Sunday, November 30, 2008


Thanksgiving is the only day of the year when I eat 4,000 calories at one meal. I don't eat anywhere near that number of calories even when I bake the recipe of the week for Tuesdays with Dorie. Not even if the recipe is Thanksgiving TwoFer Pie, a layered pie that is creamy pumpkin pie on the bottom and sweet/crunchy pecan pie on the top. Not even if I lick the bowl.

I prepared to tackle the TwoFer Pie with my new stove and an apron that belonged to my grandmother. I started by emptying my mom's cabinets of baking supplies since she has given up baking. Her record was about 10 banana breads in one week and her fame was such that neighbors left their old bananas on her door step. I fill bags with pans, cookie sheets, flour, sugar, vanilla, nuts, Pam and oil. In exchange, I organize her cabinets. I also scrub the pantry after a container of Hershey's powdered chocolate spills downward through her wire shelves. But what I don't have is shortening, which is not a real food anyway. Shortening helps make a crust flaky & tender when combined with butter. I decide to substitute oil and hope for the best. But what is that yucky taste? The raw dough tastes awful & reminds me that, as a kid, I drank some cooking oil in a brown bottle assuming it was apple juice. (To this day I hate apple juice.)

Maybe Mom has done it to me again. The crust may bake up fine but the oil could be past its prime, like me. How long do food products last in the Florida heat? My logic tells me that expiration dates in hot Florida and cold Colorado should not be the same, but I will write to "Ask Marilyn," for confirmation because she is an actual mensa member who answers readers' questions in her syndicated column. I'll also ask my sister because she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in math from Cornell and our mom once told me that her I.Q. is higher than mine. I am not sure I would have let my sister borrow my clothes had I known this fact.

On the other hand, longevity runs in our family and when we are 94, Iris and I will be even because she sends me great birthday gifts. I forsee a future where we play bridge and double date. This is because about the time other folks start drooling on themselves, the women in my family start dating again. Grandma and Mom were both 86 when they met a new feller. I guess nothing beats having a guy pull out your chair at the early bird dinner. But I digress.

The plan for Thanksgiving is that I will cook the food and take it to my mom's for dinner. We are 3 couples. Mom and her beau, my uncle and his fiance, and us. It's a pretty traditional menu with an emphasis on low fat (mashed potatoes with chicken broth and a bit of sour cream are awesome). But the guests are uncertain about two of my dishes. Mom thinks the sauteed green beans with shallots, garlic and toasted almonds aren't done. She suggests the oven roasted sweet potatoes need more cooking as well. I explain that mushy vegetables are out except at Denny's or Country Buffet. She accepts this explanation but pretty much sticks to mashed potatoes, peas and stuffing. For dessert, we have pie from the store as I have given up on TwoFer Pie.

It has been hard to bake with the TWD group while in Florida. Heat and lack of cooking equipment have been major set backs. My new oven has arrived and I will buy some shortening. I've missed the TwoFer Pie but I have plenty of pecans in the pantry. I shall commit myself to baking the next recipe: Linzer Sables, a jam-filled almond cookie that sounds delish. Except that mine will be more like pecan sandies.