Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding the Thanks

Thanksgiving would probably be more of a favorite holiday if I didn't spend it with the in laws every year.  Generally speaking, I really don't enjoy my time around them.  And fine, I admit to some level of food snobbery.  Growing up in an Italian household everything was homemade every day, but especially on holidays.  Loaves of bread were made specifically to be dried out and made into stuffing.  Pounds and pounds of potatoes were peeled to make mashed potatoes.  Gravy was made from the juices left behind after the turkey was done roasting and from the giblets inside.  Alas, this is not so at the in laws.
It's not really true that there is no mental anguish at the in laws, but I still think it's funny.

The stuffing is Pepperidge Farm.   The mashed potatoes are frozen.  The green bean casserole is that bland horror made with can after can of Cream of Crap soup.  The salad is a horrible mixture of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, copious amounts of raw onion and bottled Italian dressing which mother in law adds extra salt to (and every year several in attendance go on and on about how the salad is the best part of this meal.  Really?  I don't get it myself).  The gravy is a pasty gloppy, lumpy mess of I don't even know what.  Even the pies are frozen.  I can say the turkey is real and the sweet potatoes are actually roasted and don't have marshmallows on them.  Thank goodness.

Yes, I did say I'm a bit of a food snob but for goodness sakes it's a holiday!  Peel a fucking potato!  Fine you don't have to make your own bread for the stuffing but can you at least buy bread and season it yourself?   And the gravy!  I don't even know what it's made from.   I do know it's very light colored, very thick and very lumpy.  Last year I came into the kitchen just as the turkey was being taken out of the oven.  It was upside down (breast side down) and no one even realized it.  Mother in law was concerned about the doneness because the little thermometer thingy didn't pop out and the bird just looked weird.  I said, "that's because it's upside down" and they all looked at me like I had sprouted turkey feathers.  Mother in law and sister in law look at it and then back at  me and said, "how did you know that?  We stared and stared at it and couldn't figure out why it looked so strange, you see it for a few seconds and you knew?"  I wanted to say, "because I have a brain and eyes?"  But I just said, "the legs are pointed in the wrong direction" or something like that.  They shrugged and went back to work.  It was then that I witnessed maybe the most heinous food crime I have ever seen.  Father in law came and took the bird out of the pan and then mother in law proceeded to dump, yes dump, all the delicious turkey juices in the pan down the drain!  I seriously and quite audibly, gasped.  And again they all looked at me like I suddenly had a big red turkey waddle under my neck and put my hand over my mouth and walked out of the kitchen in horror.

My contributions to the dinner are cornbread and broccoli rice casserole.  The casserole in the past, before I knew any better, had been made with cream of crap soup and other atrocities like Cheez Whiz, but I redid the recipe so that it uses actual mushrooms, Bechamel sauce and real cheddar cheese.  It's about a zillion times better.  So generally speaking I eat turkey, cranberry sauce (which surprisingly, mother in law actually makes), my dishes, and sweet potatoes.  Everything else stays off my plate, which basically means I don't over eat on Thanksgiving, so I guess I am thankful for that.

Nice segue... being thankful.  Yes, it's true even with all my bitching and complaining about a dinner I'm not really fond of, I am thankful that I get to be in a place where I can have a dinner.   I'm thankful for my family even though at times I want to smack them upside the head.   I am thankful for my friends, old and new.  I am thankful that I know love.   I am thankful for my kitties.   I am thankful for the music that fills my life every day.  I am thankful for you.


  1. They go on and on about the salad cause it's probably not frozen, canned or mixed with cream o'crap soup!

  2. LOL You may be right about that Marie!

  3. Thanks goodness I do not have any in laws (anymore) but at least the food was great as they were Italian! Am I right in guessing that they do not read your blog?
    Cream of Crap Soup? Enlighten me, no, on second thought I do not want to know!

  4. That was really a great post. It's like real mac n' cheese v. kraft mac n' cheese. Sadly in my restaurant we added it to kid's menu. They wouldn't eat the "real" kind. We took it off and replaced it with Kraft (from a pouch) and they just love it. Fast Food generation...

  5. @Fred, that is sad, but not surprising at all.

    @Barbara, Cream of Crap soup is any of those cream of something condensed canned soups that are thick and tasteless but still contain about 3 days worth of sodium intake. And no, they don't read my blog, they don't even know it exists. =)

  6. Your dilemma sounds similar to mine - though a lot funnier. Of course, we can't help but look on with horror and compare with our own tasty, made from scratch turkey dinners.

    My sister's Thanksgiving meal is a trifle better than your in-laws; at least her turkey looks beautiful but it tastes like water, her gravy is water with mix, and everything else lacks seasoning. When I was in the food business, I'd prepare an average 25-30 turkey dinners at Christmas, a selection of stuffings made from scratch and pan-juice gravies, and juicy, tasty turkeys.

    Those were the days, Laila. Can't you offer to take or cook the turkey next time?

  7. I'd be upset too - but everything here is home-made from scratch, made well, and delicious. I just watch and eat. Oh ... my in-laws are all Italian.

  8. MMm nothing better than a well made turkey... and from what you described Lalia, that was nothing like a well made turkey! LOL! So sorry you had to deal with the tasteless, premade or prepackaged stuff. Cream of crap soup, that is priceless! And the horror of watching them dump those awesome turkey juices down the drain... I know I couldn't handle it. You are a far stronger person than I, Lalia. Happy Black Friday LOL

  9. Like you I gasped when I read all those drippings went down the drain! I'm not a turkey fan, to be honest. I did not grow up with it in the Philippines and honestly have not tasted any that truly impressed me. But I know that all the goodness is in those juices! Oh and I just heard on tv a few days ago that those pop up things on the bird will just 'kill'/overcook the bird so tell your in-laws not to rely on it next time. Lol! I'm guessing they don't have access to this site? hehehehe.......