Thanksgiving is in exactly 3 days–or maybe 2–yeah, I’ll admit it. I don’t remember if you count today or not. Or count the day of the event or not. I’m calendar-impaired, okay? Anyway, it’s less than a week until the big feast. If this strikes fear in your heart, you’re not alone. I’m scared too. But fortunately, in all my years of burning turkey, I have come up with some handy advice for avoiding Thanksgiving Dinner Disasters.
- Do not under any circumstances watch Food Network, Martha Stewart or any PBS series dealing with cooking during the month of November. Let’s be real here. We’re talking about shows that feature gourmet cooks and professional chefs producing perfectly basted, juicy, golden brown turkeys from $15,000 ovens. That’s not going to happen in your house. In comparison you are cooking a Cornish hen in an Easy Bake Oven.
- Have a backup plan. Let’s face facts. Not everyone can cook. But on Thanksgiving even the most inept of us (that would be me) attempts to cook something. And for some (again, that would be me) whatever is cooking is bound to either burn or cause severe gastrointestinal problems that may require an ambulance.So a backup plan is always good. I like to keep my freezer stocked with approximately 57 frozen turkey dinners. If the worst thing happens—and it will—I can always pop those suckers in the oven, bake for thirty minutes, scrape the food onto plates and pretend that I made dinner. Don’t worry if it tastes like a frozen dinner. In my case, that’s probably a good thing.
- Defrost your turkey early. I cannot stress this enough. I speak from experience when I tell you that nobody will believe that you purposely didn’t defrost the turkey so your family can enjoy a new sport called Turkey Lawn Bowling. But if it helps, the year I invented this game, my turkey creamed the competition.
- Keep in mind the old adage about lemons and lemonade—or in this case, turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner. For example, if the turkey burns, I recommend standing in the middle of the kitchen, smiling proudly as you look down at the burning bird, then yelling “BAM” and announcing that this year you are kicking it up a notch and serving blackened turkey Cajun-style. It just might work. If it doesn’t, remember, you still have 57 frozen turkey dinners to bake.
- Do not under any circumstances serve Brussels sprouts. I don’t know who brought these horrible vegetables to our country, but I’m convinced it was an entire nation of people that hated us. There is no other reason for Brussels sprouts to exist, unless it’s so that all the people at your Thanksgiving table can use your heirloom napkins to hide them in.
- Remember that you are the boss of the turkey. Even though you have never carved anything bigger than a skinless chicken breast, you are the boss of that turkey. And nobody else has to know you are afraid of carving either. Just stand tall at the head of the table, wave around a big knife and then yell, “hey, is that Aunt Helen streaking across the driveway?” Everyone will believe you when you say you were so disturbed by the sight of Aunt Helen in her birthday suit that you stabbed the bird repeatedly and messed up the carving. Frankly, they’re all going to be so relieved that they missed seeing her in all her glory that they won’t care what their turkey slices look like.
- Do not worry about decorating the table. Sure it would be nice to have a cornucopia centerpiece that brims with all those horrifying Brussels sprouts, but who has the time? You have a turkey to defrost and frozen dinners to bake. Just have the kids make construction paper turkeys and place them in the middle of the table. That way you can set them on fire if you need a distraction when the dog grabs the turkey off the counter and runs out the back door with it. With all the flames and the firefighters and the blaring smoke detectors, nobody will notice when Fido rips the legs off the burnt bird.
- There is a reason Marie Callendars makes pies. It’s so that you don’t have to do it.
Of course, if all fails, you can do what I do. Have your husband cook dinner.Add me to your rss reader | Become a Fan on Facebook!