Free Agent

Robin's Thanksgiving table being set

I felt fine about Thanksgiving. Well, fine until today when I kept reading on everyone’s Facebook page how great their leftovers taste; writing in full description how they all make their turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Some put stuffing in that sandwich. I wouldn’t. But did I mention I don’t have leftovers?

This was finally the year to go to Robin’s. She has invited us for a few years but we are too big a bunch to feed unless it’s without all the kids. This year my husband really wanted to be with his family, so he chose to go to his cousin’s and I became a free agent and traveled far for me, Calabasas. I already knew Robin was a good cook, I have been eating her food for years, and her mother Abbe was actually my first cooking teacher. I knew I was in for something great and it was!!!! Perfect. My favorite was Robin’s stuffing and Gene, her husbands green bean casserole was outrageous. He uses haricot vert green beans and fries the onions, doesn’t use canned shit. Didn’t realize Robin can be militant about “her” kitchen, “her” turkey dinner and that I might be stepping on toes when I said I’d be bringing a few pies. She said it was a good lesson in letting go of some control when she allowed me to bring them.

Robin and Gene, their kitchen, HER turkey...don't walk in there!!!

I will mention — and I did mention this in last year’s blog (remember?) — that the Gelson’s Market bakery, Viktor Benes, has an amazing pecan pie — almost as good as my mom’s, which was the best. However, their pumpkin is not as good as other homemade pies, like the one my friend Bruce makes. Bruce had invited me over on Wednesday for a Watch-Me-Make-My-Pies party. I’m sure it was lovely and the aroma in his kitchen must have been intoxicating. But I couldn’t bring myself to go and then not have a taste right away; I’m not that much of a masochist.

At this time of year, I am reminded of what my dad often said: “You didn’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends and can make them your family.” In case you haven’t noticed, I will be forever quoting my father. Let’s face it, he was my hero and I love just about everything that came out of his mouth, including the word cunt which seems to offend the rest of the world.

In the spirit of “my friends are my family,” I chose Robin’s house. She is family and I told her that when she asked everyone at the table to please say what they are grateful for. I also love old people. They are often the forgotten ones and I said during my what-I’m-grateful-for speech that I also came to Robin’s to see her mother again. Abbe, her mom, told me that the way she gets enough exercise is by walking back & forth cleaning up dog and horseshit — an image that in itself was worth the trip to Calabasas.

Tradition. This is the premiere holiday of tradition, isn’t it? And I for one have never been that traditional. But the special fragrances of the turkey feast is something that I always long for and associate with my mother who I miss being in the kitchen making her great Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I made a big sort of failed attempt at it myself – but this time I was fine with my kids going to their dad’s house.

I’m an extremely social animal, so I decided to make a few quick stop & chats on the way home from Robin’s. My first was at a house absolutely filled with my friends-who-are-my-family. Kimme’s. I heard that Kayla would be there, she’s like a sister, and I adore her husband Chuy, so I dropped by to give all the Winter/Feders a hug… and then I was off again. This time I stopped at Diane’s, a friend since we were 5 years old. My favorite moment there was seeing her elderly mom who could not have been more charming when Diane’s big-ass cat jumped into her lap to enjoy the attention and a quick lick of soup.

Thanksgiving. It can also be a loaded time of year for family feuds or drama. A few years ago I was invited to my friend Cathy Mogull’s for Thanksgiving dinner. You know how it is when you’re slow to figure out why all the details that were once normal are now not? I was happily chatting with people not realizing both Alison and Cathy weren’t even in the house. I had noticed that there were name tags and I would be seated next to Artie( Cathy and Alison’s dad), which I thought was great! But it wasn’t meant to be. A moment after landing my purse on the chair, the one next to Artie’s …Cathy’s husband Jimmy pulled me aside to tell me the awful news. Artie had died during the day, and Thanksgiving hasn’t been the same for the Mogull girls since. I would have visited Alison and Cathy but they were too far of a drive. I did however just have dinner with Alison at Gilberts Mexican Restaurant in Santa Monica, she was headed to the airport and home to Colorado.

in the spirit of Thanksgiving...Alison with a Native American

Finally, I surprised my husband and landed at his cousin’s house for a family/friends rest of the evening. All the girl cousins are so adorable and tiny and have the best sense of humor. And I got to spend a little time with my stepson Max who is hilarious. I heard that one of the cousins has a little boy who really likes to sauté. Truly, he loves to cook. And he’s just a wee child. He had made the desserts and so I needed to seek out this budding chef and talk to him about his culinary talents. Afterwards, I stole a bunch of his desserts to take home and am now enjoying those cookies, cupcakes and brownies.

At home later in the evening, two of my kids came by — can’t get much better than that, unless all three were visiting and magically, without me cooking or cleaning, the fragrant scents of Thanksgiving had filled the house… Oh, and maybe some leftovers were available so I could brag to my Facebook friends about my own sandwiches.

I’ve never made an actual blood pact, but when you’re friends with me, it’s probably for life. And I might stop by unannounced for a quick Thanksgiving visit!

Robins Stuffing
Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
add chopped onion
ortega chilies
now stir in melted butter and chicken stock

I was kind of hoping to tie in the saute part of the story but I guess I’m just not good at this Thanksgiving dinner thing because Robin said you don’t saute, nothing cooked except melted butter, she said shove it in the turkey and leftovers put in a heavily butter oven proof dish, and dot with globs of butter

Robin's sister (real sister) Julie who I always love seeing and other dinner guests

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4 Responses to “Free Agent”

  1. Julie Phalen says:

    Great reading Freddy, I loved every word!! Sounds like you had a great night.

  2. grant says:

    I have not read your latest installment, I’m here, but before I do read it, I want to say that it’s kinda cool to see Robin in her Kitchen with her old man, and Julie too. So many upper flats in South BH, so many round robins, no pun intended, I’m talking about the changing of BFLS and paramour love interests, and the self indulgence of youth. I think I will blow lunch if I eat one more turkey sandwich or even hear the word.

  3. jackie says:

    love reading about Hof’s for Thanksgiving – i remember her mom and her sister even tho it has been so so many years since I have seen them – really would love to get together with you guys the next time i come to LA

  4. hoov says:

    cool story…. Last year which brings forward to this year being the second I am not skiing either working for the mountain ( 41 years) or just free skiing at Mammoth during my teen years….. I sit here on this island in the north pacific I ponder of the thanksgiving past.. Some were great and some not so.. Being homeless right after my mom died living out of my VW van in upper side of LA. mom passed that October and had been hanging in SB and no work… the law was starting to make sense of me parking the bus and was asked to move and then you are marked.. So off to LA seeking a job to get the funds needed to return to Colorado.. FTR I did get the fund needed and return back to Vail where I was working and living before my mom passed… In this venture of being homeless parking lots you use too dodge the law or parking in some very quiet street and not turning on the lites in LA was a tiring art….. The best though was opening day in Sun Valley in the year 1992 when my youngest was just over one month old and we took him up the mountain on a chair lift… James are oldest was about to turn 4 … Many mem … Happy Thankgiving.. :::) Aloha..

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