Thursday, December 4, 2014

Things Thanksgiving Taught Me

Now that the dust has settled, the carcass has been picked clean (even though the leftovers still linger in the fridge), and the guests are all gone, I thought I'd reflect back on the lessons I learned this year.

First, buy the pie crusts. That Pillsbury dough boy knows his stuff. Me? Not so much. And when you've never attempted pastry before, making it for a holiday is absurd. It won't hold together well enough to transfer it to the pie plate so you'll have to mash and squeeze it all back together to have one piece of crust instead of many raggedy bits. This is not pretty. Then, when you cook it, it will likely char on one side only. (Yes, I know this is more likely an oven issue than a pie crust issue but there's no salvaging the crust when this happens since I defy you to put tin foil on one half of the crust and not have the convection oven blow it the heck off the pie.) Furthermore, store bought will taste better than the tired, overworked, and pitiful looking thing you've created.

Next, when you forget to pull the pecans out of the toaster oven because you get distracted (squirrel!), they will burn. Quickly. And irretrievably. And speaking of squirrels, they do not like burned pecans any better than people do.

If, like me, you not only get distracted, but you are incapable of going to the grocery store for ingredients only once, you need to know that a trio of trips to several different grocery stores all in one day is a bit of a red flag for credit card companies. They will call you to verify your purchases and you will feel like a complete idiot admitting that yes, you've been to three stores in less than eight hours and made six or so trips in 24 hours. Apparently the overly suspicious credit card folks have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner themselves or maybe they are just far better at writing shopping lists than I am. And when they fluster you by questioning all those charges, you will forget to go back a fourth time and buy the whipped cream for the charred pies anyway, a fact which will distress your children no end.

When you only have one oven, there's no reasonable way to have all dishes hit the table as hot as you might have liked. And someone will helpfully mention this to you. Hopefully when you are not holding a carving knife. Personally I consider it a win if the turkey's hot since food borne illness is not my goal. The rest of it? Well, that's what microwaves are for, right?

If you aim to serve your turkey at lunchtime, you can have pie for a midafternoon snack and everyone will be comfortably passed out in their food comas by 6 pm. Makes for an appealingly short day.

Only crazy people host a party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (Full disclosure: we are those crazy people but I keep doing it anyway; yes, I am the definition of insanity.)

You will be overly tired from all the Thanksgiving prep and now the myriad of appetizers you have been cooking for days so when you preheat your oven (again), make sure you haven't left something in there to cool for lack of counter space. You will only discover your oversight after the entire tray has been incinerated beyond recognition. And there goes your carefully planned menu.  Pretty sure the squirrels would have even less interest in blackened cranberry brie pastry bites than in burned pecans.  Maybe I'll test that hypothesis another time though.

Consider banning red wine at any large holiday gathering unless you want your kitchen and family room to look like someone mugged a red wine merchant or messily tapped a barrel in there. And when your friends all know where you keep the cleaning supplies because they have spilled so much, it's past time to send everyone home.  Suggesting that recalcitrant drunks get down on hands and knees to wash the floors will get them moving out of the door pretty well.

Pizza is a perfectly acceptable dinner choice following a large holiday and then a large holiday party, especially when you don't want to lay so much as an eye on anything you've cooked again at least until next year. But remember there's no room in the fridge for leftover pizza so order carefully.

And finally, make sure to have just one more smaller event that same week to help clear the fridge of any leftover appetizers unless your family likes leftovers better than mine does.  Apologies in advance to my book club who will be seeing the After the Holiday nibbles redux tonight.


  1. I was laughing so hard when I read this--thank you for a humorous post! I agree with you on most of the tips; some of them I haven't experienced so I will take your word for it.

    Another tip (from me): don't order Chinese take-out the day after Thanksgiving since many Black Friday shoppers will have the same idea to not cook again and your wait will be very long, plus where the heck can you squeeze in the take-out boxes in your already-packed fridge!

  2. I loved getting a second shot at the holiday food! Hint for next year--use multiple credit cards.


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