Tuesday, November 20, 2007

To cook or not to cook

How do you feel about cooking your own Thanksgiving dinner? Do you? Do you love it? Hate it? Dread it? Order in? Just curious.

In a completely un-systematic random (but not statistically random) sampling of the people I have discussed the topic with lately, I am squarely in the minority. I really enjoy cooking a big Thanskgiving dinner. Over the past dozen years or so, we've probably hosted about half of the dinners at our house. We do the whole traditional dinner-Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple and pumpkin pie (other side dishes vary by the year...sometimes squash, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, whatever else looked good). I love to cook, and have been helping make our family dinner since I was little. My mom is a nurse and frequently worked on Thanksgiving, and I can remember basting the turkey every hour one year, in between playing with Barbie dolls and swinging outside-I was probably 8 or so at the time.

Some years I've tried fancier dishes than other years. We typically brine the turkey before roasting, make the dinner rolls from scratch. Pies are from scratch (this year I'm using pre-made pie crusts-my homemade pie crusts are one of my weaker points in baking). One year I
made a pumpkin cheesecake (I don't particularly care for cheesecake, but that was actually pretty good). We don't use pre-made sides. We don't buy a foil pan. The cleanup doesn't really scare me (hey, I'm one of 5 kids....*every* night there was a huge pile of dishes and pans to clean up).

Talking to our family members and some of my coworkers, there are a lot of people who find the whole business to be nothing but drudgery and work. Some of them go out. Some order a dinner. Some join a larger group so they don't have to cook and host. Some of them go to great lengths to avoid cooking (it seems to me that some people's "shortcuts" like more effort than just straight-forward cooking).

Bring on the drudgery, I'm itching to start cooking!


Amanda said...

Since it's just the four of us, I'll be making a frozen turkey breast (only thing available here). Potatoes, carrots and brocolli. I have pumpkin mix, but like you am no good at the crust and am not sure where to find the ingredients I would need (shortening) so I might do pumpkin bars. MMMMMM yummy.

Kristi said...

No pre-made pie crusts or pie crust mix available? Actually, you can use straight butter instead of shortening (supposedly shortening is more tender, but you'd have to make a tender crust in the first place to know the difference...).

I always follow the directions (I have a dozen different books with versions I've tried), but get stuck at the "add water until mixture forms a ball" stage--I get a pile of crumbs, or end up squishing it so much that it gets tough. When one does work, they taste soo much better than the package ones, but the refridgerated ones are much better than a tough one.

Oh well, this way Char can help make the pies (it's not too hard to stir apples, sugar and spices and dump into a pie plate). I've already got her on the schedule as our official potato masher too...

HiddenChicken said...

I really enjoy entertaining and wish we did it more often, so I don't mind cooking for Thanksgiving at all. This year, my mom is here and a few of my husband's friends who don't have plans or family in town are coming over. I can't wait! Especially now that Ragsy's more mobile. I've never roasted a whole turkey, though, so this'll be a new one. Last time I did Thanksgiving it was just me, my mom and husband.

This year, we're doing the turkey, sweet potatoes, dressing, plus two vegetarian sides (risotto and roasted veggies with pesto) and a bunch of desserts. It'll be a ton of work, but well worth it. Like you, I've been cooking since I was old enough to be able to stir batter. Ragsy's definitely going to be helping next year!