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Holiday Hysterics

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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: rmarisco

        a very determined one. :O

        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: coll

                Yup.

                1. re: JMF

                  And I will be there again.

              2. 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.

                        3. Once upon a time, my Uncle Dick, who had a *bit* of a drinking problem, was sent out to fetch the Thanksgiving turkey. Apparently he took a *little* detour, because he never showed up...and there was no turkey for Thanksgiving. The next morning, he was found sleeping it off in his car...and the turkey was in the back seat, where he had considerately put a blanket over Tom, to keep him warm.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: mwhitmore

                            Ahhh, the relative with a drinking problem...
                            I've never really had any huge holiday mishaps, but we also had that uncle. My grandmother insisted no alcohol be served at holidays because of him, so you have to stand around out in kitchen or garage to drink out of view. It was fairly annoying because everyone knew he was still drinking. The truth about that one came out when he later died of cirrhosis O_o

                            1. re: alliegator

                              is it always drunk uncle?

                              once when i was very small we drove to my father's sister's for thanksgiving. driving rain, awful traffic, we got a flat, the hubcap ran away, my parents were fighting.

                              way pre-cell phone era, so we couldn't call mid-car crisis.

                              we were late.

                              my uncle was roaring drunk by the time we arrived and furious about our tardiness.

                              literally pitched my father down a flight of stairs.

                              not my favorite thanksgiving.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                OMG how small were you? I hope young enough that you don't actually remember this in your memory bank.

                                1. re: coll

                                  there is a picture of me from later in the evening wearing a football helmet and "playing" a guitar, lol, so it's not a repressed memory, no.

                                  meh. not painful though, just an early exposure to a mean drunk and served as a good life lesson to never become involved with somebody who was one.

                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Not always. In family, drunk aunt. I got clued in the time I accidently picked up her water glass and took a sip - pure vodka.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    In my case not always. I believe he was a slow and steady drinker. Never mean. It's just that he had convinced everyone he wasn't drinking.
                                    I'm so sorry for what you had to deal with that year. What a hard thing to un-remember.

                              2. Not T-day, but a turkey and a chicken involved anyhow.

                                1) When we were engaged I was going to spend Yom Kippur in the fiance's/our future apartment. I put up a chicken to roast for the pre-fast meal and went about doing other things. Check back on the chicken in however long and it's still raw and the oven is cold. Fiance had lived in that apartment at least 4 months and hadn't realized that the oven didn't work. No choice, so we microwaved the chicken. Major yuck.

                                2) A year later and we're newlyweds at the BIL's mom's house for Hannukah. She swears that the precooked turkey is just that - precooked - and only needs to be heated up. Asks the Spouse to do the honors carving and we discover that yes, the turkey is indeed precooked and frozen solid. She apparently neglected the part about defrosting the bird before heating it up. Microwave to the rescue again. We took turns chipping and shaving bits of frozen turkey and heating in the microwave.

                                1. Both of these are Thanksgiving related -

                                  1. We host Thanksgiving, it is Mr. CB's favorite holiday. A couple of years back, Mr. CB was making mashed potatoes in a huge bowl. He overworked the electric hand mixer and it blew apart, as in the plastic housing exploded. He found all but one large, cream colored piece. We served the mashed potatoes anyway (that is how my family is) and offered a door prize (wine) to whoever found the missing piece. My cousin won.

                                  2. The one and only time my ILs came to our house for a meal was Thanksgiving 15+ years ago. They are an awkward couple and family relations were strained long before I came along.

                                  Mr. CB always cooks enough to feed an army, ran out of oven space and decided to cook the extra stuffing (in aluminum pans) and yams on the gas grill in a small gratin dish. His mistake was filing the dish to the point of overflowing with maple syrup. The whole affair quickly burst into flames, causing my MIL to go into a screaming, crying fit. She seriously had a mental brake over this and could NOT settle down. Mr. CB calmly threw the flaming pan into the yard and I poured more wine for the two of us. It was their first and last meal at our home. (My husband's choice.)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                    I love the door prize idea, that's the way to do it!

                                    And your in laws sound a lot like mine.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      We have a door prize at Thanksgiving. Whomever gets the peanut butter pierogi wins the prize, usually a cheap bottle of wine.

