If not for Thanksgiving, I would’ve given up on family dinners in November.
It wasn’t busy schedules, though basketball season is officially here. It wasn’t work or illness or travel or anything out of the ordinary. No, it was the regular occurrence that darkens two entire weeks of my calendar: deer season.
Maybe you remember how I accompanied Wade into the deer stand last year for a Covid-Age date (read: not my favorite). While I appreciated a return invitation to sway in the tree tops and scout for trophies, I had to pass.
“I’ll be in at five.” He leaned in for a kiss, his scratchy beard still tickling me as I watched him march toward the woods.
No chance he’d be back by five.
Any woman who has dealt with deer season knows better. Guys try. Or rather, I think, or I hope they try. There’s just something about this testosterone-fueled time of year, the No-Shave November beards, and the chance for The Big One that beckons men out of bed on chilly mornings and makes them perpetually late for supper.
Knowing this, one would think I’d give up on Taco Tuesdays and all-day simmering stews and just order pizza. That would be smart, but I doubled down with homemade bread. Yeast packets, rising dough, rolling pin, the whole….
Here we go. If it was anything like last year, we’d all be out past bedtime with failing flashlights and floppy muck boots, looking for the trail of a deer like Perry Mason. I pulled the warm, golden bread from the oven and appeased myself with the thought of too many carbs. But the satisfaction of comfort food is fleeting for these two weeks, trumped by the extra laundry and the sure to come all night processing of poor Bambi.
The next night, I had dinner ready promptly at five. One may call it an experiment. I prepared the boys’ most requested menu: spaghetti, more freshly baked bread, salads, and fudgy brownies. I was surprised when everyone gathered around the table at the suggested time. Surprised, but happy. Then the phone rang.
Wade’s eyes darted this way and that. He shoveled in a few bites, leaned that scruffy beard in for a brownie-crumb kiss, and then took for the front door
“Neighbor said there’s a monster buck in the field!”
Friends, I’ve decided that tonight, and maybe every night in November, it’s Brussels Sprouts Season. I love them. I now consider them the big game of my fall garden. Pan sautéed, roasted, crispy, caramelized, or fresh—they’re on the menu for the next week because I’ll probably have dinner for one… unless any of you ladies would like to join me. Bring carbs. Or cheese. Or chocolate. One rule: no venison.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Who would know? The only thing I’m sure about is that sometimes they need help finding the dinner table during deer season.