Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Celebration Complications!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Remember the famous Julia Child moment? She’s carrying a huge roast turkey on a massive tray, bringing it to her glam guests in her elaborately decorated dining room, and she drops it. Drops it! She pauses--and then laughs and says: oh, let me just take this into the kitchen and I’ll bring out the OTHER turkey!  

 

We all know what happened in the kitchen.


(As my mom used to say, "Parsley covers a multitude of sins.")

 

Then there was the time I had special guests for Thanksgiving, and everything, all my gorgeous side dishes, came out at exactly the same time, amazing, except the turkey was not done. And then, STILL was not  done. And then STILL not done.

 

I was baffled..why didn’t the little thing pop and HOW could it be taking this long? My guests were fine and drinking champagne and luckily there were hors d'oeuvres, but it was SUCH a mystery. 

 

Yeah, I had left the neck and giblets inside. Don’t EVER tell. 

 


The hilarious Jennifer Chow has some stories of her own. 

 

 






HOLIDAY PLANS GONE WRONG 

by Jennifer J. Chow

 





Romance isn’t always roses and candlelight dinners. Sometimes our relationships take a knocking. In my newest novel, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code, my main character goes on a trip to Catalina Island with her boyfriend Josh. Crime soon puts a damper on their romantic getaway. What was supposed to be a celebration---well, that’s another story.

I think well-laid plans can often go awry. Right? In my own life, I’ve had several romance-and-celebration-gone-wrong experiences and used those for inspiration in my book. For example…


Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad


Even as a child, my parents (and I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a universal thing until I was much older) would make their anniversary a family celebration. We kids were expected to congratulate them and wish them the happiest of anniversaries on their special day. When I secured my first full-time job as a young professional, I figured I’d splurge and give them a fancy hotel stay (in an honest-to-goodness mansion, no less). I whipped out my credit card and made the arrangements. Little did I know that I’d only reserved their spot but hadn’t actually paid for their room—which I found out when my dad called me upon checking out. Whoops. We did eventually sort out the financial tangle, but I’m sure that it put a damper on their stay.


For Better or Worse


After I got married, my husband and I decided to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon. The “in sickness or health” part of our vows hit us early on. We’d booked an extravagant helicopter tour of the island, but… When I got there, I realized, as the lightest member of the group, I’d have to sit right next to the pilot and stare out that huge expanse of glass at the ground below. The swerving flight paired with my slight fear of heights did a number on my stomach. After we landed, my poor new hubby held my hair and rubbed my back while I <ahem> tossed my cookies.


¡Bienvenidos a España!

Post-kids, my amazing parents actually offered to babysit so my husband and I could take a romantic trip. We’d always wanted to travel to Spain, so we did. I’d put a lot of eateries to try in our itinerary, but one day, I decided to be spontaneous. We entered a gorgeous restaurant, where the waiter promised to bring us the chef’s specialties. Using my rusty high school Spanish, I asked about the menu and the pricing, but he assured me not to worry. Admittedly, the food was delicious. But the waiter kept on bringing out more and more dishes. I belatedly realized that I’d gotten the Spanish equivalent of omakase, where I had to actually ask them to stop serving in order to finish our meal. Suffice it to say, that was one lavish lunch.

Do you have stories of celebration plans gone sideways? Holiday plans interrupted?


HANK: Oh, great question! How about you, Reds and Readers?

 

 

 

 


Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries and the forthcoming L.A. Night Market Mysteries (Berkley/Penguin Random House). The first in the Sassy Cat series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an Overdrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read, and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors. Her upcoming Mimi Lee Cracks the Code was listed in BookRiot's Best Upcoming Cozy Mysteries for the Second Half of 2021. She is the current Vice President of Sisters in Crime and is active in Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America. Connect with her online at .

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

https://www.instagram.com/jenjchow/

https://twitter.com/JenJChow

https://www.facebook.com/JenJChow

 

BUY LINK:

penguinrandomhouse.com/books/605898/mimi-lee-cracks-the-code-by-jennifer-j-chow/9781984805034/

90 comments:

  1. Oh, my . . . I guess we’ve all had our share of embarrassing moments, but after these stories, I’m looking forward to finding out just what happens to put a damper on Mimi’s romantic getaway! [And Happy Book Birthday, Jennifer.]

