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Author: sonofed Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 53806  
Subject: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/26/2002 10:35 AM
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I'm excited about dinner this Thursday. I'm really looking forward to it. It may seem a little silly to be this excited over one meal, but this Thnaksgiving is special. You see, this Thanksgiving, for the first time in 9 years, I'll actually get to eat a meal I will enjoy. Yes, for the first time since I met my wife, we'll be cooking our own Thanksgiving turkey instead of going to her mother's house.

Now, I'm not one of those guys who attacks his mother-in-law. I like my in-laws and they like me. That doesn't mean, however, that they have any idea at all how to cook. Last year's Thanksgiving celebration was the straw that broke the camel's back.

You see, my in-laws have been married for almost 50 years. They have used every minute of those 50 years developing their own peculiar system for interacting with each other. For the most part, their system is to annoy each other by giving each other unsolicited and unwanted advice on everything from how to drive to how to dress to what to watch on TV. Now that's fine, and I'm sure it helps them pass the time in their retirement, but it really isn't the best system for cooking a dinner, especially when you're going to force your entire family to eat it.

This story is presented without exxageration of any kind, I assure you.

So there we were, last Thanksgiving at my in-laws house...

As we walked into the house, we could hear a discussion going on between my father-in-law (hereafter FIL) and my mother-in-law (hereafter MIL) in the kitchen. They were preparing the vegetables. FIL cut up the potatoes and the squash and plopped them into pots of water for boiling. Half way through the boiling process, MIL came back into the room.

"FIL", she said, "Don't forget to add the spices to the squash as you mash it up, and remember to put the light cream and pepper in the potatoes."

"How many of these dinners have I cooked?", replied FIL.

"Yes dear", said MIL, "And how many times have you forgotten the spices and the cream?"

"Fine!", replied FIL, "You do it then, you know so much."

"Oh, no", said MIL, "you take care of it. I'm sure it will be fine"

The end result - nobody touched the potatoes or the squash throughout the rest of the preparation. In fact, the squash and the potatoes were served exactly as they were cooked - big chunks of each, with no flavoring of any kind. Well, at lest we didn't have to worry about getting all the lumps out.

Next came the stuffing. As it turned out, MIL was supposed to pick up stuffing ingredients, but she had forgotten. Rather than face the inevitable lecture from FIL, she claimed she had gotten ingredients to make her special signature stuffing. Now, it may have been special, but I don't think any rational person would want to put their signature on it. The ingredient list was as follows:

2 pounds ground beef - Yes, I'm not kidding. She was going to stuff a turkey with ground beef.
1 chopped onion
a couple stalks of celery
breadcrumbs
assorted spices

Okay, so like I said, I'm not a chef, but it looked to me like she was planning on stuffing a turkey with a meatloaf. I left the kitchen to go figure out the time and distance to the nearest McDonalds, hoping that the Dunkin Donuts bagel I ate for breakfast on the way down would be enough to hold me over.

Anyway, FIL didn't come back into the kitchen during the stuffing preparation, and I certainly wasn't going to get involved, so into the turkey went the meatloaf.

Now, I'm no chef, but it was 10:00 AM and we were supposed to eat at 1:00 PM - there was no way a 25 pound turkey was going to cook in 3 hours. FIL came back into the room to relay that tidbit of information and to make a few helpful suggestions to help speed the preparation process. A furious debate ensued. Now since it was a) not getting any earlier, and b) apparent that neither MIL and FIL were going to start cooking the turkey until one or the other of them backed down, I took matters into my own hands. I sent my 3 year old in to ask grammy to help her color. Grammy left the kitchen. Glowing with victory, FIL popped the turkey into the oven. Of course, he was worried about time now as well, since he had just won a battle where he insisted he could cook a 25 pound turkey in a couple of hours. He decided to make up for lost time by turning up the heat from 350 to 500 degrees. I started to tell him that that wasn't going to work, but my wife waved me off. No point in getting in the middle of a 50 year old ritual...

Okay, so next came the rolls. FIL had mercifully bought "ready to bake" Pillsbury dinner rolls, so we were spared eating his "signature bread recipe". The only issue was that his house only has one oven, and that oven was currently set to "inferno" to help speed the turkey along. He figured he could pop the rolls in anyway and just shorten the cooking time. This time, I tried to intercede. Things were getting out of hand and somebody needed to be the voice of reason.

What I learned was that my wife was right in the first place. By making an unsolicited suggestion ("Hey, George, you really can't double the heat to halve the cooking time - it doesn't work that way), I immediately went from trusted accomplice to unwanted interloper. A curt "You want to do this?..." from FIL later, I was banished to the living room with the women and children.

