Friday, December 08, 2006

Everything I Have In My Hands

Mom: This is your mother, returning your call.

Damn it! Missed her again! It's really my own fault I've been chasing Mom all over the countryside. I was trying to outwit my saucy future self by preemptively creping. Yes, I spelled that right. No, I can't pick a verb tense. This story is happening in the past, present and the future. Adjust!

Over a month ago, Anya and I worked out a schedule for the store that looked harsh for everyone involved. Last weekend, I looked at my datebook and came to the inescapable conclusion once again that if only for my sake, Mr. Jesus should have retired to the coast to plant bottlecaps for future seaside pensioners armed only with metal detectors. Wouldn't we all have been happier if Christmas came at the end of January anyhow and was celebrated with salt water taffy? I think so. Between now and the time I convince event planners to change that, the timing of Christmas will continue sucking. So I resolved - last week - to minimize the sucking by preparing for the inevitable last minute cooking request that will come my way - next week - when I will smile sweetly in the face of my family's adoring death threats. Isn't time travel wonderful?

Last year, Mom wheedled but eventually gave me the recipe for her mother-in-law's manicotti. I turned my apartment upside-down searching for the recipe but I can't find it. I wouldn't throw it away deliberately so I must have put it someplace safe, even from me, which is especially exciting since I live alone. Thus, I've been trying to get Mom to loosen her grip on the family recipe box a second time. This effort is doomed. Fortunately, I formulated a backup plan involving the cookbook I never mention in front of the Soup Lady, for whom I am simply mad. (Turn a blind eye, Soup Lady!)*

This morning, I woke up feeling like my lungs were on fire, which is terribly unpleasant because I need those. Last night, Anya and I ran our shapely derrieres off at the family store as Corinne and the partners ran theirs off among the toys. I did four hours of stand up comedy as half the town bought shiny objects for December gift-giving holidays. Thank you very much, please try the veal piccata. The mayor was not at all offended by my schtick on the proper uses of sons-in-law since she's meeting her son's girlfriend for the first time for Hanukkah. Yeah, the mayor's a woman. Mazel tov! This morning, I felt like I had either pneumonia or fur-lined bronchial tubes so I went back to bed, but as every woman running a household of any size knows, being at Death's Door doesn't mean there's time to knock. When I got up just before noon, I dragged that - again: shapely - derriere to Costco with a list of ingredients.

While I wasn't thrilled about departing from my grandmother's recipe, I sucked it up and made batter anyway. Flour, eggs, milk, water, salt. It's pretty close. This evening, batter blended and rested, I made about two dozen crepes. Another batter is resting in the fridge for tomorrow morning. In about ten days, I'll make a vat of fresh marinara. Then, assemble the whole thing. For Italian Christmas Eve, we will have homemade manicotti. And death threats. Because that's our tradition.

*It's the Joy of Cooking


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