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Do you dread Thanksgiving?

I do.

I don't like the meal much and for the amount of work, the reward is just not there.

Thanks for the vent.

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  1. I dread the receipt of all the cooking magazines I receive in October, because they're full of boring articles about brining turkeys, mashing potatoes AND yet another way to disguise brussels sprouts by shredding them up and dousing them with bacon fat.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Allieroseww

      I used to hate brussels sprouts until I discovered fried brussels sprouts. Now I ADORE them.

      1. re: twyst

        Samesies. Except for me it's roasting them and tossing them with lemon juice and red pepper. I don't know why it makes such a difference. But I swear, I love them now and want them all the time.

      2. re: Allieroseww

        Ah, there WAS a time, when I hated Brussels Sprouts, but then I discovered that the ones that my mother served (Bird's Eye frozen), were not even close to the real thing. That was then, and this is now.

        My wife usually bakes them, with a wonderful mixture of olive oil and garlic salt, or I grill them in a basket. There is a world of difference.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          this is true. I just now suggested to our host the idea of me doing sprouts this way (and far ahead of time to let it sink in) I was met with suspicion. the way a cat regards a new piece of furniture.

          best selling point I could muster was the no muss or fuss factor on her part.

        2. re: Allieroseww

          Turkey and side recipes in November, cookie recipes for December, and diet recipes for January every year.

          1. re: marymac

            Sounds like my plan, when I visit New Orleans - diet for weeks afterward.

            Hunt

        3. Yes...mostly due to visiting in laws. While I love to cook, by the time I have prepared the entire meal with no help at all, I have absolutely no appetite. I do like the leftovers the next day though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: baseballfan

            I also lose my appetite after cooking all day, however, I still enjoy the cookiing. Personally, I'd settle for a nice Linguini and Clam Sauce rather than the traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.

            1. re: mudcat

              Or be like my family and pasta is te second course ;)

          2. Yes and no. It is my favorite holiday but now that we are hosting, I am having trouble with meshing two traditions. His family won't budge on their Central PA menu and while my family is flexible, part of the fun is gone for me using their traditions. Personally I like to get up early, have some coffee and a small breakfast of toast or an apple cider donut while I begin prepping and watch the Macy's day parade. Ideally dinner is 3 courses with a later dessert which starts between 1-2. After dessert those that are hungry later partake in turkey soup and cold sandwiches. First course should be fruit cup, soup or antipasti. Second course is a meatless pasta dish: ravioli, manicotti, vegetarian lasagna with red sauce. Third is the turkey and trimmings. Dessert is pie-pumpkin, pecan and one other. Maybe apple maybe coconut custard.

            The SO's family dinner is the following. Get up early and cook. Watch as much of the parade as possible because dinner is between 11-11:30 no exceptions. One course followed by dessert, some even eat it on the same plate. Clean, sit a spell and package up leftovers. Go home by 3 at the latest. Even the turkey meal is completely different. Their bird is dry with cornstarch gravy. Ours is moist with a gravy made from drippings. They have sugar in their mashed potatoes. Their stuffing is bread only while we do a mushroom stuffing. They also have Mac and cheese, baked corn, baked beans, oyster stuffing, everything is brown or tan!!!

            We have things like creamed spinach, mashed turnip, red cabbage, creamed onions, traditional New England faire.

            Last year I hosted and was able to sneak in steamed broccoli and roasted root vegetables and my mother's quick breads (nut, pumpkin and cranberry).

            We are also moving the week before and hopefully we can manage to get the house completely put together because I think we are hosting again!

            147 Replies
            1. re: melpy

              That's booty. If your hosting you should be able to have some say on what time you all sit down. Although, I understand you need to keep the peace as well with the IL's...but still, main meal at 11:30am, home by 3pm? that's nutty.
              And cornstarch gravy just sounds so wrong in so many ways.

              1. re: rabaja

                Cornstarch gravy is butt. I think it is chicken broth thickened with cornstarch. It looks like wallpaper paste.

                1. re: rabaja

                  If it is the IL's, home by 3pm sounds like the best part! I don't like eating "dinner" that early, which i have to at the inlaws, but if it were home by 3pm it would more than make up for it.

                  1. re: Astur

                    When it is at their house it usually is. At my house last year when thy left it meant we could break out a bottle of wine with my parents but then they were gone by 5 ish and I was sad that the holiday was over.

                2. re: melpy

                  "The SO's family dinner is the following. Get up early and cook. Watch as much of the parade as possible because dinner is between 11-11:30 no exceptions. One course followed by dessert, some even eat it on the same plate. Clean, sit a spell and package up leftovers. Go home by 3 at the latest. Even the turkey meal is completely different. Their bird is dry with cornstarch gravy. Ours is moist with a gravy made from drippings. They have sugar in their mashed potatoes. Their stuffing is bread only while we do a mushroom stuffing. They also have Mac and cheese, baked corn, baked beans, oyster stuffing, everything is brown or tan!!!"

                  I think your SO and I may be related as that sounds like what my thanksgivings were like growing up! About the time I switched careers and went to culinary school I took over holiday dinners, and everyone is much happier now. I just dont think they knew any better.

                  I definitely look forward to thanksgiving no matter how the meal turns out though as its a time when I get to see my whole family and cherish the time I have with them.

                  1. re: twyst

                    Sugar. In. Their. Mashed. Potatoes.

                    Jaw agape.

                    (Edited: Oops. Meant to reply directly to Melpy lol.)

