Thanksgiving wasn’t as bad as I feared.
It might have been because we had planned to bury Kim on Friday so we knew all day that the next day would be harder.
I love cooking for Thanksgiving.
One one hand, it’s the most boring holiday to cook for. People love to eat the same things every year. The “same things” might vary by family but Thanksgiving dinner is about familiarity.
Usually I buy two heritage turkeys and brine them and cook them on Tuesday. This year I bought two frozen turkeys. We expected twenty people.
I cooked the first turkey on Friday, carved it, and froze the white meat in one freezer bag and the dark meet in the other.
I cooked the second turkey on Tuesday. Carved it and refrigerated the meat in two bags. I also pulled the frozen meat out of the oven.
I also made an asparagus soup on Tuesday that could be served cold as a first course. I know asparagus is more of a spring soup than a fall soup but some people at the table don’t like mushrooms and some are vegetarian and one is allergic to tomatoes and I wanted to start with a soup that wouldn’t require a burner. I found a recipe for a fennel soup but the fennel in the store didn’t look great so I swapped out the fennel for asparagus.
Wednesday I made the stuffing. We’d experimented for years til we got it to taste like what Kim remembered of her grandmother’s stuffing. This year I doubled the sausage and mixed two flavors of bread cubes. It was really good. I made two casseroles worth and only a spoonful was left after people took some home with them.
I made two loaves of bread and put them in the refrigerator to rise over night.
I made the cranberry sauce and set it aside to cool as well.
Thanksgiving day and I had four things left to do: bake off the bread, make the gravy from the drippings that I’d frozen along with the meat, make the mashed potatoes, and heat everything up.
I’d undercooked the meat a little and there was still quite a bit of pink on it. I finished it in a water bath at 145 degrees and it came out moist and flavorful – probably the best the turkey has ever come out.
Family and friends arrived while I was still cooking the potatoes. I’d cooked 5 pounds but they decided it wouldn’t be enough so I cooked another 3 pounds. It would have been more than enough.
I ran up stairs to take a shower. Came down, and called everyone to the table.
My brother and his wife helped run the food to the table.
Maggie had to come and get me – they won’t start eating without you.
Kim had the gravitas to tell them “oh just eat” and they would. Without her they waited for me to come in and taste the soup.
I thought it was a really nice Thanksgiving dinner.
Of course there was the elephant in the room, but the room was filled with people who had shared other Thanksgivings when Kim was there. They knew.
Thanksgiving dinner looks impressive. It’s a wide range of food. But you just plan ahead and make a little each day.
It’s planning, preparation, and pacing.
It’s how I get through every day.