Most of us remember our first Thanksgiving cooking performance for the rest of our lives. Even if you are considered by your people to be a good cook, pulling together this particular meal is very tricky and expectations are high. Timing is crucial and most folks are more particular about the food items than usual. Sage or no sage in the stuffing? Brined or deep fried? Everybody has a favorite recipe and you hope yours holds up.
For my first home cooked Thanksgiving, Mom was going to be in Florida, crushing the family tradition, but promised to be “on call” in the case of a turkey emergency. Turkey’s are intimidating birds you know. And for good reason. If not cooked long enough, they can kill you! Most people only cook a large turkey once or twice per year, so we don’t have the same experience or confidence as we do with our meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
Mister Man tried to talk me out of hosting the dinner knowing how stressful these events can be, but I insisted it would be just fine.
I asked that he go to the grocery and gave him a list. He hated going to the grocery from a “list” because inevitably I would leave something off of the list or he would get the wrong brand and have to go back to the store. But he was being a good sport knowing that I was a little nervous. And his Grandmother was going to be there…she was a fabulous cook which placed me under even more pressure.
“Baking or Gold Yukon?” the phone calls started… “cornbread or regular?”…“canned or fresh”…“cob or canned…“heavy or fat free?” I’m thinking…I should have gone myself.
He came home and began unloading all of the items. I was impressed that he didn’t forget anything! I had him get the biggest turkey they had.
I stuffed oranges, peaches, rosemary and butter behind the skin of the bird and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This was going to be fabulous! I cooked up some bacon that I would use for the green beans and started making the pies.
Thanksgiving morning I got up extra early and things seemed to be pacing nicely. I made corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie. It was a massive amount of food and smelled heavenly! Mister Man kissed me on my forehead… “Very impressive!” I continued running around the house like a crazy woman cooking, lighting candles, putting on music…I wanted everything to be simply PERFECT!
It was getting close to dinner time so I decided to get myself ready. I poured a nice glass of red wine and looked up at the clock.
It was 4:55 and I expected the masses to begin piling in any minute. I was so excited and very proud of myself. Damn! I actually pulled off my first Thanksgiving dinner!
Just about that time we got a call. On the other line was the voice of his sweet Grandmother…“Hey, where are ya’ll? Everybody’s over here waitin’ on ya! Food’s getting cold!”