Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Thankful for Cake Box Mixes

Here is my two-cents on how main chefs/chief bottle washers/indentured servants can get through Thanksgiving unscathed: Don’t cook.

Cooking for the holidays is overrated. Whenever I hear someone say, “Oh, I love home cooked meals!” I translate it to mean, “Oh, I love when someone else cooks while I watch football and pretend to be too tired from eating to do anything that might resemble actual work!” Last year, after being drafted to cook the turkey at the last minute, I found myself still up at 3 am, said turkey transferred to an oversized plastic Macy’s bag as I tried to pry the neck out of the frozen carcass to get to the giblet package. Meanwhile my (useless) teenage nephew proclaimed from the family room, “I’ve never heard you curse before!”

Sometimes it’s all I can do not to brain someone with a can of cranberry sauce.

This year I decided to do something low key. I asked to dine at a restaurant, followed by dessert at our house. The way my relatives reacted one would have thought I’d asked if I could serve popsicles for dinner. They revolted. In turn, I refused to cook anything big. I don’t care how much food I have sitting around the house; it’s not like the Keebler Elves are showing up to put everything together. Someone asked, “Aren’t you going to use your apples to make apple pie?” To which I responded, “Why would I do that?” Let me see, I could buy two Mrs. Smith’s apple crumb pies for $7 or I could spend four hours and $15 in extra ingredients to make something from scratch. Gee, my poor brain is simply overwhelmed figuring out which one I’m going to do…
To please everyone, I’m bringing an apple crumb pie (the other will never make it out of the kitchen) along with an easy to fix yet highly impressive semi-homemade item. I love Sandra Lee, and it’s not just because she insists on having cocktail time even when she’s setting up a kids’ party. It’s because she also doesn’t see a reason to be chained in a kitchen. Another favorite of mine is Anne Byrn, the author of the Cake Mix Doctor series. Take a regular cake mix, throw in something you already have in your pantry, and presto! Instant good impression. Remember, if it takes more than 15 minutes to throw a dish together, it’s probably not worth the bother. Should it be too late to check out a library book, go to All Recipes for shortcut ideas. So for those of you who normally cook, take a break this year. If someone complains, offer to make them toast and popcorn the next time around.

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