                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                      Yes, this is the part I couldn't get my head around, either. But apparently Paula Deen adds sugar to her mashed potatoes too: http://www.pauladeen.com/article_view... (not that I'm saying this makes it OK, I'm just saying it's apparently a "thing")

                      1. re: guilty

                        What is sugar supposed to do? Is there an explanation? I've never, ever heard of this.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          me, either - and I lived and traveled in the South for 25 years!

                          1. re: latindancer

                            a new path to type II diabetes? sorry that was really mean. even for me.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              Makes it sweeter. They don't put a ton, just a tiny bit. A whole large batch might have one teaspoon or so.

                          2. re: DuchessNukem

                            Yep. I'm struggling with that bit too...I'm sorry you have to eat that :(

                          3. re: twyst

                            the eating the main and then the dessert off the same plate paints quite a picture of my outlaws. What was a I THINKING!!!! (clearly not much)

                            or - i llike this one - advancing to dessert before thte table is cleared (or clearing while some still eat - and i'm not talking about the tipsy guest still fiddling with their food)

                            and while advancing - they pile the dessert plate ON TOP OF THE mucky dinner plate and use the same cutlery (silverware)

                            i cannot tell you how many times i have worked very hard at making some darn meal - only to have MIL say "oh we already ate - we stopped on the way over here" (hello, you were invited for LUNCH!) - or we came earlier and nobody was here so we went home (yes, that was SIX HOURS before the hour of your invite time) --- or she shows up late and so the entire lunch is crowded in to 38 minutes

                            but as someone above has posted - thank goodness the dinner starts at 11am - cuz they are all gone by 3.

                          4. re: melpy

                            I always thought it was Thankgiving Dinner, not Thanksgiving Lunch.
                            Sounds a litle bit like a Peppermint Patty situation going on.

                            1. re: melpy

                              Wow... I could never manage an 11 am Thanksgiving dinner (unless I skipped a night's sleep!)

                              1. re: drongo

                                The best part is his family is against TV so no parade if they arrive early and they are against drinking. We drink water because I don't really keep soda on hand. No wine for thanksgiving and no Bloody Mary or mimosa while cooking :(

                                1. re: melpy

                                  I'd sneak the wine in the kitchen. Party poopers. In every way.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    No alcoholics so last year I snuck it int the gravy. No one notices but I did get chastised for using garlic in the meal. Apparently flavor is a no non.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      m'dear, at some point, you are completely allowed to say "it's MY house and MY kitchen - I will make some of your favorite dishes, but I will no longer be a slave to your traditions if *I* have to do the work".

                                      Easier to say than do, I know so very well....but the friction now (**before** the day) is worth the anger and resentment that you will inevitably harbour later.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          another amen
                                          Three of us,senior women in my family took that avenue in spades 20+ years ago and never looked back!

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            +1 - what I said a bit further down. If you're hosting, you call the shots.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Amen to Sunshine842's advice. And maybe they should grow up enough to watch you drinking a bloody mary or mimosa too.

                                        2. re: melpy

                                          Well then, maybe it's for the best that they go home at 3pm. :)

                                          1. re: melpy

                                            this is why I'm thankful for Xanax.

                                            sheesh you're moving AND hosting a big gathering in the same week?

                                            let it all (mostly all) be potluck this year. ask the I-L's to bring their "wonderful, really great" Mac and cheese, baked corn, baked beans and oyster stuffing. have your family bring their favorite sides, explaining to all that in the chaos of the move you will be too frazzled and can't predict where the hell the movers will put the kitchen boxes. but you will personally move the roasting pan and can do the turkey (and gravy).

                                            the night before, make a late phone call to the early birds that the darn thing is just not defrosting and at this rate, it's going to be running late "I know we always aim for 11:30 at the latest, but I'm afraid it's looking more like 12 - 12:30" and with all the stress you've been under anyone around the house as you cook is just going to send you completely around the bend. and then enjoy that Bloody while you baste at your schedule. anyway "against drinking" unless they're recovering alcoholics, I say heck it's your house, let them shoot dirty looks if you toss back a few glasses of wine at dinner. as long as you don't get sloshed what are they going to do, 'ground' you?

                                            1. re: hill food

                                              Oh, now THIS is a brilliant idea, hill food! Problem solved!

                                            2. re: melpy

                                              We that sucks worse than mine. At least I can drink (and since we host, not worry about driving).

                                              Family events should never be "dry".

                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                "Family events should never be "dry" ". yes,very much yes

                                                1. re: lcool

                                                  So true, and I would never let anyone tell me I couldn't drink in my own home. If going to the home of a non-drinker, I feel free to have a glass before I go, even that means 10am. Sometimes holidays call for extreme measures.

                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                    "So true, and I would never let anyone tell me I couldn't drink in my own home"

                                                    I would never allow someone to TELL me what I can and can't do in my home, but if I have guests who are morally opposed to drinking I will abstain out of respect for their beliefs. I believe not offending your guests is an important part of being a good host.

                                                    1. re: twyst

                                                      This is the idea. We try to be respectful since as it is we are going to he'll because the rapture is coming and we are living in sin. Since this was the conversation when the event was at the home of my SO's grandparents we figure there is no reason to rock the boat.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        I am always amazed when people harbor beliefs that would theoretically support an abusive but legal relationship, yet denigrate a caring and respectful "illicit" one.

                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                          "there is no reason to rock the boat"

                                                          Oh, I'd rock the boat. It's my home, I do the cooking and organizing. If they want to come, they're very welcome....but they're my rules not theirs.
                                                          They could easily tell me I'm living in sin but who listens?

