Posts Tagged ‘mashed potatoes are a food of the gods’

Yesterday was a day of prep work: The (perfectly sized) turkey was brined and is now resting in the basement fridge. The cornbread was procured after making three trips to two grocery stores (but I had to go back to the first store, when they’d replenished their cornbread stock; yes I realize this is something I can make myself). I made the first step of the gravy with the turkey neck and giblets yesterday. The cranberry sauce (round 2, after the first one burned; I really should not be in charge of big complex meals like this) is chilling in the kitchen fridge, along with the beautiful, disaster-free fresh-pumpkin pie my mother and daughter made. Carla is itching to peel potatoes today, a job I will happily relegate to her.

But for now, I am having a quiet moment to sip tea and look over my recipes in hopes that I don’t forget anything. Thankfully, with four helpers on hand, I think we’ll be okay. (We are kind of smushing two turkey recipes together, because my mother thinks that we cannot cook a turkey at 400 degrees despite America’s Test Kitchen’s assurances; we will follow another of ATK’s recipes and start it at 425 for an hour, then turn it down to 325. WE’LL SEE HOW IT GOES.)

I am loving your guesses about yesterday’s kitchen mystery. I wondered, before I posted it, whether it would be a True Mystery or whether it would be easy to decode. The post explaining the full story is half-written but will have to wait until after Thanksgiving. (If you haven’t guessed yet, the Mystery Giveaway runs until tomorrow at midnight Eastern time.)

And thank you to Bibliomama for reminding me that a photo counts as a post.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating, and best wishes for a beautiful day to all those who aren’t. I am so grateful for our little blogging community.

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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I had a whole post all planned out for today, but then I got a call from someone at Whole Foods.

“Hello, I’m from the Whole Foods holiday table,” he said.

“Hello,” I said, trying to keep any suspicion or panic out of my greeting.

“We understand you ordered a turkey from Whole Foods,” he said, his voice already tinged with apology. 

“Yes…” I said. “I did order a turkey.” In my mind, I was chanting, “Don’t say there are no turkeys, don’t say there are no turkeys.”

“And you’re supposed to pick it up today?”

“Yes, I am picking it up today.” (Notice my very positive and definitive phrasing.)

Don’t say there are no turkeys. Don’t say there are no turkeys.

“Well, due to forces beyond our control, including an avian flu…” he began.

Don’t say there are no turkeys! Don’t say there are no turkeys!

“Some of our farmers have been unable to meet the demand for turkeys around this time of year…”

Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

“And we weren’t able to get a turkey in the size you ordered.”


“Okay, what’s the biggest size you have available? I’ll take that.”

“All right, I’ll put you down for that one. Thank you for understanding.”


I am very glad that we will be getting A Turkey, even if it is not the (admittedly enormous) size that I’d ordered after consultation with my mother. But really, what can you do? (Perhaps I would not be so magnanimous if there were an issue with the potatoes.) After all, I am more than happy to allocate my share of turkey to someone who needs it more. But the slightly smaller turkey will be FINE and I will live to panic again another day.

* * * 

Carla and I were watching an episode of The Dog Whisperer the other day. One of the subjects of the show we were watching is a beagle fanatic. She wears clothing that features images of beagles. She has stuffed beagles. Beagle figurines. Beagle-patterned blankets. Beagle dishes. And, of course, a real live pet beagle. 

This beagle mania (not to be confused with Beatle Mania) stirred a vague memory of something I read or watched, or maybe even experienced in person… Someone in possession of a similar large collection whose explanation behind it was, “I said I liked X, and suddenly every time someone saw a thing with X on it, they bought it for me.” Was it my mother-in-law, who at one time had many things featuring cows? I can’t remember. I do think of her every time I see something with a cow pattern on it, though.

I like both the idea that a person can be so in love with a thing that they want to surround themselves with that thing… and the idea that a person can unwittingly – nay, unwantingly – become the owner of a massive collection simply by expressing interest in a thing, or owning one example of a thing. The fact that one’s house – one’s life! – can be overtaken by a specific theme, purposefully or by accident, and that the theme itself can become emblematic of that person… well, I really like that as a concept. (In practice, it could be… tiresome, I admit.)

When I look around my house, I don’t really see anything that would make something think, “Oh! She’s an X person!” and then become reminded of me every time they see X in the wild. I mean, books, perhaps. (And I would be delighted to get a book for every present, from now until the end of time!) 

Once, a friend gave me a very odd present. It is a… figurine, I suppose is the best word for it. It looks like a potato, but it has the features and appendages of a pig. Why did she give it to me? Did I strike her as the kind of person who needed a potato pig figurine in my life? (I am that person, but I didn’t know it at the time.) 

