Hey, it’s Cole! I am new to this whole “blog” thing. My writing is usually just for my eyes because it is very emotional to what is going on in my life at the moment. As my sister pointed out, I am compassionate and I feel very deeply. It is a gift and a curse, trust me! But we aren’t going to talk about that today! Let’s talk food………
I love food (who doesn’t?)! My mother was a master chef. She could make a gourmet meal out of anything. Literally. I can’t really remember disliking much growing up. Seafood and liver and onions was, and always will be, a NOPE for me. I gag just thinking about it, but everything else mom made was tasty. She would always try to get me involved in the kitchen, but I had NO desire to learn. Why did I need to know how to cook? I was going to marry a rich man and have a chef!
I can remember early on when I was first married, my mom suggested I host Thanksgiving. We had young kids and she thought this would be good so we didn’t have to bring them out. I hesitantly agreed. The weeks leading up to that Thanksgiving were kind of comical, now that I look back on it. Mom would call and we would discuss the menu. All I could think was, “Menu? Really? Who does that?!” Then she would start talking about what size turkey I would need. “Really? They don’t come ‘one size feeds most?!’’ UGH – so frustrating! Why would anyone want to go through this torture year after year?! After we planned our, I mean my, Thanksgiving menu, it was time to go down the checklist of what would be needed.
Roasting pan. Is that the same as a baking pan?
Baster. Uh, the thing with the thing that you squeeze? I’ll need one of those…
Seasonings. Do salt and pepper count?
Platter. How about a large plate?
Carving knife. Uh, is that a specific knife?
My mom had to bring her kitchen to me, but she did it without complaining. Thanksgiving Eve she called and said, “Ok Cole, turkey needs to be prepped by 9 and in the oven by 10. You should have your carrots all washed, peeled, and ready to be candied. Potatoes all peeled, cut, and ready to cook. Eggs hard boiled. Everything should be ready to go. I will be there in the morning to help with the turkey.”
My only reply was, “I am supposed to do all that before tomorrow?!”
With a chuckle mom said, “Oh, it is ok. It is not necessary to do that the night before. We are eating a little later than when I hosted. I will come help you in the morning! Don’t worry about it.”
Total grace – just like mom. And here I thought I ruined Thanksgiving before it even happened!
Mom was at my house waking me up at like 5:30 a.m. (who does that?!). She literally had her kitchen with her minus the sink, stove, and fridge. No lie! I took the turkey out of the fridge put it in the sink and that is when l learned there were things in the raw turkey that needed to be pulled out before cooking. You’ve seen videos of kids doing this and gagging, right? That would be me. I not-so-calmly let mom know that would be her job.
After that fiasco, we quickly got to peeling carrots and potatoes, boiling eggs, and sorting out the ingredients for each dish in the order they were going to be assembled. I mentioned mom was a master chef, right? Well, she quickly took over the kitchen. My mind was whirling, and as I stood there watching her make Thanksgiving dinner, I declared I would never host any sort of big dinner again. I thought this was crazy and ridiculous! I can remember her exact words after I finished my announcement.
“You are doing GREAT! I promise it will come naturally the more you do it!”
HAHAHAHA what a comedian. I didn’t do anything that day except watch her.
After everything was prepped, mom told me she had to go home and get dad. She promised to be back before I would have to start cooking the sides and reminded me a zillion times to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. I was not confident that I could even baste the turkey properly every 30 mins, but at that point I had no choice.
After a few hours, mom and dad finally made it back to the house. The first thing mom did was make sure I didn’t ruin the turkey. Okay, she didn’t say that was what she was doing, but I secretly knew that was what she was doing. We both went straight to the kitchen after that to make sure everything was put in the oven at a precise moment so it was all ready the same time as the turkey. Who knew there was such a science to cooking?
When it was finally time to eat, dad did the blessing as he did every year. I’ll never forget him saying, “Thank you for the meal Nicolle so graciously cooked.” What? Nicolle? Did he NOT see mom do it all?! As everyone ate and complimented my cooking ability, I was compelled to set them straight and let them know I just watched mom. But, in true mom fashion, she didn’t take the honor. She gently reminded me that I did much more than watch.
My parents knew something about that day. It was something I needed a mere twelve years to learn – I can cook. I felt lost and confused because it was a large meal and I knew there would be a lot of hungry people gathered around the table. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I was afraid of failing – and I let that fear stand in my way. Fast forward twelve years later, and I sometimes still crumble a bit when there is a lot at stake – but my knees no longer buckle as they did that Thanksgiving. Thanks to my mom, I learned I am strong. I am talented. And I am worthy.
I am sad I never got to cook Thanksgiving dinner for mom. She passed away nine years before I tried my hand at a big meal again. I went confidently into the kitchen for the first time about three years ago and made Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I was blessed to have dad and Deanna and Jay with their families to take part in this milestone with me. I will admit, it wasn’t a complete success. I almost set the house on fire (long story) and my sister got sick, but since she was the only one who was sick, I say it wasn’t from my cooking! I guess I was nervous and just tried too hard. But I didn’t wait so long to try again. I learned from my mistakes and I have *almost* flawlessly cooked Thanksgiving dinner every year since!
Can I encourage you with this little Thanksgiving story of triumph? You may mess up every now and then, but you will always have a seat at the table. What are you waiting for?