A few months ago, Noah and I went over to my parents' house to help them with their new computer. They're getting up there in age (read: REAL friggin' senile) (...and now I'm out of the will), so understandably, electronics are kind of a new thing for them. So the menfolk set off to do manly computer things in Dad's man cave, and Mom and I sat in the kitchen like the good little wifeys we are. Mom, still the mom even though her little girl is almost 35 and her baby boy has a mountain man beard and can bend a nine iron in half with the best of them, insisted on making me lunch. Rather than setting her to work making waffles and Neuske's bacon, I asked for PB&J on an English muffin, and I kid you not, it was the best I've ever had. I don't know what kind of magic that woman learned helping raise her 10 siblings in that tiny kitchen, but it's good stuff.
When we have a big group up at the cabin, Mom always makes sure there's a spread at cocktail time. Cocktail time at the Goin cabin is when we set up the rickety old table, make some drinks, and ruin our dinners. It's amazing I ever belonged to the Clean Plate Club, We're talking the Last Supper, but with more vodka. Cheese, summer sausage, like three kinds of crackers (Triscuits for the win), veggies, dip, and Phyllis Goin's famous hamburger dip. I have personally witnessed my aunt Barb consume an entire Crockette of the cheesy deliciousness in one sitting (I may have dreamt that). It's so simple, just spicy Velveeta and taco meat, but Barb swears Mom's is the best.
If any of you are still friends (pleeeeeeeeease don't unfriend me) with me come the holidays, hit me up for some of Mom's fudge. If you're a big fan of fudge in general and tell me it's NOT the best you've ever had, I will stick a big red and green bow on my hand and give you the gift of a black eye. Because you are not only wrong but insulting my darling mother in saying that. Again, it's a simple recipe (which I will not divulge, mainly because I don't remember it, but there is condensed milk involved which is kind of gross in my opinion). However, unlike the hamburger dip, the fudge is a pain in the ass to make. You literally have to stir it for seven days straight or the granulated sugar absolutely refuses to dissolve. I don't know how she has the upper body strength for it; I tried making it one year and I'm not gonna lie, calling it "subpar" would be complementary.
Let me be cheesy for a moment here about Phyllis. In May 2010, she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. After months of treatment, she beat the crap out of it, and as of this writing is still cancer free! And do you know what she did in December 2010? You bet your ass she made fudge. Every time I have a piece, I thank God my tiny moms is still around, because I'd be a wreck without her.
Ahem. Anyhow. The one other thing my mom makes over the holidays, her true signature dish, her bon appetit (go with it), is her egg rolls. I kid you not. I don't remember when it started, but the woman picked up a Leeann Chin's cookbook and decided, yes, a white woman from Northfield, MN should make egg rolls for the Benjamin Christmas Eve Extravaganza (too many people to just call it a party). I have to say, other than giving birth to the two most amazing people to ever walk the earth (Nick and me), it was the best idea she's ever had. They are legendary. Fisticuffs have broken out over who got the last one (may have dreamt that as well). And they are a labor of love. She spends an entire week browning pork and sauteeing vegetables and stuffing the delicate wrappers with the five spice scented mixture. I'm fairly certain she does this out of love because I'm not sure I've ever seen her eat one. She considered bailing and just buying some Target brand ones last year, and when my cousin Pete caught wind of that he put his fist through the wall (now that might have actually happened, I can't confirm). So maybe that's why Mom's food always tastes the best. Love.