Recipes / Relationships / Susan's Food and Art

A Very Murphy Christmas and Corn Relish

By Susan Nelson

"holiday dinner table"Well, Christmas has come and gone once again, and I find I’m feeling my age this year. My feet hurt and my brain seems to have shifted into “numb” and remains there as of this morning.

Murphy was in the house this year and in good form. I cooked a turkey on Christmas Eve day and miraculously the house didn’t burn to the ground, and on Christmas Day I planned to cook a prime rib. Since the oven was going to be in full production with the roast, I decided to cook the majority of the vegetables except the mashed potatoes the day I cooked the turkey and put a few of them in crockpots to warm and heat the rest in the microwave on Christmas. I was so organized, I was leaning toward cocky. All systems were ready for lift off. Uh huh.

Roast in the oven around two on Christmas Day, I decided to heat up the hot wings in the microwave and throw them in a smaller crockpot so they’d be ready when my guests arrived. Working on the second batch and preparing to head in to get dressed, the microwave suddenly went dark. Okay. We pulled it out from the wall, let it cool off, called in a medicine man to sprinkle magic powder on it, and finally had to pronounce the patient beyond resuscitation. Damn. Still not dressed and now having that haggard look associated with a good plan suddenly going bad, I pulled out the rest of my crockpots and plugged them in wherever I could find a plug and began throwing my vegetables in on low. Fortunately, having owned our restaurant we have a ridiculous supply of the little buggers so quantity wasn’t a problem. However, our house, as much as I love it, is getting long in the tooth, as is the electrical system, and with us now generating enough electricity at this point to be seen from a satellite, we blew a fuse. This, naturally, also turned off the oven, the lights, the stove and the bathroom plugs so I couldn’t dry my hair, which was drying any way it wanted to and this was not a good look for me.

My other half was dispatched to the fuse box and I was instructed to redistribute the crockpots through the dining room and living room area so they weren’t all on one breaker. Lights back on and house still standing, the food line was now situated so that it was less like a line and more like a trek up the Himalaya’s, but at least things were warming.

I got my hair wet again and dried and managed to put some lipstick on so at least I gave the appearance of good cheer, and moved forward. It had been suggested that I use paper plates, but trying to cut prime rib on paper plates, no matter how sturdy, is a disaster just waiting to happen and not particularly festive, so I opted for my holiday plates. I had one load of earlier dishes ready to put away in the dishwasher so that I would have plenty of room to put the dishes from dinner after we ate. Opening the dishwasher, I discovered that it had not drained properly. I pushed “rinse” and went off to come back a half an hour later and find the water still sitting there and the dishes not washed properly. Okay.

We quickly washed and dried the dishes, and guests arriving went into the evening with the happy thought that every dish they picked up would have to be hand washed afterwards. At that point I was entertaining thoughts of booking a flight to Barbados.

Somehow dinner went off well. There were barely enough for leftovers the following day. I made a corn relish that was so easy, looked pretty, and disappeared to the last kernel, so I thought I’d share it. At least you don’t need a microwave to reheat it, as it’s served cold. Around 10:00 p.m. after my guests had departed I was found sitting on a chair in the corner, apron still attached, with a wooden spoon in my hand mumbling, ba buh, ba buh, ba buh, but we survived.

Can’t wait for New Year’s Eve. Help.

Corn Relish

2 14 1/2 oz. cans kernel corn, drained
1/2 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

4 Tbsp. white vinegar
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Newman’s Lite Caesar dressing (any brand will do, I prefer this one)
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

In medium bowl mix together corn and other vegetables. In small bowl mix white vinegar, olive oil, Caesar dressing, and chopped parsley. Pour over corn mix and toss well.& Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours prior to serving.

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