There's a difference between a Thanksgiving hangover and an alcohol-induced hangover. The Thanksgiving hangover causes soreness in the lower back and legs; the subject sleeps 12 hours at a time; subject also wanders around the downstairs area of the house, gazing oddly at random objects: a beer can on a table (subject does not drink beer), children's toys near the piano (subject is child-free), rolls still in the freezer (subject is an idiot and apparently does not prepare rolls for Thanksgiving dinner).
Subject forgot the rolls. Thanksgiving was almost perfect.
So my rundown on my Thanksgiving this year:
6 p.m., Wednesday: I needed David's help to get the turkey in the brining bag. I only got a 13 pound bird, but I was convinced that was enough. As I've mentioned a few times before, my family has a habit of preparing a shitload of food and then not eating any of it. So between the stuffing, the mac & cheese, the mashed potatoes, the salad, the appetizers... there's no way 12 people could eat an entire turkey.
Anyway, so despite the bird being on the small side, it was heavy and awkward. Reaching into the icy cavity caused my hand to feel like it had become detached from my body. My attempts to prevent turkey juice from spraying all over my house and myself failed. I then have Meltdown #1. I scream at David because I can't get the plastic thing out of the turkey, and then I run to the bathroom. I exit a minute later, see that David has freed the plastic thing, and instead of saying, "Oh, how'd you do that?" (i.e., be a normal person), I scream at him a second time.
Thirty seconds later, I had apologized something like eighty times.
After clearing the cavity, we placed the turkey breast down in the brining bag. My brine was:
- 2 gallons water
- one cup salt
- two tablespoons rosemary
- two tablespoons parsley
I boiled the water to help dissolve the salt, and then I iced the water down to cool it -- if there's one thing I believe in, despite having seen an episode of Sandra Lee's cooking show, it's food safety. Putting hot water on a raw bird is just asking for backed up toilets and dead family members.
We poured the brine over the bird, sealed the bag, placed the bag in a large pan, and refrigerated it overnight.
9 p.m., Wednesday: I was drunk at this point. I hadn't eaten anything since lunch except for two slices of American cheese. But I was determined to make some food ahead of time, so I made the easiest dish possible -- spinach dip -- while watching The Blind Side with David.
10 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained (and I mean drained)
1 cup mayo
16 oz. sour cream
1 package dry vegetable soup mix
Combine all in a medium sized bowl; mix well. Put it in the refrigerator overnight. Serve it in a sourdough bread bowl, hollowed out and with bite sized sourdough bits around the bowl. That last part is for the execution, the "ooooh" factor, because I'm all about people thinking that I work really hard at food when the reality is that I was drunk.
10:30 p.m., Wednesday: Consider making deviled eggs or pumpkin pie. Reject both ideas because at that point, I was about to fall asleep, and both recipes are time-consuming. Plus, I would have to be sober upon sober to make deviled eggs. I don't eat deviled eggs, but I make them for almost every other member of my family. They're the kind of food that's like, "I'm really hard to prepare, but someone prepared me to prove that they love you."
I have the rest of my dinner -- one slice of wheat bread with spinach dip on it -- and watch bad TV.
11 p.m., Wednesday: David turns the turkey over in the brine, and I pass the fuck out. There's still laundry all over the dining room, and the front hallway smells like cat.
8 a.m., Thursday: Ibuprofen, water, shower.
I find that chopping onions is a lot easier when my eyelids are crusted shut. I prepare the dressing for my cranberry spinach salad -- my recipe is not on hand at the moment, but it's something like:
- two teaspoons minced onion
- 1/4 cup sugar
- two tablespoons toasted sesame seed
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
If you try the above and it tastes like shit, don't blame me. That's from memory.
9 a.m., Thursday: David is cleaning and in a terrible mood. He's waiting for me to have Meltdown #2. I announce loudly that I am taking my Effexor.
I forgot to get ginger and cloves for the pumpkin pie, so David runs to the store. While he's gone, I remove the rest of the laundry from the dining room, tidy up the floor a bit, wipe down the dining room table, and start putting together the centerpiece (just a candle holder, really). This is while I'm hard-boiling eggs.
When David gets home, he isn't as ecstatic as I hoped that I'd made a dent in the cleaning, and I'm insulted that he insinuated that I'd have Meltdown #2. I enjoy grinding cloves to bits more than usual.
10 a.m., Thursday: Pumpkin pie is in the oven after unfortunate incident involving way too much pumpkin pie filling and a hot stove. Kitchen now smells like burnt pumpkins, but living room is starting to smell better. I help clean here and there, remove the boiling eggs from heat and cover them for 12 minutes. I lower the oven temperature to 350, as the pumpkin pie was at 425 for 15 minutes (per the Libby's recipe). I prepare ice water for the eggs to go into after being in hot water. By the way, the eggs are in my Chef Basket, which I adore.
