Posts filed under ‘Don’t Try This At Home’

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 3)

Three days after Thanksgiving, and they’re still here.

I know they’re lurking behind that unassuming door. As soon as I open it, that stark light will switch on and I’ll see them, staring back at me, taunting me.

Thanksgiving leftovers.

Now, if you’ve been following this series, you know that I once made mashed potatoes for two people using a recipe that called for seven pounds of potatoes. We’ve also established that math is not my strong suit. So it’s not surprising that I manage to end up with a few leftovers. But still…

No matter how much I make or how many guests we have over, I still seem to end up with a LOT of leftovers.

Atomic leftovers.

Leftovers that seem to know how to reproduce on their own so that even though I force takeout containers on all the guests, and despite Gibson the dog’s best efforts at hunting down every last morsel he can find, the leftovers just grow and grow until, by Sunday, we clearly have twice the amount of potatoes we started with on Thursday.

Gibson the dog

The image quality is crappy, but the moment had to be preserved. I don't know where Gibson learned to behave like this.

I’ve decided that there needs to be a leftovers version of the Kubler-Ross model, the Five Stages of Grief. Let’s call it the Casser-Role Model.



November 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 2)

Are mashed potatoes really that difficult to make?


I admit I’d never actually attempted to make them from scratch until a few Thanksgivings ago, but it seems like there’s a lot of advice and troubleshooting for successfully producing the perfect mashed potato.

But all the recipes are pretty straightforward: Boil ’em. Mash ’em with some stuff. The end.

How hard can that be?

Turns out, it’s not difficult, and I still don’t know why there’s so much literature on the subject. Especially when the one key piece of information that really matters is missing from all that literature.

Potato peel is the enemy.

As I said, I really had no trouble with the recipe (Mashed Sour Cream and Scallion Potatoes, by the way). OK, it is true that math tripped me up again. I should have realized that I didn’t need 8 servings of mashed potatoes for 2 people, and even if I hadn’t looked at the number of servings, the “7 pounds of potatoes” in the recipe’s ingredients should have at least been a red flag, but that’s another story.

No, this story is about the hidden danger that’s lurking in every mashed potato preparation: the propensity for peel-tastrophe.

I was feeling right on track with my Thanksgiving prep. The bird was in the oven and, fingers crossed, not stewing in a cornucopia of deadly bacteria. The game plan for the side dishes was on schedule, the desserts were made, and the potatoes, stripped of their jackets, were skinny-dipping away in a giant pot of boiling water.

Seemed like a good time to do a little cleaning up. So I shoved the mounds of potato peel down the sink drain and turned on the water. I flipped the switch to turn on the disposal. And then…


November 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm 4 comments

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 1)

Will the turkey thaw out in time? Or will we have to postpone Thanksgiving until Saturday?

TimerThe thing about a frozen turkey is, you have to be able to find a spot in the freezer for it, which can be a challenge depending on how big of a bird you end up with. (For us, this is actually a blessing in disguise since it forces us to finally part with unrecognizable leftovers from last January.)

But the other thing about a frozen turkey is, you have to thaw it out, and here you tread a delicate line between a solid-as-a-rock, still-frozen state and horrible bacterial-induced death.

There also seems to be some math involved, which is always a bad sign, but if you follow the calculations precisely, by Thursday morning you should end up with what I ended up with two years ago: a still not-quite-thawed-out turkey.

My first solution was to panic. Once I had completed that task, my husband decided to run to the neighborhood grocery store and pick us up a fresh turkey.

Now, this may sound practical to you, or it may sound extravagant. But if you’ve ever been to the sad grocery store in my neighborhood, where you’re guaranteed to find lottery tickets and cheez foods but would be hard-pressed to find chicken breasts, the idea that he would successfully find a fresh, not-past-its-sell-by-date turkey, on Thanksgiving Day no less, was just plain ridiculous.

But somehow he did.

Within minutes, he was back home with a fresh turkey.

In the meantime, though, I’d come up with an even better solution: I called my mother.

She talked me down with some quick thawing tips and assurances that it wasn’t still as frozen as I might have believed and also that her quick thawing methods would likely not kill me considering they’d never done me in in all my years of eating Thanksgiving at home (with the exception, of course, of the year my parents opted for a Tofurky. Just the idea of the Tofurky almost killed me.).

Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, I sent my husband back to the store to return his new turkey. It was a good thing he didn’t have to go far, because he would need to be there for the next crisis that was about to strike…

Stay tuned for Part 2, “Potato Peel of Doom.”