The other day, I was admiring my very modest fall décor, and my eyes fell on one of my favorite things. It’s… also a figurine, I guess. It’s shaped like a gourd. But it has eyes and the beak of a bird. Maybe it is a squash swan, although that is exceedingly difficult to say. I apparently saw this gourd bird at some point and thought that I had to have it. And, indeed, I do.

Am I a person who likes vegetables that are also animals??? Is this My Thing? 

I do not know. When my cupboards are filled with vegetable-animal mugs and my drawers are stuffed with vegetable-animal pajamas, I’ll let you know.

Are you An X Person? If so, what is your thing? Do you like being An X Person or have you grown weary of always being synonymous with X?

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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Do you realize that THIS WEEK is Thanksgiving? This week! This coming Thursday! If you are not residing in the U.S. at this time, may I move in with you and skip over this extremely wonderful and yet High Stress holiday please and thank you.

My parents are visiting, which is WONDERFUL. They stay in a hotel, which is mutually beneficial. My mother will be making a pumpkin pie – from scratch, using a real pumpkin – with Carla, per Carla’s request. My father will make the Caesar salad. I will make the mashed potatoes. Perhaps I can outsource the dressing to my husband. I don’t know. 

Wait a second. Now I am wondering whether we typically HAVE Caesar salad at Thanksgiving, or if this is a my-family-of-origin Christmas tradition only? I really WANT Caesar salad. But maybe it’s overkill.

I suppose I will make a turkey. I mean, I ordered a turkey already, so I am kind of locked in to making it. This is the only time all year that I eat turkey, because I hate turkey. Is hate too strong a word? How about, I strongly dislike it. It seems kind of silly to put so much work into a thing I really only eat because It’s The Thing You Do At Thanksgiving… (in my family, that is). But everyone else likes it. Maybe even Carla will eat it. And it’s essential to making the gravy I like. Well. I suppose I will ask my mother to help me. She is very good about helping – the giblets don’t squick her out and she is masterful with timing things so they are all ready at once. Why those genes did not express in my DNA, I don’t know, but here we are.

I feel kind of giddy, like I’ve had too much caffeine. Combination of pre-Thanksgiving excitement/anxiety, I suppose. That’ll get your blood buzzing! 

Plus, as per usual, the end of the year just snowballs out of control. I don’t yet have holiday cards! I haven’t purchased a single Christmas present! I have only one single idea what to get Carla for Hanukkah! My mother-in-law arrives two weeks from today! 

Please tell me something calming. I originally typed “clamming.” You could tell me something clamming too, if you like. But something calming would be MOST WELCOME.

In the meantime, we all need to eat in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Perhaps we shall go for easy and warming. And then we’ll wing it, afterwards, with leftovers and charcuterie boards.

Dinners for Thanksgiving Week 2022

Where are you spending Thanksgiving, US friends? And what are you most looking forward to stuffing into your pie hole eating? What are you having for non-Thanksgiving dinner, non-US friends? 

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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Halloween is not even a week in the rear-view and I’m already dashing headlong into Thanksgiving preparations! It’s coming up in two weeks, people! This is not a drill!

This morning in a fit of… something, probably lack of desire to exercise… I took down and put away all the Halloween decorations and replaced them with my meager Thanksgiving decorations.

I love decorating for the season, and I really enjoy Fall Décor specifically, but I have a very hard time paying $25 for a wooden pumpkin, even if it’s handpainted, and even if I really like the pumpkin and pine for it each year at this time. Oh well. I keep it in my Etsy shopping cart for annual admiration, hoping each year that the shop will have a massive sale and I’ll be able to get it for $10.

You know who has surprisingly good seasonal décor? Michael’s, that’s who. I usually spend a morning in early fall, or, as seasonal buying seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, in early summer, wandering through Michael’s, admiring the stuffed scarecrows and fabric owls and tabletop gourds. Would my life be vastly improved by tabletops gourds? Probably not, but I imagine them in my life just the same.

