How Thanksgiving Reminded Me I’m Not An Idiot

I hate to cook.  I’ve probably mentioned this before.  It’s not something I’m terribly proud of, in fact it’s something that I always kind of bothers me because my husband ends up doing most if not all the cooking around here.  Every year when living away from home I’m plagued with a dilemma.  I can either cook the kind of holiday dinners I’m used to from my family or I do nothing and the day is just like any other.  This is because Kevin doesn’t like holidays and actively treats special days like any other day where as I am a fanatic for holidays.

I grew up with holidays being kind of a big deal.  My family isn’t religious, and never was, but even Easter was an occasion to have some kind of family gathering.  Birthdays were always an occasion for some kind of dinner event – often pizza from the pizza place we only ordered from on “special occasions”.  That place was always my favorite as a kid because the pizza didn’t come in a box, it actually came in a paper bag!  The bag was constructed like a tent over the pizza.  They had the best sausage pizza…hmmm.

We had cookouts for any kind of long weekend during the summers, special dinners for the traditional holidays, and it seemed we were finding new reasons to have some sort of food-centric gathering all the time.

First world fat girl problems for sure!

With all of these things came the development, or reinforcement, of family traditions.  When our Christmas dinner changes from ham to Italian when I was in my 20s I almost lost it.  “What do you MEAN chicken parm and macaroni and gravy for Christmas!?!?  Where the fuck is the HAM!?!”  Eventually I got over it and started contributing stuffed shells to the dinner.  But Thanksgiving has been the same dinner since I can remember.

Kevin doesn’t like tradition, along with not liking holidays, but being away from home has been hard these last few months.  It hit me in September and now that the holidays are here it really is hitting me just how much I miss home, especially since I wont be going home for Christmas this year because we’re moving back to the beach in two weeks.  So Kevin might not like tradition but I do and I wanted to do my first Thanksgiving, even if it would just be us.

But let me remind you of my problem…I don’t cook.  However if I wanted Thanksgiving I would have to make it work on my own.

I knew Kevin was expecting that I was going to rope him into doing a chunk of the cooking but I refused.  I insisted I do it myself since I was the one that wanted it.  If you follow me on Pinterest you’ve probably seem me pinning recipes almost daily for at least a week while I tried to figure out what I could make that Kevin would like but that would also remind me of home.  Not to mention figuring out how to cook a meal like Thanksgiving for just the two of us.

I decided on a menu after getting what could be considered as approval from Kevin:

Sage Rubbed Roasted Turkey Breast
Cheesy Spinach Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
My Nana’s Stuffing
Gravy, Rolls, and yes…jelly cranberry sauce {Kevin and I both agree it’s the best}
And for dessert, Apple Pie Cookies

After meticulous planning, 3 trips to the grocery story in two days, and some crash course cooking training by watching videos on YouTube and doing a lot of reading on Martha Stewart’s website, I was off and running!

I had to make my Nana’s stuffing the day before because it’s a pain in the ass.  It’s not your standard Thanksgiving stuffing.  It’s an Italian sausage stuffing that my great grandma got us all started on.  I had to have my aunt halve the recipe for me because normally when she makes it there’s enough to stuff a turkey and bake in pans to feel 10 people twice over.  What’s in it you ask?  Just a few simple ingredients…

2lbs Italian sausage
9 eggs
1 loaf of stuffing bread
1/4 cup romano cheese
a few tablespoons of parsley

That’s HALF!!

I made it the day before so it could all mesh in the pan overnight in the fridge, but also because my grandma and then my aunt have always made it the night before so in my mind there’s some magic in it being made the night before.

Then yesterday morning I got up and started on everything else.  The spinach casserole was pretty easy but I had to chop and dice veggies which I suck at, but thanks to Julia Child I did a pretty good job with the onion for a change!  Sweet potatoes couldn’t be easier…cut ’em, boil ’em, add a little things and mash ’em.  Put it in a pan, but nummy marshmallows on top and bake away.

Gravy I’ll admit I cheated on and used a jar of store bought gravy and I used “take and bake” rolls.  But it was still fantastic!

Pie cookies…I changed my mind and just made a freakin’ pie.  I did a caramel apple pie which was great because I got a chance to use my super cool pie plate I bought last fall at Target.  YUP!  The chick who doesn’t cook {or bake} bought a pie plate over a year ago just because it was cute and hadn’t used it once until yesterday.










In the end everything was fantastic and I timed everything right.  I was especially happy that it all fit in the oven together when it needed to!

I was reminded by all of this that I’m not an idiot.  That anything I say I really want to do I can do if I just say “fuck it, I’m doing this!”  I’m very good at telling others that they can do anything they want if they set their minds to it but I’m not so good at taking that advice myself much of the time.  But here I was, with something I’ve said “I don’t do it because I can’t…I suck at it” and I did it without stress, pretty much with a smile on my face the whole time, and in the end with something that exceeded my expectations!

This helps especially with the “no, you’re not an idiot” reaffirmation because it’s cooking!  For the love of all things holy, COOKING…something most people do on a daily basis  I can write and publish a book but I can’t cook a dinner.  Or at least that’s what I thought, but I proved myself wrong.  AWESOME!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!!

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  • Linda Ursin
    November 30, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Even thought you hate cooking, I’d say you can cook. Other people might follow the same recipe and instructions and end up with a mess. Personally I like cooking, I just hate the clean-up afterwards. Pretty much the only meal I do something big about is my Yule dinner. Otherwise I keep it simple.