My Year of Living Dangerously

In December of 2008, I found myself with a brand-spanking new college degree and visions of the millions I would make before the New Year was out.  After about five months of job searching in my sprawling new city of residence, I realized that our tanking/-ed economy had thrown me flat on my ass.  Soon after, feeling my spiral of desperation firmly taking hold, I knew I had to find something else to pass the time.  Scouring Craigslist just really wasn’t doing it for me.

I’ve always been one for cooking and baking, having been a regular occupant of my parents’ kitchen since childhood.  (My father once proudly displayed my first multi-course dinner menu, undertaken at the ripe old age of nine, in his office.)  A picky eater since birth and the youngest member of my nuclear family by 7 years, my mother finally gave up trying to satiate my desires for Kraft macaroni and cheese every night.  Given the challenge, “If you want it, you make it,” I proudly took my place in the kitchen.

Armed with my eight years of life experience and my family’s tendency to employ you as a kitchen helper by the age of, well, standing, my first memorable, successful endeavor was simple baked chicken and vegetables for the family.  I know, really creative.  But I was an eight year old functioning without a recipe, so I consider it a success.

Over the years there were successes and failures: mornings of making fresh biscuits with my grandpa, cinnamon rolls with my mom, ravioli with my dad, and my personal time with the Betty Crocker cookbook that had lived in my mother’s pantry for about a billion years.  One day, my obsession with all things traditional and my displeasure at my family’s tendency to live off of prepackaged foods sparked my desire to tackle the holy mother of all food-related holidays: Thanksgiving.  At fifteen I announced my plan to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family plus guests.  Starting the planning in August seemed like a reasonable place to start.

Six Thanksgiving dinners (The most recent one found me flying 3000 miles home, four days before the big day, to my mother asking what I was planning to make.), seven turkeys (one dinner had 2 turkeys thanks to an ordering mishap), countless batches of homemade bread and rolls, pies, cakes, muffins and general goodness later, I have found myself in what my mother terms a “single-butt” kitchen with the most massive and totally awesome vintage stove and a year of unemployment under my belt.

My sanity wearing thin thanks to said year, it’s time to find more creative ways to spend those brain cells.  Taking 500 pictures of my two cats and bunny can only occupy my time for so long.

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