I recall one Thanksgiving dinner, when I was sixteen, trying to explain to my Mennonite German grandmother that I had recently become vegetarian and therefore would not in fact be eating the turkey. No. I wouldn't be eating the stuffing either because (besides the fact that I have always harboured an irrational hatred for stuffing) it was actually cooked inside the turkey. And no, I would not be having the gravy on my potatoes (sob!). I recall it was like a scene straight out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "What? You no eat meat? That's okay. I make Lamb." Or even ham. Or maybe chicken.
Once she cottoned on to the fact that yes I would still eat potatoes and perogies and that vast quantities of sour cream were a-OK, she was somewhat less uncomfortable. In her books no meat = weird.
Well, I'm certainly not vegetarian any more so there's no freaking Gram out on that count. This year I did what I thought was the next best thing.
Gram has always been an earnest supporter of things her grandchildren make or do or grow all by themselves, so she was forced to eat my unorthodox (or unMennonite, depending on your perspective) contribution to this year's Thanksgiving dinner: ham cooked in coke and mashed purple potatoes that I grew my own damn self in my own sad garden. I call it a sad garden because its only yield this year, besides an unMennonite amount of weeds, was: 42 pea pods, 4 ripe tomatoes, 65,325 unripe tomatoes, 8 (small) zucchinis (some with pre-rotted ends), 3 tiny patty pan squashes, 40 leeks as big around as a thin HB pencil (which is to say not big at all) and 12 HUGE potato bushes (plants? trees? vines?) each bearing, at most, 4 small potatoes totalling no more than a few hundred grams per bush.
Judging by the size of the bushes (4 feet tall!) I was foolishly expecting tonnes of potatoes. I even smugly mentioned to my husband that we ought to be prepared to give the extra away to the Edmonton Gleaner's Association. Ha. My total purple potato output weighed in shy of 3 pounds.
I peered into my little wooden potato box daily to see if somehow they'd grown or multiplied in the night, but alas, they just sat there tinily, mocking my premature potato growing hubris. In order to redeem myself, I offered them up for our family Thanksgiving dinner along with the heathen ham.
Gram didn't even blink at the prospect of heathen coke-ham and purple potatoes. She asked for extra ham. Because one of her grandchildren made it. She is such a sweetheart. I suspect though, that my purple potatoes and unMennonite coke-ham were not shocking to her because, unlike the announcement about the vegetarianism, this revelation was not in fact accompanied by black lipstick, army boots, half a shaved head and a cultivated scowl.
Although I was denied the amusement of confounding my grandmother with unMennonite food, I had the pleasure of watching Cakes (which is Swedish for "will eat any sort of raw dough, even puff pastry dough, compulsively") gobble down a rather largish chunk of homemade play-dough (1 cup flour, 1/3 cup salt, 1/4 cup water) I had made to prop up some taper candles in the candle holders I'd made out of mini pumpkins. Hee.
Once you get past the colour (which would be lovely for Easter) the purple potatoes make really good mash!
PS Does anyone know what to do with 12 kilos of green tomatoes?