The smell of something burning brought us all back into the kitchen a few minutes later. It seems I was right that you can't cook bread faster by raising the heat. The rolls were pulled from the oven, black as pitch on the bottom and decidedly doughy in the center. FIL insisted that they would be fine and added that with a little butter you wouldn't even know the difference. Umm, right...

It was 12:30 and FIL pulled the turkey out of the oven to let it cool (did it ever even get hot?) and so that MIL could make the gravy. The juice from the turkey was brown and greasy. Remember the meatloaf MIL snuck in as the stuffing? Well, the juice from the beef had mixed with the juice from the turkey and make a disgusting mess. When FIL saw it, a new round of fighting began.

"What did you do to the gravy?", asked FIL.

"It's looks fine", said MIL. "What do you mean?"

"It's dark brown", replied FIL.

"Do you want to do this?", asked MIL.

"Oh no dear", replied FIL, "I'm sure you know what you're doing"

"What's that supposed to mean?", asked MIL, "If you have a better idea, you make the gravy."

MIL left the kitchen in a huff. FIL studiously ignored the gravy. The net result - turkey au jus.

Okay, so the time for the meal was at hand. My brothers-in-law and sister-in-law showed up at the house with their kids. Having grown up in this house, and having a much shorter drive than us, they knew better than to get there too early. My MIL began to lay out the spread. Let's recap. For dinner we had:

Turkey done Pittsburg style - burned on the outside, but delightfully pink in the center
big chunks of squash
big chunks of potato
rolls that were burned on the outside and raw in the middle
ground beef stuffing
turkey/beef au jus

Each part of the meal was a small tragedy in it's own light, but seeing it laid out as a whole, it was almost too much to take. I wanted to laugh right out loud. Even funnier was how we all attempted to choke it down to maintain the illusion that we were one big happy family celebrating our good fortune with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. The only one who escaped the carnage was my 3 year old daughter. I made up some excuse about how she didn't really like turkey and filled her up on stuff we had brought with us.

In the end, something good did come out of the Thanksgiving dinner. On the drive back to my house, my wife promised me that we would never have to go to her parents house for Thanksgiving dinner again.

Hearing that almost made last year's dinner worth it.

Steve
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Author: photon99 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11678 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/26/2002 11:02 AM
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we'll be cooking our own Thanksgiving turkey

Whoa, it was hard to snip from that post without including an unintended slam. You'll have a wonderful day Steve.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I haven't ever been on the receiving end of icky food, but for most of my married life we have cooked at our house. Sometimes others are with us, sometimes not. But for the most part we get to do exactly what we want when we want to do it. And there's no shopping stress to complicate things like there can be at Hannukah/Christmas.

We usually try to go outside during the afternoon so that we can come back inside where it's warm and the turkey is almost done and it smells sooooo good and there's a fire in the fireplace just starting to get warm and life is good.

Aaaahhh, Thanksgiving indeed.

;-D

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Author: AlisonWonderland Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11688 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/26/2002 1:42 PM
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Aaaahhh, Thanksgiving indeed.

It's kind of a mixed one for us. Thanksgiving was my parents' anniversary (and later, my nephew's birthday), so we always had to spend a good part of a day driving from VA up to Long Island and back, via I-95 and the NJ Turnpike. Even with no kids, it wasn't a fun ride -- and as the family grew, getting there and back was NOT half the fun.

Sometimes we would leave very early, hoping to avoid some of the traffic, and also wanting to spend more time with family. It didn't always work out that way. The inlaws often groused because we spent more time with my family (which we didn't, but their respective branches didn't get along, so we further divided our time between all the factions). Then there was the time that my mother forgot we'd be coming up on a Wednesday. We were greeted with "We weren't expecting you till tomorrow" and "The crib isn't set up" (fine, give me a screwdriver and I'll take care of it) and "There's no food yet" (fine, we'll go to the diner or the food store) and "The kids are here and we don't know what to do with them" (fine, we'll come back tomorrow). Mixed times, indeed.

Even after my mother's Alzheimer's worsened, we still made the trip since we all knew that family time was limited. My brother outside Seattle rarely came east, but the CT brother grumblingly made the trip. Even in her later years, it was still mostly a pleasant time.

Now, she's gone, my father has remarried and they usually spend major holidays with my stepfamily -- and I'm very glad he's well taken care of and happy. And I do NOT miss making that trip. My CT brother and his son WILL be making the trip to Jersey -- my nephew really wants to spend time with family, especially since his parents are divorced and he has no sibs. In fact, this brother spent a week skiing with the stepsisters, so a good time will be had by all (once the driving's done).

