Life’s A Beach

I thought for a moment my girl had gone all Right on me. Somewhere in conversation someone- probably me, probably complaining about health care- started bad mouthing the U.S. of A. And the Snarl piped up that she was pretty sure this was the best of all places to live. She began pointing out all of the things that we are free to enjoy around here and all that we are free to do and become. As it happened we were just pulling into the parking lot here, at Ft. DeSoto Park at the southern tip of the St. Petersburg beaches.Ftdesoto_6

Beac1_3I don’t really know if this is the best possible place to live because I haven’t been around all that much. I’ve been to the South of France and it’s pretty darn special but way too pricey and not really designed for day-to-day living. I’ve been all over the Caribbean and Central America. Belize is spectacular- and mostly dirt poor. The highways (both of them) have cement poles planted in the middle to keep drug runners from landing small planes on them. I’ve been to England and frankly, between the food and the fog, it wasn’t all that much to write home about. Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands- they’re all pretty nice. Amsterdam was a little too much with such blatant prostitution and naked tight-rope walkers in the park, but that’s just me. I’m sure all those places, plus that wacky Australia, are just fine for the natives who live there but after a day at this beach in good company, I realized that I have so much to be thankful for and this is a very nice place to live.Abbybeach_4Beach2_5
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One thing I am not thankful for is cooking two turkeys on Thursday. For the past three years Dan has been pleading for a deep fried Cajun turkey. I’ve turned him down flat and been supported by The Snarl, who is a real traditionalist.

Tradition around here holds that the cook (yours truly) gets up around 8 am and starts digging around inside the bird for spare parts. After a couple minutes of that and some obsessive hand washing, Julia Child takes over and I begin to hit the sauce. Stuff the bird. Then I turn on the TV and watch bits and pieces of what used to be called the Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now it’s something dumb like WDIV Santa Claus Parade. This calls for more sauce as I reminisce about the good ol’ days when my father was Ford Tractor Division’s liaison with J.L. Hudson’s. Ford provided the tractors that pulled all those gorgeous floats down Woodward Avenue. We would go down the night before and watch the floats get hitched up and lined up in the giant underground warehouse. Okay, back to the kitchen to spray some cranberries and orange juice around the white cupboards (where did the food processor lid go?) as I create my sensationally fine cranberry relish with a splash of Cointreau (and a sip for the cook). No one eats this relish. It sits on the fine white linen table cloth in a beautiful handblown glass bowl while everyone eats the crap in a can "with rings." I almost had the kids converted and then Rich and his family came along so now we have two cans of ringed crap and one lovely but untouched bowl of homemade relish.

Back to the TV room because the cook needs to rest a moment. By this time I’ve muted the idiot parade commentators and I’m weeping because the Ford Rotunda burned down. In 1962. (This memory is central to my NaNoWriMo novel. [No Mo! I got to 26,540 words, the heroine moved into a basement room, became a cellar dweller and it all went dark. I’ll finish it next November.]  "The Night Buckminster Fuller Came to Dinner" has a good bit about the Ford Rotunda, naturally. I will elaborate further as part of my Christmas story, but like the Christmas tree ornaments, this can’t come out until the 2nd week in December.) A toast to the Ford Rotunda. Then I usually start giggling because "Rotunda" sounds like a Japanese monster movie character, like Godzilla. A toast to Godzilla. At this point one of the cats usually hacks up a liver or a heart with bits of paper. I thought I threw those "giblets" away. Giblets. Another laughable word. A toast to giblets!

Eventually the turkey gets in the oven, people start wandering in, the cook takes a brief nap and finally we all sit down to dinner. I used to go around the table and make everyone say what they were thankful for but by eighth grade Dan had refined his character, Muhallah, who speaks with a middle eastern accent and renders The Snarl hysterical with laughter. She falls out of her chair as Muhallah gives thanks for various and sundry items and says grace. I’m still a little tipsy so it always seems like a good time to turn up John Williams with the Boston Pops playing "We Gather Together" and the kids boo and hiss and put their fingers in their ears- lalalalalala. And so it goes.

This year one of the bubbas at Wit’s End offered the use of his turkey fryer and 35# of peanut oil turned up in the garage while we were in Florida. Abby snarled at the prospect as did Rich so we are having two-count ’em-two turkeys. This will call for some serious sauce. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

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16 responses to “Life’s A Beach

  1. What a lovely beach, but TWO turkeys. I have never even cooked one. We usually go to my aunt’s, but this year we’re going to my parents’. Naturally, she doesn’t want me to bring anything, which is just fine with me. She is a fabulous cook; I can’t compare!

