Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All About Thanksgiving

This year was our first to host Thanksgiving. It happened by default really.
After an incredibly busy summer and fall, we were determined to stay home and do nothing. Nothing can be done anywhere, but its done best when  in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, with the liberty of choosing whether or not you will live in your pajamas that day. Yep, that kind of nothing.

The past few years we've spent Thanksgiving away with Nick's parents and sisters, renting vacation homes in the snowy woods. We figured since we would be in town this year that meant Thanksgiving dinner would be at Mom and Dads. Well, as it turns out- Mom and Dad had tickets to visit our older sister (or should I say the grand-kids) in Tennessee... leaving us (my younger sister and brother-in-love, Nick, Hadley, and myself) to fend for ourselves!

We started with, "We're just going to keep it simple. Easy. Relaxed." To me this meant visions of Mexican food, hot cocoa, and staying in our pajamas all day... maybe combing our hair and brushing our teeth, I mean after all - we're not cave-people!

But nostalgia got hold of us as we began discussing menu options, and we agreed that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be best.

And then my OCOOC (obsessive-compulsive-out-of-control) personality got the best of me, and before I knew it was saying things like, "Wouldn't it be fun to make it all from scratch?" 

First, let me explain to you WHY that idea is crazy:

Fact One: I have never baked/roasted/smoked/deep-fried a turkey in my life.
Fact Two: I have never assisted someone in roasting a turkey.
Fact Three: I have never even helped in the preparation of said bird... no, I lazily watch from the couch in disgust and horror.
Fact Four: I don't stick my hands inside of animal carcasses. It creeps me out. In the eight years of our marriage Nick has had to remove the giblets and neck from every chicken I've roasted.
Fact Five: I have never made Stuffing, pie crust, or yeast rolls that didn't come from a box or the frozen food section.

Now, before you get all judge-y... I DO cook. Pretty well in fact, or so my family thinks. And every now and then my almost 3 yr-old tosses me a, "Good job, Mama!"
We just don't have holiday feasts at our house every week.
So for a job this big I went to the queen of the kitchen (and my favorite food blogger) the Pioneer Woman. She got me started in the right direction by sharing her Thanksgiving week schedule. It didn't seem so frightening once I realized you could prep and bake leading up to the day.

Monday-  Hadley and I made pumpkin puree from two small pumpkins. And that was about all we got done that day.
Tuesday- We cleaned the house and made the pie crusts.
Wednesday- We make the turkey brine, cleaned the bird (I did it. Nick held my hand but I did it. Gag) and began brining the turkey. Then Nick took Hadley to work with him (my hero) and I began prepping all the veggies for the stuffing, cubed the french bread, and bake the cornbread in the skillet (Also for the stuffing) and then onto the dough for the yeast rolls.  Then I started in the pies : Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chocolate. And then I spent the evening cleaning up the royal mess I had made. But it was delightful.

Thursday- Got up at 4:30, clean the turkey and stuck 'er in the oven. Then went back to bed. And guess what, our turkey was done by 9:30... since when, the in the history of ever, has that happened?? Over-achiever.  We turned the oven on warm, to keep our turkey cozy, and waited for Tara and Miko to arrive.
Somewhere in here I set the table.
Soon as Tara and Miko arrived, Tara started peeling, and dicing, and chopping, and boiling like a beast. She was responsible for the mashed potatoes and bacon green beans. I stuck the stuffing and rolls in the oven, then sat back and watch liked I was working hard. Nick jumped in and made the gravy.
Best.gravy. ever.

I must say it turned out to be the most unbelievably easy Thanksgiving dinner, which was not at all what I had anticipated. Usually the cooks come to the table crazed and exhausted, so I was very thankful to enjoy our holiday down time even leading up to dinner.
And the foods of our labor.... slurp.

Thank you Pioneer Woman for sharing your cooking wisdom.
Thank you, Tara, for those mouth-watering bacon beans and dreamy garlic mashed-potatoes.
Thank you, Nick, for standing by my side to make sure I didn't faint on the turkey, and that delicious gravy. You are my knight. And know that now I will probably never attempt gravy since I have you. ;)
Thank you, Miko, for capturing the day, enjoying the food, and being graciously vocal about it. And the laughs.
Thank you, Turkey, for not coming out of the oven looking like a burn victim.



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