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            I agree. My house my rules. Don't like it don't come. The holidays are stressful enough without someone's else's beliefs and judgment getting in the way. I agree, be respectful, but if they won't come because you're "sneaking" wine in the kitchen or a bloody mary, well, that's really their problem.

                                                          2. re: melpy

                                                            I guess when the rapture comes you can go back to Thanksgiving your way :D Bring it on then, bring it on ...

                                                          3. re: twyst

                                                            If I have guests who are recovering alcoholics, I will abstain in my home.

                                                            If it's a moral issue, they are on their own.

                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                              When a guest refuses a drink in my house, I just ask if they mind if I have one. If they look uncomfortable before answering, I abstain. I never really know why someone doesn't drink unless they tell me.

                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                yep and if they choose to not tell, the reason is none of my business.

                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                  Exactly, and I really don't want to know, either.

                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                  Another +1 on abstention or moral issues when it comes to drinking in my own home.

                                                                2. re: twyst

                                                                  I might CHOOSE to abstain out of respect for my guests, but I would never feel compelled to abstain, and I sure wouldn't let anyone demand it. I respect my guests preferences by having choices available to them that accommodate their requirements. If I have a non-drinker over, I make sure to have plenty of good, non-alcoholic drink options, but I'm not going to make it a dry party. Same things for vegetarians, vegans, and those with allergies. I will make sure they have plenty of things that they can eat & drink, and take pains that it be uncontaminated with the offending ingredient, but I won't rearrange the entire party, and limit the choices of my other guests, based on one or a few people. No matter what one's restriction is, whether it be alcohol, or meat eating for religious reasons, or an allergy, that person lives in the real world. The office Christmas party doesn't go dry for one person, or vegetarian for one Hindu, or kosher for one Jew. Ideally, any event that a person with restrictions attends has made accomodations, and no one will go hungry or thirsty. But all these people live in the real world and know that others eat/drink things that they don't, and they know how to deal with it. When they start wanting an entire party of people to abstain from something they can't/refuse to have, they've crossed a line. Respect goes two ways. In their own home, the party can be dry/vegan/kosher, whatever.

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Exactly. Well-explained. My mother has some unusual food allergies, and she always has to make numerous loud comments about what she's allergic to, asking why is it in so many foods, why would people eat that, etc. Very annoying.

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      You must be my long lost sister in law because my MIL does the same thing. Every single time. When they lived near us, I always made food that would accommodate her, but would occasionally serve a side dish or something minor that had one of her many forbidden ingredients, which changed regularly. And she'd always say something like, "That smells delicious. Too bad I can't have it."

                                                                      Yes, yes, it is.

                                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                                      that was the subject of an advice column the other day - vegans who refuse to attend a family T-Day if turkey is also going to be on the table, despite that vegan alternatives would be served as well. just counter-productive and only gives polite vegans a bad name.

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        I read that column, too. I can't imagine having the temerity to inflict one's dietary restrictions on everyone, to the point of not allowing "dead animals" on the table in someone else's home. Fortunately, none of the vegans I know would do something like that.

                                                                      2. re: MelMM

                                                                        the only time I've come close to that is a party which was attended by both Muslim and Jewish colleagues, with a vegan and a couple of vegetarians to add to the mix.

                                                                        I avoided pork of all forms, just because it was less work for me at the end, and less worries of a major incident if something went pear-shaped, and there was enough food (for everyone) that I'm pretty sure nobody even noticed, let alone cared.

                                                                        I spent hours researching (and talking to the invitees to make sure I was on track) -- it was a little like a three-ring circus when it came to serving, but it was interesting and edifying and I'm glad I went to the trouble.

                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                          Most Jews who keep Kosher will not eat (cannot eat) anything prepared in a non-Kosher kitchen. Not all of course, there are many ways of being Jewish and observant. But for the most part observant Kosher-keeping Jews will bring their own food, plates, and utensils if they actually do agree to come to a dinner party at a non-Kosher home. Visit the Kosher board to find many discussions of how this can pan out at holiday time in families. Same is true for some Hindu or Buddhist vegetarians.
                                                                          As for recovering alcoholics when this has come up I have opted to go out to a restaurant. It's not just whether Mr. Rat and I are drinking, it's that our house is full of beer, wine, and spirits. Recovering alcoholics who are okay with having alcohol clearly on display are more likely to be okay with people drinking in front of them, in my experience.

                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                            In my circles, no one is that strict. But the point is, none of these people demand that their own restrictions be imposed on the entire party. They live in the real world, and they know how to cope. I always accommodate to the degree I can by having plenty of options. I do like to know of any dietary restrictions in advance so I can plan around it.

                                                                            In Melpy's case, though, it really seems like the objections are in another category. I mean, we aren't just talking no alcohol here: "his family is against TV so no parade"... This really seems like the guests imposing their values upon the host. And that's a lack of respect, going in the other direction.

                                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                              I'd have no problem with anyone for any reason bringing their own food (hey people with nut allergies, that stuff is in far more than we're aware and Kosher, well I wouldn't even presume to understand the intricacies, there's a reason why there are Rebbes who specialize in this) but alcohol, that is dicey. I wouldn't want to be a 'trigger' but only they know what they can tolerate. I have known folks in recovery who thought they'd be OK only to spend 10 minutes and leave. fair enough. no offense taken. some other setting, some other time. if one just doesn't approve, well then an analogy to something Henry Rollins recently said is apt "don't like gay marriage - don't have one".

                                                                              meaning unless there's a reason it's bad for a guest to be in the room with alcohol and the aromas involved (in which case I would abstain) it's not unreasonable to expect them to just simply not have any. someone in recovery is indeed a different issue than disapproval.

