I realize that not all families can do this. Past grievances, personality differences, and sibling rivalries can run deep and be difficult to get past. Family tension can make a once-a-year holiday dinner unbearable, let alone every meal, every day.
For us though, living together has been working out fabulously. I attribute our success partly to our easy-going personalities and partly to the fact that my sister-in-law does floors. But the best perk of our commune-like lifestyle is that my brother loves to cook.
He watches Paula Dean and Bobby Flay and The Neelys, scours the internet for recipes, and is fearless when it comes to trying something new. Hubby showed him a recipe he found online for Roman burgers. Those are burgers made the way the ancient Romans did.
I didn't know Romans ate burgers, but I'm no history buff. Apparently they soak french rolls in white wine, mix that with hamburger and fish sauce, shape it into patties, and poke pine nuts and green peppercorns into them. Then they bake them in reduced grape juice. No, really - here's the website.
I was instructed to go to the party supply store and buy little plastic Roman swords to garnish the Roman burgers (which would be served on ciabatta bread by the way). My brother warned me, "Don't buy pirate swords because pirate swords in Roman burgers would be lame."
I confessed I didn't know the difference between a Roman sword and a pirate sword. As a result, I was immediately relieved of that duty. As it turns out, the party store didn't have Roman swords.
We made the burgers anyway, with ceasar salad on the side. For me, they tasted a bit weird, but hubby and the kids liked them.
Most of my brother's concoctions come out delicious. He made a crunchy coating for baked fish from Captain Crunch cereal once that was wonderful. His chicken and meat marinades thrown together from whatever he can find in the fridge are always tasty and he is an awesome barbeque-er.
Sometimes I come up with the idea for the concoction and he carries out the execution. A couple weeks ago we were trying to think of ways to use our Easter turkey leftovers. I said Southwestern style eggrolls made with turkey instead of chicken sounded good.
His eyes lit up and off he went to the computer to look for recipes. He combined two into one and the result was eggrolls made with chopped up turkey meat, corn, black beans, cumin, chedder and cream cheese. They were scrumptious with the avocado dipping sauce.
We're going to do the same thing with Thanksgiving leftovers and I'm thinking some kind of cranberry dipping sauce. Yum, right?
Once in a while he makes a culinary faux pas. He was making hubby's favorite bean dip with refried beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. He found a container in the fridge that looked like it held leftover refried beans. Being not a food waster, he dumped it in, mixed it up, and served the dip to hubby and the kids.
Hubby came upstairs with a nasty grimace on his face and whispered to me to taste the bean dip because it tasted "funny." I tasted. It tasted like fish. Definitely not bean dip.
We discovered the unidentified leftover contents that my brother thought was refried beans was actually salmon dip. That explained the fishy taste. Furthermore, it was salmon dip bought back in January. That explained the runs.
Who knew that the same brother who, when we were kids, used to say, "Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise," then shoved blanket fuzz in my mouth, would turn out to be such a blessing now?
My brother just came in and said he's barbequeing pork chops with sweet and sour sauce. It's time to go downstairs and have a cocktail.