by Amanda Forester
When I was growing up my mom did most of the cooking. Correction… except for my feeble attempts at “yogurt parfait surprise” for mother’s day, my mom did ALL the cooking. There was a reason for this. She was a good cook. She added butter, garlic, and sherry in some combination to just about every dish – good stuff!
Thanksgiving in our house was significant amount of work for my mom. My dad did help with the turkey (he made the cute little white decorations that went around the drumsticks) and he would proudly display the bird roasted to golden perfection (by my mother).
Now I’m not saying my dad hasn't learned to cook over the years. He now makes a mean roast beef and a mouth watering salmon. But early in his cooking career he made some less than appetizing food choices, such as “can salad” which consisted of opening whatever cans he found in the cabinet and mixing them together (yech!). But his greatest food disaster can be summed in two words:
Yes, that would be turnips with chocolate sauce. Wish I was kidding you folks, but my dad somehow took on the challenge of making “turnips molé” as a special Thanksgiving dish. The first year he bought very expensive dark chocolate and would not let anyone touch it. He cooked the turnips, poured the melted chocolate on top, and served proudly. Needless to say, it was with no small amount of reservation that everyone took a small potion to be polite, a portion that was still on their plates when we did the dishes. I can only describe it with one word: disgusting. The worst part was throwing away all that expensive chocolate, ruined by the pervasive taste of turnip. So sad!
Now most people would learn the lesson that chocolate and turnips should never meet in a casserole dish, nor even be spoken together in the same sentence, but not my pops. No, he took his failure as a minor setback toward his dream of creating the world’s first turnips molé recipe. The next Thanksgiving he devised a different concoction of turnips and chocolate. To no one’s surprise it was a dismal failure. This time folks rejected politeness in favor of avoiding turnip contamination. The turnips molé remained largely untouched.
The next year and the next and the next after that my father, who takes persistence to a whole new level, tried new creations. Every year it was different, with alternating amounts of turnips and chocolate. He tried adding other ingredients to disguise his creation, but we were on to him, and learned to identify and reject the dish containing the toxic turnips.
After over thirty years and all those recipes I can say with utmost confidence that turnips molé is just never going to work. And yet… my Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without a little chocolate turnips.
So what Thanksgiving dish do you pass along, quietly hoping no one will notice your rejection? Which dish do you like the most?
My favorite dish at the Thanksgiving table is the mashed potatoes. Just to show I have no ill will toward most root vegetables, here is my recipe for mashed potatoes, thanks to an episode of Curious George (but that’s another story…).
Amanda’s Root Potato Mash
5 Medium New Potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/3 cup Milk
4 T Butter
Salt to taste
1. Boil the potatoes, sweet potato, and parsnip until tender
2. Mash together the potatoes and parsnip by hand or I usually put it in an electric mixer (don’t over mix or you'll get glue).
3. Mix in sour cream, butter, milk, and salt, adding more as needed until you like the taste.