                                                                              but I do agree with Melpy's in-laws about no TV during dinner BTW. I s'pose the parade could always be DVR'd for the leftover round.

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                But it isn't no TV during dinner. The parade is early in the morning, when they are cooking. The impression I get from Melpy's post is that they don't approve of TV at all, ever, period. So once they enter the house, the TV must be off. That's just overbearing.

                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                  I re-read and I think you're right. it is overbearing but ehh, I'm still OK with it life's too short (but if the parade is important to Melpy then employ the arrival time stalling tactics or record for later)

                                                                        2. re: lcool

                                                                          On the other hand, some people are mean enough when sober though I generally agree with your sentiment, lcool & JanetfromRichmond

                                                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                            "If it's a moral issue, they are on their own."

                                                                            Sometimes I wish I could just say screw it you are on your own, but it would just seem so disrespectful to drink in front of my grandparents etc who have become extremely religious late in life. I think abstaining from a drink to make guests feel more comfortable is a small price to pay.

                                                                            1. re: twyst

                                                                              We have wine with dinner every night. If you are close enough to me to be at a holiday gathering, then you know this about us. I would not bring wine to your house and drink it if I knew you had a problem with it, but I would not expect to abstain at my own home because of your sensibilities and moral code.

                                                                              Would you not eat meat or serve meat for a holiday meal because a guest is a vegetarian or vegan? I'd make sure there were items they could enjoy but I would still have meat on the menu.

                                                                              Now, if you are a recovering alcoholic, that is a completely different scenario.

                                                                              1. re: twyst

                                                                                Ditto. Although we did buy a bottle of wine for his cousin at Chrisas and basically hid her opening it from the family.

                                                                                Honestly we think the rest o the family drinks and smokes except his grandparents and parents but since everyone abstains around them it is just considered normal.

                                                                            2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                              Amen and pass the whiskey.

                                                                              I'm in a military family, so a family get-together without alcohol is like a day without sunshine...

                                                                              1. re: deet13

                                                                                deet13 - I live in Oregon - We have LOTS of days without sunshine!!!! :)

                                                                                1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                  Yes, well, that's why the microbrew and coffee crazes got started in the PNW. People were self-medicating due to the lack of sunshine. At least that's what I tell myself when I visit my family in the Seattle area and have to drink coffee all day long just to stay alive, and beer or wine in the evenings to come down off of my caffeine high. It's actually a very nice little arrangement you guys have out there!

                                                                            3. re: melpy

                                                                              Melpy - Are they Mennonite? The no TV/no alcohol and your knowledge of Central PA wackiness makes me think so. (you don't need to answer)

                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                The grandparents who are basically just of the no drinking mindset are Churche of the brethren. I think there is also no dancing.

                                                                                The parents (mom and stepdad) are more closely related to the Pentecostal churches. They have no jewelry, no tv, women wear dresses and I believe they keep their hair in cut (observation not directly stated).

                                                                                Ancestrally there were Mennonites but WAY back.

                                                                                On the other hand my family is Italian American Catholic and WASC/P (two cultures meshing again). So drinking, dancing, loudness etc. is the cultural norm.

                                                                                My SO and I fall somewhere in the middle. He is quieter and more reserved (an observer) and I am loud and we will drink on occasion but not with the zeal of my family. However a dinner party with friends is sure to include wine and beer (our our booze of choice). My father is rarely found without a TNT at a social event.

                                                                                Trying to find the middle ground to celebrate ANYTHING together is interesting and we haven't really found the balance yet. We are airing on the side of separate events for the most part. In six years the one combined event was thanksgiving last year. We are on deck again this year and based on the comments I will probably have an area of help yourself for the drinks and thy can take what they want and ignore or gripe about the rest.

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  Say no more. I am VERY familar with the type. Live and work around it, know exactly how they evaluate behaviors most of us consider to be normal as yardsticks to measure by. I don't know how to label it (and I probably shouldn't try) but there are lots of large congregations of what you describe where I live.

                                                                                  Chowers, trust me on this one. Being the host and having alcohol present would be WAY more trouble than it is worth.

                                                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                    No doubt. Don't have anything like that in my family but am familiar with with it, and it would just cause headaches. While I normally live by the "it's your house-your rules" rule, I agree it's best to avoid drink here.
                                                                                    Don't ever bring them by my family's house. Excessive drinking around a loud tv and all the female family wearing way too much jewelry is the norm! Hehe...

                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                      This will probably start a flap, but I am fatigued by the whispering and delicate tip-toed footsteps which surround religious beliefs. Why do someone's religious rituals and beliefs need to automatically command my awe and respect?

                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                        I suppose for the same reason we are told to whisper in a library. While I don't recall either commanding automatic compliance sometimes it's just easier to go along to get along.

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          I do very much agree that it is the thing to do as a host to try to make your guests comfortable - the question here was how far does one bend over backwards to accommodate?

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            Point taken! A host does his/her best to bend over backwards, forwards right through to the guests departure. Otherwise, WHY in the world were they invited? And, if your best isn't good enough then don't repeat invitations expecting a different result.

                                                                                            Unless you're serving turkey to the Queen, I think far too much pressure is given in the host to guest relationship. Guests should relax, eat, drink and be happy....or don't feel the need to host them.

                                                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                                                          Oh, I don't think it'll start a flap at all. Speaking just for myself, I just like to take the easy road and avoid conflict, with family especially. It could be religious or anything. Just saves the host aggravation.

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            Who, due to their religious beliefs, are attempting to command your awe and respect?

