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Awful Holiday Food Slam Book

As the holidays approach I'm thinking about the chowhounds who won't be commanding the kitchen when those feasts arise.
For most of my life I have gone to Wayne and Debbie's beautiful home to watch football and eat Thanksgiving dinner. A whole day affair, I truly enjoy it as one of the top days of my year. Unlike some people, I like every single person sitting at those tables. I also think Debbie makes great stuffing. Other than that dish, I don't remember truly enjoying much else. Most dishes do have positive aspects. Debbie never overcooks her vegetables. At this moment, I truly cannot recall what-else will be served even though it has been the same dishes nearly each year.

Of course it's not fair to call foul on dry turkey (I myself have only genuinely enjoyed roast turkey on five separate occasions), however her turkey ranks low on the experiences. As we're called to dinner from the TV room, I always pass by to look at the food in the kitchen on the way into the dining room. And every year, whether it be Rosh Hashana or Thanksgiving, I will see slices of white meat drowning in the juices that have inexplicably escaped from the bird . I curse the turkey inside my head, wondering what had been done to release what should be retained. I now know that cooking the turkey days ahead may have something to do with it. As far as turkey's concerned, the only time I've enjoyed it at W&D's was when it somehow tasted like ham (a Rosh Hashana miracle).

Debbie, if you read this somehow and you're feeling hurt, please come see me about brining.

So Chowhounds, please use this board to trash talk your loved ones' efforts in the kitchen. Are there dishes that you know you will have to face each time a holiday falls upon us? Have you ever tried to suggest a change in the recipe of a hallowed dish? Any advice on confronting the cook? Do you talk about how bad someone's cooking is before and after the feast?

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  1. My wife's aunt, who died several years ago at age 93, would always come to the family
    Thanksgiving dinners with a Broccoli-Cheese casserole in a 9x13 baking dish. She would always make it with large packets of Kraft powdered cheese, like the ones that come in macaroni and cheese. Of course she made sure everyone at the table had a helping of this dish and watched to make sure it was eaten. We had to suffer through this for 20-years.

    That's not the end of it. Last year, after not having the aunt's casserole for a few years, a cousin asked my wife to recreate the dish and bring it to a family dinner. We were horrified, but complied. We didn't have the recipe (why would we?). Searching the internet, we found an almost exact replica recipe. My wife made it, powdered cheese and all. It tasted exactly like wihat her aunt used to bring to Thanksgiving. Not much of the dish was consumed and we have not been asked to bring it this year. May that dish finally rest in peace.

    1. Funny story, glad you at least like the hosts, if not their food.

      This isn't exactly a cooking complaint, but my mother, who's a pretty good cook, always insists upon buying THE CHEAPEST bottle of wine for holiday dinners. None of us are very big drinkers, but please, do I really have to drink one-buck-chuck with my X-mas lamb? I'm not big wine connoisseur, but the stuff she finds is really offensively bad.

      I offer to bring wine, but to no avail...

      1. Somewhere in the past decade, my mother got the idea that a berry jello (any berry, doesn't matter) with walnuts and shredded cabbage and scallions in it was a perfectly acceptable substitute for cranberry relish. I'm glad she likes it. She always has plenty of leftovers to enjoy for the next week.

        1. Going to my in-laws' house is always painful. FIL is actually a fairly good cook normally, but the only thing I enjoy eating on his Thanksgiving table is the turkey. Green bean casserole (I don't like canned vegetables or anything that uses a can of soup as an ingredient), mashed potatoes (I just don't care for potatoes), store bought rolls, jar of gravy, store bought pie.

          Store bought pie. Isn't thanksgiving about giving thanks for pie? That's the whole reason for the holiday, as far as I'm concerned! I don't really like commercial pie fillings, and I can't even eat them if I wanted to, since I'm allergic to a common preservative in pie fillings, so I just avoid them all to be safe.

          My plate is so sad at their house. A slice of turkey. A dry, tasteless roll. Averting my eyes so I don't even have to see the jarred gravy. Bleech. It's a good thing they believe in serving wine with dinner. But since last year he served a Wal-Mart exclusive $1.98 brand, I think we'll have a good stock of bottles at the ready this year. I'm far from a wine snob, but that stuff was wretched.

          Thank goodness Thanksgiving will be at our house this year! FIL probably won't be impressed at all, but I'll be much happier.

          1. I don't have a complaint about the food per se at my brother's house the last few years. The problem is his dog also likes it.

            Whenever he is not being watched like a hawk, this very large dog (who towers over the buffet table) has his snout in the food. Last year there was actually the imprint of a dog snout of his precise dimensions in the mashed potatoes.

            I like dogs. I even like this particular dog pretty well. I just don't like dogs eating my holiday meal before I get to it.

            4 Replies
            1. re: karykat

              Ha ha, there's a few "naughty dog eating Thanksgiving dinner" stories on the Worst Thanksgiving thread also, the ham biter, the turkey snatchers and now the mashed potato snorkeler. It seems like the canines are on to us.
              Happily, my cats are a *bit* more well behaved.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                While my dogs know to remain unobtrusive during the party and away from the food areas upon pain of being sent to the garage (you'd think it was solitary confinement!). Edward the cat will seat himself at the table as if he were a guest. Sitting in the chair pretty as you please, tail flicking as in "could you people get it together!"

              2. re: karykat

                I hope you took his picture and immortalized him on dogshaming.com, *the* website for dogs who deserve mention in slam books (a preponderance of whom are pugs and dachshunds, but still).

                As for awful holiday food, I guess I'm pretty lucky. I haven't had a "worst" since 1999, the year My Friend Who Is Afraid of Getting Sued made dinner, and *insisted* we wait until the little gizmo popped on the turkey before he would let anyone eat. The gizmo took forever, well past the time the turkey was done, and it was just a miserable meal.

                1. re: karykat

                  Bleaccch! That is a deal breaker for me, I would not eat anything on the buffet after that.