“Twas the night before Thanksgiving” and my oldest brother called from Paris. In the middle of listening to him tell me about his $500 dinners for two, and salads that were "so delicious that they made him cry," I was over-cooking my potatoes and getting my ass-kicked in Scrabble by my husband. (The final score was 545 - 345, but I want to qualify that with the fact that I was making four different Thanksgiving dishes, cleaning the entire kitchen and talking to my brother on speakerphone during our game. My husband, on the other hand, never got up from his seat.)
Last year’s Thanksgiving was such a nail-biting (poorly planned) cooking showdown, that I was determined to be better prepared for my Thanksgiving day meal this year. I was going to get all of my dishes prepped the day before, so that I would have minimal work on the actual holiday. But the day got away from me, and I didn’t start all of this prepping until after dinner on Wednesday night. (Admittedly, there might have been some ranting on my part before I got started.) So there I was, Wednesday night, thinking about my brother’s mouth-watering salad, indescribable fish dishes, and all of the meals that “he couldn’t put into words,” and adding too much milk to my garlic mashed potatoes. Cooking really is an art form. I don’t actually know how to “cook.” I think I basically “prepare” food. As I listened to my brother describe his Parisian culinary delights, that became even clearer.
I was sure that my sweet potato (yam) casserole was probably going to come out sweeter than my apple pie. My turkey meatloaf (since no one eats roasted turkey) would probably be a little dry, and that I had chopped my onions too big.
My cranberry/orange relish seemed fine. So I was hoping it would be a saving grace.
I was skipping the turkey again this year. But apparently, I am not the only one who doesn’t like roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving. Most of my island friends proudly announced that they “dropped” their turkeys off at the Imu Pit at their local church. Apparently, this is THE biggest thing on the island to do at Thanksgiving. IF only I had known…
I was so fussy, about not prepping my meal earlier in the day, that I ended up serving frozen pigs in a blanket and frozen macaroni and cheese for dinner. Both items were found at Target. They were full of sodium, fat, and calories. My husband wolfed everything down and said, “We should buy this again. This was delicious.” Aside from the nutritional violation, he was right. They were really delicious. But if he is just as happy with frozen food and no one on this side of the family likes traditional Thanksgiving foods, "Why was I bothering to make Thanksgiving dinner from scratch?
It was 10:30 pm by the time I washed all the pots and pans. I had four dishes ready for the oven and two dishes left to make in the morning: Roasted Brussels sprouts… in which I used my “magic roasting pan.” (Literally you can put any vegetable in this pan, cover it with a little olive oil, and salt, and you have the perfect roasted vegetable.) And, of course, cucumber rolls… because otherwise my youngest daughter would have eaten nothing.
In the end, after all of my bitching and complaining, the actual day of Thanksgiving was completely stress-free. I finished off my last two dishes in the morning, popped my pre-made dishes into the oven an hour before my guests came, and everything was yummy. Mission accomplished... except for that humiliating beating in Scrabble (it was his highest score ever).
I have a bad feeling I am going to be hearing about this for many years to come.
Photo by Caroline Walker