Let’s Talk Turkey
When we used to have cable, Troy and I loved House Hunters on HGTV. Living in Los Angeles, it was nice to live vicariously through others who could afford homes. While we sat in our 600 sq foot apartment that cost $1,500 a month.
One of the things about the show that drove Troy crazy was when people would say they didn’t like a house because it wasn’t good for entertaining. Or that they needed a house that accommodated their love of entertaining. He would say things at the screen like “you don’t entertain. People don’t like you. You don’t have any friends”!
But the truth is, I DO love to have people over. I love to entertain, and I love having parties. Cooking for others is my love language, and thus, this year’s Thanksgiving will be my swan song. My in-laws have hosted Thanksgiving for as far back as anyone can remember, and for at least the last few years my mother-in-law has been trying to pawn it off on someone. Most of the members of the family don’t have houses that will fit a crowd, and the one house that would work has dogs which is like kyrpotonite for Troy and my mother-in-law.
This time last year, knowing my parent’s would be living with us, I timidly raised my hand and offered to host the big day this year. It solved a lot of problems – it allowed my parents to attend the holiday, got my in-laws off the hook, allowed me to do what I love (cook! host!), and take advantage of the fact that we now have two full kitchens in our house. And that means two dishwashers. Boo-yah.
Given that this is my very first time hosting, I can barely begin to tell you the epic list making that has been taking place over the last few weeks. I have lists of lists. I think about it constantly, and even had a dream about it two weeks ago (that I forgot to start the turkey). So, consider this post my t-day wrap up post. I’m making my lists public in the hopes of feedback, and even potentially helping others who may be in the same boat.
Main event: I ordered two 15 (ish) pound turkeys from our local butcher. They don’t actually raise them like some of the other meat they sell, but I trust their sources. I’m paying $2.89 a lb for free-range fresh birds. Fresh, as in no defrosting! Yes, that is more expensive than the giant frozen turkey on sale at the local grocery store. I’m ok with that. I’m looking forward to the epic homemade stock I’ll get from it. And since I am getting two, I’m going to do a fun little experiment. I’m going to brine one turkey and cook in normal fashion. The other, I’m not going to brine, but plan to cook breast down. It will be interesting, and a true taste test of sorts.
My mother-in-law is also bringing a ham.
Drinks: This is where I have leaned heavily on the people coming to bring items. We have two couples bringing beer, another bringing wine, an assortment of sodas on the way, and sparkling cider to boot. I’m contributing organic juice and milk boxes for the kids.
Appetizers: family members are bringing a baked brie dish, deviled eggs, a veggie tray, and a yet to be determined dish.
Desserts: Troy’s aunt is bringing her famous peanut butter chocolate pies, my aunt is bringing cookies, and I am going to be providing apple pie. Well, apple pies. I don’t have any time to make them the day of, so I’m going to go out on a limb and make them this weekend and then (wait for it), freeze them unbaked. I’m using my favorite apple pie recipe, along with the world’s best pie crust. And if it doesn’t work out, well I’ll just tell everyone to go the f home.
Sides: Am I the only one who is like “meh” to turkey, but “YAY” to all the sides? No? Ok. My aunt is bringing brussels sprouts to roast, Troy’s sis’s husband is bringing his famous sweet potato casserole, my mother-in-law is making gravy (which I hate and do not make), Troy’s aunt is bringing mac and cheese, I’m making my mashed potatoes (both regular and wasabi) using the world’s best tool for making mashed potatoes – a ricer, I’m also making my rolls (use this recipe, and just make balls (hee hee) instead of loaves), cranberry sauce (hands down the easiest recipe that is super tasty. 1.5 cups orange juice, 1 cup sugar (I used evaporated cane juice), and a bag of cranberries. Cook until your desired thickness. Make for up five days ahead), also making salad, my parents are contributing green bean casserole (not my jam), my sister is bringing stuffing, and Troy’s grandma is bringing her world famous macaroni salad. The side dish that if it wasn’t at a family gathering would make everyone’s head implode.
Misc: Between my normal supply of cloth napkins, some I made for my mom a few years ago, and a pack of 12 cloth napkins I found at Home Goods for $14.99, we’re not using paper napkins. We have our wedding china (barely used, cough, cough), everyday dishes, and dessert dishes I bought at Goodwill years ago and use exclusively for parties, so no paper plates. Troy would LOVE us to use paper plates, but hey, two dishwashers buddy. Deal with it. I have our everyday silverware, our wedding silverware (also barely used…), and the silverware I got at a garage sale last year in exchange for a dozen eggs, so no plasticware. With so many people bringing drinks that come in cans, I’m going to be able to get away with just using pint mason jars for extra glasses. Cause I’m classy as hell.
We’re borrowing tables and chairs from my in-laws, we have some, and are borrowing adorable little kid tables from church for the munchkins.
The idea of decorations and fancy table settings, and place cards make my palms itch. It’s just not my thing. I’m in awe of people who have that as a thing, and wish I could get up the “give a crap” to do something that creative.
I feel like we’re well planned, have a good team of people in place to bring things, and the menu makes me hungry. If all fails (and it could), and things burn, or taste like crap, or something goes terribly wrong, it’s ok. Being surrounded by family and friends and people I love more than anyone is a dream come true.
And so help me god if anyone flips me shit about something getting effed up, I’ll pull the pregnancy card and claw out their eyes.