Thanksgiving Dinner Was a Success.

A much smaller success than I had envisioned, but a success nonetheless. Normally we have Thanksgiving dinner, actually a late lunch, at my parent’s house, then drive to my wife’s parent’s house to do a repeat. This year a friend of my sister invited everyone from my side of the family over. Well, this time last year we were completing the Great Remodel™, and the kitchen countertops here were 3/4″ plywood while we waited for the real thing to be delivered and installed as the last major component of the overhaul of Casa del Baker. I decided that I wanted to do dinner here, and I thought it would be nice to have my wife’s family over for it.

So, about 2-1/2 weeks ago I bought a 22 lb. turkey – plenty for everybody, and enough left over for sandwiches and such.

Then I found out that the grandkids would be spending Thanksgiving with their father.

Their mother would be spending it in California.

My wife’s parents would be spending it with #1 Son & family, and #2 son would be going with them.

So it was going to be me, my wife, and a 22 lb. turkey.

What the hell. On with the show!

I got up a about 6:00AM this morning, straightened up the kitchen & fired up the dishwasher, made a batch of cornbread for breakfast, listened to some podcasts, read a few posts and some news stories, and then started the Thanksgiving Feast. First, I made a Lemon Chiffon pie and got it into the freezer, sat down & read a couple more things, and wrote a post. Then I started on the bread. I made a batch of dough, set it off to rise, and cleaned the kitchen up from the mess I made doing the cornbread, the pie and the bread dough. (Damn, but I do love the extra-large, extra-deep sink we put in.) Then I took a shower. By the time I was all cleaned up the dough had risen, so I punched it down, divided it in two, and put half in the refrigerator. The other half I rolled out and made into a loaf, put it into a loaf pan, and set it off to rise again.

I then took the turkey, all 22 pounds of it, out of the refrigerator where it had been thawing since Sunday and put it in the sink. A little more screen time, a few more podcasts, and it was time to put the bread in the oven. Once the bread went in it was time to start the turkey preparation. I did the Safeway 2-hour turkey recipe on my mother’s recommendation. Prep time was just about the 25 minutes it took to bake the bread, so right about 12:30 the turkey went into the 475º oven. I set the timer for 1 hour and went back to surfing the web. After an hour the bird was starting to turn a very nice dark brown, but the meat thermometer only indicated about 135º so I put some foil over the breast, rotated the pan and set the timer for 30 more minutes. Then I started on the Baker Family Tradition: Dressing Balls. We don’t do the stuffing thing (can’t anyway when you do the 2-hour turkey), but what we do is prepare bread stuffing formed into spheres about the size of billiard balls using Pepperidge Farms herb-seasoned and cornbread stuffing, onion, celery, rubbed sage and salt, all moistened by the water used to cook the vegetables and about 20 ounces of chicken stock. These get baked in buttered baking dishes for about 20-25 minutes at 375º.

The turkey came out of the oven just after 2:00PM – an hour and a half after it went in. The meat thermometer showed 165º – five degrees warmer than it really needed to be. I covered it with foil and left it to sit, and put in the first batch of dressing balls. (I eat these things almost like popcorn for a couple of days after Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it pays to make a LOT.) Kaoru came home from work right at 2:30 as the first batch of dressing balls came out, so I started prep on the mashed potatoes. Once they were on the stove and boiling, I checked the turkey – 170º, just like they advertised. Then I got the second half of the bread dough out of the refrigerator, divided it up into dinner rolls, and set them off to rise. I was a little later than I’d planned on those. The potatoes came off the stove, I drained, mashed, seasoned & whipped ’em, then covered them and set them off to the side. By this time the rolls had raised some, so I melted a little butter, brushed it over the tops, and into a 400º oven they went. (Like I said, a little late.) Then I opened the only can of the day – green beans – poured ’em into a bowl, seasoned with a little salt & pepper, and popped them into the microwave for a few minutes at a 20% power setting.

I set the table, carved the turkey, (thoroughly cooked, moist juicy and tender) got the food all arranged, and the rolls were STILL not done, but we sat down to eat about 3:30.

Everything was terrific! And it was nice, I must admit, to having Thanksgiving dinner in private with only my wife there to share it. And boy, do we have leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope the coming year lives up to your dreams, and not down to my expectations.

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