay, I’ll say it…and the coolest, despite my lack of kitchen talent), I was the one delegated to make last minute runs to the store, set the table, fold the napkins, fill the glasses, and other vital, yet under-appreciated, behind-the-scene tasks that ensure a lovely holiday experience.
Mostly, it was a free for all. Fifteen cooks and at least that many children crowded into a normal-sized house, all yelling at once while two TV sets carried simultaneous football games. By halftime, the meal usually degenerated into a gravy and stuffing war (since every cook had his/her own recipe for each), where the hapless bystander (me) had to take a serving of each and make the appropriate oohs and aahs. A bulimic’s nightmare.
Still, it was fun. I miss it.
How did your first Christmas dinner go?
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About the Author:
You may have heard of me—not just because I’m almost nearly semi-famous now—but because I’m the one who took twenty-five years to write her first book. Some of us are slow learners, I guess. Four years ago when my husband and I retired and moved to the mountains of Washington State, I decided to get serious about writing, So I dusted off that old manuscript, cleaned it up, entered it in some contests, cleaned it up again, then sent it out. PIECES OF SKY sold to Berkley two months later, the year I went on social security—it came out in trade paperback the year I went on Medicare—and won a RITA in 2010. I haven’t looked back since. The point is to never give up. Ever. Dreams can come true.
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Miracle in New Hope by Kaki Warner