12.01.2008

Thanksgiving

Ahhh… A sigh of relief, contentment, a full belly. Although Thanksgiving is over for another year, there are still reminders in the frig, freezer and my cookbook.

The prep for Thanksgiving, each year, is half the fun – and most of what my family gives me a hard time about. But I’m a planner, I can’t help it and don’t want to! I have my menu planning lists dating back to 1999. It is my cousin who will tell the “Thanksgiving list” story with the most sarcasm, humor and love. The Thanksgiving story that year goes something like this…

In 2000, the plan was to spend Thanksgiving with my cousin and her husband; I was going to be there for about six days to miss the Thanksgiving airport traffic. She was pregnant and when I arrived she was not feeling well, but I was all about “the plan.” So I made the list of what we were doing, it looked something like this:
Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Gravy
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Fresh made cranberry sauce
Something Green
Deep Dish Apple Pie

We went shopping two days before the big day and baked our pie that night to free up the oven – don’t get too excited, it was a Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Apple Pie, still delicious. The next day I made the cranberry sauce and started the Parker House Rolls, the plan was to have them rise overnight (since there home was a bit cool in Northern California), they ended up on the stove and on the dryer over the next few hours and on Thanksgiving – the warmth from the appliances didn’t help. By the big day, the list looked like this:
Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Gravy
√Homemade Parker House Rolls
√Fresh made cranberry sauce
Something Green
√Deep Dish Apple Pie

I can’t remember if we had sweet potatoes or not that year. Now keep in mind, this “spread” was for just three people!

On Thanksgiving morning, my cousin was really not feeling well and the sight/smell of the food was a bit much for her. So I moved ahead with the prep for our dinner and got things going. The turkey was cooking beautifully; I was hoping all of my basting was going to pay off. The potatoes, stuffing and green beans were doing fine – the Parker House rolls were not rising enough, but I had faith they would be okay.

As the cooking (and day) progressed and it was time to start plating things and placing them on the table, the list looked something like this:
Turkey
√Mashed Potatoes
√Stuffing
√Gravy
√Homemade Parker House Rolls
√Fresh made cranberry sauce
√Something Green
√Deep Dish Apple Pie

At this point, my cousin has the stomach to start helping some in the kitchen, and she noticed “the list” taped to the wall. She said, “What is all this?!”
“It’s our Thanksgiving list,” I said.
“Why do we need a list and what are all the marks for?”
“We need the list to keep track of what we are doing, what needs to be done and make sure everything gets on the table. The “√” markers indicate what is done and ready, the strike-through indicates what is on the table.”
She laughed, “Can’t we just look and see what’s on the table? Do we really need a list?!”
“We do need a list, what if something is out of sight, or the butter is still in the frig and we forget – we need a list.”
She thought that was just the funniest thing she had ever seen.

The dinner was great. The turkey was very moist, worth all the trouble of basting; the cranberries were better than from a can; the Parker House rolls were flat and hard as rocks! Better luck next year.

For me, the worst part was that during the clean-up from our fabulous feast, the list was gone! I went to pull the list from the wall and tuck it away in my journal so I would have a foundation for planning for the next year, and it was gone! I asked if anyone had seen it, my cousin said she had thrown it away, dinner was over we didn’t need the list any more. I tried to retrieve it from the trash, but it was covered with something wet and goopy – not salvageable. Too bad, that list had such good memories attached to it, too.

The 2008 list was similar. It was prepared a week before Thanksgiving, so the accompanying shopping list could be constructed as well. Cooking began three days before the big day, and kicked into high gear on Thanksgiving. This year we deep fried our turkey – it seemed moister last year when we deep fried. I think it’s back to the oven for the bird next year. We did make really delicious potato chips and sweet potato chips in the deep fryer after the bird was done.

I’ve stopped using bagged stuffing mix over that past few years, and have come up with a stuffing recipe of my own, it’s cornbread stuffing – delicious! Also, if you are tired of trying to figure out what to do about the cranberries, here’s a modified family recipe for Cranberry Waldorf Salad – you will start liking cranberries. I’ll save the twice baked sweet potatoes for next year… Enjoy!
(See "Recipes")