Every year from about June through until September I’m gung ho about Thanksgiving. I can’t wait for it. I’m having dreams of turkey sandwiches smothered in stuffing and cranberry sauce (not the relish the old school one that comes out of a can and has rings in it). The September comes and with it back to school craziness. By the time October rolls around, I’m burnt out from two birthdays and Halloween to give a flying fart about Thanksgiving. So what’s a “practical” mom to do when you still want a huge dinner but don’t feel like cooking it?
I know what you’re going to say. Go to someone else’s house. The problem with that is:
Limited leftovers – I can truly see myself taking my own personal Tupperware to Sally’s house and being totally serious when I say, “Um, let me just take all those leftovers home, you don’t need them.” Yeah, that’s going to go over real well.
Food Bourne Illnesses – I’m weird about food handling, almost fanatical about it. I’ve heard many tales of people cooking turkeys wrong, putting them in the oven frozen solid, cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, the list goes on and on. If I were to eat over someone else’s house and not be there during the prep phase, I think my Thanksgiving dinner would consist of salad and pie.
Now that we’ve got the going to someone else’s house out of the way and firmly established that, yes, I will have to cook. Here’s how to cook a large stereotypical Thanksgiving Dinner the lazy practical mom way.
Step 1 – Fresh Turkey
I reserve a fresh turkey every year and pick it up the day before Thanksgiving. Yeah, I’m in the store with all the last minute shoppers but I’m usually in and out because I only have 1 thing. Also, buying a fresh turkey eliminates that whole when to take it out to defrost dilemma. You pick it up, throw it in the fridge at home and cook it the next morning, can’t get any easier than that.
Step 2 – Side Dishes and Desserts
Two years ago, I made this elaborate meal. Sausage and sage cornbread stuffing, an Heirloom roasted turkey, two different types of cranberry relish (and the old school kind for me because I don’t eat that shi shi fu fu shit), baked macaroni and cheese, green beans (not the nasty casserole with those onions), roasted asparagus (for D, I don’t touch that shit either, makes your pee stink), homemade dinner rolls and appetizers. (Geez, I’m tired from just typing all that) It was insane, I spent ¾ of the day in the kitchen and by the time dinner rolled around I was way too tired to even taste the food. The kids ate turkey and the macaroni, turning their noses up at the rest of it.
I vowed never again until they’re 18.
This year, stuffing will come from Stove Top, the veggies from the freezer section because Wegman’s sells some really nice vegetable medleys that you just sauté and you’re done. I’ll make the macaroni and cheese same as always because it’s only 4 ingredients and I’m not THAT lazy, dinner rolls – freezer section, desserts – freezer section.
Step 3 – Finding Time to Sleep
I will still have to get up early to put the turkey in the oven, that can’t be avoided. The good thing is, that not having to do a whole bunch of side dish prep allows me to go back to bed while the turkey roasts. I can then get up with the rest of the family at a decent hour, have breakfast and watch the parade on TV instead of being tied to a chopping block.
The point of all my “laziness” is a simple one. It’s not because I’m too lazy to make a home cooked Thanksgiving for my family. Thanksgiving is the one day out of the year where it’s all about family, eating ‘til you pop and having fun together as a family. I only have 14 more years until all my babies will have lives of their own and may not be able to make it home for Thanksgiving. While I know 14 years is a long time from now, I’m sure my mother said the same thing when I was 4 and now I’m 35. For now, I’ll save the more elaborate meals for my empty nest years when I might be grateful for the distraction. This year and for the years to come, it’s all about simplicity.