The Thanksgiving Feast

As exhausting as it usually is, my favorite meal to cook is Thanksgiving dinner. Cooking the perfect turkey and preparing wonderful side dishes to complement the meal and then seeing the satisfied smiles on my family’s face is the most wonderful feeling.

This year at my house there will be no delicious smell of the turkey roasting, sounds of the mixer mashing the potatoes, or splashing of the folks washing dishes in the sink with talking and laughing. This year, we are not hosting Thanksgiving. We are going to be guests. Since there will be no new recipes to write about, I thought I would write about the previous eight Thanksgiving meals I have cooked since Mike and I got hitched.

Growing up in a three generation home was fantastic. Having our grandmother live with us as my brothers and I grew up exposed us to the wonderful stories of the past. Being the third female in the house however, relegated me to the position of sous chef’s assistant in the kitchen. I am NOT complaining that I didn’t get much “hands on” kitchen experience because I would give just about anything to be in my parents’ kitchen working with Mom and Gram to make that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together one more time That is where I learned to make my delicious giblet gravy! (Yes Mom and Gram I WAS paying attention.) I was chopper and stirrer back then. When I got married all of a sudden I had to actually cook and feed my husband. I have many funny stories about my exploits in the kitchen but today I will stick to Thanksgiving stories.

How many times has my turkey not thawed in time to put right in the oven??? Out of 9 Thanksgivings together, my count is FIVE! Yes, I know, more than half of the time but I managed to get things done in time to eat. Thank you Alton Brown for sharing your quick turkey thawing prowess with the world!!!

Two years ago, my husband bought a 23 pound turkey for me to cook because he wanted lots of leftovers. It took so long to cook that darned bird that I believe we would have eaten it raw because we were so hungry. Luckily this was NOT one of the five ” not completely thawed” turkeys.

Number of times I have cooked the little bags of goodies inside the turkey? TWO. Yup, I apparently didn’t learn my lesson the first time.

Let me set the scene from last years Thanksgiving – turkey in the oven, parade on TV, guests on their way and zzzztttzzztt – the oven dies. Yes folks, the oven DIED while my turkey was cooking. What’s a girl to do???? In case this ever happens to YOU, here is my solution. I cut ALL the meat off the turkey and pan fried it. Instead of turkey drippings to flavor the gravy, I deglazed the pan. Dinner turned out delicious but it just wasn’t the same as that toasty, roasty delicious oven baked goodness.

And I saved my best “lesson learned” story for last. It was the eve of our first Thanksgiving that we were hosting at our tiny little apartment in NJ. My parents and paren-in-laws were coming for dinner the next day. Mike was working the crazy hours at the mall and I was home “prepping” for the next day. I opened a bottle of wine and by the time Mike got home, I had polished that sucker off and was feeling no pain. I was, however, feeling the pain the next day. I learned that cooking Thanksgiving dinner for six was not very easy or fun when hungover. Lesson learned. I have NOT repeated that mistake twice!!

Enjoy your family time and eat that delicious meal. Keep our troops and their families in your prayers. They are not together today because they are keeping our world safe. Thank God for what you have and what you DON’T have and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Kathy Harriott

My husband, Mike, and I moved from NJ to Southwest Florida in September 2006. I currently work for the local county Facilities Dept. and fill my free time with crafts, reading and my experiments in the kitchen.

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