Monday, December 6, 2010


This post is over a week late but I'm still thankful so Thanksgiving is still relevant.

This year, I hosted my very first Thanksgiving dinner. It had its moments but it wasn't nearly as stressful as I expected. I cooked the entire day Wednesday and Thursday. And I was only cooking for five people.
The recipe list. In order of cooking priority from left to right. It was mostly accurate.
Day 1 included Pomegranate Cranberry Jelly. [Have you ever cooked fresh cranberries? They pop and crack as they cook! It's so fun!]
And the rolls. Dough cooked in a stock pot? Yes. And it rose. There is little else that brings more joy to a baker than bread dough rising. Audible celebrations were had. Especially after the below-mentioned incident with the turkey. 

And I made this. It was beautiful. And delicious. I love that I was raised by Yankee parents but all these Thanksgivings sans PEcan pie... we never knew what we were missing.
 As mentioned above, my only noteworthy adventure of the whole experience was the turkey. Stupid bird.

I got this beautiful, happy turkey from Whole Foods. No preservatives or hormones or other junk. My plan for the tastiest bird ever on a newbie's first try at Thanksgiving dinner: brine!!

Ah lovely brine ingredients. It started out with so much potential.
A beautiful bath of salty goodness. My kitchen smelled fantastic.

This was the original plan. I read from numerous sources that this was an entirely acceptable, even recommended, way to brine your turkey. Doesn't it look so happy and cozy in its little bath?

It wasn't. After spilling brine all over the floor - twice - it got mad at me and sprung a leak once in the bag. The reason I chose to brine in a brining bag was because a) it's a "brining bag", that's what it does, and b) I lack ownership of anything large enough to hold a 12 pound turkey plus 2 gallons of liquid. Hence when it started leaking, I panicked and starting rapidly ticking off a list of everything in my house/garage that could hold all the goods. Coming up with nothing, I resorted to placing the leaking bag inside another non-leaking bag and hoisting it back in the cooler and filling it with 2 more bags of ice. And there it remained for 24 hours. I may or may not have sworn at the turkey. 

Then, after cooking, per instructions, for requisite time and temperature, all seemed well and good and we removed and got ready to slice. Unfortunately, due to either faulty instructions, faulty thermometer or faulty cook- the bird wasn't done. It's a good thing I didn't have those mini-pitchforks in my hands when we realized it wasn't done.
So then we did this for another 45 minutes or so and played "I'm thankful for..." but in alphabetical order. I.E. A- apples. B- bunny rabbits. C- children's laughter. D- dental floss. It proved to be a rather fun way to pass the remaining turkey-cooking time. 

I'm so glad my family was there with me. Aren't they cute? I love them. I wouldn't have finished everything without all hands on deck. My dad loves doing dishes. Don't let him tell you otherwise. 

All eventually turned out being delicious even though it was a little later than planned. 

And I only subjected my family to about 15 minutes of portrait attempts. I am thankful for S- self-timers and T- tripods.
Overall, my inaugural Thanksgiving hosting event was a success.
Lessons learned:
1) next year, explore deep-frying because the brined turkey tasted about the same as a less high-maintenance preparation, or pretty much any other option.
2) always have pecan pie. always.
3) roasting garlic is so yummy. How did I never do this until now?
4) you do NOT need more than 5 lbs of potatoes for 5 people
5) I feel I earned a merit badge in my culinary ambitions by successfully manning Thanksgiving dinner. But it was so much more fun for those couple hours my family was there to help cook than it was kickin it all by myself. Or maybe my family is just so much fun that anything is better with them around. Yeah, it could be that too...

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