Things I'm thankful for...and not
My mother always said that the hardest part of cooking was bringing a meal to a head.
I used to pride myself on doing so much in advance and being so organized that I could sit and have a glass of wine with my guests, then rise, spend ten minutes in the kitchen and then put a fabulous meal on the table no more than an hour after everyone arrived so no one would end up drinking too much before dinner.
I can see today isn't going to work out that way exactly. ...
First of all, my husband and daughter, sensing trouble, have disappeared, ostensibly to pick up Grandma in Washington and bring her back. That takes two people? I heard something about a stop at Starbucks on the way.
My brother is a super sous chef, and is downstairs right now washing the incredible amount of dishes I've already dirtied this morning, but I just have a feeling this is not going to be a meal that's going to come to a head.
Regret No. 1: Going to the gym early this morning instead of making the turkey stock, and then forgetting to make it when I got home, so that when the time came to add the turkey stock to moisten the stuffing, no turkey stock. It will be ready in time for the giblet gravy.
Regret No. 2: Not buying unseasoned bread cubes this year for the first time ever for the stuffing instead of making my own. Could anyone tell the difference?
Regret No. 3: Not checking to see if I had paprika for the stuffing before this morning.
Regret No. 4: Coming upon the paprika after the turkey was stuffed.
Regret No. 5: Not looking on the Internet to see how long a turkey takes when you're using a convection oven, or even if that's a good idea, before I put the turkey in. I'd better not look now, because what if I find out it's not a good idea?
Regret No. 6: Letting the others talk me out of making scalloped oysters, even though I'm probably the only one who would eat them.
Regret No. 7: Letting Gailor see the raw turkey, even though she immediately started chanting, "It's a tofurkey, it's a tofurkey" to convince herself it was never alive before she has to eat it.
What I Did Right No. 1: I controlled my impulse to make too much food for the first Thanksgiving ever. We will be six. I bought a 10-pound, not a 16-pound turkey. I did buy two bags of cranberries, but I only cooked one for the first time ever. I didn't double the recipe for braised onions or the carrot souffle. I made one pie, pumpkin chiffon, and skipped the chocolate pecan. And I bet you we will still have lots of leftovers.
What I Did Right No. 2: I did not make rice (a Southern tradition in place of mashed potatoes). Nor did I make mashed potatoes.
What I Did Right No. 3: I bought coleslaw (another Southern tradition) instead of making my own.
What I Did Right No. 4: We are having a four-veggie dinner, so there will be at least a pretense of healthfulness: carrot souffle, braised onions, le sueur peas (for color) and coleslaw.
What I Did Right No. 5: I managed to corner my husband before he escaped and got him to beat the egg whites for the pumpkin chiffon pie in a copper bowl with a balloon whip instead of using a mixer. (I can't do it anymore because it's too hard on my shoulder.) The egg whites took on enormous volume and the chiffon pumpkin pie is a work of art.
What I Did Right No. 6: I haven't started drinking yet so the meal may actually get on the table after all. My menu is virtually the same as the Virtual Thanksgiving Menu I posted last year, with the exceptions I've noted.
Owl Meat has sent me a lovely Funtastic Thursday for dessert, but it's going to take me some time to post it -- something I don't have right now, so check back later.
One of the things I'm thankful for is all of you making work fun again for me with this blog. Many thanks, and have an excellent Thanksgiving.
(Photo of somebody else's turkey by Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times photographer)