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Nov 18, 2007 07:25 AM

It sounded like a good idea at the time...

So I did a hostile takeover of Thanksgiving about 8 years back. Really, it was for the common good. And over the years I vary a lot of the recipes, try new stuff, and sometimes fall on my face. Mom, puts up with it, almost gracefully.

This year as I looked through my collection of glossies for menu assembling, I couldn't help snorting at some of the concepts. Anyone else do this?

One example: popovers. I do a pretty decent popover, but on those occaisions my meals will revolve around the temperamental suckers. On Thanksgiving as I'm doing last-minute sauteing of green beans, getting the turkey carved and all the other details, everyone should be instantly corraled in their seats the moment the popover divas declare themselves done? I don't think so!

No soups that can break or suffer from long simmering, so that lets seafood off the roster, cream soups too.

Then there was the Thanksgiving that I sauteed all the veggies at the last minute and had sauces on everything. There was no place to let the palate rest and recouperate.

What other treats do you find impractical on T-day? Save some over-ambitious fool (like me)

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  1. Back when Mom was doing most of the cooking, my contribution was usually braised chestnuts. I'd buy them fresh and sit in front of the TV all morning, watching the Macy's parade and peeling chestnuts. But the first time I insisted on making them when I was doing the rest of the meal, I realized how insane it was to spend that much time prepping one dish!

    1. I really want to make personal trifles for a chocolate dessert, but can I really justify the time involved when it would be so easy to layer into one dish and be done with it. I was really wanting to make a "pretty" presentation, but will anyone but me really appreciate it. Kids don't appreciate it, but they love to eat it. Adults always eat it even though they think it's to indulgent and "oh it must be 6500 calories in each one." Don't you just wish people would leave that line at home and not mention the word "calorie" on holidays? Anyway, Happy Holiday to all.

      6 Replies
      1. re: othervoice

        And this is exactly why I am a teeny bit sad at going to Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law's house. She's a teeny, healthy little thing and is into a lot of low-fat/no-fat type cooking. The food is more than edible, but just not the kind of incredible you get when you cut loose and use cream, butter and the like. I know I would be better off cooking that way, but hey, on THANKSGIVING? Nope. My revenge is when I am the one (fairly often) who does dessert. No low-fat/no-fat desserts from my kitchen!

        1. re: Shayna Madel

          I know how you feel. I think I've posted this before, but I'm still tramatized by the time my oh-so-healthy dad stripped all the skin off the turkey while it was still in the kitchen.

          1. re: Glencora

            Oh no, oh no, oh sister tries that stunt and I can say something to her, but I dare not say anything to the in-law. So it's a couple of sleepless nights for me, I guess, until I see what gets on the table. I may just have to take my nephew for something really fattening on Wednesday night after we go see the Macy's balloons being blown up before the parade. (I'm very excited about this, as the weather the night before Thanksgiving is often too cold or nasty.)

            Not to change the subject, but is it a bit too wacky to make homemade turkey-shaped dog biscuits for my brother's new puppy? Do you think his 4-year old will try to eat them? Will my family try to have me committed? And does anyone have a recipe they've tried--there seem to be so many on the internet.

            1. re: Shayna Madel

              I've made Maida Heatter's recipe (I think they're called Bone Appetit), and they are people-friendly too. (One of her testers ate them himself rather than giving them to the dog & liked them.) I leave out the bonemeal. (And I don't think it would be wacky at all.)

              1. re: foiegras

                Oooh, that sounded dangerously close to daring me to check all of my Maida books for the recipe. And so I did and found the recipe in "Maida Heattter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies." So I look at this recipe and ask myself if there is any difference between "nutritional" yeast and regular Fleischman's yeast, what is "unprocessed" bran, what is "raw" wheat germ, that I can probably get all of this stuff at the organic store I pass on the way home from work after I go to the regular supermarket to pick up Land o' Lakes butter on sale for $2/pound, and what the heck am I thinking here? It's usually at this point that I am told to get a hobby, but baking is my hobby...