    Hank, I love that “Parsley covers a multitude of sins.” Your mom was one smart lady . . . .

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  2. Jennifer, you have some great stories there. I almost felt sick just reading about the helicopter ride. I think you showed great restraint in not throwing up in the helicopter. And, I bet your father was taken back when he checked out of the hotel. I can only imagine that you bring your experiences and wonderful voice in telling them to your writing. Mimi Lee Cracks the Code sounds like a lively read.

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    1. Mimi Lee is hilarious and adorable--highly recommended! (and I have to say, I love helicopters. My experiences have been glorious...so to each her own!)

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    2. HANK: You LOVE riding in helicopters? Do share!

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    3. Thank you, Kathy!

      I agree with Grace. Hank, you have to share your helicopter experiences!

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    4. Yes, I want to hear about your glorious helicopter experiences, too, Hank!

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  3. These are fun stories to look back on now and laugh, but at the time, not so much.

    In our family, there is the year that the oven stopped working on Thanksgiving day. So we borrowed a frier from a friend and had fried turkey that year.

    Ever since my brother and sister-in-law have been married, they've hosted us for Thanksgiving. The first few years were in Dallas, Texas (and with my parents helping). That first Thanksgiving was the first one that any of us had been that involved in preparing the meal in years (anything outside a few side dishes). We made several runs to the local grocery store since we realized we'd forgotten something. Or the turkey thermometer turned out to be instant not one you leave in the bird in the oven. (Fortunately, we caught that before it ruined anything.) I believe that Thanksgiving has come up every year since.

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    1. OH, yes, I have done that with the thermometer! And it would have melted, right? Melted plastic is not as tasty as basting with butter...

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    2. We had fried turkey this year, Mark. Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving memories!

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  4. One year when the whole family gathered in New York City at my brother's place for Thanksgiving, the bird would NOT cook. My brother called my sister in New Jersey, with whom I was staying, because she had a second, huge turkey that she had cooked so that her sons (ever try to feed a teenage boy?) could have abundant leftovers. The cooked but cold turkey got to travel across the George Washington bridge. After dinner, we put the original bird back into the oven and I think it cooked another six or seven hours before it was finally done. We never knew why it took so long, except that it was free-range, so maybe that had something to do with it.

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    1. That turkey just wanted to take its merry time getting done.

      Glad you got the backup bird--two turkeys!!

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  5. Congratulations on your book release.

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  7. JENNIFER: Congratulations on your newest book release, and your stories with your family and husband are certainly memorable! You can laugh about them now, but I am sure you were mortified/horrified at the time. And that meal in Spain sounds amazing! I had some great meals in Spain including a seafood paella. It took an extra 45-minutes to wait for its preparation but it was definitely worth it!

    HANK: You're not alone. I think most novice cooks have made that mistake about leaving the neck and giblets inside the cavity. I know I was surprised the first time I saw my mom pull out that bag from the turkey. She always used the giblets in the sausage stuffing. I still use her sausage stuffing recipe, so it's easy to remember to use the giblets.

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    1. Yeah, I agree..and I do wish it had happened when I was a novice. But I will admit, I was nervous about the guests. :-)

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    2. Thank you, Grace!

      I've definitely done that with the neck and giblets. Now I make sure to pull all that stuff out first before I go on to other dishes. (Ooh, sausage stuffing...yum.)

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  8. Congratulations on the new book, Jennifer! Poor you and that helicopter ride...

    My worst holiday story was many decades ago. I was living in Japan on a work visa off-base with a boyfriend in the US Navy. He didn't care about holidays. My sister was finishing an epic round-the world trip and she was out of money. We were going to meet in Hong Kong for Christmas, and then she would come back to Japan with me.

    At the Tokyo airport they asked where my re-entry permit was. What? I'd bought the ticket from a travel agent who had never mentioned such a permit. The official said I could leave, but I wouldn't be able to get back in the country. I went home, desolate and worried about my sister. We didn't have a phone.

