One of my favorite people from my days at CBS News, Radio, Dan Preisendanz, used to say, when handed copy by an anchor who couldn’t write a lick, “I don’t know where to start.” Those words came from Irene’s mouth Christmas morning.
Irene was talking about the biscuits I was trying to make. I’ve made biscuits before from a recipe in Fannie Farmer, and last Sunday did a test run just for Irene and me. They didn’t rise as much as they should, but I thought they were decent. I assumed Irene shared that sentiment until Christmas Eve when she told our daughter-in-law’s parents that they were “flat and tasteless.”
Despite that assessment, repeated at least twice in an unnecessarily loud voice, I was in the kitchen Christmas morning while a certain someone was still in bed, and, though not a math major in college, I managed (I think) to triple the Fannie Farmer recipe. (Quick: what is three times 2/3rds of a cup?)
When Mrs. I-don’t-know-where-to-start calmed down after her entrance into the kitchen, she instructed me to give her more flour and she went to work rescuing a main feature of the breakfast for 12 people. The truth is I added all the milk to the mixture at once before reading that the recipe called for it to be slowly mixed in.
Irene worked her magic and the biscuits were fine. I even took four of them over to a neighbor shortly after we had finished eating. Obviously they were cold by then, but I did not hear any sirens later in the day and the neighbor’s two young boys were, as usual, playing in their backyard and weren’t holding their stomachs. Then again, perhaps the neighbors are using Irene’s saved biscuits as door stops.
The complete breakfast menu was strawberry and apricot preserves, steak, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs with lobster, pancakes, berries (blue, black and rasp), sliced avocado, cinnamon buns, juices, coffee, and, for some adults, mimosas (or if you prefer mimosae.) It's a family-cooked meal with someone flipping the pancakes, another scrambling the eggs and others watching the bacon and sausage and steak.
After the dishwasher was loaded by a gang of people (not all of whom I recognized), gifts were unwrapped. One of Irene’s presents to me was a Howard Miller alarm clock which came with a sheet of paper labeled Instruction Manual. The instructions do not include how to open the cover on the clock so you can see what time it is. I’d like to think that is not nitpicking. I failed to open the clock on my first 15 tries. Irene solved the puzzle after nine or ten tries. After all, she has a Master’s and I don’t.
Trying to eat healthy, my lunch, spread out over a three-hour period that included a nap, was a cookie, a chocolate-pecan turtle and a cinnamon bun.
I began my day (while a certain someone was still in bed) putting on a pair of blue jeans I haven’t worn in a long time. I did get into them, barely. Who knows if I’ll be able to duplicate this success in the morning.