This year I made Thanksgiving dinner by myself. It was the first time I did all of it. I’ve helped in the past, and have made some of the dishes myself for other non-Thanksgiving purposes, but this was the first time I made all of it. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes (both normal and sweet potato-style), green bean casserole, stuffing, rolls…yeah, that’s it.
Oh yeah, and a pecan pie too.
Veronica had to work till 4pm, so I prepared the casserole and the stuffing the night before and then got up around 9 or 10 to get the party started, just like Pink says you’re supposed to do. I pulled the turkey out of its body bag and washed it and pulled the junk out of the hatches and laid ‘er to rest on a funeral pyre made by some fine kitchen-accessories company. I then started in on the seasoning. I remember seeing Anthony Bourdain rub butter and seasoning under the skin of a bird he was cooking and I wanted to try that, so I did.
Oven preheated, turkey rubbed down, a bit of broth poured over it the kick-start the juicy-juice process, and we were rolling. I even set my watch to go off every 45 minutes so I could baste the bastard.
Anybody who has cooked a Thanksgiving dinner will tell you the same thing I’m about to, except that I will employ hyperbole so as to make it exceedingly humorous to read. Or not.
I have decided that cooking all that crap for one meal is much like an NBA playoff game. It starts out slow. You have plenty of time to surf the internet or pick your nose or whatever it is you do to distract yourself from the boredom of daily life. Pretty soon you’re having to be judicious with your bathroom breaks, or maybe you can’t just be doing keg-stands whenever you want, because there’s a little timing needing to be involved now. At this point, all is still good. Sure, you’re still paying attention to the bird, and you’re making sure that the next dish is ready to go in when it needs to, maybe you’re getting stuff ready ahead of time in anticipation of needing to make gravy or whatever, but then something happens.
All of a sudden the crowd roars and now everybody on the court is hustling like they actually want to take home a ring. Both teams are applying full-court press and every inbounds pass is actively being blocked by the opposition. People are running full speed, and sweat is pouring off of heads like a faucet that just never did work right from day one.
Now imagine what a playoff game must be like, cuz that was me in the kitchen. Seriously, making that meal was fine and dandy until that one thing, and then it was “waitaminit, what just happened? Get the 24-second clock back up there! Oh shit…time out. CALL TIME OUT!!!”
From 9 until 2pm – nothing. Star Wars on the TV, and internet searches of Princess Leia in a metal bathing suit. Right around 2, though? I realized that I’d forgotten all about potatoes, so I had to peel and boil two varieties. I was boiling the gizzards and junk for adding to the gravy. I was prepping the stuffing and casserole to add to the oven when it was time. The pecan pie crust was thawing out on the counter, which was crowded due to all the prep required for multiple dishes. In fact, I had no room for anything because I had EVERYTHING out just waiting to go. I haven’t ever seen college football players this excited to run through that paper ring on their way into a stadium, that’s how ready all the food was for the oven.
Luckily for me, I had planned SOME of the procedure out and had gone to the store for beer about 30 minutes before everything got crazy, so I wasn’t really in that bad of shape. And in the end, it all turned out okay. Every dish, while not Pavlovian in its result, tasted good, and I now have a starting point for next year. First, call Mom and get her recipes for stuffing and green bean casserole. My stuffing was decent, but MY GOD did the recipe really call for that much butter? Goose shit through a tin horn? How about Turkey stuffing through my poor sphincter? The chain on my bike has never been as lubed as I have been due to all the butter consumed last week. Jee-zeezus!!!!
The stuffing is now gone, as is the casserole. We’ll be eating turkey sandwiches for weeks, and there’s still some potatoes left as well. Overall, a success. Next year though, I’m bringing home a ring.