                                  2. For past several years, have been doing T-Day with brother, sil, and a lot of her family. REALLY nice people but a bit Kitchen Klueless!?! I asked... what needs to be done, as dinner hour approached. My brother was in charge of the bird... yummy as always. Was told I could do gravy and quickly handed a few JARS of "turkey gravy"?? Something TOTALLY foreign to me... especially with a roasting pan of nice brown stuff to start with. They weren't even gonna USE it?? Got them to FIND some flour and a container to shake it in with water. I was declared the QUEEN of GRAVY that day!?!

                                    Over 20 years ago, sister had recently gotten a goofy yellow lab puppy and came up to PA from VA for turkey with our Dad. After dinner, we all headed up the road (maybe a mile) for dessert with his sister and rest of family. Since pup was only about 12 weeks old, she planned to leave her in small bathroom. She took rug off floor and towels off rack. Closed toilet seat and took everything off the top of tank... tissues, etc. We figured place was puppy-proof and worst that would happen would be an "accident" (or 2) on a tile floor... easy clean-up anyway. We were gone maybe 2 hours or so. As we pulled into Dad's driveway, we could hear the puppy HOWLING away!! Somehow she had gotten up on toilet lid and INTO small sink nearby!! We just hope she hadn't done that the minute we left the house!!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: kseiverd

                                      I had a similar gravy issue with the in laws last year. They finally finished the turkey and then panicked because they hadn't bought any gravy packets and didn't know how to make it. They were amazed when I saved the day with some flour and water.

                                      1. re: jw615

                                        I know, it's sad. I don't want to be a snob, but gravy didn't always come in packets and jars. it's not brain surgery, it's just rocket science.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          And I'm not very old at all - but gravy never came from the store for me - my Mom always made it from scratch, and adult onset food allergies mean that store bought options are not for me.

                                          Besides, my gravy is WAY better than anything that you can buy in the store.

                                          1. re: jw615

                                            jw - I have NO doubts in that. there are few absolutes in this world I can rely on but unless it's just salty vile goo (and there are ways of fixing that), any old lumpy heartfelt gravy is a treasure over the alternative.

                                    2. When I was a young teen my mothers business partner said she would bring over the turkey for Thanksgiving. Well, even at that age I knew she was a flake and didn't trust her cooking. She was into tofu, whey powder, etc. way before the rest of society was. This was the mi-70's. I cooked up around 6-7 side dishes, and a small 10 lb. turkey with the excuse that I wanted leftover turkey for sandwiches. Well, she came over on Thanksgiving with a huge turkey. I smelled it and said something was wrong with it. She huffed at me and ate a slice. Then immediately got ill. She had heard about roasting it for 20 minutes on high, then overnight on low heat. Well, the turkey had browned a bit but I think then she turned the heat off overnight. Damn crazy lady could have killed us. I was so glad I made all the side dishes and turkey.

                                      This same nut job several times brought over leftovers from when her parents ate lobsters. Just the carcasses with legs. No claws, tails, meat, nothing. My parents were too polite and said nothing. the third time I lost it and told her off.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: JMF

                                        Sounds like a seriously sick individual. Do you still know her?

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          Yes. She isn't as clueless nowadays. She means well.

                                          1. re: JMF

                                            We all did some stupid and embarrassing things when we were younger.....hopefully I'm finished with that now!

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              Yes, that we did. But she was in her 50's at that time.

                                              1. re: JMF

                                                ok..but she was still younger than she is NOW!!!

                                        2. re: JMF

                                          You cooked up 6-7 side dishes when you were a young teen? That's pretty impressive. I think I was still in the mac-out-of-the-blue-box phase.

                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                            I took over all the family cooking by the time I was 10-11. My mother couldn't cook, and worked full time. My uncle was art director for a major magazine and he sent me their whole line of cookbooks. Several dozen, and I made my way through them.

                                            I also had some of my friends Italian and Jewish grandmothers and they taught me a few things as well.

                                            When I was 16-17 I had a small private chef business catering and doing small Park Ave parties. I almost didn't graduate high school because I had so many missed days of school from working. I did that off and on until I went to college eventually. But my main job as soon as I turned 18 became retail wine sales and store management for a few years.

                                            I never tried the mac in blue box until when my nieces and nephew were young. Nasty stuff.

