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Bringing our own food to Thanksgiving dinner

OK, I've been married five years, and I think this is either the first or second time my husband and I have eaten with my parents. (Either they lived out of state, or I was working, or both.) It will be just them, us and my teenage stepson, no other guests.

My tastes, and the influence of my Southern husband, have changed since traditional Thanksgiving when I was a kid, so there are foods we want that my picky Yankee parents won't touch, like stuffed mushrooms and sweet potatoes.

Mom's making the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and most all of the veggies. We have compromised and I have agreed for her to just cook a breast, since no one eats dark meat besides the teen (and he eats white as well). My mother and husband are the only ones who eat cranberry sauce, but she likes it out of the can and he won't touch it from the can.

So would it be bad if I brought mushrooms, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin roll (something my parents might not eat but is required by my hsuband, both bc it's a tradition for him and because I make it sugar-free for his diabetes), as long as everything was pre-prepared or we could prepare it ourselves in her large kitchen without getting in the way?

I know you'll say, just ask my mom if it would bother her, but she's notorious for not telling the truth about things that irritate her. I'm just wondering how y'all would feel. Keep in mind she's not a big cook -- she's making what's traditional, but it's not like she has a special "menu" planned with wine, etc.

Any thoughts?

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  1. 1. Ask anyway. Judge her reaction by what she does when the shoes are reversed.

    2. Do not bring anything that requires her to concede logistics in the kitchen. That's rude to any cook, even (and sometimes especially) family, unless expressly agreed to. So, preference for things that don't require oven or frig space when your MIL needs *or wants* them. The sauce and the pumpkin roll should pass that test. I am dubious about the sweet potatoes, because I imagine you'd need the oven for that (unless it's without the skins and can be m-waved). Mushrooms should be able to be quickly warmed at an opportune time of your MIL's choice (which may be never....).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      I would assume that if the OP's husband is southern, those sweet potatoes would be already cooked, mashed, and baked into a casserole and merely need a quick reheat, either in oven or microwave. It's a very forgiving, and portable dish.

      What's a pumpkin roll?

      1. re: danna

        Pumpkin roll is a dessert, a pumpkin dough rolled with cream cheese and walnut filling. My MIL made it for years before she died, and I found a way to duplicate it pretty well with Splenda, but we can certainly eat it at home.

        My parents are very finicky and not open to trying new things. I think cranberry sauce is the only thing my husband HAS to have at dinner, and absolutely won't touch the canned stuff, and my mom's the opposite. I think that's all we'll bring, because we can certainly have stuffed mushrooms any time. Hell, our T-givings have been so crazy the past few years, we'll look at this as another new adventure. ;-)

    2. Wow, quite a quandry. I can tell you that holidays at someone else's house is not my favourite activity (I'm a vegetarian and I always feel horrible asking, "does this have any meat, poultry, game meat, seafood or broth/additives of the aforementioned foods?"). I usually call the person and ask what I can bring. If they make a suggestions, great. If they say nothing, then I bring a bottle of wine. My best advice to you would be to eat before you go and plan to have a smaller, additional Thanksgiving meal (just you and your husband) afterwards with your favourite dishes.

      As a person who entertains quite frequently, I would be offended if someone brought a number of dishes to my house for a dinner I was hosting. It would make me feel as though they didn't think my food was adequate. Rightly or wrongly, I would feel hurt.

      1 Reply
      1. re: librarian

        My mom is a good cook, and I learned my mashed potatoes from her, and I know we will love whatever she's making and wouldn't want to eat beforehand. But since I've typed this I've realized that four dishes is way too much. I think I might just bring a small bowl of the cranberry sauce for DH and the mushrooms to reheat, so we're staying out of the way, and the bulk of the food still came from her.

      2. Covert Ops, before I saw your reply I was about to write that I agree with Librarian, but I think that paring down the amount of things you will bring is a good compromise.

        1. Be gracious guests: show up in good spirits, with hearty appetites, full hearts and celebrate the beautiful dinner your mother is lovingly preparing.

          All these posts about self-absorbed people insisting things be 'their' way for one meal of the year are just crushing the spirit of the holidays for me.... Really bumming me out.

          4 Replies
          1. re: chow_gal

            I agree, this meal will be tense enough without aggravating the food issues. :-P

            Tradition is one thing, but we've had such untraditional Thanksgivings the past few years (most years involved picking at rotisserie chickens on beachside or riverfront picnics) that we can do tradition at home any time.

            1. re: chow_gal

              I agree with being gracious guests. It's the most important.

              However, I also want to point out that at Thanksgiving, we are not necessarily "entertaining guests" but feeding family. And family is often a different, and more personal matter.

              I have a great number of diabetics in my family, so I try to have dishes that will not totally skew their glucose intake. Covert Ops, could you explain the need for the dishes you'd like to bring that way? Tell your mom you love her traditions, and that you'd like to add to them for the sake of your husband's dietary needs? At the same time, explain to your husband that some "musts" can be met at a different time?

              1. re: cayjohan

                It's more of a want than a need -- DH is on insulin, and he'll certainly take a heaping plate of mashed potatoes. It would just be preferably to, say, a cherry pie, but he just would end up skipping dessert. So I'll just make it for him earlier in the week.

                The more I read everyone's thoughtful replies, it's helped me crystallize my own thoughts -- thanks everybody! :-)

              2. re: chow_gal

                That's it. You nailed it. It's one freakin' meal out of 1,095 others in the year so jsut make the best of it.

                Often times I'll go to dinner knowing there will be stuff I don't like but hey you make the best of it and eat it anyway or enough to show your appreciation. I think it's called being an adult.

                That said, there's a gracious way around this. Just volunteer to bring a few things that your husband likes and leave it at that. Maybe ma and pa will like it.

              3. We're having TG dinner at my SIL's. Last year we said we had already ordered a turkey so our offer to bring this was accepted. This year she's made it clear that she want to do it all, despite not being in good health and the house remodelling going on. So we're going to go without anything and eat whatever she puts on the table. We fully expect that the food will not be good, but DH wants to be with his family so that's good enough.

                Of course we will still do our own turkey, we'll just eat it at home!