    In the end, a kindly PanAm official took her home to his family for the night. My wealthy uncle managed to wire her some money, and she finally joined me in Japan. But it was the Worst. Christmas. Ever.

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    1. EDITH: Wow, that is a nightmare Christmas story for sure. Thank goodness for that Good Samaritan Pan Am agent and your uncle helping your sister out.

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    2. Edith, that story is a nightmare! We take our cellphones for granted now, but they definitely changed everything.

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    3. And I've still never been to Hong Kong!

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    4. Oh, so frustrating--you must have felt to helpless, and that is awful...

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    5. Yikes, Edith. So glad that the PanAm official stepped in and helped out.

      (Hong Kong is fun to visit. Try to go someday!)

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  9. Jennifer, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your latest but especially on all the recognition you've received for this series. I love humor in mysteries and (after reading this) am putting this one on the top of my TBR list immediately! Laughter is such good medicine!

    I have always found that disasters, as long as they do not include death or dismemberment, can make some of the funniest stories. My husband and I had been together for about 6 months. He lived in the condo across the street but he often stayed at my place. He picked me up after work and took me to a special ski shop to buy me a pair of really nice ski gloves for Chanukah. Then we went to a local restaurant where we both ordered the chili burgers. At about midnight he got up to "get rid of his" and about 1/2 hour later I did the same. It's a good thing the condo had 1-1/2 baths! Each of us was sick for hours. For years we laughed any time we saw chili burgers on a menu. We still joke about what a terrible way that is to get to know one another but I think that's when we realized that we were going to stay together.

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    1. JUDY: I am going to remember your opening sentence for a long time! So true, indeed, lol.

      "Disasters, as long as they do not include death or dismemberment, can make some of the funniest stories!"

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    2. Oh, I am sorry, but that must have been awful. You CAN get to know someone that way, that's for sure. Argh. xx

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    3. Thanks for putting my book on your TBR list, Judy!

      Ugh. Getting sick is the worse. But it's definitely a quick way to know how someone will react under stress!

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  10. Oooh, dear - Jennifer, I'm right there with you. When my husband and I flew to Europe for a 3-month (we were nuts) Europe-on-$5-a-day honeymoon we were served champagne on the flight over (those were the days) and I promptly threw up... in my husband's shoes (he'd taken them off.) The only pair he'd brought with. Throughout the trip we were frequently reminded... Congratulations on the new book and the accolades!

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    1. that's such a wonderful adventure though, looking back! We didn't have that kind of vision.

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    2. Hallie, were you airsick? Or just nervous?

      What a beginning!

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    3. Oh, you poor newlywed thing... xoxo ANd so cute in hindsight. Aww/

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    4. Hallie, OMG. Three months of Europe on $5 a day should have included a trip to a shoe store. Okay, there's another example of a disaster without D&D. LOL

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    5. Sorry, Hallie. Three months in Europe does sound wonderful, though. And they have fabulous shoes there, right?

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    6. Three months in Europe at $5/day sounds like a fun adventure (after that flight).
      How much would new men's shoes have cost back then?

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    7. A bottle of wine later exploded in our car, all over his one and only sports jacket... my throwing up: was from too much (a split) champagne (I don't get drunk, I throw up)

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  11. Oh no everyone must have a puking story it seems! John and I were staying at a fancy golf resort and I got food poisoning. We were supposed to check out, but I...couldn't. Poor guy was so worried about the timing that he suggested the cleaners start with the bathroom! Uh, no...

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    1. I was about to say "no puking story here" but then I was worried I would jinx it....xoxo

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    2. Eek! These puking stories . At least our bodies know how to get rid of toxic things...

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  12. No puking story here, and you're welcome. LOL

    Jennifer, thanks for sharing your humorous moments. I've been meaning to read your books, and knowing how funny you are makes that much easier!

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    1. No puking story from me, either!

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    2. KAREN: Mimi Lee is hilarious and her cat Marshmallow is adorably unique.
      Hope you will enjoy the humour in these books.

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    3. Thanks for breaking the trend, Karen! :)

      Thank you for saying that about my books, Grace!

