I swear, I’ve been trying to sit down and write something – blog entry, even a blog commen – for more than a week now. I can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate when I sit down.
I’ve been off work since Dec 22nd, and had no travel plans nor major projects; I’ve been on call for work all week (the team I support are working the week, lucky to get xmas and new year’s days off). Luckily those of us in support were not asked to be on site, but since one of my team’s out on maternity leave (and oh-my-god was she cute pregnant; young, indian, 5 foot tall in shoes – wait, I’m distracting myself), one’s on vacation in Iowa, another someplace on the border between india and pakistan visiting family, I wound up one of two who’s still home for the holidays.
So mentally, I’m still 30% at work; xmas day while my kids un-wrapped gifts, I was checking for trouble tickets from my iPhone. This seems to have had the effect of making me not want to be anywhere near my computer when I’m not tending to dire emergencies involving software licenses and batch queueing ratios.
What I have done, though, is cooked. And I’m reminded how much more I like cooking than I do working. I’m reminded how good it feels to make something simple for no reason other than because I felt like it.
My family – and by that I mean my in-laws, my family consists of a mom who won’t leave the house ’cause of a combination of emphysema and a panic disorder, and my own immediate family of four – postponed the usual xmas eve dinner til the 30th this year. This was traumatic; IJ (my mother-in-law) plans things with dalek-like determination; every single detail alike, year to year, decade to decade. But this year, we lost two major figures in the family drama. Holmes, my father-in-law, passed away last february after a short, brutal struggle with cancer, and auntie Glenna went last summer. No one in the family, apart from IJ, (who seemed to be over all this long before it happened, again, putting one in the mind of cyber-beings) wanted a business-as-usual family xmas. One one else could face that, so we’re doing it different this year.
IJ does the turkey – the exact same turkey as last year and the exact same turkey as 1997 – and peas, and various jell-o salad type things. Other family members are bringing ten thousand sweet treats for after. I’m doing tasty, carb-a-riffic side dishes.
As I write this, I’m waiting for a pot of yams-or-sweet-potatoes (I never can remember what the difference is) to boil. I’ve a foil packet in front of me, the scent of roasted garlic wafting from it; later, that will go into mashed yukon golds. A few minutes ago I put a baking dish of creamed onions on the ‘fridge, and in a moment, I need to figure out what’s going in these yam-things (I’ve never made them, and so for once need a recipe).
While the potatoes boil, later, I have a shrimp cocktail to put together, big fat prawns and a traditional cocktail sauce, heavy with horseradish but too light on cayenne for my taste (few in the family are chili heads, apart from me and ruby).
The yams – crisp-topped with sugar and pecans, scented with vanilla and cinnamon – came out wonderfully, or so eyes and nose tell me. I do not understand serving these as a side dish beside ham or turkey; no they are a sweet dish and should come after the mean. But nevermind, they will be good and those who find sweet and savory more complimentary than I do will enjoy them.
Onions are now in the oven, topped with a cracker and bread crumbs; this year I tried browning the onions in butter before adding the cheese sauce, and it looks and smells like a good choice. Seven or eight hundred small yukon gold potatoes now sit in a big pot on my stove. In a few minutes they’ll be combined with a roasted-garlic cream, butter, milk, hawaiian sea salt and white pepper.
This post should have pictures, because it’s pure food porn. But hell if I can be bothered to find the camera. I’m in chef space now.
(I posted this WAY before it was done, I meant to just upload and not publish. New version of ecto, still a few bugs. Fuck it though, I guess it’s done now.)