(photos from Michaels.com; although they are all on DRASTIC sale they are not available online and very possibly not available in store either; cute nonetheless)

I don’t really know what more I NEED, by way of fall decorations. I have a plain orange pumpkin that I use to bridge the decorating gap between Halloween and fall. I have a table runner with leaves. I have a small wooden pumpkin. I have a small wooden “gratitude tree” from which Carla hangs little paper leaves on which she’s written things she is thankful for. I have a wooden welcome sign for my front door in the shape of a leaf. I removed the jack-o-lantern faces from the pumpkins, so they are sitting on the front stoop, pretending like they were meant to be fall pumpkins and not Halloween pumpkins. I have two or three ceramic leaf bowls that I can never really figure out how to incorporate; they are not quite deep enough to be candy dishes, so I think I generally use them to hold cashews or pistachios when we have Thanksgiving guests. I have a plastic Thanksgiving plate and bowl for Carla, although she may be too big for them. I saved the fall window clings from last year. I have some small wooden leaves that I don’t know how to use – but I’ll find a way, mark my words; I used small wooden pumpkins on all the windows for Halloween and they are fall-ish enough to stay through Thanksgiving.  I have a couple of fall hand towels.

It sounds like more than it is.

Oh! I also have a handful of colorful cloth leaves that I usually toss onto the Thanksgiving table. But this year, I used putty to stick them to my kitchen walls.

I don’t know if I love it; give me a day or so to think about it. (Who am I kidding? Now that they are up they aren’t coming down unless the putty gives up and they fall off themselves.)

What else could I possibly want, right? Especially because I am picky about decorations. I don’t like anything that’s made out of that scratchy material – what is it, sisal? I don’t like anything with words (my “welcome” door sign notwithstanding). I don’t generally like turkeys or pilgrims. Really, I’m a leaf and pumpkin girl, and I tend toward wood. And there are only so many wooden leaves and pumpkins a person can scatter about her house without feeling like they’re closing in.

It’s not just the decor that has me in a frenzy; it’s the food. Thanksgiving is so early this year! My parents arrive a week from Friday, which is very exciting but also makes me feel a little panicked. I need to come up a meal plan for while they’re here. The one thing I know for sure is that we’ll have this chicken, mushroom, and wild rice soup for dinner the night before The Big Day. At least I have already ordered my turkey – which reminds me, I need to call and request that my turkey arrive a day earlier; DONE. – and I have dusted off my Thanksgiving Timeline. That helps a teeny little bit. I can’t really do much more until my first round of Thanksgiving shopping.

I am feeling a little bit devil-may-care this year about the food. If you know me at all, you know that I am a Huge Kitchen Control Freak and do not like anyone else in the kitchen with me. But I am also realizing that I don’t actually like any of the food on Thanksgiving – except for the garlic goat cheese mashed potatoes and gravy, which I make by the bucketful – so why should I care so much about working myself to exhaustion while insisting on making the entire meal without ANY help from my family lovingly preparing it all on my own? My mother and father both like to help. Why not let them? Such a novel idea! However, jury’s still out on whether I will actually be able to turn over the reins.

While I am throwing Thanksgiving caution to the wind, I am also contemplating doing things differently. Perhaps if I made a pie I actually like – apple, maybe! or a fall version of this plum torte that I have been dreaming about since I made it this summer – I would enjoy pie! Maybe if I made some sort of wonderful Brussels sprout recipe or a delicious mushroomy mac and cheese, I would be able to fill my plate with more than my traditional pile of mashed potatoes and a slim slice of turkey!

This is not new; I have contemplated doing things differently in the past and then stuck with our family traditions. Therein lies the problem, of course: our traditions are so ingrained beloved that we’re not going to change them. Which means that I wouldn’t be lessening the cooking load at all. I am still going to have to make dressing, because it’s my husband’s favorite. I am still going to have to make pumpkin bars, because people want something pumpkin-y at Thanksgiving. And I don’t know that I have enough bandwidth – not to mention enough oven space – to add something else to the mix.

So probably all this wild and reckless and altogether deviant thinking won’t go anywhere, and I’ll do what I’ve always done. It’s fun to think about, though.

The one shake-up I am contemplating that stands the best chance of actually happening is the gravy. I love gravy so very much. And the last time I made it, it was amazing. It was this deep mahogany elixir of the gods that I would have been happy to drink by itself. But it’s finite, you know. And you have to share it with the other people at your Thanksgiving table.

So I’m wondering if I might try to make some gravy in advance. I keep seeing suggestions for doing this, and it doesn’t look terribly hard. I mean, you have to procure chicken or turkey parts/carcass in advance, which troubles me a little. But I could probably buy some chicken wings or legs for not too much money and roast them for the gravy. And I would still make gravy on Thanksgiving Day, don’t you worry. This plan is designed to produce EXTRA gravy, not less work. I want to be eating mashed potatoes and gravy well into December, is what I’m telling you.

Well, I have a little time left to fit it into my Thanksgiving Timeline. If it works out, I’ll let you know.

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