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              Would you like a list? I'm not sure if there's room!! :-)

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                No, not a list, just a general idea. I've never had a situation happen to me that is like what you have described. You brought it up. I'm just curious.

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Ah, I knew I should not have spoken. Peace.

                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                    That's fine with me. Our large, extended family has both church goers and those who are not religious. It just has never become a topic of conversation or otherwise come up in any form.

                                                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                  I understand. As an agnostic living in the Bible belt, there is a presumption that one is a Christian. If you aren't, some try to save you. Others simply can bring Jesus into any situation and there is an unspoken rule that you play along.

                                                                                                  They will give a passing nod to Jewish people, because that is their idea of diversity.

                                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                    "there is an unspoken rule that you play along."

                                                                                                    That's part of my concern. Of course, I do it., too.

                                                                                                    Thanks, Janet.

                                                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                I was watching a Deadwood on DVD the other night and a line from it has stuck in my head:

                                                                                                "What claim has your piety on my deference?"

                                                                                                1. re: Cactus Wren

                                                                                                  been there "then we'll pray for your immortal soul"

                                                                                                  'uhh thanks, knock yourself out sweetheart'. it's easier to just let that stuff slide.

                                                                                              3. re: alliegator

                                                                                                I'll come over alone ;) loud is right up my alley!

                                                                                    2. re: melpy

                                                                                      For me, part of the fun of "hosting" is my house, my schedule, my menu, my rules (to TV or not to TV...). I consider it one of the perks of being a grownup.And of having to deal with the clean-up.

                                                                                      Oh, and I loooove Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays.

                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                        melpy, my MIL used to do similar things. With military discipline. Holiday meals were grimly served at 12 noon; no exceptions. The few veg that were present were overcooked and buried in something gloppy. Ugh.

                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                          Several years ago (more than ten) my father was on business oversees for the month of November. We brought my mother to my eldest brother's SIL's house for Thankagiving. It was an eye opener for me to see a different family's Thanksgiving. Dinner was served at 12 noon. After dinner I believe it was conversation and football on the television. About 4 pm the leftovers were brought out to eat again. (again?) I wanted to take my mother home much earlier, but she was enjoying herself with my brother's in-laws. My dad is the only one left now. (He's 81 and doing well. I brought him to a computer store over the weekend to get him a new laptop. HIs old one is 8 years old and is slowing down. He got his first PC in 1985 and he still has no idea how they work ; )

                                                                                        2. re: melpy

                                                                                          Oh my, all that would certainly put a big chill on T-day for me. 11 AM??? No wine or garlic??? Crappy gravy??? My family wouldn't survive.

                                                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                                                            melpy's description of the typical Central PA Thanksgiving has me in tears of laughter. I recognize every single element except the no-drinking part. Most families in my Central PA would have cheap beer on hand in the garage. And yes, many families eat crazy-early in the day. There naps to be taken or a drive to hunting camp or a massive Black Friday shopping plan to be formulated.

                                                                                            We host and eat later in the day and it progresses at a very leisurely pace. Dessert is often two or so hours after the meal. This drives my mother bats and she often wolfs down her dessert before others have even finished their meal.

                                                                                            Overall, I really like Thanksgiving but there are a few things I dread about it -

                                                                                            Mr. CB's constant anxiety over not having enough food. This starts about two weeks out.

                                                                                            Having too much food. The amount of leftovers is insane. I beg people to take as much as they want (and they are not shy about it) and we still have so much there isn't enough room to store it all.

                                                                                            My mother's social anxiety. And the pacing that starts 15 minutes prior to when the food is suppose to be on the table. She starts circling and fretting that she will have to wait an extra 10 or 15 minutes.

                                                                                            A couple of years ago, we lost a big chunk of our yearly guests to death and a devestating divorce. We took a break from hosting for a number of years. It still makes us very sad that those prior guests aren't with us anymore because they were the ones that enjoyed our hospitality the most and it was a pleasure to cook for them.

                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                              You and Melpy are both cracking me up! So spot on with the central PA turkey day. Though my crew eats kind of late, at 1, hahaha!
                                                                                              I live in Texas and don't attend my crew's Thanksgiving every year, but this is my lucky year :/ I dread everything from the brain rattling shaking of those dinky USAir commuter planes to the blander than bland food.
                                                                                              The thing that bothers me most is the amount of food that is cranked out, and it's just not good. Creamed corn from a can, green bean casserole (you know the one), Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and my Nana's stringy and mysteriously oily pumpkin custard. And I'm not allowed to help cook. At all. I have "exotic" tastes, you see.
                                                                                              At least there is indeed plenty of cheap beer in the garage to blur it all out a bit.

                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                Ah, yes, the "exotic tastes." One Sunday morning at a cousin's house, said cousin said she was making a bagel run and what kind of bagels would we like? You know, the usual kind. Garlic, everything, onion's okay, too. Oh, you like the "exotic" bagels. Huh? She grew up in BROOKLYN!

                                                                                                1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                  Bwahaha! That cracked me up. Exotic bagels?
                                                                                                  On my last visit, I made a simple risotto while helping my brother host Easter, what's not to like? Rice, cheesy, y'know. My mom started into it, made a face, and asked if that was some of the weird food I learned to make in Thailand. I told her that most everyone eats rice, and she replied "well, we don't. We don't eat stuff like this".

                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                    They don't eat rice? So funny! Although I've seen anything with rice at mySO's family either. Risotto is definitely too exotic for them!

                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                      They probably only eat Minute Rice ;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                        My FIL doesn't eat rice, or anything small like rice. I served couscous once and he just passed it up.

