Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner Plans Begun

My family seems concerned about Thanksgiving dinner. Not that I blame them. I really am pretty much of a non-cook.

Bob has offered repeatedly to order and pick up a fully cooked turkey at Honeybaked Ham. He said that he would even be glad to stand in line. Somehow even I don’t want to admit that I bought a fully cooked turkey so I turn him down.

Patti called me this morning at 7:30 a.m. to ask if I had planned the menu yet. I had not spent any time planning a menu but Thanksgiving dinner is very predictable so I was not worried. I have Kathi’s menu and grocery list from several years ago when she and Lenny prepared the whole meal but I bought the groceries.

Patti is making the sweet potatoes because her family will not eat them the way I prepare them without much brown sugar and without marshmallows. She is also bringing two pumpkin pies because I told her that I thought I would just go to Costco and get two pies.

Kathi is very helpful and I will depend on her for several key parts of the meal. She is definitely making the stuffing. She says, “I always like making stuffing because it reminds me of what Mom and I used to do together first thing on Thanksgiving morning. I can still smell the butter and onions sautéing in the pan, and I still have her recipe, in her handwriting on a little scrap of paper, complete with spots where butter or chicken broth dripped onto it.” Now I smile as I think about what she must have thought when I made Stovetop stuffing at least a couple of years. I thought it was good.

I asked Kathi if she thought I could get by with just cooking a couple of turkey breasts instead of a whole turkey. She gently responded, “I don't need a whole turkey to make stuffing, although if you get a whole turkey, I will use the giblets. Turkey breasts are fine with me, but I know Patti (and maybe a couple of the boys in her family) prefers dark meat to white meat. Maybe you could find some turkey drumsticks or thighs, too. Or, I'd be happy to help with cooking the turkey if you decide to get a whole one. I usually plan for about 2 lbs. per person (e.g., a 12 lb. turkey for 6 people). Not that each person eats 2 lbs. of turkey, but by the time you take out the innards and the bones, and plan for leftovers, that has seemed to work well for me.” I decided to get a whole turkey.

I tell Lois that I am a bit nervous about it. She says, “Whatever for? It is the easiest thing in the world to do. All you have to do is put in the oven. Only don’t cook it for as long as it says because it will turn out dry.” Did you ever notice how people that cook think that it is easy? I am quite proud that I do know you have to take the bag with the giblets out first. Still, I forgot to ask her whether I should put it in a bag or in the roaster or how it works best. I will need to check that out with Kathi.

Even though I have a ton of other things that I would rather do today, I go and buy a turkey. Bob is quite convinced that I need to do that today. I stand by the turkeys and ask two people if I should get a fresh turkey or frozen turkey. One is getting a frozen turkey because they cost less and it still has plenty of time to thaw. The other is buying a fresh turkey because she says it takes a long time for a frozen turkey to thaw and she doesn’t like worrying about that. I am convinced and go to look at the fresh turkeys. Then I get a new worry. Will it spoil before I cook it on Thanksgiving? Common sense tells me that it will not or why would all of these people be buying fresh turkeys today. I like hearing the grocer say that I can keep it in the coldest part of my refrigerator for a week before I need to cook it. Then my next job is to find a fresh turkey with a pop-up timer. I don’t trust myself to look and see if it is “beginning to pull away from the wing.” In the garage, I proudly announce to Bob that we are the owners of a 21 pound fresh turkey.

I am proud of the progress today on the Thanksgiving meal and I still have four days to go. Family, I think we will be okay.

Addendum 1: If any of you doubt why I should feel insecure about my cooking at Thanksgiving, read my daughter-in-law's first blog entry on Thanksgiving: Whatever The Thanksgiving Equivalent of Ho-Ho-Ho Is. I think more entries on Thanksgiving will follow.

Addendum 2: At the bridal shower today, I decided to use Janet's foolproof brine for our turkey. I will let you know how it works for me.

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