Sunday, December 28, 2008


Okay, I gotta admit, it started with a crock-pot. I'd always wanted one, or thought I might, but it's so big that you just have to use it and if you don't you have to add on another bedroom for all the appliancesyou once thought you couldn't live without, like the clay pot cooker and the rice maker and the mini deep fry and the small, medium, and extra large George Forman grills. But for Christmas this year, Mike and Marissa (Mike works with Steve and is the most fabulous guy) bought me one. A real Crock Pot, and it looked so cool that I offered to make hot appetizers for Christmas Day. My sister told me all about her Swedish meatballs and kept telling me how easy they were. Lynn Biederman (co-author of the great YA novel, UNRAVELING) told me about these puff pastry/sausage thingys, sort of a fancy pigs in the blanket, and really, who doesn't love a pig in anything?

I got up Christmas morning a little hung over, and I was thinking that I should have had someone go to Sam's Club (I'm not a member and boycott it at all turns) and bought the 48 piece hot hor devours tray. But not me. I got to work shaping those tiny pork and turkey meatballs, which I shaped into perfect little balls, about the size of small Christmas balls. But there were literally hundreds of them. My sister told me I should use grape jelly and chili sauce and just put the whole thing in the crock pot for 8 hours.

But you know me--- if grape jelly is the easy way, then homemade peach jam might be better. And chili sauce from a jar? Wouldn't ketchup, fresh grated horseradish, some lemon juice, and a dash of freshly ground hot peppers be better? We almost had to evacuate because the horseradish and the peppers were so aromatically overwhelming, but after turning on all the fans and opening the doors, things calmed down a bit. No matter that it was 34 degrees.

By the time the meatballs were swimming in the sauce, I was exhausted, every dish in the house was filthy, and I had an attitude as big as Iowa.

But on to the sausage puffs. Lynn told me to buy a package of sausage and a package of puff pastry dough. Oh please. Went to Fleisher's butcher shop and got homemade sage sausage, on to Bread Alone to get fresh puff pastry. Lynn said it took twenty minutes to put together enough for a hundred and fifty pieces. It took me four hours to put together enough for 60 pieces. Then they had to be cut and frozen. By then it was four in the afternoon.

I was furious, and I didn't know who to lash out at. So I just pouted and went to Christmas dinner, itching for a fight. But my friends are nicer than I am and it was lovely. Everyone gushed about the great food I had made.

After two hours, I had to go home because I was too exhausted to stand. There I did another two loads of dishes. I called my sister to complain. "You made the meatballs?" she asked incredulously. "I use frozen."

And right then I got it--- my drive to be perfect made my holiday a nightmare. I could have used grape jelly and the frozen meatballs, and maybe people wouldn't have gushed, but they wouldn't have barfed either.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me what a pukey little control freak I am? Oh right, they probably did, but I stopped talking to them!

I am now a new girl. Next time you need hot appetizers, call me. I'll bring them straight from Sam's Club. I'll just throw them in the crock-pot! And you'll probably never know the difference. Or care.