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              That's awesome. I wish I had been more interested in cooking at that age.... I remember reading cookbooks and liking to help my mom, but I didn't really get into making things from scratch and experimenting until my early 20s.

                                              Yeah, if you grew up on real food, I can see Kraft being pretty revolting. We ate a decent amount of boxed meals (Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-roni, etc) when I was a kid, so it just tastes like childhood to me.

                                              I do cook better now. I promise. Usually....

                                          2. re: JMF

                                            I had a coworker who made a simillar turkey every year. She got the recipe from a "natural" cookbook. High heat for about a 1/2 hour, slap a wine-soaked cheesecloth over the breast, turn off the oven and and let sit there overnight. She made it every year and, as far as I know, none of her guests got sick. She'd get really pissed off when we would ask her if she was serving "salmonella turkey" again that year.

                                            There again, my grandmother would leave the stuffed turkey on the table so we could have sandwiches 4 or 5 hours later. No one died. That was a long time ago.

                                          3. Once cooked a turkey at about 250-275 overnight. It was falling apart GOOD with plenty of good brown GUNK in roasting pan for gravy. Pretty sure it went into oven STUFFED... but nobody got sick!?!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: kseiverd

                                              Ack! Turkeys should not be cooked via the low-slow method. Doesn't kill the bacteria or something.

                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                that turkey calls for a re-read of "The Accidental Tourist"

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  Good book. Better than the movie, but then which book isn't?

                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                    I will say the movie did a darn good job of the awkward Thanksgiving day (inedible) dinner.

                                            2. I've written this before, but think it bears a re-visit on a bizarro Thanksgiving invitation at the home of newly-immigrated Indians. They asked that we arrive about 11 a.m. "for a full day of festivities," and that we bring just a couple of bottles of wine and some sodas (maybe 6 people had been invited).

                                              When we arrived, she asked "when should I take the turkey out of the freezer?" (Uh, 3 days ago?) Her hubs dang near chain-sawed the frozen behemoth into bits and she shoved them into the oven with "Indian seasonings." Hours later, natch, it was still turkey popsicles.

                                              I suggested the microwave. She still had to hack bits off and nuked 'em. They ended up beige. She had a great sense of humor about it all, and we did have great fun socializing (and drinking). I made our Thanksgiving the next day!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: pine time

                                                Good for her for trying and having a sense of humor about it.

                                              2. My grandfather is asking, literally right now if it's normal for his ears to tingle during orgasm. I am in the bathroom trying to hold in my giggles while posting it here. Does that count? (It's Canadian thanksgiving)

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                  It's ok, LF. Happy thanksgiving!
                                                  My grandfather lives with me known and observed that it's odd I grew boobs because no other woman in our family had. And other such things... it just happens:)

                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                    Don't know why there's a "known" in there. Auto correct from noticed?

                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                      I speak fluent AC, I knew what you meant!

                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                        AC from now?

                                                    2. re: LexiFirefly

                                                      tell him at his age to just be happy he has them.

                                                    3. I do the sides, spouse does the bird. Spouse forgot about the giblets one year and cooked the turkey with the giblets still inside, wrapped up in the nice little package. Fished it out at the table, right in front of the guests. Had a good laugh.

                                                      Last T'Day, I was wearing a very pretty gauzy scarf around my neck while cooking (trying to look nice for guests), but leaned too far over the gas burner and it caught on fire. It burned pretty quickly and I just had time to rip it off before it got close to my face. Lesson learned!!

                                                      1. First thanksgiving - invited my husband's aunts (his closest family left alive) - tiny NY kitchen and apartment - carefully cooked large turkey - slanty floor - opened oven door and roaster and bird slid out onto floor - husband's aunt calmly said: we'll pick it up, slide it back in, and never notice a thing. I loved my in-laws dearly! she never said a word and ate a big portion. I've been married 52 years now and miss those ladies still.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                                          Love this story! Nice inlaws are a rare find...