                1. re: Shayna Madel

                  Sorry, I'm bad with titles or I'd have told you which book :) Nutritional yeast is definitely different from Fleischman's, veggies sprinkle it liberally on many things & say it tastes good. You can get it at Whole Foods in the bulk section ... I think raw wheat germ means untoasted. I think there were one or two things I didn't find & the recipe was none the worse for leaving them out ...

      2. I find making my own pie crust impractical on T-day. Esp. since I suck at it :) The whole family is happier with the store bought crust. Last year my 94 year old grandmother was like, "You need to stop trying to make your own pie crust. You are just NOT good at it". The queen has spoken. I will buy it from now on.

        7 Replies
        1. re: diablo

          get a good recipe and keep practicing. Make galettes instead of pies. Roll chilled dough to a rough 15" circle. Slide onto baking sheet. Place fuit filling in center, then lap up egdes of dough towards the center. Casually pinch the dough together in a few places, brush with milk, and bake as usual.

          Once you are satisfied with the crust, move to lining a pie pan and creating a more tradtional classic pie look.

          I'm sure your Gram would be proud.

          1. re: diablo

            ouch! wisdom, though, diablo? ;-)

            1. re: alkapal

              Heck, yeah! I'm tempted to try toodie's method, though...I'd love to be able to present a "decent" pie crust. If there are other dessert items available, a bad pie crust is less likely to make an impression, although there's little you can get by this lady, believe me, I've tried :)

            2. re: diablo

              Well, you could buy the crust in the aluminum pan, while frozen transfer it to a lightly floured surface, let it thaw, then gently flaten in, and move it into a 'real' pie pan, and attempt to (yes, attempt, don't succeed at) crimp the edge of the pie.
              Then present the cooked pie.
              And see if it's the crust or just that the crust isn't what they expect.
              (And don't tell, just smile.)

                1. re: shallots

                  Though I am one of those who makes her own (read struggles through) pie crusts, I figure to each his/her own. But you do not have to buy crusts in tins. I think Pillsbury makes crusts somehow folded up and all you need to do is defrost, then unfold right in your in your baking pan. It saves the aluminum pan, rolling the crust out and worst of all, transferring the dough into the pan. Unless the crust is really bad, I (sadly) bet that most people won't be able to tell the difference.

                  1. re: Shayna Madel

                    I agree - I think those Pillsbury ones that you unfold etc. are better than the ones in the tins.

              1. Anything fried is off my list, since it has to be eaten immediately (turkey's one exception, I guess).

                Same with risotto.

                I'd skip stuff like homemade pasta, homemade cheese, and anything that requires a pastry bag.

                Oh, and no marrons glacés.

                1 Reply
                1. re: piccola

                  Thank you for the fried comment. I absolutely agree. No croquettes, for example.

                2. I love pearl onions, and every year in the store, i think "thanksgiving just won't be complete without some balsamic glazed onions" After all, it seems so easy, in principle-- just dunk in boiling water a couple mins, peel, and let them sautee/braise while other stuff is happening. Yet somehow when I'm standing there peeling all those little guys, it's never quite that simple-- either the skins aren't quite ready to slip off, or I boil 30 secs *too* long and they're soft and need delicate handling, or.. I dunno.
                  I'm sure it wouldn't be such a hassle if my technique was more exactig, but somehow a recipe that requires individual attention for each of a zillion little pearl onions seems bound to cause second thoughts.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: another_adam

                    I actually just bought some frozen ones - have not tried them before, but have been told that they are quite good. Peeling the fresh ones is one of the few things in the kitchen that lead me to want to flee the kitchen mid-task.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      would love to hear what you think of the frozen! I also was told how good they are, tried them once and had ho-hum impressions. BUT, it could have been a number of factors...they seemed strangly strong in flavor. Maybe try blanching before sauteeing/carmelizing, etc???