                                                                                                  2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                    Yes the fact I am half Italian American half New England meat and potatoes mean my food choices are extremely exotic!!!

                                                                                                    Thanks for making me feel not so alone out there :)
                                                                                                    Maybe someone can help us figure out throw to mesh the PA thing with my foodie family for a wedding of sorts in the future.

                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                      JfR, I have never, and I mean never been served rice as a child. And with a sauce?! That's insanity.
                                                                                                      And Melpy, you are so not alone, we're out there.
                                                                                                      For this "wedding of sorts" I really hope you start a thread! For now, I'm thinking a first nibble should be ham spread on Ritz crackers :D
                                                                                                      But being of Czechoslovak, German, and (get this) native American descent, meat and potatoes is what I know best!

                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                        wow, NEVER having had rice as a child borders on bizarre! I guess its just such a large part of our culture in New Oreans that I cant imagine not having rice now and again at least.

                                                                                                        1. re: twyst

                                                                                                          Oh, I have had it at Chinese take out and such with friends, just never from the kitchen at home. What's funny is that Asian food is my cooking passion, maybe it was the early lack of rice?
                                                                                                          Ok, I'm headed WAY off topic. But I have been thinking of bringing a baked cheesy rice dish to this years t-day just for kicks.

                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                            We also didn't eat a lot of white/brown rice in my house while I was growing up. We'd have wild rice and the seasoned rice packets/boxes, but never just a white/brown rice.

                                                                                                        2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                          Oh there will definitely a post once we get the ring. It is imminent ;)

                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                            alliegator, I never had rice as a child either. For two reasons, I think - we lived on a farm and were poor, so we mainly ate what we grew and in Indiana that did not include rice. Second, my father liked very plain food, nothing "spicy" or "foriegn" and he had a hatred of foods that were mixed together, like casseroles or spaghetti with sauce. So we ate meat, potato and vegetables every day, no rice ever. They didn't serve it in my school cafeteria either, and somehow I never had it at a friends house. The first time I had rice was when a Chinese restaurant opened in our town when I was 16.

                                                                                                            1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                                                                                              li'lmiss: wow, my folks grew up like that. imagine the time I took them to a Thai restaurant that didn't hold back! I still wonder what the heck I was thinking.

                                                                                                              1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                                                                                                My grandmother had a boyfriend (boyfriend?) like that late in her life (thank God she had him). Bud never wanted to be in the kitchen to see the food being prepared. I have a distinct memory of him drenching his saltine infested chicken noodle soup with ketchup. He was an ok guy though, and was good for my grandmother. In her last 21 years she buried her husband and two special friends before Bud came along to see her die on her 86th birthday. We should all be so lucky.

                                                                                                            2. re: melpy

                                                                                                              That's easy! Hold the wedding ceremony at the preferred time (11am, I'd guess?), have a simple luncheon of Lebanon bologna sandwiches on white bread, done by 1pm. And then maybe hold a... "after-party" around 7pm, for those particular crazy types who might be interested.

                                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                Sound like heaven, even though I don't even like bologna! Weddings are a stupid nightmare that everyone romanticizes until they actually have to plan/participate in one!

                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                  Eloping was one of the best choices I ever made...

                                                                                                                  Reinforced by the fact that I broke my foot three days before the wedding. I would NOT have been a nice person if I had to circulate and entertain people. It was bad enough that I had to be off pain meds long enough for my marriage to be legal - I downed percoset between the ceremony and the pictures.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                    I don't like bologna either, I'm just taking a regional guess about what Melpy's new family might enjoy : )

                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                        The "perfect" Central PA wedding menu would be stuffed chicken breasts swimming in yellow gravy, mashed tatters and some sort of veggie cooked to the point of mushy. Buffet style.

                                                                                                                        I would elope.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                          I went to a wedding with that exact menu! The wedding couple were transplanted to MD from PA. An added bonus was the always awesome money dance (pay to dance with the bride) First time I had ever seen that and had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

                                                                                                                          1. re: baseballfan

                                                                                                                            They all have that menu. Unless you are fancy and have a family-style meal with TWO meats!

                                                                                                                            I know that as a dollar dance and it is very common in my area.

                                                                                                                            I was absolutely forbidden by my mother from having a dollar dance. She viewed it as no different then straight out asking someone to give you money.

                                                                                                                            Did the attendents offer shots and/or packs of gum?

                                                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                              A shot would have been most welcome!

                                                                                                                              1. re: baseballfan

                                                                                                                                Seriously! The one I went to was a dry wedding. I believe the groom's father who was also the best man was a recovering alcoholic (or an alcoholic they didn't want to deal with) but I forget the whole story.

                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                  Ah, the alcoholic nobody wants to deal with. We had one, too. It was insisted upon that nobody drink around him even though his breath could easily remove your nail polish.
                                                                                                                                  One of the last things he did in life was fall down a flight of stairs to be found with a plastic jug of vodka nearby, so all that abstaining was not really making an impression.

                                                                                                                            2. re: baseballfan

                                                                                                                              A wedding reception and dance in rural Minnesota where I grew up often had a dollar dance. In my family a shot of whiskey was offered along with the dance. The menu would likely be a whole roasted hog, au gratin potatoes, green beans and some kind of salad. My oldest nephew got married last summer and his reception and dance had none of these things.

                                                                                                                              1. re: baseballfan

                                                                                                                                that's a pretty common tradition in the South, too.

                                                                                                                                1. re: baseballfan

                                                                                                                                  The apron dance (or money dance) is actually a Polish tradition. I have, however, seen many brides who couldn't find Poland on a map adopt the tradition at their wedding receptions.

