Thank God, it’s over. I am exhausted. My right hand is swollen from all the knife-wielding and chopping. Vanity precluded me from buying mirepoix or using premade chicken broth—I had to make my own, damnit.
This year my legs recovered fairly quickly, thanks to yoga. I was able move without any pain after a night’s sleep. (Doing the reclining staff pose—lying on one’s back with legs against the wall—before sleeping also helped a lot, too.)
So, how did it go on T-day? My food spirit guides came through. Although we did stray a little from the original menu plan (no fresh spring rolls, green beans, plain mashed potatoes, or king crab—ran out of time), I did manage to make more than enough food to feed the twenty guests and give away leftovers for them to enjoy the next day. Thank goodness, my sister Julia took over organizing the distribution of leftovers. I was a total zombie by the end of the evening.
What went well?
1) Making my own chicken broth definitely made a difference in the stuffing. I made two batches of broth—used a Perdue chicken for one and an Amish chicken for the other. Definitely prefer the Amish chicken—tasted so much better, and it even cost less.
2) Sticking with what I know and bringing out crowd favorites. My claim to fame in my family is my spinach dip, pasta salad, and pumpkin pie (dessert, in general). There’s no need for me to venture into Korean food territory—not when my mom and SIL had that area covered.
While grocery shopping on the day before Thanksgiving, I saw some fresh asparagus and remembered how happy my dad was to see it on the menu when we went out to dinner the last time. Needless to say, I loved hearing him say, “Oh! Asparagus, my favorite!” when he saw the roasted asparagus that I made for our dinner spread.
Note to self for next time…
1) Never assume anything. Last year I bought a jar of turkey brine mixture for my SIL to use since she was making Thanksgiving dinner. She didn’t use it. I remembered seeing the unopened jar in my in-laws’ family room most of the summer and thinking, How strange. Maybe someone thought it was supposed to be used as decoration, like those jars of oil or vinegar with fruit or herbs inside them. When I stopped by my in-laws to take it off their hands on Wednesday, I learned that my mother-in-law had used the brine mixture in her garden in attempts to repel rabbits. Apparently, she read in the Korean newspaper that rock salt, pepper, and many of the herbs and spices in the brine mixture, combined with a certain Korean vegetable would make them stay away. Did it work? No—I still saw bunnies having a smorgasborg in her backyard. We had a good laugh about it. Anyway, I came up with my own brine mixture, and it worked out just as well.
2) Don’t forget to check the stage. I was so overwhelmed with all the demands of cooking, that I didn’t even think through how the food was going to be served. I forgot to set out the electric knife, serving tongs/utensils, special platters, flatware, etc., on the night before, so it was a bit chaotic as I was finishing up the last bit of food prep and greeting guests while trying to remember where I stored the flatware and serving tongs/utensils. Thankfully, HB just grabbed our everyday spoons and forks and put them out instead.
3) It’s OK to scale down. It wasn’t until I sat down with my plate that I realized that I might have had too many different kinds of food items to choose from and that perhaps I could have simplified things somewhat. But how does one go against one’s natural inclination to want to make something for everyone?
4) Limit the number of foods that need to be prepared at the last minute. I thought I was going to go crazy trying to figure out how I was going to make fresh spring rolls and my other hors d’oeuvres. The fact that guests actually came on time and all at once dictated that perhaps I didn’t need to worry about making those spring rolls. Next time, my goal is to prepare as much as I can the night before and just cook the main attraction on the day of.
I know I’m forgetting a few more things. Anyway, I can’t be too hard on myself. At least my recovery time was pretty quick—all things considered.