I can’t think why I gain weight during the holidays. I’m sure to eat a balanced diet from every food group: food made with cream soup, food made with Cool Whip, food that combines fruit with marshmallows in a creative way, and food that distant relatives make. And I’m always careful to use garnishes, such as triple chocolate cake in hot fudge sauce, with discretion.
But here I am again, straining the seams of my purple puppy dog pajamas and forcing the elastic in my stretchy pants to call for reinforcements. To take the stress off my seams, I generally go easy in the “food that distant relatives make” category.
What is it about seeing people only once a year that makes them think they can try out their experimental recipes without fear of retribution? Everybody has an aunt on a health food kick that makes everything with soy milk or an uncle who specialty is peanut butter casserole, but my family members have a special place in the Food Terrors Hall of Fame. (Their motto is “Smell This!”)
In honor of family unity, I have always suffered through the asparagus jello of a forgotten time, but from now on, I’m taking a stand on the Spinach and Raisin MangoTomato Balls.
I find that I can resist:
1. Any dish that combines candied cherries, chipped beef, and spices I can't pronounce.
2. Any dish that blends chocolate chips with any type of canned fish product.
3. Any finger food that leaves a residue on my hands that requires turpentine to remove.
The Captain always tries to find a way to avoid the experimental food festivities. Last year a friend asked him to go fly-fishing over the holidays, but instead he spent time in the local emergency room where they applied a topical medication that smelled like trout.
But now I’ve concocted a secret weapon. So next time I’m faced with Sauerkraut and Strawberry Casserole or Better Than Roadkill Chili, I’ll whip the top off the mason jar I’m keeping for such an occasion.
“What’s that?” the Captain asked me when the mixture etched a skull and crossbones on the inside of the jar.
I grinned and waved the jar tantalizingly under his nose. He jumped back. It takes less than that to make hardened criminals spill the details of their secret stash.
“Whoa. What IS that? Your great-grandaddy’s moonshine?”
“Better than that. My brother’s carp bait. He got the secret from Uncle Bud.”
“What’s in it?”
“I can't tell you,” I said, resealing the lid and cushioning the jar in a box lined with packing peanuts to insure the integrity of the solution.
“It’s an Old Family Recipe.”
“As a matter of fact, that’s what killed Uncle Bud.”
“What did he do, eat it?”
“No, he went fishing on Christmas and Aunt Edna found out.”