Filling Your Niche
skinny galley kitchen
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thanksgiving curry

I almost had such a great post for today.

So, last time Miss L was here, she asked me what the plans were for Thanksgiving.“Well, I think you & your dad are going camping,” I said.

“Oh. So are you and Miss G going to Tucson?” she asked.

“Nope, she’s going to Florida with her dad, and my folks are going to Denver for Thanksgiving.”

“Oh! Well… what will you do?”

Spend four whole days blissfully, blessedly alone.

“Oh, I’ll just hang out. I’m writing a novel,” I said.

After Dan drops her at the airport, he comes home and says, “Miss L doesn’t think it’s right for you to be alone at Thanksgiving. She wants to stay here and cook.”

“I— what?”

Oh god, that’s so sweet and yet so the exact opposite of the solo weekend I have super been looking forward to. And I can’t say no. You can’t say no to your stepdaughter wanting to spend Thanksgiving with you.

“Yeah, she asked me what my favorite dish is and said she wants to make it for Thanksgiving. So she’s making curry.”

Crap. And I hate curry. But I can’t hurt her feelings. There is just… no way out of this. Or— wait.

“Well— no, if you guys are staying, I’ll just as soon make a traditional dinner for all of us. What about leftover turkey curry the next night?” While I go to a write-in somewhere.

“Oh, great idea! I’ll run it by her.”

The next week, he says, “I talked to Miss L about Thanksgiving. She’s really looking forward to cooking with you.” He’s all lit up.

“Cooking… wait, what?”

“Yeah, I suggested making turkey curry the next night, but she really wants to have curry as one of the side dishes on actual Thanksgiving.”

“Honey, curry is really involved, and our kitchen is ridiculous. There’s just not room for both of us to be cooking such different meals in there. If she wants to help with regular Thanksgiving dinner, that would be great. And then she can take over the kitchen the next night for curry. It would be so much easier for both of us.”

“Oh, well. I guess that would be easier. Okay, I’ll talk to her.”

Disclaimer: Lest you think I am a total, total bitch for not wanting to cook Thanksgiving dinner curry with my stepdaughter, let’s discuss my kitchen. And, to a lesser extent, curry.

Our kitchen is a very narrow galley-style, with a 26” gap between counters; I have to stand off to one side to open the oven and it still does not open all the way. Our crappy stove has only three working burners, of which I will need four: gravy, potatoes, cranberries, stuffing. Plus I’ll need the oven. It’s already a challenge to cook any dinner in there, let alone Thanksgiving dinner, let alone while adding a whole extra person needing at least one entire counter and a fifth burner.

And the curry? Miss L’s mom’s family is from Sri Lanka. When she says she’s making curry, she’s not messing around. This is tons of ingredients, hours of chopping, mashing, peeling, prepping, simmering-all-day traditional curry.

The day before Miss L’s flight arrives, Dan says, “Well, Miss L couldn’t decide which curry recipe to make, so she’s doing two.” Ha ha! TWO! What a delight. Dan is pleased as a full tick. His cheerful oblivion is the last straw. I flip.

He is not listening to me. I’m doing my best to compromise on this and make a big ol’ meal with a heaping side of family time when all I wanted to do and planned to do over the weekend was write. He’s making everything so much more complicated than I wanted it to be while simultaneously making me into the bad guy for not being over the moon about it.

Dan flips back. He’s pissed that I’m not excited to have them here for the holiday. He doesn’t understand why the curry is a problem. He throws up his hands and yells “You two have just built a wall! A WALL!” as if he has been an innocent bystander in the incomprehensible dynamic that is me and Miss L instead of a passive enabler.

I tell him it has nothing to do with my relationship with Miss L, that I would feel the same way about Miss G wanting to make one (oh wait, two) really complicated dishes on that day. I remind him about the three burners, the 26 inches. I remind him that I don’t let anyone help with even making boring regular dinner because two people in this kitchen is way too many, and that goes double for something complex like Thanksgiving dinner. Or curry.

Let there be no mistake, I tell him, I am genuinely touched that Miss L thinks I shouldn’t be alone at Thanksgiving, and I want to figure out a way to make this work. But it’s still a pain in the ass. So stop demonizing me, dammit, and HELP ME find a solution.

He calms down. I calm down. There’s gotta be an answer here that ends with me cooking turkey, Miss L cooking curry, all of us eating together, and me still making time to write.

So we brainstorm. Could we call in the help of a camping stove? Maybe. Better yet, we could take over his parents’ kitchen a few houses down; they’ll be out of town. Will Miss L feel exiled if we send her to cook down there? Possibly. To avoid this, Dan and I decide that I will cook regular dinner down there, and she can take over our kitchen here. Bonus: with no one home at the other house, I can bring my laptop and squeeze in some writing time after all. Win-win.

Except. Oh, right. His folks are installing new flooring, so all the kitchen cabinets are sitting in the backyard, along with the kitchen sink (and not in the metaphorical sense).

And wait— okay, where do we eat? Load up plates at the other house and cart them back to our house and eat? We can’t eat at his parents’ because the dining room table is now holding up the microwave and pretending it’s a kitchen counter. And is Miss L familiar enough with her dishes that she can gauge what time they’ll be done, so we can eat everything at one time?

I ask Dan all these questions. He suggests finishing the flooring real quick and getting the sink hooked back up. I say, “Installing kitchen flooring and a sink while I’m trying to make Thanksgiving dinner is the only thing that will make that day more ridiculous.” He says I’m a Negative Nelly. I say he skips right to the magical unicorn dust happy ending without any practical sense of how we get there.

We call a truce and I figure… okay. We’ll work it out. Somehow. Plus rinsing the turkey out in the bathtub and the whole curry thing will make a good blog entry. The only thing I’ve done this month is NaNo, think about NaNo, or avoid NaNo. God knows I could use some new material for my blog.

So, I put my grouchies to bed and get ready to take discreet anecdotal notes.

And then.

Miss L had the temerity to show up with a giant ziplock bag of frozen curry she already prepared at her mom’s house, thus neatly preventing any drama or complications arising out of Thanksgiving day dinner. Instead, she helped me mash potatoes and make pie. Together. Both of us in one kitchen.

Dammit.

Maybe next year I’ll have a good story to write about.

stepparenting

Maarit • 11/28/2010


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Comments

  1. Bruce 11/28/2010 - 6:26 pm

    Ask Dan where I can pick up some of that magical unicorn dust. I want to send it to Washington.

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