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  13. Congratulations on the book, Jenifer! I can't think of any personal horror stories like everyone here. Not saying they never happened - maybe I just bkicjed them out!

    But I knew of an acquaintance who was going, with his extended family, to a rented house on either Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, for Thanksgiving. They were told to take everything they would need because no stores would be open. There would be no TV either.

    I never heard how their holiday went but I can't believe it went smoothly. They must have forgotten to take some item or another; I just hope it wasn't something vital. Actually, that could be a great story starter.

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    1. Once on vacation we bought wine but couldn't find a corkscrew. Judi, does that count?

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    2. A new story prompt from Judi! A rented house with no stores open...What could possibly go wrong? (Especially without that handy corkscrew Judy mentioned.)

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    3. Oh, that's AWFUL...a rented house with no stores? Yeesh. OOoh. On the other hand, what if they found something wonderful?

      No corkscrew? DISASTER. Anyone have any ideas for that?

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    4. We stayed in a beautiful B&B in Normandy, the first guests in a newly opened chateau. The day we arrived was a bank holiday and nothing was open. Not only that, but our hosts had made no other provisions for our meals, and had no suggestions. It was pretty interesting.

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    5. Our hosts had to rustle something up for us, some fruit and a baguette, if I remember correctly. And then we had to drive a fair way to somewhere we could get our evening meal. It turned out okay, and the hosts learned something they didn't know, because even though they had a hotel background, they were English and had only recently moved to France.

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    6. I bet that was one delicious baguette!

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  14. Family plans gone awry? One Christmas there were 14 of us, including my brother flown in from Australia. I had just put the turkey in the oven when the power went out. And stayed out all day. My sons-in-law decided Chinese restaurants might be open. They went on a hunt and we sat at my lovely table with Chinese food cartons !

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    1. Laughing here, Rhys. They probably had to wait in line behind every Jewish family in town.

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    2. One of the good things about having gas ranges - you can manually light the burners when the power goods off. Which reminds me, I need to find my box of matches.

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    3. Nice save, Rhys. Glad you still got to enjoy a hot family dinner together!

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  15. Congratulations on the book, Jennifer!

    I, too, have had the turkey that just. wouldn't. cook. I'm not sure what happened. We still think it wasn't completely defrosted - or maybe that the meat thermometer was too close to the bone. But we made it work.

    No puking stories from me. But on our honeymoon, we were in Toronto. We went to see Casa Loma which is (I think) north of the city. Thinking, "Oh, Toronto is such a walkable city," we decided to walk back to our hotel. Five miles later...

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    1. Liz, poor you. Toronto is definitely NOT a walkable city!
      I grew up in the north part of Toronto. Casa Loma is in the midtown close to the start of downtown...it would be more than 13 km (8 mi) trip from my parents' home.

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    2. Thanks, Liz!

      I had a friend come visit to Los Angeles. Poor guy thought he could walk all over downtown very easily...

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    3. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had worn better shoes. I wasn't dressed in heels or anything, but still not good enough for a five mile plus walk. At least our theater tickets weren't for that night.

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    4. Agreed, comfortable shoes would have made that longer-than-expected walk less painful.
      On the plus side, you were walking downhill from Casa Loma and generally flat terrain afterwards to get back downtown.

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  16. I used rancid vegetable oil last summer, ruined a lovely salmon dinner and spent my birthday a little quieter than I anticipated. My mother wasn't raised with her father around. He attended her sister's birthday and invited my mom to spend some time with his family in Washington. He didn't believe her when she said he had to stop. What a way to meet your step-mother.

    Romantic trip with death on the island. Congratulations on the new book, Jennifer.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Deana.

      (And I didn't know vegetable oil could go rancid...)

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    2. Oh, dear, yeah, that's like pouring in the milk --and THEN realizing it's sour. I once made beef bourguignon with iffy wine...and the result was...iffy.

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  17. Congratulations on the latest Mimi. I've always wanted to visit Catalina, now I can through Mimi's eyes. Win-Win.

    What we call lobster in Florida are actually crawfish. They lack claws and only the tail is eaten. As a diver, I caught my own so I often had a bumper crop. I'd invited a group of friends for dinner, grilled a bunch of tails and set them in a bowl on the dining room table while I went to get the sides. I heard a loud scritching coming from the dining room. My cat was dragging a tail across the table by it's fluke!

