Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner a Success, If Not Perfect

Thanksgiving this year will be at my sister's-in-law.  Not that we never hosted dinner.  As a matter of fact, soon after we married, we hosted my wife's family for Thanksgiving dinner.  My wife is from a family of ten siblings and her immediate family then amounted to 20 adults (counting girlfriends, boyfriends and close friends).  To give her mother a break we hosted Thanksgiving dinner that year.  It didn't quite go perfectly.
Some of the family 2011
Source:Asya Photography
We had two tables on which our guests would eat dinner.  The kitchen table was 3' in diameter.  Our dinner table was an oval and could be enlarged by adding one leaf to its center.  Even with the leaf inserted, our table situation was insufficient for the number of invited guests.  Knowing this well in advance, I made a table topper to enlarge the dinner table.  It was a sheet of 1/2" plywood that I reclaimed from the dumpster at work, framed with 2x2s.  I cut two pieces of 2x6 to conform to the oval ends of the table. 

 These were attached to the underside so that when the topper was set in place it was centered both widthwise and lengthwise and didn't move at all.  The topper wasn't much larger than the oval table but it added more settings because of its square corners.

That Thanksgiving, I awoke early to get the turkey into the oven.  It was the largest bird I could get and needed 5-1/2 – 6-1/2 hours of roasting.  The stuffing needed to be made plus the vegetables and salad.  We had a full day ahead of us.

I called up to my wife, who lingered in the bedroom.  She said she didn't feel well but she would come down to get started with the dinner.  By the time she arrived in the kitchen I had already boiled the giblets, fried the mushrooms and onions and added them to the store bought bags of seasoned bread stuffing and finished it all off with chicken stock.  There were odors of sage, thyme, onions, mushrooms already wafting in the air.  The stuffing was in the bird and the bird in the oven.  The house was beginning to smell like Thanksgiving.  There could have been no more than ten seconds that passed before my wife covered her mouth pivoted one hundred eighty degrees and said, "The smell is making me feel nauseous."  With that she returned to the bedroom and stuffed a bath towel under the door.  She wasn't coming down unless she felt better and she didn't think that would happen until the odors dissipated.
Nausea- Not my wife
Dinner was at our house with 20 adults on their way expecting to be served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I had four top burners and one oven.  I had one main counter top that was 25" deep by 38" wide plus a small flat surface to the left of the stove that was 25" deep by 20" wide and an area the same size to the right of the stove that later became the dirty dish dock.  Plus the 3' diameter kitchen table in the breakfast room, three steps from the main countertop.  I felt the weight dropped on my shoulders like a hundred pound sack of rice.  Besides, I was alone.

Leading up to Thanksgiving I made lists and a time table for the food preparation and cooking.  As I finished each task I crossed it off the list.  Those lists and two digital times with alarms save me from disaster.

An hour or so before dinner my sisters-in-law began to arrive and immediately saw what needed to be done and did it.  We managed to juggle the cooking of mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, scalloped potatoes, the candied yams, candied carrots, pearl onions and peas, steamed broccoli, green beans, cauliflower with cheese sauce, brown and serve rolls and apple pie.  As far as I can remember, dinner was a success even if it wasn't perfect.  My wife never did come downstairs that day.

Here is wishing everyone has a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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