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my assignment...

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
... for traveling meal on Thursday is a pumpkin pie and squash casserole. The pie is in the freezer, ready to go. Bought the squash yesterday when I only had to work four hours, knowing that I did  not want to wait any later in the week, which would have amounted to standing in the check out line far too long. It is always amazing to be in the grocery business and see what happens on the day before a big holiday, when people are gathering for a meal of epic proportions.

There will be people in line like you would see in stores on Black Friday, or lines on the sidewalk of people who had been camping out for days waiting to get tickets to a much anticipated movie or concert. It's all on-line now so it does not happen as it would pre-Amazon/internet era. But they will definitely be cruising the grocery aisles with two carts, one before and one after, cleaning off  the shelves as the preparations begin for a Thanksgiving feast.

The most fascinating part of this is how many people will shop for the main attraction: oversized turkey. The bird will be frozen solid, and likely weigh over twenty pounds. Sizable enough that it would take about a week to thaw if sitting on a shelf in the fridge. How are you going to have it ready to put in the oven on Thursday morning? When you just bought it on Wednesday afternoon and it is a solid block of meat, hard as a hockey puck! Baffling to say the least.

The squash got cooked in  my largest pot last night, and put in the auxiliary fridge as soon as I thought it was tender. I will have to drain and put it together when I get home from work today, and complete my  assigned responsibility. I woke up thinking about making some deviled egg even though it's not an essential part of the tradition. In fact I don't remember ever seeing the egg platter as part of the abundance on my grandmother's table in years past. But who doesn't like them? Damn the Cholesterol, Full Speed Ahead!

There is no actual recipe for the squash casserole. I just watched her make it over and over and over, and  now, just put it together when requested. There is enough squash in that biggest pot, cooked before bedtime last night, to feed the multitudes. But you know how squash is: once you cook till tender, drain and smoosh it, you loose so much of the volume it is about half of what you started with. Dice up onions, which I cook in microwave until tender before adding. Crumble up saltine crackers, add an egg or two. Pepper and salt if you want though I rarely pick up a salt shaker. The secret ingredient is Durkee's Famous Sauce, found on the top shelf of the condiments aisle, above ninety different brands of mayonnaise. Be generous with the Durkee's when spooning it in the mixture. Plenty of grated cheese, and more crushed saltines on top if you want. Bake till you think it's ready, depending on size of casserole dish, about thirty minutes at 350. It's even better the next day, like soup and stew, improving with age as the flavors meld. Yay for grandma. Even people who say they 'don't like squash' or 'don't eat vegetables' will go back for seconds...

Every time I make this, I think of my grandpa who famously said 'squash is a member of the gourd family' every time it would show up on the table. You can imagine how tasteless a cooked gourd would be, right? So you have to add something to it to make it palatable. That's where the Durkee's sauce and onions come in, doing their job to make it delicious, in demand, and even gooder the next day.

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