Behind the scenes: Our Thanksgiving Dinner!

I trust you made the best of (the Covid) Thanksgiving Day. We had a small Thanksgiving dinner party of only 6 instead of 30 or so. I stepped up to the plate, though I’m a bit out of practice, and bouncing back from major surgery a few months ago, I prepared the whole meal—save and except our youngest son, Andrew, who brought his famous, traditional broccoli casserole. Yum!

Usually, that is what we do. Whoever is hosting the holiday, prepares the meat, and the rest of us bring a covered dish. So, I hadn’t cooked a complete turkey dinner in a long while. 

Sourdough bread is my favorite.

I was up early and started the process at about 10 A.M. beginning with the recipe shared a couple of weeks ago, Cranberry-Apple Chutney. Oh, my gosh, it was so good.  And you know, you can make it anytime and you could even put it in freezer bags for another future meal—like with roast pork would be good.   And truthfully, it’s mostly chopping the hearty vegetables like onions, celery, apples, then stewing! 

I ran into a bit of a problem when I took the turkey from the refrigerator. Though I had removed it from the freezer a day and a half ago, it was still partially frozen. “Oh my gosh, Jeff, this isn’t completely thawed!” I had a pie to bake and a turkey to roast and I only had one oven. The turkey was going to take 3 and ¾ hours. I had to have it in by one o’clock at the latest for a 5 P.M Dinner.  I gathered myself and subdued my panic by using the old trick my mother had taught us. I rinsed the sink out and filled it with cool water and plunged the wrapped turkey down in the water. Flipping it occasionally. 

When I finally pulled the bird from the water and unwrapped it the neck and giblet bag were frozen to the insides. Yikes! Then I remembered, learning as mother had done a time or two, and I ran cool water inside the bird until I could finally remove the neck and giblet bag and found a surprise gravy bag! Wow! Mom always made her gravy from the broth from her roasted turkey. Memories flooded my mind of Mom getting up at 6 A.M. to put the giant bird in the oven for a 2 P.M. meal, and I remember the smell of the giblets, onions, and celery stewing on the back of the stove. She would add this to her sage and breadcrumb dressing.  

Sweetened condensed milk is a substitute for the sugar and evaporated milk! Who knew? Now you do.

Since I was the only one in the kitchen, I grabbed the first passer-by to help me. That being husband Jeff.” I need help. I have got to get this pumpkin pie made and baked before the turkey goes in. Could you mix up the pumpkin filling while I try to make a crust?” —which I have never been good at.  And why didn’t I buy a frozen crust? I forgot that’s why. 

He offers to help. “Where’s the evaporated milk, it calls for,” he asks. “Oh, no. I forgot to buy it.” I couldn’t believe it. This meal was becoming very stressful. “What about this sweetened condensed milk?”  he shows me.  “No, it’s not the same thing,” but I had to wonder if it could be used. So, I Googled it. And would you believe you can use it in place of the condensed milk and sugar? Spectacular! Jeff stepped up to the mixer and got the filling going. “Wow, this is a nice mixer,” he said, using my KitchenAid stand mixer for the first time. 

I must gloat a bit, I made my pie crust this time with butter and it turned out pretty well. Usually, it shreds and tears when I’m trying to pick it up and get it in the pie pan. A sigh of relief when the pie was in the oven.   

I will be making Oyster dressing going forward! We loved it. And I still love traditional sage dressing with lots of onions and celery chopped up in it.

While it was baking, I prepared the Oyster Dressing.  I shared the recipe a few weeks ago. I made two pans. One being the sage dressing. I usually stuff the turkey but I was going to be short on time for its roasting time at this point. The Oyster Dressing was delicious and I will make it each year going forward. Everyone loved it.  Though years ago, I disliked it. Glad I tried it again. 

Though I didn’t process fresh sweet potatoes I did doctor up a can of yams. And the chunks of bacon bits doctored up the canned green beans. I made real homemade red mashed potatoes.  The sweet rolls were pop in the oven quick. And the included gravy packet was good, especially after I poured some turkey broth from the pan in it and thickened it a bit more. The little ones were setting the table. 

At about 5 PM we sat down to an old-fashioned Thanksgiving. I was especially grateful that my/our health was good and I was able to cook this meal.  And now, before eating, it is traditional  to say a blessing. The little ones wanted to say their prayer, “Say it with me,” three-year-old Jackson insisted with his little hands folded: “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. By His hands, we are fed. Thank you, God, for daily bread. Amen.” And we were blessed, once again, with much to be thankful for.  Take Joy!

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