Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
TITLE: Diana's Dinner Dilemma
By Seema Bagai
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My turn for what? I stare blankly at my sister-in-law, wondering what family tradition Iíd be dragged into now.
ďThe Christmas Eve dinner, of course. Since you and Logan are going to be in town this year, we thought you could host it. Youíre always raving about your grandmotherís recipes.Ē I feel my blood pressure and temperature rise and I know it isnít because I am sitting with my back to the fireplace.
ďSure,Ē I reply with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. ďWe would be happy to have all of you over.Ē Why canít we go to Momís again this year? I know Logan and I agreed to alternate holidays between our families. But, going is one thing; cooking is something else entirely.
In the flurry of shopping and baking, not to mention work, I procrastinate on setting the menu and going grocery shopping. The Sunday before Christmas, I pull out the recipe box Gram had made and given to me as a wedding present. Iím sure she included all the Christmas recipes in here.
I settle down at the kitchen table with some freshly-baked gingersnaps and a steaming mug of cocoa to peruse the recipe box. Memories of Christmas dinners with Gram and Grampa make my mouth water.
Roast turkey with savory stuffing. That would be a perfect main dish. I can picture it on the platter Aunt Becky gave us. Wait. Vanessa is a vegetarian. Clicking open the web browser on my laptop, I find something called tofurkey. I print out the information and move on to the side dishes.
Since the fake turkey comes with stuffing, I donít need to make any extra. Oh, but Loganís father is gluten intolerant. He canít have the bread stuffing. Iíll make rice instead. Thereís a coupon in the paper for a box of instant rice.
Seasoned mashed potatoes. Mashing them was always my job. But, they are also made with milk. Loganís brother, Liam, is lactose intolerant. Iíll just serve plain boiled potatoes. Guess that means no egg nog for him, either. Iíll pick up a bottle of apple cider.
A plain tossed salad should be safe. Iíll be sure to have some fat free dressing on the side for Loganís mother who is always reading labels and counting calories. Green bean casserole with crispy onions. I scan the recipe card and realize itís made with cream of mushroom soup. Logan has a mushroom aversion. He wonít even eat the other food if there is a mushroom somewhere on the table. Iíll just serve the green beans plain.
Dessert. The cookies are already baked. Hang on. Liamís wife is a diabetic. There are sugar free cookies at the store. Iíll make sure to have some. Of course, we have to have Gramís prize-winning pecan pie. No, better not. Vanessaís husband, Neil, has a life-threatening nut allergy. Fruit? That should be safe.
I study the menu as I make the grocery list.
Cookies (regular and sugar free)
As much as Iím trying, I canít picture all these dishes arranged on the dinner table. It does not look like the festive Christmas dinner I pictured. It looks like something they would serve in a hospital. I canít serve this meal. Nothing on this menu says ďChristmas dinnerĒ to me. Well, except for the cookies. There has to be a better option.
After a few clicks on the computer, I have an idea. Grabbing the phone, I dial a number.
ďHello. Bayside Inn. Iíd like to make reservations for eight people for Christmas Eve dinner.Ē
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