Home is where the hearth is. Downtown Nevada City, California.
The boyfriend and I have recently returned from frolicsome fun in my hometown of Nevada City, California. This year my most shiny of celebrations was neither Christmas nor New Years, but my sister Jacquie’s 50th birthday (for which I provided the cake, subsequently learning that Christmas day is a lousy time to buy baked goods).
Some highlights of the trip were…
Teaching my mother how to prepare absinthe. Who doesn’t love this quintessential Christmas pastime*? Equipped with a curvaceous reservoir glass and ornate, slotted spoon I enthusiastically gave a demonstration on how to prepare absinthe in both the traditional French method and the more dramatic (and efficient) Bohemian method. Both methods were merely informative, not practical, as my Mammy and me prefer our green fairy sans sucre.
My Mom, enjoying her beverage
Armed with our booze and one clove cigarette each, we sat in her English garden and contentedly sinned with some of Satan’s most pleasingly perfumed indulgences. Once we felt sweetly weak-in-the-knees it was time to make some pie. (Drinking and driving is a bad idea, but drinking and pie making is a sign of advanced evolution in a species. Word.)
[insert terrifying caption here]
Unlike many, I look forward to Thanksgiving not because of what I get to eat, but what I get to cook. For this reason, I love to host the holiday. In a village like Los Angeles, it’s usually easy to find many lost little lambs who’ve no place to eat (and no ability to manage kitchens themselves). Honestly, it’s like flunking Home-Ec is a requirement to moving to the City of Angels; I guess Type-A personalities don’t have a lot of patience for braising.
Nothing makes me feel more like a magical wizard than when cooking-challenged people like my boyfriend watch me prep food. Am I roasting zucchini or casting a sleep spell on the whole kingdom? Because his reaction would be interchangeable in either event.
I learned to cook from my Mom; sometimes instruction was direct, but mostly I just hung around the kitchen while she cooked and made a nuisance of myself, learning by observation. I was hypnotized by corn starch and its ability to turn any liquid in to a thick sauce. Separating an egg seemed like a delicate and ancient Chinese dance, and gee whiz…! See what you can do when you whip those egg whites?
There were some causalities, from which I grew wiser. One sneaky bite of unsweetened chocolate taught me that some of life’s greatest pleasures can come from something so foul. I learned Tupperware cannot be used like a pot on the burners, and soon after I learned how hard it is to clean cooked and melted plastic off a grill. One of the few scars I have on my body is on the knuckle of my left thumb from the first time I learned how to use a peeler – I don’t remember what fruit I cut myself on, but I’ve always remembered how to hold the instruments securely since then. Oh! And I learned it doesn’t take very many bittersweet chocolate chips to destroy an appetite.