In the meantime, I’m already panicking about being behind in this year’s preparations. For example, I’m past the deadline to make my leaf decorations and cornucopia.

November 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm 4 comments

Easy? Yes. Nice? Not so much.

A number of years ago Julia Louis-Dreyfus did some kicky little commercials for Clairol’s Nice ‘N Easy hair color. You may remember her performing an impromptu dye-job on an unsuspecting bus passenger in this commercial.

In one of those ads, she revealed the color she used on her own hair – something like a “Rich Chocolate Brown” – and somehow, for some unknown reason, I decided that would be a great look on me, too.

Now, I’d had my hair colored plenty of times before at the salon, but other than that year I was obsessed with Sun In (“So natural looking!” Well…at least until I saw photos and discovered what I actually looked like), I’d never colored my hair myself.


I wasn’t worried, though. On the contrary, I was quite confident as I marched down the hair care aisle at Eckerds, picking out my box of Nice ‘N Easy dark brown permanent hair color.

Once I got home, I tore open the box and set all the liquids, potions, protective gloves, plastic caps and instructions out on the bathroom counter. I gave the directions a quick once over – who wants to read all that? – and got to work.

Twenty minutes, three stained towels and one dye-splattered wall later, I staggered out of the bathroom in a haze of chemical fumes. I set the timer. I waited for the magic of the reveal.

This whole process had all the makings of a hair disaster, but honestly, I never saw it coming. So when I removed the plastic cap, rinsed out my hair, toweled it dry (there goes another towel) and glanced in the mirror, I just wasn’t expecting to see what I saw.


November 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm 3 comments

Taking Some Heat from the Mother of all Fact Checkers

Really, I should have seen it coming.

I recently wrote about our family road trip adventures and, in particular, the endless drive to Santa Fe.

And that’s when I got the phone call.

Mom in the 60s

“What about the denim shirts? How could you leave out that part of the story?”

My mother called to remind me that she spent the entire drive (when not refereeing arguments between the kids) embroidering denim shirts for my sister and me.

Ah, those embroidered denim shirts. They were all the rage at the time (I’m guessing late 70s?), and my sister and I just had to have them. I have to admit, I don’t remember my mother actually working on those during the drive – and OH, I can feel the guilt trip coming just for saying that – but I do remember the shirts.

Since I can’t find any photos of us wearing those shirts, I’ll substitute a much earlier creation of my mother’s: the matching Raggedy Ann dresses.

Raggedy Ann girls and brother


But according to my mother, shocking though it may be, the Embroidered Denim Shirt Omission wasn’t actually the biggest historical inaccuracy of that post. The real issue is that Santa Fe wasn’t nearly the worst family road trip we ever took.

That distinction goes to the Disneyland trip.


August 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Ship of Fools

“We don’t camp,” my mother intoned. “Since when did I raise you to go camping?”

Good question, I thought. No matter, though, because I was headed off on a camping trip that weekend, whether I was someone who camped or not.

compassI’d done my research. According to the guys I worked with, when a group of twentysomething young professionals goes camping – a group whose regular outdoor activities primarily consisted of hungover co-ed touch football games followed by bloody marys – there isn’t typically a whole lot of roughing it and hunting for our supper and building shelter from twigs and leaves. No, they assured me, more likely, this camping trip would entail drinking games and pairing up.

That sounded like something I could handle.


July 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm 4 comments

From Shopping Trek to “Tourist Foot”

This is not a post about socks.


So while one of the prompts from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week was to write a funny story involving socks, this is more like a tragicomic story that could have been avoided if only socks had been involved.

I used to manage the marketing department for a small company, and as part of my responsibilities, I was in charge of handling our tradeshow participation. One year, the big industry event was held in Las Vegas. That’s where this story begins.

Now I’m not much of a gambler, and Vegas in June doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for me, so the best I could do was make sure I assigned plenty of my friends on the sales team to work the show with me. And first on the list was my good friend, Susan.

I recruited Susan to come with me a day early to help with pre-show preparations. Susan and I are not the type to dilly-dally. If you’re one of those people who walks slowly down the office corridors or casually ambles through the mall, we’re the ones who are whooshing by you in a blur. We want to get it done and move on.

With the two of us in charge of pre-show prep on that already-hot Saturday morning in Vegas, you can bet that everything was completed in record time.

That meant the rest of the day was ours.


July 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm 5 comments

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