                                                                                                                                  Funny story (OT)...my brother's bride was very Polish and did indeed dance the apron dance at their reception. My brother had no clue that he was to throw in his wallet and carry the bride out at the end. After a lengthy dance, I asked him when he was going to save her and got "Wait..what? How?". The poor thing would still be dancing if I hadn't filled him in.

                                                                                                                                2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                  I went to that exact wedding: but is was fried chicken and we ate on styrofoam plates with plastic silverware in a lodge a a park and sat on rustic benches. Didn't know anyone but my boyfriend who sat at the head table because he was a "bridesmaid" so I ate with the photgrapher's boyfriend and some elderly ladies who sat on my bench.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                    I have been to plenty of inside wedding with styrofoam plates and plastic silverware.

                                                                                                                                    Many years ago, we attended a wedding where the "champagne" (ginger ale) for the toast was served in those thin paper Dixie cups commonly found in bathrooms, the type used to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                    OK, I'll bite.

                                                                                                                                    What pray tell is yellow gravy?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                      Probably what we call chicken gravy. I don't know how to make it because my gravy is always from pan drippings and the "yellow" gravy is very commercial to me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                        Yes,it is chicken gravy and it comes in an amazing range of yellows. I am sure it comes out of huge industrial sized cans.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                          The color of that "gravy" squicks me out. I also recall seeing it in restaurants when I lived in central PA in the late 1980s.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            We will be at a restaurant this weekend that has a buffet (we eat on the bar side) and if I can take a picture their chicken gravy pan without drawing attention to myself, I will do so and post it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                              Ahhh, determined to bring back my 25-year old nightmare, cleo? LOL

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                I actually can't wait! This is fascinating. I wonder if it will resemble the stuff served with noodles on top of mashed potatoes in the school cafeterias in Indiana in the seventies. Never could fathom noodles on top of potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                  Just tell them it's for your food blog ;) Num num num.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                    I can just hear the response "Food hog?" Why would you take pictures for a pig?"

                                                                                                                                                    We arrived after they broke down the bufffet so I will try again next time.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                          "The "perfect" Central PA wedding menu would be stuffed chicken breasts swimming in yellow gravy, mashed tatters and some sort of veggie cooked to the point of mushy. Buffet style.

                                                                                                                                          I would elope."

                                                                                                                                          So, as the daughter of a Berkeley prof (atheistic) and an even more Berkeley political activist (Jewish) who grew up in a home where drinking was the norm, who married a guy from Central PA, I had to laugh. That was our solution. We got married on a dive boat at sunset, just off the Kona coast in Hawaii. The wedding dinner was overlooking the ocean and included lots of seafood and champagne. No chicken in sight. :-)

                                                                                                                                          but then hubby's response to being from Central PA, as soon as he was out of school, was to get in a car and keep driving until he couldn't any more, because he'd hit Ocean Beach in SF. He was more than happy to continue that tradition by flying in an airplane further (south) west for the wedding venue....

                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                            how very Robert Penn Warren of him. (heh I sorta did the same thing once, only on SW air, knowing I'd end up in the Sunset district)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                              Now that we are engaged we are wracking our brains for what we can do. Eloping is sounding wonderful.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                I can vouch for it,42 years later.My parents were totally OK with it.My future MIL just couldn't leave our engagement alone.Her first born baby boy and all.Some of the "all" was my parents continually working very hard reminding her "it really isn't any of your business" NICELY instead of "just piss off".
                                                                                                                                                Nice small annual dinner party,Bobby Burns birthday,a dear old family friend at the table vested to marry,us with a license,wed over dessert and whisky.None of this was planned,it just fell into place.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                      Nah, I think it should be at 1 or 2 in August in a church with no aircon. Cleobeach already hit the nail on the head with chicken swimming in yellow gravy! Though ham loaf would be a nice option.
                                                                                                                                      The chicken with neon gravy was served at my brother's PA wedding. It was a hit! I was just glad at that point that the bride was no longer angry with me for cutting my hair too short to be fashioned into the mandatory pineapple-like updo.
                                                                                                                                      I advise eloping, like everyone said. I did and it was one of the better choices I've made.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                        Ham loaf! How could I forget that. We attended a Mennonite wedding several years ago and the ham loaf was actually quite tasty.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                      "Dry" and "Wedding".
                                                                                                                                      Two words that really never should meet.
                                                                                                                                      {{{shudder}}}

                                                                                                                                    4. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                      Don't be jealous---but I've escaped!!! No Thanksgiving for me :D
                                                                                                                                      Mr. gator requires a minor surgery on his hip early next week and will need my help. He'll be good as new soon, and I have already begun dreaming up my unique t-day for two menu. I'm thinking some kind of a turkey curry dish...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                        Nigella Lawson has a wonderful cold turkey noodle salad, Vietnamese-ish, that my grown kids beg for.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: lemons

                                                                                                                                          what kinda noodle? cause I stocked up on a load of rice fettuccine at our South Grand store a while back...

                                                                                                                                          will look this up.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                    However hilarious your narrative is, it's so unlike my Centre Co PA thanksgiving! Leisurely family time as we prepped and cooked, with the Macy's day parade in the background. Brussels sprouts right out of the garden and so sweet after a hard frost. I loved and continue to love Thanksgiving - it's one of my favorite days. A great meal, great leftovers, great family time, and you don't have to worry about presents.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ms.M

                                                                                                                                      Your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful, Ms.M. There are a lot more central PA folks on here than I realized---cool to see.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ms.M

                                                                                                                                        There is the geographic Central PA and then there is the Central PA mindset. I think the Central PA mindset extends rather far east of Centre County. Maybe a PA Dutch approach to the holiday is a better way to describe it but according to my Coal Region friends, their Thanksgivings were pretty similar to melpy's description.

