I love food. Oh, I really do. I love all the tastes and textures and smells of good food; I chew slowly, I savor, I experience food. Food is an event for me, and a simple, sublime pleasure. However, I really don't like to cook. It's kind of like all that work, the measuring and mess and planning and serving and such, takes all the fun out of actually eating the food. Also, I am not particularly good at it, and I generally don't like to do things I kinda suck at. I just don't have the patience to cook fabulous meals, and at this point in my life, I just accept it as one of my native faults. My poor children. Never shall they know the comfort of Mommy magically whipping up some delectable repast, including bountiful celebration meals. No, sorry, we'll have to go out or bring in, but no holiday cooking for this little domestic failure.

I did make one major attempt and of course recall it well. It was Thanksgiving of 1993, in our high-rise apartment overlooking the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, Colorado. My firstborn had just turned two years old, and we had decided that we wanted to raise him as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. This would be the first year we all did the holidays as vegetarians, and I was determined to make a delicious non-meat feast. I got some recipes from PETA, one of which was a vegan "no-meat-loaf," made primarily of sunflower seeds. I busied myself in the galley kitchen and was quite proud when I put the loaf pan in the oven to bake.

I timed everything perfectly, and all the other traditional side dishes were ready as I brought the seed loaf out and filled the plates with portions. My son was still in a high chair, brought up to the dining table. As we all sat down and began to eat, the faces of my husband and son twisted quizzically. They had both started in on the loaf first thing. They chewed and chewed, their expressions more dismayed with each grind. I became alarmed, and then a bit defensive.

"What??" I spat out at them, frowning. "What's the problem?"

"What...did you make this loaf with?"

"Sunflower seeds, why?"

"Did them first?"

Oh. Ohhhhhhh...crap. No. No, I did not. The loaf was filled with unshelled, utterly inedible sunflower seed shells. There would be no vegan Thanksgiving entree that year.

My toddler and my husband then laughed until they cried, with reddened faces and much pounding and stomping, I cried without laughing and then laughed without crying, and now it's family legend.

And no one even asks me to cook holiday dinners. They know.

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, chef, chef failure, all.