                                                        2. I'm sure I'll have some to add after Christmas, my mom is coming!! She never willingly boards a plan to visit me, ever, but her dad now lives with me. We do not have a good relationship, but I will try my best and and cook a meal that says "if you just try and practice, anyone to can learn to cook". A nice pork loin dinner is coming to mind. Provided my stove doesn't explode or some such thing.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                            I used to have an exploding stove. Apparently the pilot light for the oven didn't work, so the oven would slowly fill with gas until it started to escape out the vent, which was close enough to the pilot for the burners to catch. There would be a loud boom, the oven door would fly open and flames would shoot out half way across the kitchen. Lighter items, like the dinner rolls emerged as flaming projectiles. It was really quite entertaining, my dinner guests were duly impressed. Not so much the gas company or the landlord when I called both the next day. Killjoys.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              Wow!! I am very impressed!! It must have be quite a sight :)
                                                              The motor of my fridge already caught fire this year, so I think I've used up my share of kitchen "holy shit!" moments for a while.

                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                I am in tears at your description. Talk about grace under fire (of flaming projectiles)! The picture you describe is just too funny :)

                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  And that's why you cannot purchase a gas stove with a pilot light, since 1983. I know this because we just recently purchased a new gas range for our cabin. We have no electricity up there, so a gas range with electronic ignition won't work. We could light the stove burners by hand. We could also light the oven by hand, but once it gets up to temperature, it shuts off and would have to be lit again. I'm not sticking my hand into a hot oven and attempt to re-light the oven. We had to choices, we could look around for an old range with pilot light (and who wants to clean up a 30 year old stove/oven?) or, we could buy a 'cordless' range. We have done the latter. It takes a 9 volt battery to power the electronic ignition. It will be nice to have a new range however.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    good to know, although I think it also has something to do with energy conservation. yeah, how much gas does a pilot light burn right? but hey, until recently they wanted to totally ban incandescent light bulbs. i mean really, who is going to try to light a factory using incandescents?

                                                              2. Almost had a disaster at this weekend's (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner. Just as we had put out the appetizer, the table started to collapse! BIL, sister, niece and I held up the table while Mr. S whisked everything off. It could have been much worse, as we hadn't started eating yet, or poured the wine. Ended up getting cozy at a card table and a couple of TV tables.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                  Ah, those Kodak moments.

                                                                  1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                    I always worry about that with our table. It is only braced in the center, no legs at each corner. And I have a lot of people who like to rest heavily on the table.... You should see how it leans. :/ I'm always afraid everything is going to slide into their lap!

                                                                  2. One time before Hannukah dinner, my step brother wanted to help my mother make latkes. He managed to drop a whole potato down the kitchen sink drain. Instead of taking it out, he turned on the garbage disposal. This caused some major problems with the sink (I think it was completely clogged, not water until it could be fixed.) My step father was able to find a plumber who was willing to work on Christmas eve. He got it fixed, but we had a pretty late dinner that year.

                                                                    We weren't kids when this happened - I think my step brother was in his mid or late 20s at the time.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: 4X4

                                                                      My parents had to find someone to pump our septic tank on Christmas one year. That was an expensive night.

                                                                      1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                        New Years Day, many years ago, I was feeling the not so great after the prior night's festivities. Mr. CB was left unsupervised in the kitchen.

                                                                        He put peels from 5 pounds of potatoes down the garbage disposal. Minutes before my parents and step-bro walked through the door, the kitchen sink clogged.

                                                                        My father was a plumber in his younger years and both Mr. CB and step-bro are in the construction business. They found the clog, took a saw to the plastic drain lines and re-routed the free flowing lines it into the sewer lines and patched all the connections with rolls of duct tape. It held us over until the next morning.

                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                          don't you just love that everyone has a part during holiday family festivities?!

                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                            Our first Thanksgiving in the house. We had closed on it in July or August. We had three guests. I had not done any big cooking in the kitchen yet. So I am going about my preparations. The usual peeling, chopping etc. My husband went down to the laundry room to get something. He called for me to come down stairs. there was garbage all over the laundry room floor. In Indiana at that time there were no full disclosure laws and the problem would not be found in a whole house inspections. It turns out that the plumbing for the kitchen sink to drain into the washing machine drain. It backed up and spilled out of the pipe the washing machine drained into. That plumbing was a common practice when this house was built. We rarely use the disposer any more. We have had the problem repeatedly. It made for a pretty messy Thanksgiving evening.

                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                              I have taken apart the pipes under the sink to unclog the vegetable peels enough so they no longer go down the drain.

