Wednesday, November 17, 2010


So I just looked at the calendar and realized that Thanksgiving is happening in a week! When did that happen? Did I mention the family is coming here? Here's a tale of Thanksgiving 2007, when I last hosted the event.

I need to preface this whole story by saying that my mom doesn't think that I can cook, which was half the reason that I wanted to host Thanksgiving - to prove that we wouldn't be dining on cereal and Lean Cuisines. We'd be eating real food, made by me.  Back in 2007, I was still living in an apartment.

As I was getting ready for the event, my friend, Amanda, told me that the one time she made a turkey, she'd bought one with a pop up timer, so if I'd just get one of those, I'd be golden. Sweet. Butterball Pop Up Timer Turkey on the list. I had a recipe for Yukon Gold mashed potatoes that I wanted to make from Real Simple, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, Stove Top stuffing (whatever, I'd never made stuffing), cranberry sauce, caramel rice krispie treats, and corn, probably other stuff too. My sister and mom were both bringing pies, and bread.  Lunch was slated to begin at noon, so I thought people would show up at 11ish or something. 

Sometime in the early morning, I pulled that gross stuff out of the inside of a turkey (YUCK!!) season it and put into the roaster into the oven. Around 9 a.m., I was doing a load of laundry when my parents arrived.  9 a.m. is nowhere close to noon in case you can't tell time.  It's completely different.  I needed trash bags and saran wrap or something like that, so I sent my dad to the grocery store.  My dad has never met a stranger - I figured he'd be gone for 45 minutes.  I needed to run downstairs and throw clothes into the dryer, my mom asked what she could do?  I suggested she start peeling potatoes.  My mom failed to mention that she is a champion potato peeler.  I was gone for about 2.2 minutes.  She had peeled half of a five pound bag if not more in my absence.  No joke.  I picked up a potato and started peeling and glanced over at my mom who was whirling away.  I said something about how she must have "the good potato peeler."  We switched.  The lightning fast peeling continued.

Elizabeth and her family arrived sometime close to 11, because that's normal and expected.  When Elizabeth arrived we kicked food prep into high gear. One problem - my apartment kitchen was small and not open at all.  Insanely small.  And then things start to get amusing, sort of...

My mom: "Rebekah, what do you want for Christmas?"
Before I can even say a word....
My sister, Elizabeth: "A bigger kitchen." 
The three of us in there was a tight squeeze. At some point my mom decided we should check on that turkey - not her first rodeo. 
She opens the oven door: "Rebekah, where's the pop up timer?"
Me: "On the turkey." And I was only trying to be halfway sarcastic.
My mom looked at me, and said: "Well, I don't see one here.  Where's your meat thermometer?"
Me: "Did you ever give me a meat therometer? I don't own one."

So yes, a 15 pound turkey in the oven for 8 - 9 people and no way to tell if it's done. Until my mom says that if we can twist the leg and it nearly comes off it's done. (My timer was almost up too FYI).  The leg thing worked and the turkey was great. I have since acquired a meat thermometer.  Thanksgiving got substantially less exciting from there - my sister brought this awesome French Silk Pie from a bakery that is now closed - it was so piled high that my knife disappeared.

When is it Over?

I'm lucky to live in a state where budgets have to be balanced every year - state, and local. What? What? That means that either services have to be cut or taxes have to be raised. This past year, both have happened in the Omaha metro. Full disclosure - I no longer live in the city, so many things don't actually impact me. Certain things, I honestly admit, I do not notice. I benefit from having a company car (yes, I can hear you telling me how much I suck). I am very thankful for this benefit, trust me. As a result, I don't pay to license my car, and when the county increased the wheel tax, I went, eh.   And when the city decided that they had to change their snow removal schedule to save some money - I thought, no big deal - I PAY for my snow removal every month, and many other things in my HOA dues. The city also decided to implement a tax for people that work in the city, but don't live there (Hi Council Bluffs commuters!). When I lived in Lansing they had something like this too, but I didn't actually work in the city - I found that I when I tried to sign up to pay this tax and payroll shot that idea down.

So what will impact me???  This thing called a "restaurant tax." I eat out a couple times a week.  And I'm okay with paying it, because it's 2.5%. I figure it's like a local option sales tax, which I grew up with.  Many people aren't happy with all of these changes - I'm not sure what exactly they'd like the solution to be other than no restaurant tax.  No snow removal?  Don't fix the potholes that were awful this year? Eliminate Fire and Rescue all together?   And therein is where the rub has happened of sorts - the current mayor inherited some problems that started before I even moved here, a little thing known as "pension spiking." Will it effect some people's dining out? Perhaps, but as a single person with no kids, the 20 extra cents that I was charged on my lunch today had no major consequence on me - I'm more likely to eat out less to save $8.67 not 20 cents.   It's tacked on after at the total, and before the sales tax. Typically, I see it listed as "occupancy tax" or "restaurant tax."  This made me chuckle. Here's what my receipt looked like from Brewburgers (Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and I agree - great place!!!)  "Mayor Fee"
There's a group that's working to recall the mayor, which is well within their rights. By Friday they have to gather 27,000 signatures, so they set up places to sign in parking lots, wave signs, use bullhorns, etc.  They aren't happy about all the spending, so they want the city to spend $900,000 on a special election to recall the mayor so that he could get kicked out shortly before his term is up. Yeah, I'm confused by that too, but it's a free country, do what you want. Doing all that wouldn't result in any MORE taxes ore services being cut by my logical thought process. W

My favorite part of this story just happened over the weekend. Since many of the people that have been hired to work for this "campaign" aren't from Omaha - they apparently don't know what they mayor looks like.  Yes, they did indeed ask the mayor to sign the petition to recall himself. He declined.