                                                                                                                                        We were labelled as "fancy" as opposed to exotic.

                                                                                                                                        I will give my relatives (the ones on my side) credit for happily chowing down on anything someone else is willing to prepare for them. That isn't to say there haven't been comments and exclaimations of "this is different" over the years.

                                                                                                                                        My ILs are a different story. They were invited once many years ago, Mr. CB hasn't extended a second invitation.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                          You're spot on with that, and it goes way east and north of State College.
                                                                                                                                          Perhaps you've gotten "hoity-toity" (sp?) in the past? In my family, that's pretty much anything plated with a garnish.
                                                                                                                                          That's great your family will appreciate and eat up. Mine is just very rigid with how things 'should be'. With the exception of my 90 year old pap, who is very kind and will at least try anything I put in front of him. Who knew the old coot would love pad thai, hehehe...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                            Pap! So PA...wonder if my kids will say that too.
                                                                                                                                            His family is from the Shippensburg area.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                              Ah, yes, the "shoulds". My mother has always been obsessed with the "shoulds" and "supposed to's". She thinks everyone should keep their heads down and just follow the rules, and EVERYTHING has rules, from which foods are served together to what time we eat, etc. What a miserable way to view things! I think that generation views any bit of imagination or creativity as something bizarre and to be avoided!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                sandy - heh I ran across my 'should' Mom's report cards from that era, about the only category she earned A's every term were in Conduct, Stenography and Chemistry.

                                                                                                                                                explained a lot about the meals.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                  There were some really broken things in that generation.......I wonder what's broken in mine?

                                                                                                                                        2. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                          If you're hosting, you call the shots. You can accommodate some of their traditions, but you aren't responsible to accommodate *all* of them!

                                                                                                                                        3. No, it's my favorite holiday. I started hosting about 15 years ago (a huge breakthrough in my family), and that made it even better. Right now, I am living too far away to host, and won't go home for Thanksgiving, so it's just me and Mr. MM.

                                                                                                                                          The meal is a mix of our traditional Southern dishes, some with a contemporary twist, and a few new things. I keep the turkey small, as I prefer to do it on the grill. I have hosted dinner for 18, and still cooked a 14 lb turkey, and it was plenty. That year, I also added a 6 lb red snapper, also grilled. I always do cornbread dressing, green beans (no canned soup involved, just cooked low and slow with onions and bacon), sweet potatoes (no marshmallows), and cranberry sauce (never canned, usually with some garam masala, ginger, and chile added). I am fortunate that some of the more disgusting food traditions never took root in my family. We just skipped that era. My mother, born in 1924 on a farm, predates that crap, so it didn't really didn't ever take hold in my family. She made simple, pure, Southern fare. The kids, of whom I am the youngest, are generally pretty sophisticated about their food. So we like our traditions, but our traditions are quality food, and we are also open to some experimentation. And we go pretty heavy on the wine and booze, which always helps. I don't find it stressful at all, because at this point, I can cook the basic Thanksgiving dinner with my eyes closed.

                                                                                                                                          In my family, Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty much the same meal. Two years ago, it was just me and Mr. MM, and knowing that I'd get all the same stuff over Christmas, I opted out of the traditional meal. I made Paula Wolfert's cassoulet instead, and it was a refreshing change, that still had the prerequisite autumnal feel. I decided then that whenever I wasn't with the whole family for Thanksgiving, I'd go with a non-traditional meal. Didn't get to do that last year, but looks like I might get to this year, and I'm looking forward to it. Thankfully Mr. MM is open to anything.

                                                                                                                                          1. Hi Janet,

                                                                                                                                            I have bittersweet feelings about Thanksgiving. I find myself nostalgic for my mom, dad, aunties and uncles who have passed on and who did everything from scratch and so graciously.

                                                                                                                                            I take joy in watching my husband (and occasional inlaws) take joy in the holiday. He LOVES turkey (I don't), but it's the gateway to the holidays, so it's all good.

                                                                                                                                            Vent anytime!

                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                Same sort of bittersweet experience here.
                                                                                                                                                Three years ago it turns out I cooked my dad's last supper. He passed away the next morning unexpectatly.
                                                                                                                                                So, although I enjoy the cooking for guests, I advise them that it might very well be their last meal. Life is so fleeting.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: zippypinhead

                                                                                                                                                  I lost my dad suddenly following a Thanksgiving holiday as well.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                    Oddly enough, so did my FIL. I never knew him, I met the future Spouse a few months later, but T-day was the last time that the Spouse saw his father as they lived in different parts of the country and Spouse had already flown back home to be at work on Monday. FIL passed away on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                      At the very first Thanksgiving we hosted, my husband's grandfather had a massive stroke at the dinner table (as he and my husband were discussing after-dinner drinks). He was the dearest man I've ever met. He left that day in an ambulance and never went home again.

                                                                                                                                                      Just before dinner, he and his wife were watching their family gathered, playing games and watching football. He put his arm around her and said, "Look at what we did".

                                                                                                                                                      We say that that Thanksgiving was perfect...right up until it wasn't. :o(

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Christina D

                                                                                                                                                        As sad as it is, and as much as you and yours have my genuine sympathy -- I hope we all get the opportunity to be in a room full of healthy, happy, successful children and grandchildren, and have the wisdom and ability to stop and appreciate looking at what we did.