                                                                              A few years ago my niece was staying with my mother while my father, brothers, and I went on a fishing trip. Why my niece cooked three pounds of angel hair pasta I'll never know. Why she put the leftover pasta down the disposal is a mystery as well. That much pasta makes about a six foot plug of glue in the pipes.

                                                                              We too decided a plumber wasn't needed. It did take considerable effort with the snake to clear the pipe however.

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                in a community kitchen i know of the people were not accustomed to using a garbage disposal. they would cram as much into it as it would hold, turn on the switch, and when they thought it was all ground up they would turn on the water and try to flush it down the drain. Not exactly a recipe for success in so many ways. Used correctly the peelings from a couple of vegetables, or the scrapings from dinner plates isn't a problem. After peeling 10 or 15 pounds of potatoes for a thanksgiving meal for the whole family, not such a great idea. Use LOTS of water, get it moving through the pipes and before you start pushing food down there, and keep the water running for a few minutes afterward. You will cut your problems considerably.

                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                  ...and no pasta, as I learned last year. Swells and beautifully seals even the most pristine pipes!

                                                                          2. re: 4X4

                                                                            One Easter I made carrot cake, and the carrot peels (after going through the disposal) plugged up the sink. DH pulled off the trap, and dumped it in the garden. Looked like the Easter Bunny had a few too many...

                                                                            1. re: 4X4

                                                                              The day after Thanksgiving is supposedly the busiest day of the year for plumbers, as so many people clog their kitchen drain pipes with congealed fat from the gravy, skin, etc. We live in a house that is more than 100 years old and there have been at least 2 Thanksgivings when we ended up hand-washing all of the dishes in the laundry room because of a backed up kitchen drain that prevented use of both the DW and kitchen sink. Fortunately the utility sink in the laundry room drains separately. (And I now have the "trap" in the driveway, which is the source of our drainage problems, cleaned out prophylactically in advance.)

                                                                              1. re: 4X4

                                                                                These stories make me glad I don't have a garbage disposal. We had one when I as a kid in Arizona, but they don't seem to be very common where I live now.

                                                                              2. I was reminded of this thread when a friend asked me for a recipe and I went rummaging for a cookbook. Jeff Smith's "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" was my companion for my first Thanksgiving in my house - 25 years ago, as a new mom and homeowner. I invited the lot of my family, as we were pleased to be new parents and homeowners. Smith's sherry and butter injected turkey sounded wonderful as a dish to serve our families in our new home.

                                                                                Why didn't I know that injectors could gum up so irretrievably? I was busy in the morning, injecting a 26(!) lb turkey with a combination of butter and sherry, when the whole thing (the injector) burst. I was covered in sherry-butter. The floor was covered in sherry-butter (I slipped on this mess and had a bruised tailbone to show for it). The cookbook was covered in sherry-butter. I said, rubbing my greasy butt and needing a shower to get the sherry-butter out on my hair, "into the oven." Dinner was well received, but the mess was an unholy greasy one.

                                                                                My Frugal Gourmet cookbook bears the scars. After 25 years, it still smells like rancid butter and stale sherry, vaguely, and has the grease stains of an injector explosion to mark its history.

                                                                                ETA: the grease stains start on page 261, the turkey recipe. FWIW, I have never used it again.

                                                                                 
                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                  love it that you included a pic of the book. too funny

                                                                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                    ok I'm not much for keepsakes... but I would totally keep that book forever. What a great story! hope you had a good chiropractor!

                                                                                  2. My first Thanksgiving in Texas, and the first with my new in-laws. They did not trust me with any significant piece of the meal (little did they know!) but I offered to bring an apple pie. In my new kitchen, I had created a masterpiece - flaky crust, topped with a little apple-shaped cutout and leaves decorating the edges. It was baked to perfection, and Dear Husband said it was time to leave ... turning the new-to-me stove off, I dashed to the bedroom to finish dressing. Within about 5 minutes my nose told me that something was very wrong - indeed, I had turned the oven to BROIL instead of OFF, and the whole top of my beautiful pie was black. This was back in the day when Paul Prodhomme was serving "blacked redfish" so we were going to tell his family we'd made "blackened apple pie" but thought better of it. Luckily there was a bakery open on the way to his mom's house ... the next year, they suggested I bring crudités.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                      That is such a sad story.