Kids

Let’s talk. Me and the kids mix it up | Education

The kids come home for Thanksgiving and a menu is being worked on. As I write this it reads: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, veggies, yams, stuffing, mac and cheese, and buns. Yes, someone will have to pick up a can of cranberry sauce in jelly to take its familiar place of honor at our dinner table. And someone will have to make dessert. A boyfriend has been nominated – unbeknownst to him – to make a cheesecake.

There will be wine, lots of wine, red and white, and there will be lively conversations punctuated by laughter and serious remarks about how to solve some of the world’s innumerable problems. We’ll see the irony in talking about hunger in so many pockets around the world, and I’ll push to address climate change because Shelby, the eldest, is all about building a more sustainable world through agriculture and Jordan, the second child from the world of the womb, is all about advocating progressive policies in various political bodies in the US. In short, they know their stuff better than I do and I want an update.

Me? I’m responsible for making the mashed potatoes, which will technically be garlicky, golden brown, and buttery. I was going to share the recipe, and it was a good recipe, but it was eaten away by a fatal laptop meltdown last year. I lost the whole hard drive – everything, including the recipe which, as far as I can remember, contained some dry mustard, sweet paprika, unsalted butter, cream (or was it half and half?), roasted garlic and a little pepper. I had only made it a few times, so the ingredients were not tied to my memory.

Dylan, the youngest, is responsible for cooking the turkey. He will soak it in brine the night before it goes into the oven and when it comes out it will be perfectly browned, moist and seasoned just right.

Sheila, the head of the household, doesn’t lift a finger to help. She has already announced that she plans to be engaged in a different way. Last year she did the same, borrowing a page from her unwritten parenting rules about how to teach the kids how to cook: let them get hungry and they’ll come up with something.

Once, when we lived in suburban Denver, a little way south of the city, Jordan was leaning against the refrigerator door. She had had a long day at school with track training to wrap it up. She was tired, a little moody and hungry, looking for a prepared dish that would never magically appear no matter how long she stood and stared into the abyss.

“Mom is trying to starve us,” she said aloud.

Well no, she was just trying to teach the kids how to cook. And it worked. They all know their way around the kitchen and often do so without the help of a cookbook.

So, next Thursday, on Thanksgiving, me and the kids will be in a kitchen heated with laughter and glasses of wine as we prepare to put the best Thanksgiving meal ever on a dining room table.

Did I mention Shelby is bringing a boyfriend? And did I say there would be wine?

Bon appetit, y’all, and may the jellied cranberry sauce give you an extra jolly shake or two.

J. Damon Cain is the editor-in-chief of The Register-Herald.

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