My husband and I recently teamed up for an ambitious cookie recipe. Normally, I'm the boss of the kitchen and he, the the garden — we share the rest of the house's responsibilities. Our cookies turned out beautifully, but our behavior towards each other was on par with our inner 7 year–old selves battling it out for who's better, smarter, prettier and faster. Ridiculous at best. Over a cookie! This led me to think about sharing the tasks of the upcoming Thanksgiving meal and the need to relax a little.
How do you handle sharing your sacred kitchen space? Tips for working together? I'd love to hear them.
The most important thing I learned from our afternoon of cookie bickering was the importance of taking a step back and taking a deep breath. It is just a little cookie after all, I thought to myself. Then we both removed the size–15 foot from our mouths, apologized and finished up our culinary project with flying colors.
The cookie-spat this past weekend served as a good lesson for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The Thursday meal should be about togetherness and great food, not quarreling in the kitchen. Besides, the group can achieve much more than the individual, especially on this particular occasion. "Divide and Conquer!" can be the motto for the day — not, "I did the most!"
I look back at my favorite food memories and they all have one thing in common — they were a product of many hands. Most often two cooks, but sometimes six, eight or even twelve people can pull of the merriest of meals. There was the time I helped my British Aunty make a giant apple polenta cake or when my six college housemates and other pals coordinated a Thanksgiving with all the trimmings; and I'll never forget my parents helping me make a flan for 200 people — that one took the three of us all night, checking on the temperamental confection on the hour, up until the early dawn.
These family and friend cooking events are the stuff that bond us together, seal our traditions and create sweet memories. So if your spouse isn't dicing the onions quite the right size or your mom is over-mixing the pie dough, pause the control-freak button. Stop in your tracks. Pour yourself some cider (a splash of brandy won't hurt either!) and enjoy the folks around you.
Thanksgiving is about the perfect imperfections and the smiles that surround the table. Especially because deep down inside, I know my individual vanilla bean crèeme bruléees are the bestest, prettiest, and tastiest thing out there. Errr... wait, did I just say that out loud?
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)