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Fireside

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It was the fourth night of our summer vacation with the kids. We were staying at a "resort" in southern Oregon. The site is on a beautiful lake deep in the forest and is called Lake of the Woods. There are a couple dozen cabins for rent. We had reserved two of them earlier in the year for all of the family to vacation together. The cabins we had were small. Each had only one bedroom, a tiny bathroom, an even smaller kitchen and a cozy (think non-existent) common area. Beds and bunks everywhere they could be squeezed in. My husband and I had one cabin with Jeremiah and Joshua. That cabin could sleep six. The other cabin had room for eight and was overflowing with Karli, her husband Justin, their kids Jakob, Josiah and Anna-Grace, three of my kids, Michael, Nikki, Cole and his girlfriend Josie.
Late in the afternoon of that fourth day, I realized that I hadn't put out any meat earlier that morning for tacos; it was frozen and hard as concrete. Most of us had been out all day exploring the surroundings, swimming and just generally relaxing and I just didn't think of it. That's something at home that I never have to worry about. Usually I buy meat the day we're going to use it so that it's as fresh as possible. I do keep hamburger meat and Italian sausage in the freezer just for times like this. A few minutes on auto-defrost in the microwave and we're ready to go. There are no microwaves in these cabins, only ovens. The ovens are tiny white things with an even smaller stove top with 4 miniscule gas burners. They definitely are not a cooks dream.
I looked around at the 24 eyes staring at me wondering "what the heck is mom gonna do now?" I know because I was wondering that myself. Give these people a recipe, except for Karli with cornbread, and the ingredients and they can cook anything. With no plans and having to wing it, I was not going to get any help. I was on my own and had to pull out my "super-mom" skills. I usually try to keep those hidden. Why let those skills be known when I know that they'll be drained from me on a daily basis if I use them too much.
I looked in the very small, rectangular box they advertise as a refrigerator and saw the ham that Justin had glazed and cut, which was a start. We had a couple of bags of tortilla chips, ok those would work. I also found the ingredients for some killer queso dip. Ok, so now we have ham, chips and queso, I grabbed some fruit and a pitcher of iced tea. Not a great gourmet dinner, but for outside on a picnic table fireside, it would be fine. All they really cared about was being able to roast marshmallows after dinner anyway.
Everyone was at the table except Nikki. The queso was awesome and the kids are always excited when I make it. It never lasts long and if you want it, you have to get if fast or it'll be gone. I thought I had scored with them that night. Well, until Nikki came to the table. She sat down and surveyed the unusual feast set before her. She had a tad bit of a puzzled look on her face, but she would never be rude to me or her father. She leaned over, put her head on my shoulder and in her sweetest, most sincere voice put a dagger in my heart and took away my mom of the year award when she said: "Thanks for making us cheese for dinner mom."

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