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Holiday Hysterics

Ok, I'll start this, but I want to hear that I'm not the only one with history on this...

Some of my holidays have been fun-loving Americana..most have been some sort of mildly entertaining nightmare involving embarassing comments from over-lubricated adults and well-meaning relatives.

The funny ones are not so easy to remember. I have 2 good ones though:

1. The first year we were married, my husband and I were housesitting, and I didn't realize that the oven was on the fritz. I pulled out the gorgeously browned turkey after several hours, wondering why the little button hadn't popped up, only to discover that only the 1/2" closest to the skin had cooked! We ate as much as we could.... why we didn't get sick I will never know.
2. One year, I asked my MIL, who was visiting, if she would do the honors with the gravy. I had an 8 cup measure filled with stock and fat that I had just poured off the pan. She got some water, some flour, and a little bit of the fat... and that was our gravy. She poured the stock out. She hadn't cooked in so long, she was completely off the mark! I hope she's not reading this - don't know if she would think it was funny. Guess she never had watched her mom make the family's famous gravy,,

Other mildly entertaining tales of woe in the holiday kitchen??

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  1. one holiday, i cooked a goose and while it was resting, i realized i'd neglected something at the store and just HAD to run across the street for it.

    was a dog-owner at the time, so put the goose, still in the pan, on top of the fridge.

    was gone less than 10 minutes.

    dog had eaten the entire goose, including the carcass, and most of the disposable roasting pan. dog was fine and we ordered pizza.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      what type of a dog did you have that could cimb a fridge??!! (beyond smart, that is..)

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          We had a portable dishwasher that had to be moved across the room and hooked up to the sink when I was growing up. It was huge and weighed a lot and was very hard to move. When our Chihuahua was young, we used a large screen to block the kitchen doorway and keep him in there while we were gone. One end was secured between the fridge and the wall, the other behind this dishwasher.

          Well, we came home from running errands one day and as we drove up we saw the dog sitting on the back of the couch in the living room window.

          When we went inside, the dishwasher was moved about ten feet away from the wall into the middle of the kitchen and the screen was in the dining room.

          We never figured out how the four-pound dog did this.

          Not a holiday story, but certainly a heroic dog story.

    2. My mom still thinks that's how gravy is made. She has always taken burnt grease and added a flour and water slurry and too much pre-ground black pepper. It tastes like burnt grease and uncooked flour and cheap pepper and nothing else. The idea of stock or broth was always beyond her.

      1. I had one friend try to help strain the stock for gravy once - except she kept the turkey neck, gizzards,boiled vegetables and bouquet garni and strained the broth down the drain!

        ended up precarving the turkey and using the bones for a quick quick gravy...

        8 Replies
        1. re: Tokyoite

          I gave detailed instructions to my brother one year on how to cook the giblets, etc. I'm just very lucky I happened to be on the phone with him and he asked what to do with all the hot liquid and vegetables since he didn't have a garbage disposal!

          1. re: firecooked

            He was lucky! I left for a brief moment and could only look on in horror when I re-entered the kitchen!

            1. re: Tokyoite

              We were both lucky... I was going to his house thanksgivings day!

          2. re: Tokyoite

            "... and strained the broth down the drain"

            I gotta admit I did this once and I KNOW better. this is why I need a 'cooking station of isolation', so the endless chattering and second-guessing doesn't get me derailed. (drain it into a pan, not the sink and mince the giblets into a softly cooking roux - see how easy that is?"

            1. re: hill food

              I think everyone who cooks much has done this at least once. Goes with the territory!

              1. re: hill food

                I have also absentmindedly done this with pasta water that I wanted to use for my sauce, takes a second before the shame sets in and when it does, it likes to stay and have a chat with my shot nerves!

            2. My tale of woe is also oven on the fritz related... Not my first turkey, but the first thanksgiving with both my mom and MIL, and a turkey that just would not get done (and my MIL reference for a done poultry is balsa wood). Finally, My DH escorted both moms out of the kitchen, the breast was pretty much cooked except right at the bone, and the legs got put in the microwave. And he is still my DH....

              6 Replies
              1. re: firecooked

                Yeah the oven not working is hard to get around. Mine ran out of propane halfway through and I only realized it a half hour before the guests were arriving. They were panic striken when they heard the news (my husband's side; if mine had come they would have had a good laugh at my expense!) They were telling me, put it on the BBQ! Microwave it!

                Not on my watch! I too was panicky, but I poured myself a drink and went down to the basement, got out all my old catering equipment and transferred the turkey to one of those electric roasting pans (when finished, they said it was the most tender turkey they ever had), got out the electric Sabrett cart with the four insert pans and put the (luckily pre-prepped) veggies in there, the potatoes in the crock pot, and the tabletop butane stove for the gravy.

                The next day, I fired the propane company for letting me run out (not the first time!) All's well that ends well, I guess. That was the only glitch I ever had in 35 years of making Thanksgiving, so I guess it was bound to be a doozy!

                1. re: coll

                  a tale of grace under pressure! WELL DONE!!!

                  1. re: rmarisco

                    Oh thank you. I freaked out at first, but then something inside me kicked in somehow. Hope it's like that if I ever have a more serious problem!

                  2. re: coll

                    Those old electric roasters are brilliant! I'd been wanting one mounted on the metal base and found one at a yard sale for $5! It lives just outside the back door under a garbage bag, and gets called to duty several times a year for cooking fowl or roasts. Our name for it, of course, is R2D2 …

                    Not actually a holiday meal, but our second annual Labor Day White Trash Picnic saw the water smoker run out of heat somehow two hours before showtime, and the pork shoulder was very far from pullable. R2D2's cover was pulled off, the cord deployed, a little water poured in the bottom of the pan and the shoulder placed on the rack. By the time we were setting the food out I was pulling the pork into tender, moist shreds, trying hard not to "sample" too much.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      This is VERY good information. Time to pull it out of the basement for experimentation purposes. Someone gave it to me many years ago, and I think that was the one time it got used. Not sure what it's expertise is, braising I guess?

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Man, I wish I had one of those old floor model roasters.

                  3. Last year was my first hosting Thanksgiving. Per request, I was making the typical sweet potato casserole w/ the marshmallows on top. I guess I had mine too close to the broiler because the marshmallows burnt to a crisp in about a minute. So there I was scraping and picking out bits of burned marshmallow right before dinner.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: juliejulez

                      Hm, that's a problem? My grandpa used to say the sweet potatoes weren't done until the marshmallows caught on fire... :)

                      1. re: juliejulez

                        Two years ago I spent three days getting Thanksgiving dinner together- even made a green bean casserole from scratch, with fresh green beans and mushrooms and fried shallots on top, etc. I went all out, but the only thing that anybody remembers is that the damn shallots caught fire in the oven when I was crisping them up right before serving them.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          ahhhh... thanks, i needed that laugh. We each have something in the kitchen for which we will be remembered (against our will.) some of us have more than one. my most recent was setting the oven to broil instead of bake for the turkey. My that was a pretty bird, worthy of a magazine cover. And raw almost all the way through.

                        2. re: juliejulez

                          Your sweet potato casserole story reminded me of a story my mother told. Many years ago we were at my paternal grandmother's house for Thanksgiving. My grandmother told my mother to put the miniature marshmallows on top of the sweet potato casserole. My mother asked her how she wanted it done (I think how many marshmallows) and my grandma said, "you know, fancy like". My mother said she didn't know fancy, and my grandma said "why not, you got fancy husband"!

                          My mother had a good laugh.