Wow, am I ever thankful for all of the great responses to my first blog about how to avoid Thanksgiving mishaps! They are funny, touching and really helpful. We can all benefit from each other’s mistakes and lessons learned.
I especially enjoyed the comments from JLin who bought a turkey larger than her oven; Tess who forgot to turn the oven on and Amanda whose pie burst into flame. Not defrosting the bird long enough seems to be a very common mishap with quite a few people. Oh, I can relate!
There have been very helpful hints too like Amanda H.’s recommendation to always double check to make sure you have the ingredients you think you do before you go shopping. Or Thomas who prepares as much food as possible beforehand. Barbara makes a list of everything she’ll need to buy and do. And Nicole puts as much out the day before – canned goods, bowls, etc. All great advice.
As promised, I’m sharing more of my mishaps with you. Hmmm, which ones to choose? There have been so many over the years. But I’ve also learned from these mistakes so I’ll also share the lessons learned:
The Mishap: There was the year the coil in my oven sizzled and burst half way through the turkey’s cooking time. Fortunately, my next door neighbor was going to be eating at her daughter’s house and could therefore spare her oven for me to use. Yup, that was a fun Thanksgiving. By the way, that year at Christmas, our sewer backed up so the plumber and I spent Christmas together while the kids went to my in-laws. Ah, memories.
Lesson learned: Some things just can’t be helped or planned for so you just have to laugh – and thank your neighbors profusely.
The Mishap: Then there was the year I thought it would be fun to make mashed potatoes out of purple potatoes. After mixing them with some butter, sour cream and milk (my usual), they come out looking lavender and were simply not pretty on a Thanksgiving table, even though they tasted good.
Lesson learned: If you’re trying to impress people at Thanksgiving, this might not be the time to experiment too much. Go with tried and true or things that you are pretty confident will work, such as the recipes suggested by Chef Richard Ingraham on the Thanksgiving Mishaps website.
The Mishap: The first time we hosted my in-laws at our house, I kindly refused all offers for others to bring dishes and said confidently (and foolishly), “no, no, I’m going to take care of everything – you just sit back and enjoy.” Well, I was overwhelmed, didn’t figure out the right timing, was nearly in tears and was sweating profusely trying to keep one dish warm while another finished cooking, while another was overflowing and every possible surface was covered with something! It was insanity.
Lesson learned: Don’t be a martyr. No one will be impressed by a hostess who is whimpering in the corner because she took on too much. Accept help not only for contributing food to the meal but also for helping to clean up. Some of the most fun conversations happen in the kitchen while scraping muck off of dishes!
The Mishap: Early on, I didn’t clean as I went. Between the dishes I had dirtied MAKING the meal and the dishes we dirtied EATING the meal, it was completely overwhelming to clean up afterword.
Lesson Learned: Start the day with an empty dishwasher and load it up as you go, hand-washing things you’ll be reusing like measuring spoons and cups. When the meal is over, bring dishes to the kitchen in batches like plates first, then glassware, etc. That way, all “like” things can be scraped, rinsed and stacked making it at least an organized mess that will be easier to load into the dishwasher. That way, you can choose to linger over coffee and conversation a little longer if you want, knowing that the kitchen isn’t a disaster zone.
Walmart is making it easy for us all to avoid mishaps with their Thanksgiving Mishaps website that is full of recipes, tips and tricks. Check it out frequently to see what’s new to save our sanity.
Keep those comments and contest entries coming! One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card to Walmart. To enter, visit the first blog for all the details. Contest ends November 19 at midnight so hurry!