An Undomesticated Thanksgiving (or why I should NEVER try to cook for just 2)

November 30, 2009

in How to Diet in Reverse

So there are a few things this Undomesticated goddess is still learning. Things such as when Downy Wrinkle Release will simply not cut it and one should probably remember where they stashed the iron when we moved in…two years ago. Or how to disconnect the apartment doorbell so when the neighbor kids ring it to get into the building one does not “accidentally” maim them for interrupting one’s 2pm nap. Or how to cook.

Unlike many of my more domesticated friends (girls and boys), the kitchen was not where I hung out as a kid. At least not when any actual cooking was going on. Sneaking a snack when my mother was elsewhere? TOTALLY. Cleaning the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner (for the next 2 days)? ALL OVER IT. But when there were things to be chopped, sauteed, stirred, and generally kept from burning? NOT SO MUCH. It was just safer to be elsewhere. And while I am slowly correcting that oversight, it is through much trial and error. So, needless to say, Thanksgiving has become a very exciting event in our house.

Last year was not too bad. I spent the actual Thanksgiving in my aunt’s kitchen learning from her and my grandma how to make the best stuffing ever, what to do when you burn the marshmallows on top of the candied yams (answer: send a kid all over town to buy another bag), and the miracles of a roasting bag. When I came back to cook my own belated dinner for the Big Man, I, and 2.5 friends, it went fairly well. True, I forgot to actually season the turkey. And I burned the broccoli. But we split the leftovers and no one had to have their stomach pumped. In my book, for a first Thanksgiving meal – that is a Win.

So this year, I decided to be ambitious. I was going to cook Thanksgiving dinner (without the pre-meal family prep session) and invite all of our friends over to enjoy the meal with us. Yes. Because that is going to work out soooo well in the movie version of my blog…

So I put out the word, and waited to find out how many people would be joining us. And waited. Resent the invitation. And waited. And then, the Big Man came home from work one day and said “Hun, we need to talk.”

Crap.

Apparently, our wonderful circle of friends had secretly been planning a baby shower for us for weeks, and it just so happened to be the same weekend as my dinner. Being on the low end of the totem pole at work, this meant that they all had to work the night of my dinner to be off for the shower. And apparently my hormonal…fluctuations… had not gone unnoticed. So no one actually wanted to have to be the one to press the “decline” button on Evite.

So, now my fantastic dinner was down to 2. And this, surprisingly, is where it all started to go down hill. Not when we had to plunge the kitchen sink because raw pumpkin for the pie was stopping it up. Not when I realized that my discounted Butterball Turkey no longer came with its own pop-up button and I lacked a meat thermometer…half-way through the cooking of said turkey. Nor when it became crystal-clear just how big a difference 2 pounds would make in the cooking time of the same turkey and the last hour was a mad-dash to get everything else done and on the table waaay ahead of schedule. Not even when the pumpkin pie from hell, er scratch, bubbled over and baked onto my good cookie sheet – taking a week, multiple soakings, 2 applications of Easy Off, and a few regrettable scratches to get off.

Nope. I was brought down by the fact that there would only be 2 of us eating dinner.

2.

You see, what experience I have had with cooking has been for rather large groups. The Thanksgiving-lesson meal with my aunt and grandma? Fed at least 8. And my oma, the only true in-kitchen teaching I received as a child, regularly admits that a “small” batch of her famous potato salad is “only 10 pounds” or so. Not to mention the fact that the Big Man and I regularly cook only 1-2 times a month, eating leftovers for the rest of the time. It isn’t unusual to find frozen spaghetti in our freezer because I’ve become sick of eating it well before it actually ran out. The Big Man once ate green ham. Not intentionally green ham, but ham that had been in his fridge for so long it was turning green. But it was there, and we do NOT waste food. Of course, we also do not like what happens after he eats green ham…so ham is only for holidays now.

So while almost everything did come out deliciously, or at least not burned, everything also came out in MASS quantities. I have enough leftovers (still) to feed one of those small African nations they show on TV asking you to send money to support a child on only a quarter a day. (Which have gotten weird, btw. They now let you pick the child to support. Based on a picture. Does that mean only the pretty/photogenic children get to eat? Or what if someone gets picked by multiple donors – do they then get to own the village since they are getting all the food?)For starving kids, they are rather picky. They don’t want my leftovers, just my quarters.

And all this after I sent an entire pumpkin pie in to the Big Man’s office. And forced friends to come over to eat leftovers for lunch. And practically begged our over-night guests to pile their plates high with everything. And decided that the Nibbles will now be eating only celery and sweet potatoes until we ALL are done eating celery and sweet potatoes.A week and a half later, and the only thing we have successfully finished off were the mashed potatoes (which I made for 1, so really they only fed about 5).

I am now eating Thanksgiving food for every meal but breakfast (and being pregnant, there are a lot more meals you can fit in the day than one would imagine). Hopefully, one day, I’ll get to the bottom of the dishes… before the turkey turns green…

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