Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Square Peg - I Cooked My Goose, But Somebody Else Ate It



The Square Peg - I Cooked My Goose, But Somebody Else Ate It
© S. Bradley Stoner

I’m a cook... no chef, but still a pretty good cook, especially when it comes to traditional holiday fare. I love holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? I LOVE turkey... and goose. Come Thanksgiving morning, you can find me in the kitchen sharpening up my knives... especially my chef’s knife, or as my grandmother used to call it, The Big Lawyer. That came from her experience with a customer of my grandfather’s building and home repair business who was always trying to weasel out of paying and threatening to hire a big lawyer. When my grandmother finally got fed up with that, she reached into a drawer pulled out a big knife and said, “I’ve got a big lawyer right here.” Needless to say, the threats stopped, so apparently her Big Lawyer was better than his. But I digress.

Anyway, I use my chef’s knife for almost everything that needs cutting, dicing or slicing. I have other knives in the set, of course, but they just don’t get used as much. I keep that beauty razor sharp with the steel that came with the set I bought, ostensibly for my lovely, but as she said at the time, “I’m not going to get to use that much, am I?” Now some would be offended, but I wasn’t. Understanding that she uses knives for a lot of things for which they weren’t intended to be used, and these are a really nice set of kitchen knives... well, I guess you could say as she did, “You bought them for yourself.” I didn’t really, but if I had thought about it, I would have realized by virtue of quality alone, they’d be mine by default.

Back to turkey day. I used to raise and butcher my own turkeys... they sort of came pre-spiced one year because they got into the garden and ate the baby onions and anything else that was tender. I had thought that eight foot woven wire fence would keep them out. Silly me. Turkeys fly... at least mine did... really, really well. Back to current times. Now my turkey comes from a grocery store. Bird flu be damned, I won’t forego turkey just because prices went up a little. No sir. But I also don’t buy one of those fancy brands they advertise either... no siree... I buy the plain Jane turkey. A tom, to be sure, but no fancy schmancy pre-buttered, water injected, gonna be juicy all by itself, waste of money critters for me.

You want a pre-buttered turkey... here’s a hint. Once you’ve removed the giblets from the neck flap and the neck from the body cavity, shake some salt into your hand and give that bird a rubdown... not to excess mind you. Then take a stick (that’s a 1/4 pound for you newbies) and shove it up the turkey’s... um put it in the body cavity. Stick the bird in a roaster (actually those roasting bags work best, so put it in one of those before you put it in the roaster), and roast the bird at 350 (that Fahrenheit... don’t have a clue what it would be in Celsius) for an hour and a half... before you stuff it!

While your waiting, you make the rest of the stuff... you know stuffing, cranberry sauce, smashed potatoes, and gravy. I make my own from scratch, and no I’m not going to tell you the recipes... they’re secret. But I can tell you they are to die for, especially that turkey gravy. The only ones who know how I make it are my boys, and they had to pester me for years before I let them in on it. Anyhow, now I’m salivating, and that’s not what I wanted to talk about anyway.

What I wanted to talk about was the first Christmas my lovely and I spent together. We decided to make a big dinner for the whole family. Or rather we decided I would make dinner for the whole family, hers and mine. First I had to go shopping. I spent $300.00... and that was the last time she let me go shopping for holiday dinners. In addition to turkey, I happen to like goose. When I mentioned that to the rest of the family, everybody turned up their nose... nobody, and I do mean nobody liked goose. Frankly, I was ecstatic. I had a whole goose to myself... everybody else could eat turkey or ham.

I have a special way of preparing goose as well. It’s a secret too, but I can tell you it involves Grand Marnier and a glaze... it’s yummy. So, I spent the day preparing a Christmas feast. I made a veggie plate to start things off... I even made carrot and cucumber flowers. That’s tedious, but it looks nice and good food should look nice. I laid out the spread on a big table... ah a feast for the eyes as well as a feast for the stomach... and set my goose discretely away from the more popular foods.

I helped with the silverware and china while everybody else piled food on their plates, playing the good host, and went to fill my plate after everyone else. I made a bee line for my goose and... NOOOooooo! My goose had been stripped... the only thing left was a little thigh and drumstick. That’s all those greedy, goose hating freeloaders left me. A THIGH AND A DRUMSTICK... ON A GOOSE!!! Do you have any idea how small those are? My goose, my beautiful goose... gone!

“What happened to my goose?!” I demanded in a less than Chistmassy voice.

Came a chorus of voices. “I’ve never had goose that tasted like this... it isn’t greasy like the others... it isn’t gamy...” and on and on. They wanted my recipe... even my brother who had proclaimed he “hated goose and would never eat it.” I didn’t give it to them. It’s mine... and the next time I make goose... I’m going to do it in secret and eat the whole thing myself. I didn’t tell them where the remainder of the Grand Marnier was either. I planned on enjoying that after they all went home. I can’t believe those turkeys ate my goose!

Right now I’m looking at my shotgun. No, not for that. If I want goose again, I’m going to have to go bag my own. With the price of goose being what it is now, my Sweetie would never let me shop on my own again. Psst... don’t tell her what the shells, the gas, and the new hunting jacket are going to cost.