Thanksgiving: bound by tradition or a time to get creative. No matter which way you carve up the turkey (or ham), some of the most memorable holidays over the years have been defined by culinary faux pas. Growing up, each year at least one item would be left off my grandparents’ overflowing table – the can-shaped cranberry sauce being the most common offender. But when I became responsible for the preparations and cooking, I took Thanksgiving mistakes to new heights.
“Sandy, you’re supposed to take the giblets out of the turkey before you cook it,” my dad said as he resumed carving the bird for my first (and last) hosting of Thanksgiving dinner at my farm. It was the first year, so I hadn’t yet raised my own turkeys. What I didn’t want to tell him was the year previously when I had raised my own birds while living out west, I had also forgotten to remove the bird’s crop that was tucked into the chest in the narrow of the wishbone. Wait, I didn’t use corn in my stuffing….
In addition to growing my own turkeys, I’ve also prided myself on other holiday accompaniments that have resulted in good laughs.
During the years in which I kept a family milk cow, making butter was one of my favorites. In preparation for the holidays, I had purchased a set of wooden butter molds in which softened butter was stuffed and then plunged out producing a perfectly round pat with a holly leaf. I thought it was cute. My guests thought it was white chocolate. Or worse, when my cat slyly licked the fresh stick of butter set out on a plate to soften and my aunt commented on the “pretty little curls.”
A few years later the pendulum swung in the other direction…when I was in a rush to bake my from-scratch & home-grown pumpkin pies, I left out the sugar, which created an unwelcome savory dessert.
But in truth, my Thanksgiving screw ups had been going on for years. While working at a hot springs resort restaurant that featured regional foods, I learned the hard way that vegans don’t eat butter or cream (hey, it was the 80’s) and not to use the same tongs for the Caesar salad and the house salad which contained walnut oil (sorry about that anaphylactic reaction).
I should blame my cringe-worth holiday meals on my Grandma Miller, though. She forged my path with blunders such as pre-heating the oven but forgetting to take out a Tupperware container of pretzels stored in the oven resulting in her house filling with black smoke and a visit from the fire company.
Always one to look on the bright side, I’ve never burned a bird, had it swiped off the counter by a large dog, given everyone at the table intestinal distress with a bad batch of oysters or served bourbon-laced whipped cream to someone fresh out of Betty Ford. (Yes, I was at all those tables.)
This year I’m playing it safe and letting someone else do all the cooking.
Best wishes for a delicious and heart-filled holiday to all my customers and fellow vendors of the Central Farm Markets family. See you back at the markets on December 2nd.