11 p.m., Thursday: Pumpkin pie out of oven; I put it on a rack on top of the stove to cool.
Then I get to sit down! I'm peeling the eggs, which I'm really bad at. Lions game is on in the background, and we're just now adopting the No Smoking Inside The House rule. David pours me a small cocktail, which I can't really drink unless I want bits of egg shell in it. I later find egg shell in my hair.
12 p.m., Thursday: Time to get the turkey in the oven. It takes the two of us to lift it out of the fridge, place the brining bag in the sink, and get the turkey out of it. David holds the turkey while I rinse it off. He puts the turkey in the pan, which I take over to the stove, and then he disinfects the sink.
I do the following to this poor turkey, which by this time I've named Dumbledore:
- three tablespoons butter under the skin on each side of the breast (next time I'll use more)
- melted butter, chicken bouillon, minced onion, parsley mixture over the top of the turkey
- seasoning salt all over the turkey
- more minced onion around the pan
Then I threw that bitch in the oven at 350.
The house is coming together. David has set the table, candles are lit, the Thanksgiving Day parade is recorded to our DVR thingie for my niece, and we're still watching the Lions game.
My mom arrives! She brings crackers, Cheerios, strawberries, toys, etc. for my nieces. Food: Mac and cheese, bacon-wrapped asparagus. She also brings whiskey. Amen.
After the turkey is in the oven, I begin preparing the deviled eggs. For a dozen eggs:
- yolks from the eggs
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 2 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mash that shit together, then put it in a Ziploc sandwich baggie. Cut a hole in the corner of the baggie, and then squeeze the mixture into the sad-looking, empty egg halves. Toss the baggie -- yay for no clean-up. Make sure your mom is at your house so she can immediately wash the mixing bowl. My dad likes to see a dash of paprika on the eggs, so do that too. My sister-in-law likes it when I include a teaspoon of dill weed in the mixture, but no one else in my family likes it, so I never include it. I only mention it here because I still think it's a cool idea.
1 p.m., Thursday: More cleaning. David thinks the whites of the deviled eggs are too soft, so we stick them in the fridge. I then accidentally smoosh a deviled egg with a stick of butter.
1:15 p.m., Thursday: My first basting of the turkey. I nearly start a fire. So this is why McDonald's is open today.
I get stomach cramps and have to sit down for a little bit.
2 p.m., Thursday: My brother and his family arrive, and everyone starts drinking. Fortunately, my younger niece is on the wagon this year. Brother brings spiced pumpkin ale, which he made himself, and sister-in-law brings corn casserole. Older niece brings a drawing she made for me of a dog, and a note on the back that says I'm kind. Younger niece loves loves loves it when I pick her up and stand us in front of mirrors.
I bring out the spinach dip and deviled eggs, which are almost smooshed again by nieces playing an Angry Birds game. Younger niece calls me "Susie," which I hadn't heard her say before.
3 p.m., Thursday: Aunt and her family have arrived; my father and his girlfriend arrive. They bring a shitload of food: an incredible artichoke dip, broccoli and rice casserole, a cake from my aunt; dad and his girlfriend bring mashed potatoes and a cranberry fruit salad. I could totally be forgetting a lot here.
By this time, I was working on a sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing (er, dressing, I guess, because I didn't put it in the turkey) -- I can't remember the recipe right now, but other than the ingredients listed in the name, it's also got onions, celery, toasted bread cubes, rosemary, sage, thyme (those three things make it smell amazing), and some other stuff. Parsley also, I think. A lot of parsley.
I toast almonds for the cranberry spinach salad. Just has spinach, almonds, cranberries in it, then the dressing I made this morning.
Table is slowly getting more dishes on it. We all take a few minutes to drink and "oooh" at the turkey. It has reached 170, which I worry about, because I didn't want to overcook it, and it still has to rest. My aunt's stepkids stop by -- they've already eaten, but I plan to feed them anyway, because food is everywhere.
3:30 p.m., Thursday: Turkey is resting on the serving platter. Casseroles in the oven, heating back up. I have a cigarette outside with David, who says I get a D- in portion control and time management. I disagree with the time management thing.
We carve the turkey and gather around the table. My aunt makes an emergency dish of gravy, which I'd forgotten. My plate looks like The Challenge dish at the Sunrise Diner.
Compliments of my turkey abound. Success. It is juicy and tasty, especially the dark meat. Still too dry for me, but I'm a freak.
5 p.m., Thursday: Everyone has finished eating and is helping with the clean-up. I go to the freezer to put some ice in my glass, and fuck. I see the rolls.