I’ve got this sudden desire to cook and to host and to feed people. I thought Mother’s Day would be a great time to win brownie points with the pseudo-ma-in-law by making a brunch feast featuring all the home-cooked favorites of my absentee ma.
[Love you, Mud. I sent your card on Friday so you should be getting it any week now. Hopefully by Father’s Day.]
Ze menu (ugh-huh-huh): Crustless quiche. Bacon. Sausages. Baked beans. Roasted rosemary potatoes. Apple rhubarb crisp with frozen yogurt. An exotic fruit tray with homemade fruit dip. And champagne n’ OJ – because any excuse to drink before noon on a Sunday!
I actually spent four hours at the Superstore on Saturday. I mean it when I say this sudden urge to serve is new. I had to buy dishes, serving trays, a glass pitcher, champagne flutes, candles (so the condo didn’t smell like itself), in addition to all the ingredients. It was gonna be perfect. I was stoked. And my mother, embracing my newfound culinary zeal, was on the phone with me all day Saturday making sure I had the timing of everything perfected.
- Make everything Saturday so the atmosphere is nice and clean and stress-free when you wake up Sunday.
- Chop the fruit right before bed.
- Throw everything in the fridge.
- Wake up nice and early. [If possible, wake up and stretch attractively with a big toothy smile; your hair and makeup magically done; Katrina and the Waves heralding the perfect new day. Perfect.]
- Toss those dishes in the oven to warm.
- Throw on the coffee and toast.
- Pour yourself a drink.
- Be fabulous.
What could go wrong?
I was invited out for supper Saturday evening. And although I hadn’t yet touched the quiche, the potatoes or the fruit platter, I had been working my ass off…
[Chopping apples is hard!]
…I deserved a little break.
So after a barbecue, I-lost-count-of-how-many Long Island iced teas and red wine in a hot tub, I was home my midnight. Ish.
I’m proud to say I made the quiche that night. But that was it. The potato roasting and fruit chopping could wait till the morning. No biggie. His mom wouldn’t be here till noon. I’d set my phone alarm for 10 am.
T’ousdands o’ time, I thought.
Except that I wasn’t thinking. Had my Long Island brain been operating at full capacity, I would have recognized that my phone had about 8% battery life remaining.
I woke up – shot up – at 11:20 am. Phone dead.
I fully embraced a new persona of order-barking, domestic demon (who won’t be invited back).
THERE’S NO TIME TO “WAKE UP”! WE GOTTA MOVE!
J’s job was to clean the condo which had been completely bungled by the previous day’s over-zealous, prematurely abandoned cooking bonanza. My job was to chop the fruit…
[Not to make it simply edible – that’s way too straight-forward – but to make it look like sexy, food art!]
…marinate and roast the potatoes, make the toast and coffee, heat the stuff I made yesterday. It doesn’t sound like much but, again, I’m a fetus in the life cycle of a cook/host.
And she would be here in fifteen minutes.
I felt the ping! of three to six cranial arteries.
My memory of the next minute and a half takes place in a silent, slow motion picture:
J casually starts vacuuming, happily grooving to his own anti-cerebrovascular-accident rhythm, not a care in the world. I am part cleaning the counters, part throwing fruit into a pile, part rinsing and chopping. I dump all the mini-potatoes into two pots full of water to boil before roasting. I slam the pots on the back burners which I crank on max heat. I yank the giant glass dish of quiche from the fridge and place it on the front burners. Just to have it out and visible. Maybe to comfort myself.
At least I’d done something right. Thank God I didn’t listen to J who suggested I go to bed and get a good night’s sleep and make the quiche in the morning. Imagine how much worse this would be if I still had to make this!
In a gorgeous display of passive aggression, I actually took the mid-panic time to say, “I’m glad I didn’t wait until this morning to make the quiche”.
Chop. Whir (vacuum). Chop chop. Whirrrrrrr. Chop.
[That’s the sound a breakfast-glass explosion makes.]
Now, I’ll admit I’m a drama queen who’s a sucker for a drop o’ hyperbole. But I shit you not, I made air. I literally was propelled in the air by the blast of glass and heat.
[Either that or I dove away like a pussy. I’m pretty sure I was propelled, though.]
It wasn’t until I saw the column of smoke from the front burner, stumbled into the glass shards and saw the blood that reality struck me.
I’d turned on the wrong burners.
I swear to you the next few moments are a blur. But J tells me he asked, “What happened?”
I just stared blankly. “It exploded. It’s ruined.”
And then the panic piqued with a vengeance.
She’s going to be here in less than ten minutes!
I didn’t have my contacts in. I was wearing a nightdress…
[Aside: When I told my patient – young dude – this story, his sole response was, “You wear a nightdress? Sooo, when is your 86th birthday?”]
…I looked like death. My car was still in another neighbourhood where I’d left it the night before. Bleeding into a pair of sneakers, I ran to J’s large truck which I should not be allowed to drive, even when I can see. I somehow turned the windshield wipers on immediately – beautiful sunny day – and any attempt to turn them off just seemed to accelerate their taunting squeals of friction. Even squinting and with my chin on the steering wheel like – well played, dude patient – an 86-year-old, I was blind and hoping for the best.
I made it to the Superstore just in time for high noon of Mother’s Day madness. Despite a full-on limp I ran non-stop, filling my basket with new dishes and all new ingredients.
I even swung by the liquor store to grab the biggest Bailey’s I could find. I had, regretfully, asked J’s mom to come “extra hungry, ‘cause it’s gonna be a feast!”. If nothing else, I felt obligated to get her drunk.
Since the mere typing of this story is giving me the stress sweats, I’ll wrap it up quickly:
The kitchen was a mess. She didn’t seem to care. Coffee and Bailey’s? Nailed it. Shower/make-up/getting dressed? Fuck, no! Planned eating time? 12:15. Actual eating time? 2:45. Unexpected (but always welcome) two extra guests? Ain’t no thang! Just a little extra sweat and feigned coolness. Once the quiche was in the oven, I even fooled myself.
It all came together. I like to think the second quiche was better than the annihilated original. We’re still eating leftovers. And my foot is still attached.
Most expensive brunch ever. But worth the story.