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    1. Thanks, Kait!

      What an interesting fact about the lobster/crawfish terms! Did you get a photo of your cat? That would have made a wonderful picture.

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    2. That is--I'm so sorry--HILARIOUS. Jenifer, you can def use that!

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  18. LOL! Great post, Jennifer! So many plans gone awry...but they make the best stories. My personal favorite was the first married trip Hub and I took to Mexico. We consumed a bad shrimp cocktail and, suffice to say, we got to know each other better than we ever needed to!

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  19. I agree with Jenn, The worst mishaps make the best stories. I had a Mexican misadventure on a December trip to Cancun when Ross and I were young marrieds. We went snorkeling at Xel-Ha in Tulum, followed by a lunch of ceviche prepared right on the flat bottom boat. I was fine throughout the snorkeling, but the chop picked up when everyone was aboard, eating, and I started to feel seasick.

    The crew members kindly cleared a space on the bow, where I could lay down flat, which relieved my nausea. However! Sunscreen was forbidden because of the delicate ecological complex of the coral reefs below. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt in the water, but peeled it off on the boat... And then spent several hours lying in the equatorial sun. Did I mention I used to be a redhead?

    That evening at the hotel, I realized I had the worst sunburn I had ever had in my life. Needless to say, the romance part of our romantic getaway was severely curtailed. The most intimate thing my husband did to me over the next several days was rub aloe vera all over my back!

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    1. Oh, Julia, ouch!! Nothing is more miserable than a really bad sunburn!

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    2. Bad sunburns are horrible. When I was a teen, I got so sunburned at a water park. I remember putting a lot of sunscreen on, but I guess it all washed away...

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    3. And THEN it would peel, and you'd have this big patch..

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  20. Congratulations on the new Mimi Lee, Jennifer! This series is such fun and I adore your covers. And Marshmallow!

    No puking stories here--at least none connected with holidays or vacations! On holidays gone wrong I always think about the year my grandmother put the turkey in the oven and forgot to turn it on. We had Thanksgiving from the Luby's cafeteria!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah!

      Ah yes, turning on the oven is key. Did you get to eat post-Thanksgiving turkey, though?

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  21. When my parents were on vacation, high school brother and I were broiling a steak in the oven but it didn't heat. Grandma coached us to cook the steak in a fry pan. Bob got the father of one of his friends to look at the oven. We accidently turned on the oven timer. I still have the same oven and have never used that timer!

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  22. We were newly married in a recently purchased house and I had a new cooking project. I was going to learn to cook Indian food. Christmas Eve dinner was meant to be chicken tikka masala. All was going well. The chicken was marinated, diced, skewered and 1/2 cooked in a Pyrex cooking dish. I pulled it out to turn the chicken over, removing the oven gloves to handle the skewers. Neglecting to put them back on, I picked up the dish and promptly dropped it. Christmas Eve dinner now lay on the floor amid the shattered Pyrex. My husband who had never yet, nor ever since, given me an order, took on look at me and said "You. Over here." He cleaned it up and took us out for a meal.

    On puking: I can no longer look at a very dry Martini without remembering the last time I drank one. Can't blame anyone but myself. They were way too good, but, man, what a waste of good gin.

    Mimi Lee looks like fun so she has been added to my TBR list.

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    1. AWww...what a sweetheart. Truly. xoxooo

      Yes, martinis. A whole nother blog. Astonishing, until they aren't.

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  23. Congrats, Jennifer! My new-ish laptop crashed again or I would've responded sooner! These stories have all been so entertaining! Besides the once leaving the bag in the turkey for my in-laws dinner, when we had our first Christmas in our newly-built log home in rural East Texas,we had a freak ice storm as the entire immediate family was arriving. I had towels in the dryer and the electricity went off for over an hour just as they started arriving. Then, the dryer stopped working, so I had clean but stiff towels, which Mom and my m-i-l helped me hang everywhere inside, because it was 13 degrees outside, while trying to cook for 10 people to spend the night or 2!

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