Over the weekend, I attended my friend Joy's annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner. It's one of my favorite things to do in November, mostly because it forces me to ...cook something.
In years past, I've had my plan well before going over to Joy's house. One year, for example, I made a pumpkin spice cake in the earlier hours of the day, complete with bunt-shaped pan. It was marvelous. But this year I was slack. I found myself laying around my house until 4 p.m., watching old Parker Posey movies, and suddenly realizing I needed to get dressed and go to Publix.
Hmm, I thought to myself in Publix, Should I just get something simple like a block of cheese and some crackers? Or should I really try to make something? I'd rather make something, but what?
I suddenly found myself in the magazine aisle, reading up on holiday recipes. I picked what seemed easy enough to throw together without even buying the magazine--a Southwestern cheese dip--and scoured the store for what I needed.
"This is good," said my roommate, Dana, awhile later, scooping up a sample taste with a tortilla chip.
"I'm not feeling it. It's not Thanksgiving enough," I announced. And frankly, I was less than impressed with how all I'd done was open up a container of queso and dress it up with some corn and cilantro.
"This is what I get for not having a real plan," I grumbled to myself. Undeterred, I went back to Publix, this time with the intent of somehow making sweet potatoes (that was Thanksgiving-y enough, right?)....but I had no idea how to cook a sweet potato. Or if I had the time.
"Is it considered a faux pas to use canned sweet potato?" I asked the Publix employee, a sweet-faced, teenaged boy who probably didn't know what faux pas meant.
"I don't think so," he hedged.
I finally grabbed what I needed, including a recipe on the back of the can that could be accomplished in thirty minutes. At that point, I had less than an hour until party time. Good thing I was already wearing my makeup.
In the end, my "quick" candied yams were gobbled right up. I feel satisfied that I went with my gut and nixed the cheese dip, although I'll probably uncover that and eat it later.
"You know what I love about going over to Joy's for Thanksgiving?" I later asked my roomies and neighbor. "It's an occasion for all of us to make food."
Since my sweet potatoes rocked, I'll probably make them again, maybe this week. And some other new things. After all, 'tis the season for kitchen adventures -- even at the last minute.