Answer: Deciding to cook Thanksgiving dinner given the following conditions…
- You’ve never cooked Thanksgiving dinner before.
- You‘ve barely touched an oven in the last year, because you don’t have one.
- You made this decision on Tuesday and have absolutely no plan.
However these factors don’t stop you from actually doing it, and don’t stop you from inviting extra people over for dinner either. So onward I charged.
To be honest, the whole thing started as a joke. HP and I were sitting here last weekend and I said, “so, are you going to cook me a turkey on Thursday?” And he said, “sure, why not?” Foolish boy. Then on Tuesday some girlfriends got in touch about getting something together on Thursday; I said we were thinking about doing Thanksgiving instead and were they interested? They were, and so we were off.
That meant I had to get in touch with HP immediately, and we needed to go find ourselves a turkey. I didn’t really think about the fact that he had a meeting after work on Tuesday, I had no recipes to go off of, and everything closes at 8 o’clock around here. CRISIS.
He came over, we found a few recipes and made ourselves a list. At this point it was pushing 7:30 and I was a little concerned about how we were going to pull this one off. Most things could wait until Wednesday, but if we were doing turkey it needed to start defrosting NOW. Fortunately, HP has a card for a Sam’s Club/Costco-esque store here called Metro. Not only is this store open past 8, but they have American-sized products! Metro is mostly for businesses, so apparently American-sized is the same thing as restaurant-sized. Alright then.
As for the turkeys, they had them, but they were a wee bit small. There were two tags in the case, one showing a price for turkeys 2-4 kg, and turkeys 5-8 kg. But all the birds were around the three kilogram mark. We were planning on 5 people, and according to the internet, you want one pound of turkey per person. So a three kilogram turkey should be fine, right? Easy to say, but not so easy to decide when you’re looking at a packaged bird that’s about the same size as a rotisserie chicken. They were so small. After a few minutes debate, we decided the best choice was to get two of the smaller birds. That should do it.
Skip forward to Thursday. I’m at HP’s house because he has the oven, and it’s time to get to work. Everyone couldn’t be there until 8 o‘clock, so that’s when I was shooting for to have the turkey ready. No waking up at 6a.m. to put in the turkey here! (Sorry, Grandma.) I did some miscellaneous prep work during the day, and was just getting ready to start with the turkey when HP got home early from work. That meant I got out of doing the dirty work and removing gross things from the bird. Nice! He took care of that, and I mixed up the herb rub to put on the bird. The next part was kind of delightfully fascinating in a gross way. It was fun though, I can’t lie.
|This is my “Ahhhh, it’s eating me” pose.|
|Ready to roll in the oven.|
You can also see the onions and celery for the stuffing there, waiting for their turn. Here’s the stuffing pre-broth….
I went with a pretty standard stuffing recipe and then threw in apples, raisins, craisins, and walnuts.
In addition to the turkey and stuffing, we also had mashed potatoes, a green bean dish, biscuits, and one of the guests took care of the cranberries. I did draw the line at pie, instead we picked up an apple–walnut cake. Bottom line: it was a crazy amount of food and one turkey would have been totally fine.
I didn’t take a picture of any of the finished product really, but here’s a blurry and cropped iPhone photo to protect the identity of the foolish people who trusted my cooking abilities…
The advantage of this was that three of the guests were German, and therefore had no reference point for how any of this should technically taste. Which meant no expectations… can’t go wrong there. But happily, I was pretty pleased with how everything came out. Everyone ate a lot, we had plenty of beer/wine/champagne, and as long as the drinks don’t run dry, I call it a good night. Plus good conversation, and only some trouble explaining the whole point of the holiday. “So, you just eat?”
Well, sometimes there’s football, too.
But the bottom line is that I love how we can pull things like this together, even being so far from home. In some ways, it gives me hope for humankind.