Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner, Valerie-Style

Thanksgiving is here, and now that I'm Suzie Homemaker herself, it means it's the first Thanksgiving ever that I get to host!

My mom and her boyfriend came bearing furniture this Thanksgiving, and in return, I fixed dinner for them to eat upon their arrival. Since my idea of dinner is usually a few cubes of cheese and a carrot, this means it's time for more of Valerie's Adventures in Cooking!

I acquired almost all the food I needed for free from the rejected produce at the store --mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, green onions, a pie pumpkin, and cornmeal (ground from whole corn by a resourceful coworker) all came my way just in time for Thanksgiving! About the only thing I needed to buy were the dairy items and ingredients for cranberry sauce.

I started my preparations early, since, with my predilection for dawdling, I knew I'd be rushing around trying to do too much at the last minute. So on Monday night, I cooked my pumpkin. The instructions I found online said I should cook it in a steamer basket. I don't have a steamer basket, so I just put it in the bottom of the pot and hoped for the best. Which probably was for the best, since our 2-quart saucepan (the biggest one we have) was just barely big enough to fit the pumpkin by itself. It turned out fine. I roasted the seeds and, because they seemed a little underdone, left them in the oven while it cooled down. I also left them in the oven overnight. And most of the next day. Oops.

Next on my agenda was pumpkin pie. I don't really like pumpkin pie, but since divine providence had dumped a pumpkin into my lap, I figured I should make good use of it. Since I was only planning to make a small pie, I had some leftover pumpkin which I used for pumpkin cookies. I made the dough on Tuesday night, and baked the pumpkin pie and the pumpkin cookies on Wednesday. Both seemed to come out splendidly, though I had to stab the pie a few times to make sure it was done. Smoothing the surface over again with a knife did not work as I had hoped.

Thursday - that's Thanksgiving, folks - was crunch day. Bright and early at 8:00, I powered into action, checking my Facebook, getting distracted by the attic that I can't get into, and shopping for ladders on Craigslist. A few hours later, I made the cranberry sauce. 2 cups of cranberries, 1 apple, most of one orange, and chop in the blender. A few bits of spoon for texture. Oops.

Following the cranberry sauce, I took a break, but soon was ready for the meal's crowning glory—cream of mushroom soup. Lacking light cream, however, I was obliged to make half & half of mushroom soup instead. It should taste the same, right? The recipe only said the mushrooms should be "thinly sliced." It didn't say "diced," but while they were cooking, it became obvious that the pieces were much too big to fit onto a spoon. At that point, I learned the fine art of cutting your mushrooms into smaller pieces with scissors while they're cooking!

Since my recipes are from a website, and I hadn't printed them, I had to bring my computer out into the food prep area, which meant I had the perfect opportunity to listen to Internet radio. I turned the dial to a dance station and had a grand old time spinning around in circles on the delightfully slippery living room floor and attempting to learn how to moonwalk. Oh, yeah, I also eventually got back to the cooking and had an equally grand time snapping green beans to a techno beat. This was after I extricated the beans from the cheesecloth I had washed them in. Well, most of them. Some were entangled beyond the point of rescue. Important Lesson: Using cheesecloth as a substitute for a colander isn't as brilliant an idea as you might imagine.

When Mom called saying she had arrived at her hotel, I went into overdrive, trying, as expected, to do too much at the last minute. I nixed my plans for oven-roasted potatoes, seeing as I don't like them, and Mom had been snacking in the car all day and wasn't very hungry. Anyone want 6 potatoes? In record time, I whipped up some cornbread batter. I rushed around the house, frantically clearing things off the dining room table. I changed into my cute autumn-themed skirt just in time to let my guests in the door. (The skirt stayed on for all of 5 minutes, since I put on jeans to lug the furniture into the house and didn't change out of them again afterward. But at least I made a good first impression.)

And, after a rousing game of Yahtzee, dinner was served. In spite of the lack of prep space and the minimal presence of suitably sized cookware, dinner went off without a hitch. Everyone loved everything! Seconds were had. Pie was consumed. Plates were cleared and the guests were shooed, and Thanksgiving came to its end. I feel almost let down that this was less a cooking "adventure" than a cooking success.

In case you are new to this blog and wondering why the big deal about Adventures in Cooking, complete with the wacky's a sort of theme I started and abandoned back in 2007. Here are links to a few more Adventures in Cooking posts:

Italian Mushrooms
Spinach Cheese Squares
Pasta Primavera


Geoff said...


Anonymous said...

Wow that sounds really tasty... kudos to you making it all from scratch... that rocks! It always cracks me up when I see pictures people post about "all their hard work for Thanksgiving" and everything is in those plastic pre-prepared microwaveable dishes... man. I would love to taste that pumpkin pie you made...MMMMM