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immovable feast

My wife and my mother are both excellent cooks, and they both take pride in it. In fact, though neither will admit it, they’re a little competitive about it. That’s why Thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s house is a living hell, year after year. My wife always brings several dishes. They both work for days before hand—planning, preparing, cooking, and baking. By the time everyone sits down at the table, the tension in the air can be sliced with a carving knife.

Every year, I pray that the focus of the holiday—that we can all simply be thankful for all that we have—will not be overshadowed by the inevitable cooking competition that builds between the two of them. Don’t get me wrong. The food is truly fabulous. It’s just that I’d settle for a TV dinner if it would just allow everyone to relax and enjoy one another’s company What can I do?


The Practical Cogitator says: Bring some holiday wine, booze, moonshine…whatever. Start slipping it to the competitive cooks, and watch the culinary-ista’s lighten up. Bottoms up, folks!

Dining Out says: Tis the season to add fuel to the fire! There’s nothing more entertaining than watching a healthy family feud explode over a dull meal like Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not like we celebrate Thanksgiving for the food. Over half the country eats turkey meat on a daily basis and consumes too much sodium in their diets (hello, stuffing and mashed potatoes). It’s supposed to be an indulgent feast and time of year in general. I say let your mother and wife revel in their emotions. Let them duke it out as to who has the least lumpy gravy and tastiest hormone-injected turkey. Aside from carving the turkey, you don’t even have to lift a finger. It’s not like you cooked the meal. So sit back, relax with a glass of wine, and let the drama unfold.

The Gay Perspective: You can’t talk to these women, you pussy-whipped wimp? This is their problem. I guess the marriage thing locks you into the meal. What is it they say? You’ve made your bed…for that matter, they’ve made theirs. My partner and I will be in Manhattan. See ya!

mess hall

My family generally has dinner at my mom’s house on holidays, but this year she will be out of town visiting family. That leaves my husband and I handling Thanksgiving dinner. We are planning on having nine adults and six children, in addition to my husband, my daughter, and I. I have a 25-pound turkey, but I am concerned about the rest of the meal. I have two vegans and one vegetarian to feed. Any ideas on menu items that work for my guests (and my tight budget)?

—Cook’s Choice

Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: Well, being a practicing (if unlicensed) psychiatrist, I am most intrigued by the first question in this column. There’s a lot of fertile ground there for some psychoanalysis—what with the mother, the wife, and the symbolic carving knife. But I’ve learned from years of dealing with subjects—who come to me with bizarre and convoluted family issues around the holidays—that it’s best just to listen. There are no answers. Every family is as dysfunctional as the next.

So, in lieu of giving advice, here is my favorite recipe for cranberry sauce:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 cups fresh cranberries

Wash cranberries. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add cranberries, and return to a boil for ten minutes, or until the berries begin to burst. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Stir in a splash of Grand Marnier, or a bit of orange peel, or both. Remove from heat and let cool completely to room temperature. Once cool, spoon into bowl and chill in the fridge overnight. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Finish the bottle of Grand Marnier, preferably with your significant other.

Good luck, hang in there, and happy Thanksgiving.

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