Let’s Talk Turkey

It’s about to get messy up in here.  That’s okay, preparing Thanksgiving dinner is an excellent reason to make a mess.  Last year, Craig, Caroline and I drove to North Carolina on Thanksgiving morning to spend the holiday with Craig’s sister, Sarah and her family.  I’ll admit, not having to worry about dinner was kind of nice, but, on the downside, we returned home to a refrigerator completely void of Thanksgiving leftovers.  This year, I’m not off the hook and will be cooking like mad tomorrow.  I can’t promise I won’t have a meltdown of some sort come dinner time, but my famed Turkey Meltdowns are what makes Thanksgiving a bit more, um, special.   And colorful.

I can’t help but be excited for tomorrow’s dinner, but sometimes I wonder why.  Holidays aren’t a big deal around here; our holidays aren’t teaming with tradition and lack the picture perfect Norman Rockwell vibe I so longingly desire.  And yet, each year,  I set out with a renewed hope to achieve that one special holiday moment.  Craig isn’t a big holiday guy.  He enjoys a good turkey dinner, but if I said I didn’t feel like cooking and would rather order a pizza, I don’t think he’d mind.  Apathetic holidays are our specialty.

Despite this tendency toward apathy, we’re forging on and will eat to our hearts are content and our stretchy pants can stretch no more.

We keep our Thanksgiving table pretty simple around here.  We do the basics:  turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls and some sort of vegetable (braised carrots this year).  Pumpkin pie and apple crisp for dessert.  If it were up to me, I’d skip the turkey and mashed potatoes, in favor of eating only stuffing, sweet potatoes and vegetables.  Caroline focuses on the rolls, vegetables and cranberry sauce.  Craig, on the other hand, is a turkey, mashed potato, gravy and stuffing guy.   But we all like pumpkin pie.

It’s a simple spread; one not worthy of a picture spread in a magazine, but it’s what we like.

Craig grew up in a largely southern family in Arkansas where the Thanksgiving meals were big family affairs which included such atrocities as giblet gravy (with hard boiled eggs in it!) and green bean casserole.  The idea of giblet gravy makes my skin crawl, but I’m okay with green bean casserole.  Craig takes the opposite position on those two dishes.  I actually did not know what green bean casserole was until I moved from California to Florida as a teenager.  We just didn’t eat green bean casserole growing up, nor did we ever eat giblet gravy with hard boiled eggs in it!  I also did not know that cornbread went in stuffing until I met Craig.

The differences don’t end there, though.  The biggest difference is our cranberry sauce opinions.

I’m a whole berry kind of girl; Craig and Caroline prefer the jelly log that plops out of the can with the little lines permanently indented in the sides of the log.  Too quote Mama Pea: “sauce shouldn’t slice.”

The year Craig was deployed to Kuwait, I tried to convert Caroline to homemade, whole berry cranberry sauce.  We set out to make the simple recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries.  It was a valiant effort, however, we accidentally used salt instead of sugar in the recipe.  Yep.  We sure did.

Thankfully we realized our mistake before we brought it to our neighbor’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and we were able to make a new batch in time.  Caroline liked it okay, but she still prefers that sliceable log.
One day I’ll win her over to my team.  One day.

Since I’m the only homemade cranberry sauce eater around here, I make a special sauce with pineapple and walnuts in it.

I first sampled this delicious recipe the Thanksgiving I was pregnant.  We went to Craig’s co workers house and his wife offered, among many other tasty dishes, this fabulous cranberry sauce,  It made my pregnant belly incredibly happy.  Thankfully she let me bring some home with me.  God bless that woman!  I’m forever grateful to her for introducing me to cranberry pineapple sauce. 

Okay, it’s time to get cooking.  I have a turkey brine to prepare, cornbread to bake and cranberry sauce to slice into circles to make. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May your hearts be happy, your bellies be full and your my turkey meltdowns be minimal.

Gobble, gobble.

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