Schatzi: No, this isn’t actually about the first Thanksgiving, or about the origins of Thanksgiving, or even about my first Thanksgiving–because I don’t remember it. It’s about the first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner.
Until 2005, I was always a junior participant in holiday meal preparation. I would pitch in with small tasks, but was otherwise content to enjoy the bustle as others prepared the meal. Oh, and I’d help with desserts: pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, eggnog pound cake, red velvet cake, cookies, whatever. I was a go-to girl for goodies, but not for a meal. In the capable hands of my older sisters, aunts, and especially Mom and Tutu, things were well taken care of.
But in 2005, I was living in Eugene, where I knew no one, and my mother had just died that summer. My family as I knew it was a shambles, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. My swinish boyfriend, however, saved the day. The swine I was then dating (and that’s not hyperbole, he was a detestable person who did all of three nice things for me in the three years we were together–including this) told he that he would drive down from Portland with a turkey and a turkey fryer, and that we were going to do Thanksgiving right, just the two of us and Kitty Girl. And we did!
For my first cooking everything Thanksgiving (thankfully for only two!), I made:
(I found the Emeril recipe online when searching for a gravy recipe that didn’t require drippings, but the others demonstrate my taste in cooking and lifestyle magazines in 2005.)
I cheated and bought half-baked rolls, and Sean deep-fried the turkey, mashed potatoes, and baked two Pearpple Pies (with my assistance). So, I didn’t cook the WHOLE thing alone, but I did more than I had ever before. I think the stuffing was by far my favorite of the savory dishes; I fell in love with chestnuts. The gravy was an excellent first attempt (I’m not a big fan of gravy, but that was the feedback I received), and not difficult. Green beans are green beans, and so they’re hard to screw up when cooking them fresh. Though I like the molded cranberries of my youth, I liked the simple sauce. All in all, it was a tasty meal.
We ate sitting on the floor in my still unpacked apartment, with Kitty Girl in frantic attendance. The food was good, and I felt I had accomplished something, but it was still awful having Thanksgiving dinner without my mother.
Moral of the story? There isn’t one, really. Cherish time spent with loved ones? Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner isn’t difficult when it’s for two? Buy a dining room table, or you will regret it?