My daughter's on her way down from Boston and my older son's home from school, so it'll be the five of us, which doesn't happen so often. It would be very nice, though, if the extended family weren't so extended and we could share days like this together.

Okay, self, enough rambling. Back to unloading the groceries!

~~ Alison

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Author: zsimpson Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11726 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/27/2002 11:36 AM
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Yes, for the first time since I met my wife, we'll be cooking our own Thanksgiving turkey instead of going to her mother's house.

OHMIGAWD!! If it weren't for the FIL part (mine is dead), I'd swear I wrote this. Have you been to one of my Hubby's family get-togethers? Are you sure? We are having Thanksgiving at our house and NO in-laws.

Over time, it's been made quite clear that I am not to bring any food whatsoever to their holiday. For example, I brought homemade jellied cranberry sauce. SIL had the jar 1.5 inches from the can opener where she opened the Ocean Spray canned stuff. One year, I made a wonderful chocolate cake (I get raves about my cakes). I was told, "Oh we have enough with the pies SIL bought at Publix. Don't bother putting it out." It finally wound up in the trash.

I was told that my children and I would eat in a different room from everyone, which wasn't as bad as it sounds as Hubby and BIL were fighting to eat in there with us. The argument ended with BIL telling Hubby, "If I have to eat in there with them, so do you!"
The turkey, oh what a prize!! The dark meat was dry and tough. I have no clue how SIL did it, but she did. At first, I thought it was just me, but later Hubby came over and asked how my dinner was. I tried to be polite and replied, "Oh, I guess I'm just used to our turkeys." (we have turkey about every 2 months or so.) Hubby said, "Oh, wasn't it horrible!!"

Do you know what gravy is like after it's been refrigerated? That's what her gravy was like while it was hot. When everything cooled, it became a solid block.

I guess the blessing was that she bought as much food as she did because it was the only edible part of the meal. Hubby used to say that when he went into the Navy, the food was an upgrade. I thought he was kidding until I tried his family's cooking.

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Author: daisy4125 Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11730 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/27/2002 2:14 PM
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Over time, it's been made quite clear that I am not to bring any food whatsoever to their holiday. For example, I brought homemade jellied cranberry sauce. SIL had the jar 1.5 inches from the can opener where she opened the Ocean Spray canned stuff. One year, I made a wonderful chocolate cake (I get raves about my cakes). I was told, "Oh we have enough with the pies SIL bought at Publix. Don't bother putting it out." It finally wound up in the trash.

Unfortunately, I can relate to this. Last year I brought homemade applesauce to Thanksgiving at my in-laws. I wasn't asked to, but it was a gesture, you know? Well, everyone was all freaked out because it was BROWN and tasted like apple pie!!! Isn't that the point?

They must put bleach in that pale generic stuff usually found in the supermarket!

Good luck!

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Author: Thuvia Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11732 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/27/2002 3:29 PM
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They must put bleach in that pale generic stuff usually found in the supermarket!

Maybe that's why I don't like applesauce.

Thuvia
loves apple pie.

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Author: MakePigsFly Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11733 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/27/2002 4:22 PM
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I really did laugh out loud when I read this - what a great post! I can now be Thankful this year that I've never had anything even mildly approaching your in-law experience. I will think of you bilssfully stirring up and cooking your favorite dishes for delicious repast!

We are having Thanksgiving at my house again this year and for that I am also grateful. My younger daughter and I are vegetarian and my older daughter is vegan, my son and my mother and my in-laws are garden variety carnivores. So it's Turkey and Tofurkey; mashed potatoes made with milk and some made with soy milk; standard pumpkin pie and vegan pumpkin pie, etc. Everyone gets to eat yummy food they love and enjoy each other's company.

Happy T-Day to all!
P.


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Author: mcemerson Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11734 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/27/2002 4:55 PM
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Unfortunately, I can relate to this. Last year I brought homemade applesauce to Thanksgiving at my in-laws. I wasn't asked to, but it was a gesture, you know? Well, everyone was all freaked out because it was BROWN and tasted like apple pie!!! Isn't that the point?
They must put bleach in that pale generic stuff usually found in the supermarket!


A little lemon juice will keep it from browning as much.

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Author: jim5050 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11748 of 53806
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner... Date: 11/28/2002 6:31 PM
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Sonofed

Thanks for the delightful tale that I can relate to. LOL it is so good to come on this community and be entertained like that and I hope you reply with a story of your family's new traditon.

Jim

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