  2. I’ve had deep fried turkey and frankly it’s hard to tell it from regular. Bless your heart for doing all that cooking. My mom made that cranberry relish thing too…every year while we grew up…and it sat there. We usually do a compromise..a gelatin cranberry salad that is somewhere between the relish and the canned stuff. This year with just the three of us we are going out.

    I really don’t cook. The second Thanksgiving I was married I tried to take a homemade apple pie to his parents. I didn’t know that certain apples were better than others for pie and that it might be best to cook them a little before putting them in the dish. So I tried to use red delicious apples and put them raw in the pie crust with the sugar, salt, spices and a little butter along with them. Well. Red delicious apples don’t make juice, at least not enough to dissolve the sugar. The pie looked great on the outside but the apples were hot, dry and gritty from the sugar. I no longer make homemade pies.

  3. When you say “the cook take a little nap” you really mean “the cook passes out”, right?

    We always do the Thanksgiving go-round-the-table-thing, too. One year, Sophie announced that she was gay, and was thankful that she could share that with us. She’s not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but she thought it would liven up the scene. Another year, my father-in-law shared that he was thankful for Viagra. But in between all the clowning, we really do think about how lucky we are to have each other.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Vicki!

  4. I’d like to try deep-fried turkey, I’ve heard it’s the shit.

    Yeah, I’m back. Thank God for Beaujolais Nouveau.

  5. You made me laugh with this one! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  6. I always wanted to try fried turkey but never had a big enough pot to peanut oil in. (Get it? “..big enough pot to peanut oil in” ho ho har de har har, I crack me up….).

    Be SURE to let me know you didn’t burn down the house…

  7. LOL I love this! I’ve hosted two Thanksgiving dinners and cooked one in its entirety. Of course, I grew up in a family of six, so when I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two, I made way too much and had leftovers for a looooong time. Not necessarily a bad thing! ;^)

  8. We-e-ell. I am impressed. Two turkeys? Doesn’t that make you eligible for superwoman status?

    For thanksgiving I just…uhh dress pretty, make great conversation, and dine on some shrimp or mussel or lobster because everyone (ie mine and SO’s family) know that I’m not really a turkey person. :-> Loooong story, let’s just say that when I was a wee bit smaller I was less polite about hiding my dislikes.

    I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  9. I know it’s awful of me to say, but I’m ecstatic that you aren’t doing that damn Nano thing…I’ve *missed* you too much. Picking up where you left off next year isn’t cheating is it? If it is, I won’t tell.

    I’ll admit it– I love that can-o-cranberry.

    Oh, and thanks for that photo of the animated polar bear…deliciously cheesy! Happy, happy Thanksgiving. xoxo

  10. I waited until the last minute to stock up on peanut oil and had to go to 6 stores before I found some today. Our turkey better be damn good now! lol

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Vicki:)

  11. I was really snobby about deep-fried turkeys, until I had one. Yum. I’m roasting our turk tomorrow, but I would not turn my nose up at a Cajun deep-fried one.

    Your girl is gorgeous, V. I’ll be cooking and hitting the sauce as well tomorrow. Should be entertaining. Happy Day!

  12. I hope you have the best Thanksgiving ever, and the best turkey(s) ever too. My ex-son-in-law did the deep fried thing 2 years in a row, and it was good (moist) and tender. I still prefer roasted, though. And I have to admit a preference for the crap in the can with rings, but I put mine in a cut crystal bowl, so it looks good too!

  13. If *I* were at your house, I’d eat the homemade cranberry relish – and I’d scrub down the white cupboard shelves and handmade crystal bowl afterwards.

    I hope that you and yours have a spectacular holiday, and that the cook gets plenty of sauce!

  14. We buy a Cajun deep-fried turkey every year and it’s wonderful. It tastes the same as a roasted turkey, but moister. My favorite thing is that it frees up the oven for me to make some kick-ass sides. I think you’ll be happy with it.

    And what on earth are you gonna do with two turkeys? I foresee a great deal of tettrazini in your future, woman!!

    Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving is filled with fall out of the chair laughter….

  15. wow, two turkeys! Have a great day, don’t work too hard, and Thank YOU for being in the blog-o-sphere!

  16. oh. And Happy Thanksgiving and I am so very very happy to have you in my life Ms. Vicki. You are one of my treasures.

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