This post was written by a dear friend of mine, who perfectly captures the madness and mayhem of a very large family Thanksgiving dinner. I found it touching and silly, and I loved every word. I have no family, so this is something I have never experienced. Thanks for sharing it, Miguel. I hope you don’t mind if I added a bit of my own commentary in appropriate places.
The Thanksgiving Day Stuffing Face Off
Some facts may have been changed to make it funnier:
I think there were 30 people there. Talk about a blended family! My mom got sick on Weds. night, so she had to give instructions to my niece on how to finish the stuffing. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to find her in the kitchen trying to move these huge pots around with my mom yelling out instructions from her bedroom. “If it is not moist enough, add some chicken broth!”
Chicken broth? You didn’t buy any stinking chicken broth!! Of course, Uncle Miguel has everything. I found the box of Trader Joe’s organic chicken broth that I had purchased to make won ton soup, but everyone had eaten the won tons before I was able to make the soup.
We finished up the stuffing and my niece drove a huge Ziplock bag of stuffing to her mother’s house (my little sister), where we were going to actually eat dinner, and where they were making 2 turkeys; one 26lb and one 19lb turkey. The big turkey was stuffed with my brother-in-law’s mother’s stuffing, and the other with my grandmother’s stuffing. It was the night of the dueling stuffing (play The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme here, or maybe Dueling Banjos.)
Later that afternoon I placed a spiral cut ham in the oven and made my now famous “Boston Market” creamed spinach. I usually make way too much creamed spinach, so I cut down on what I made this year and didn’t make my green beans almondine, which usually ends up being an orphan vegetable. I had only made them in the past because it is one of three vegetable dishes my brother will eat: corn, creamed spinach, and the green beans. Of course, all of the butter which needs to be poured over these vegetables totally negates any nutritional value they might have had. (Paula Deen would totally approve.)
I also made cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries. If I had known how easy it is to make real cranberry sauce, we wouldn’t have been eating for years that stuff that comes out of a can where you can still see the cans ridges as it sits on the table.
I packed my car up with the food I cooked and headed over to my sister’s, arriving just in time to put the corn on the stove and start carving the turkey. It turned out my sister didn’t know how to make gravy using the turkey drippings. A short non-lumpy gravy cooking lesson ensued.
Finally, everything was ready, set out buffet style, and people started shuffling through the small kitchen like the orphans in Oliver Twist, only these people didn’t have to ASK for more. The piles of mashed potatoes reminded me of driving to Disneyland and seeing the Matterhorn like beacon in the distance. If anyone in the SF Valley hadn’t eaten that night they could have found their way to my sister’s house by following the multiple mash potato summits.
I kept carving and people kept coming. I would fill a plate with dark and white meat, place it for those to serve themselves, then start filling up another plate. By the time I finally got to eat the massacre was almost complete.
The final toll: 1 and 1/2 turkeys, one 9lb spiral cut honey glazed ham, 15lbs of mashed potatoes, 4lbs of corn, about 5lbs of creamed spinach, four dozen buns, and 14lbs of my grandmother’s stuffing. Gone. All gone. It was wonderful that everyone enjoyed the food so much that they wrecked it, but still there was the small tinge of regret of lost “day after” turkey, stuffing and creamed spinach sandwiches.
All that remained was 1/2 of the smaller turkey and the “other” stuffing, which lay almost untouched, eaten only by a few brave souls and the son who grew up with his mother’s recipe. I gave my condolences to my brother-in-law, but he knew it was a hollow gesture.
My grandmother may be gone now, but her recipes will live on inside of us. No, really – literally inside of us.