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I can’t believe I survived Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving proper, we were invited to a friend’s for lunch and then over to family’s for dinner, so, no cooking my own turkey. Instead, I offered 2 side dishes, plucked from Real Simple magazine. For some reason, I felt like I was cheating. Here I am, Zuzy, from Cooking for the Clueless, preaching to all novice cooks that they can “do it,” they can cook, “it’s easy.” Yet, here I was not even making my own turkey? Ahh, the pressure we put on ourselves! So, I decided to cook my own Thanksgiving tonight, Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday as they call it. How did it go? Well, I won’t lie, it was stressful! Before I get into the stress, here was my menu:

My Turkey!

The Oyster & Bacon Stuffing was a huge huge hit (I used smoked oysters) and I was happy with the rest of the menu too. But, I have to tell you that the damn turkey almost gave me a heart attack! They only had frozen turkeys when I went to the supermarket late the night before and I was stressed about defrosting it. Then, when roasting, I had a leak in the cheapie pan that I used and the oven started smoking. Next, I was worried about opening and closing the oven too many times while cooking the side dishes. Finally, after about 4 hours, it started to look like a cooked turkey. But like most new cooks, I still stressed over possibly poisoning my family and neighbor with an undercooked bird, so I dug into the drawer for my 2 fancy meat thermometers – all this while I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and set the table with fancy things. Our only guest this evening, my lovely neighbor, arrived punctually and after a few minutes of watching me try to put a battery into the fancy meat thermometer, she offered some help. She set the thermometer aside and grabbed a fork. With a couple of pokes, she says, “oh, it’s done!” in her New York Italian accent. She had 79 years of cooking wisdom behind her, so I took her word for it! Thankfully, it turned out pretty good and with good wine and great conversation, I’ll call it a hit!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

 

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No-Fret Thanksgiving Tips

Are you taking on the Turkey yourself and need a few more tips to help you get through the weekend?

  1. Take a deep breath, start cooking on Wednesday and find some helpers! Remember, you can reduce an enormous amount of stress by starting things early. Almost everything can be made or prepped the day before.
  2. Set your timer & find your thermometer! You should calculate on cooking your turkey according to its weight. Allow 20 minutes per pound for 8-12 pound birds, 15 minutes per pound for 12-16 pounders. Let your turkey “sit” and rest for 10-15 minutes before carving it once it hits an internal temp of 155 degrees. Perfect internal temperature should be at 160-165 degrees. Then, your ready to eat. Get to 180 degrees and you’re overcooked!
  3. Smaller birds cook better: “They” say you should calculate 1.5 lbs of turkey per guest. That means 6-guests=9lb turkey. Since smaller birds tend to cook better, go with 2 smaller birds (12-lb max) as your guest list increases.

Going somewhere “else” for dinner?

  1. Offer to bring a side dish or appetizer. I’m making creamy mashed potatoes AND prosciutto pear bites!
  2. Grab some fresh bread from the local bakery. Pair with real artisan butter and you’ll be loved.
  3. Flowers and vino. You can’t go wrong with wine. For a sweet touch, pair with fresh flowers for the host.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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