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disasters and near misses Thanksgiving 2013

First I want to point out the "Turkey Day Live" thread in Home Cooking (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/926031.) This is a little more specific so I thought I'd open a new thread on a traditional Thanksgiving theme, the 5th quarter review. It's still early here on the west coast (and at home where I usually am, people are just getting up to begin their adventure. Still, enough time to have a few boo-boos.

I'm in mom's kitchen. She alphabetizes her spices. Ground Cinammon and Ground Cumin are in identical containers right next to each other. She was talking, I was making pie. Fortunately it was the pumpkin pie not the apple pie, so i tossed in a little chili powder and when everyone comments on the spicy flavor I'll just pretend it was a recipe I saw somewhere. Luckily we don't usually put much cinnamon in the pumpkin pie. I won't get into how two cubes of butter ended up on the kitchen floor instead of in the pies. How did your Thanksgiving go?

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  1. I dropped the raw turkey breast on the floor! No one saw. I gave him a good rinse.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Tara57

        I dropped the sausage for the stuffing on the floor. No one saw, and in the bowl it went. Good thing I had just cleaned the floor.

      2. The chocolate whipped cream my man made to top the no-bake peanut butter pie w/salted pretzel crust turned into ganache, as he confused two steps.

        Less of a disaster or even near miss, as I decided to turn that bowl of ganache into pralines rolled in cocoa powder and sprinkled with Maldon flakes.

        Of course, I haven't even started on my appetizer yet (first time cooking with gelatine... uh-oh!), so we'll see how disastrous that comes out :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: linguafood

          Wow! Flub or not, that sounds delicious!

        2. Tried a beet gratin recipe I found on the net. Beets, cream, garlic, feta cheese - but mint in the cream? Okay, I'll try it.

          Result: I'm not taking that dish to the dinner I'm headed to, no way. I have a reputation to uphold, and this is just way not tasty. The spinach casserole and Larry Forgione's pumpkin-buttermilk pudding will have to do.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lemons

            Beets are delicious but so tough to work with. Even if you get everything right the first time someone touches them the juices just make everything look like a mess. …especially if there's something that you expect to be white involved.

            1. re: rainey

              I'd expected the magenta results. It was the flavors that were so unbalanced. Not a pretty dish, to be sure, but beet-lovers expecting it on the groaning board were disappointed.

          2. Not having to do with food really, but my dishwasher damn near went up in flames.

            The heating element burned straight through part of the door somehow at the end of the cycle. I kept walking into the kitchen thinking it smelled like burning plastic or rubber, then walking back out.

            Finally I stopped the cycle to take a peek inside and even though everything was still wet, it was SMOLDERING. Holy cow. I'd almost gone to run errands; really grateful I was still at home.

            Thanksgiving house fire of 2013 averted.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nothingswrong

              Holy molly!!! Not having a dishwasher at T-day is trauma enough without a fire or potential fire!

            2. Near Miss:
              My 10 year old great nephew decided that throwing the football in the dining room, which was set but empty, at 5am was a good idea.
              Luckily, his sister made a diving catch and caught the Waterford which was heading to the floor.

              He has been banished to the children's table (usually for 8 and under) in the sunroom for dinner, and his parents have been invited to stay in the studio over the garage for the rest of weekend and keep him with them.

              Biggest question is who left the dining room and main kitchen unlocked...........

              1. The cranberry-grapefruit relish I made (Bobby Flay recipe) is soupy. It never firmed up. I guess I'll try to reduce it tonight even though the grapefruit segments are already in there. If it gets worse, I'll just chuck it.

                And I'm very happy that we are doing our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and not today because today the sewer line clogged up and we had Mr. Rooter here for an hour to the tune of $365. That definitely would have been inconvenient in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Njchicaa

                  I had trouble with cranberries for years. The taste was good but the consistency not. 217˚ is the magic temperature. And it will take considerably longer than most recipes describe -- *well* after all of the berries have popped.

                  Try taking it's temperature next year. I bet it will make all the difference for you as it has for me.

                2. MIL had to "rescue" my gravy that would not thicken. Didn't turn out tasty but finally thickened. Friend who was there kept singing about how wonderful this was. I kind of wanted to stab her with a fork.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: melpy

                    What was she singing? Impromptu tunes/lyrics like little kids do?

                    1. re: melpy

                      I think a thin gravy is preferable to one that has too much thickener in it. Maybe it was already fine?

                      1. re: melpy

                        My gravy was also watery. Not a horrible, taste but disgusting texture. DH also overcooked the turkey so the breast was totally dry- we need to do some remediation with the leftovers. My dressing was gross to me- I couldn't find the Pepperidge Farms cornbread stuffing to round out the flavor of the PF cube stuffing. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't great.
                        DH made the mashed potatoes, which were the best i've ever had. My Waldorf salad was the best I've ever tasted. Kudos to the granny smiths from Albertson's and red grapes from Costco. People dont rate Thanksgiving dinner by the Waldorf salad, so it's a private victory, but I'll take it, especially in light of the horrible gravy.

