The season of love, thankfulness, everyone posting the required message of love and appreciation for mankind on the way to Black Friday shopping.
For food freaks, it’s the season of selfishness and self-preservation.
“I have to bring my own food to Thanksgiving dinner,” said a vegetarian colleague.
It’s true–meat eaters sabotage us. I’ve had people pick out sausage and tell me the marinara was “safe,” or lie about the ingredients in soups. It’s a real thing–according to The Observer, chefs and others often intentionally sabotage people with specific diets.
“I don’t trust my mom to not put turkey broth in everything,” my colleague said. I used to have the same problem eating in public, so I learned to guard against it by cooking myself.
On any normal day, people are suspicious of my food. They think I’m trying to sneak health into their life. They stab at my lunch with chopsticks, mock it, pick up my mason jar, hold it to the light and say, “Ewwww.” But during a meat-based holiday meal, it seems every carnivore wants to polish off the safe dish I made for myself.
I ask my colleague if this happens to her, too. She said it does. She says she packages her food separately and sneaks it to the table, being careful that the appearance of the stuffing she made matches her mom’s so she doesn’t get caught.
I don’t sneak. I go with my tried and true method. Marketing. If good copy can sell millions of products, it can also keep people away from my Thanksgiving dinner.
I learned this when I was poor in college and I had a freeloading housemate eating all my food. I put milk and cream in soymilk containers to keep him away, and labeled all my baked goods.
“Fat-free, sugar-free protein bars.”
Sometimes this backfired–he’d come in drunk and taste the Fat Free Sugar Free Protein Bars That Were Really Brownies and tell me I should go into business making protein bars because these were AMAZING and most taste like dirt.
That just meant I needed to be a better copywriter. I’d pull out the big “AVOID THIS FOOD” guns.
“Meat-free turkey substitute. Ingredients: Non GMO vegetable protein made primarily from Brussels sprouts.” That can backfire, too. Every now and again I run across a food daredevil–someone who’s watched too much of those Chefs Travel World shows and is willing to try anything–the more gruesome the better.
They love it. None for me.
“Gluten-free, Non GMO, vegetarian.” Attempt three.
“Wow, I never knew gluten-free could taste so good… ”
Of course it can. I’m an amazing cook. Good food doesn’t have to be bad for you.
After all these failures you might ask yourself, “Why doesn’t she just make a ton of it and share?” Been there, done that. If I make too much, no one wants it. They get suspicious.
“There’s an awful lot of Brussels sprouts there… I think she’s trying to trick us into eating healthy stuff.” Then, I’m left with a year’s worth of locally sourced farm-fresh seasonal vegetables.
Too much of a good thing.
Being a food freak’s a lose-lose proposition on holidays. Stolen food, menu critics, and for vegetarians, the cliché carnivore conversations. “But you killed a carrot. It was alive!” or “We’re supposed to eat meat. That’s why we have those pointy teeth,” and always, “Don’t you miss bacon?”
Still, I survive. This year, I’m going with the “make too much” philosophy. I’ll freeze the rest in meal-sized portions and survive the rest of the winter until my lettuce pops up in the spring.
Before I go cook the Brussels sprouts, I wanted to say thanks. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a cup of coffee and some laughter with me from time to time. I’m really grateful. I’m grateful for the good days for giving me a smile, the bad days, for giving me something to write about, and all the friends and family who bless me today at dinner and every other day.
Just eat the damned Brussel sprouts. Seriously.
Thanksgiving Recipe: Heart Attack Sprouts
These are delicious and locally sourced, but they can clog your arteries in seconds. I’m not just saying that because I want you to leave them alone so I get more.
- Get some Brussels sprouts.
- Chop the bottom off. Cut in halves or quarters.
- Cook them in one of two ways: Toss them in olive oil and roast in the oven on a stone at 350 degrees until they don’t take out your fillings OR (preferred) melt some butter and olive oil and sauté them in a cast iron pan. They’ll burn before they’re soft, so when they’ve got some golden brown, pour in a quarter cup of water, and cover the pan, steaming them the rest of the way until they’re soft.
- Two options: Healthy option: add in some chopped garlic, salt, and lemon at the end. Finish off with a little extra butter. Serve. Heart Attack Version: Serve with a gallon of home-made Hollandaise sauce. I suggest this option. Recipe below.
Heart Attack Hollandaise
This is a classic French recipe bastardized for Thanksgiving. Make a ton or more. You won’t be sorry. This doesn’t just go on those Brussels sprouts you’ve been fearing, it goes on eggs, sautéd spinach, fish, or just drink a glass with your meal instead of egg nog.
- Get a double boiler prepared with water in the bottom. I’m too cheap for a double boiler. I use a little sauce pan with water, and put a heat-safe glass bowl on top. It looks way cooler and works just fine.
- Separate two or three eggs. Put the yolks in the double-boiler (save the whites for meringue cookies). Add a pinch of sugar. Don’t question me on this, just do it. Add 1 tablespoon of water for each egg yolk. Whisk until it starts to thicken in the heat. At this point, add a ton of butter–the French would tell you a stick or so for every egg yolk, and Julia Child would pause for some wine and tell you to save the gibblets. I use about a half-stick per yolk.
- After the butter’s melted, test for salt. If you’ve used unsalted butter, add some salt–a couple pinches or so. If you used salted butter, you’re probably fine.
- Add some lemon juice. This is a matter of personal preference. I go on the lemony side. Start with a couple tablespoons, taste, and add more.
You can’t really mess this recipe up–you can add more or less of any of the ingredients, but as long as you’re whisking over low heat, using a double boiler of some sort, and serve right away, it’ll be perfect. Otherwise, it’ll separate and look pretty nasty but still taste great.
If it looks nasty, people will stay away from your food, so this works, too. This is a win-win culinary situation. I’m not sure why Hollandaise costs so much in restaurants and stores–probably because it’s French cuisine. Translating your food always doubles the cost… but it keeps people away if you’re being greedy!