published Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Braly: Dinner fiascoes deter future endeavors

After my Easter dinner that I spent two days cooking, I told my daughter I didn’t think I’d be making any more holiday meals. Why, she asked? “You’re so good at it,” she remarked.

Yes, I can cook, but let me tell you about the last two out of three holiday dinners and see of you don’t agree that I should hand the reins over to someone else. Then, I want tales of your own disasters. Might make a good story if you’re willing to share.

Here’s my first tale of woe:

Thanksgiving last year. It was Thanksgiving morning and my husband, Tom, and I had rented a cabin in the woods in North Carolina. I romanticized about this for days ahead, roasting the turkey, cooking the side dishes, setting a gorgeous table overlooking the surrounding mountains, sipping on a nice glass of wine. It was a picture of peace and thanksgiving.

The reality was: The oven was apartment-sized and wouldn’t fit my turkey. So, I had to cut it in half and cook one side at a time. Plus, the oven overheated.

Then, I’d made the squash casserole ahead of time and left it on a back eye of the stove. The eye wasn’t turned on, but I didn’t realize that the oven vented through that eye and while I was sautéing cinnamon apples, the squash casserole exploded up to the ceiling. The blue glass casserole shattered and I and the kitchen were suddenly covered with blue glass and cheesy squash. What a mess. Dinner wasn’t ruined, but my romantic Thanksgiving picture was suddenly and unmistakably torpedoed into my book of less-than-remarkable meals.

Fast forward to Easter 2010. It was the first without my mother, so I paid special attention to making the potato salad just as she would have. I made her baked rice, her deviled eggs, her leg of lamb and used many of her dishes. I also baked a honey ham, made a Key lime cheesecake and decorated my outside dining area to the hilt. Fresh flowers and lovely table linens adorned every table outside.

I brought an old drop-leaf table outdoors to use as a buffet, pulled the leaf out and started setting the dishes on the table. It was just minutes till we started consuming this meal I’d worked on for days, but it took only seconds for the leaf to drop and baked rice, deviled eggs, mint jelly, mayonnaise mustard and lamb to dribble down my legs, along with shards of broken pottery and glass.

Fortunately, it was just my family, and as they cleaned up the outside, I went inside to hose off and get the Band-Aids for everyone who’d been standing nearby.

Lunch was lovely, but reduced to ham, six deviled eggs, a smidgen of lamb for everyone and potato salad, plenty of the latter since it was saved from the big drop.

Guess who’ll be making Christmas dinner? Not me. I’m jaded, discouraged, scared, really. So my precious daughters, start planning.

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mistyeyed said...

I completely agree with you. A few years back, we bought a new house, and my sister and her friends were coming over for dinner. They were supposed to be coming around 11:00 am. So, to save myself some headache, I cooked everything the night before. When I began to start heating a few things up in the microwave the next day, it broke. Then, there was the mad-rush to the nearest store, which is about 45 minutes away since I live in the foothills. Good thing my sister's flight was late.

Later, while we were eating, the table decided to rather fold up on its own. The one lucky thing was that it was at the end of the meal, and nothing hit the floor.

April 21, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.
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