                      2. Not a disaster but a bummer. Rolls are huge for us at Thanksgiving and without grandma around I decided to buy from the bakery. They were totally not what I was looking for in a dinner roll, too dry and dense. The rest of dinner was amazing so life goes on and I'll replace the rolls with Kings Hawaiian tomorrow and remind myself not to order them again.

                        1. Not in the US, everyone working, so I made stuffing bread, bought ham/turkey/cheese/cranberry sauce/sweet potato fries and left things plated in the fridge so it would be easy to find. Showed mom and SIL where things were and pulled out the homemade pumpkin muffins.

                          Returned home late, just as people were heading out. Family had seen but forgotten half the muffins and the cranberry sauce. They said they wondered about it and figured I'd just left them to eat dry sandwiches. Probably the funniest part was that they had actually removed the sauce, placed it on the counter, and promptly forgotten it. Ah well. It's the thought and the togetherness that count :)

                          1. The turkey was looking very done but the temp was reading only 75. Check in another hour. Only 88. What is going on? Friend asked if I was sure it was working. I had used it two days prior and it was fine but decided to check my own temp by sticking it under my tongue. It was set to Celsius and not Fahrenheit. Ugh! Pulled my poor bird out when it was at least 190 degrees. Surprisingly it wasn't all that dry. The breast meat was a bit crumbly but the dark was still fine.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ChervilGeorge

                              Ha! Glad the turkey turned out okay though.

                            2. I used a new approach to apple pie. It was touted (naturally enough!) as "perfect" apple pie. It wasn't! The fruit wasn't cooked at all despite plunging the pieces into boiling cider for 10 minutes and then baking.

                              I had to re-bake it after dinner. Messy! in a dish that has the juices leaking out. I'm thinking of making a second pie to take the stink off that experience.

                              I burned the dinner rolls. They were part of my advance prep. I froze the shaped, unbaked, nearly completely proofed rolls in their baking pan. I took them out, thawed them and partially baked them the night before. All that part seemed to go well enough but on T-day when I was distracted, I completely burned them.

                              Oh well, I had homemade sourdough and a braided buttermilk loaf I had made for the leftover turkey sandwiches. They filled in.

                              Other than that, everything went smoothly and came out great. The company was interesting and convivial. The holiday a great success. I suppose, like the deliberate flaw in a Persian rug, the flops are the frame for the successes.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: rainey

                                Agree. Something always ends up slightly imperfect, but it doesn't take away from the night if you're with great people.

                                Since I was a little kid, I've caught a horrible cold or the flu days before EVERY single Thanksgiving until this year (woohoo!). No matter what, my mother always made me come home for the big family dinner.

                                Most of those years I just sat at the table in a foggy daze and barely touched the food (or couldn't taste it), but Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  Sounds like the Worner Family Christmas Curse (my maiden name, it still visits us from time to time).

                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                    I agree. I've been on the couch for 2 weeks with an awful stomach virus and was not excited for Thanksgiving which frightened my mother as it's my favorite holiday but when the day came around my spirits lifted in honor of sharing special time with the ones I love even if I couldn't shove my face full of goodies :) I hope I don't start a tradition of this though, I'm glad that you seem to have broken the spell.

                                  2. re: rainey

                                    My apple pie was a bit of a mess too - I blame it on the apples and the oven. My mother had already peeled, sliced and frozen some apples for the pie - when I asked her what kind they were she said "they're good! They're from Al's tree." Um, not helpful (and who the f*ck is Al?). Anyway, I tasted them and they were at least tart, so I went ahead.

                                    The pie looked good when I got it assembled, and I put it in the oven at about 425 on the bottom shelf to get the bottom brown, but even once the top was practically burned, the bottom remained pale and soggy. The finished product was ok, but the filling didn't thicken up correctly (the apples were watery and I don't think the whole pie got hot enough for long enough) and the bottom crust was a waste. I don't know what is wrong with my mother's ovens, but NOTHING seems to cook at the right rate.

                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      Oh well. I think even a disappointing homemade apple pie is entirely preferable to an overly sweetened commercial one. Besides, it makes a good story for subsequent T-days. ;>

                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        Maybe it was the frozen apples? Were they thawed when you put them in the crust?

                                        If they released a lot of water in the pie, that could be why the bottom crust never cooked well.

                                        Although it could just be the oven. My mom finally remodeled her kitchen top to bottom (after dreaming of it for 25 years) and got rid of her badass looking vintage stove that only had one working pilot light left. The other half of the oven didn't do anything but store extra pans.

                                        She got a new Viking range/oven combo and a smaller Viking convection oven built into the wall. They finished installation the day before Thanksgiving! My mom was freaking out all day about how quickly everything was cooking.

                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                          The apples were thawed, and I reduced the liquid that they had released, so I don't think it was the frozen apples (although they may have released more water when they cooked - they weren't the greatest textured apples). I really think it had more to do with the oven - I had problems with it all week. Really uneven cooking and unreliable temps.