How the last two days have gone:
The one story I will share right now is the tale of the gravy . . .
Two years ago when I made my first Thanksgiving meal I didn't think much about the gravy until the moment was upon me. The result? I failed and I failed miserably. It was greasy, slimy mess of inedible goo. Luckily I added enough freshly roasted garlic and butter to eliminate the need for gravy.
This year I decided to plan ahead. First, I bought one of these. Surely a gravy separator would magically result in the perfect gravy. Then I studied recipes such as - some of these, this one , even martha's turkey gravy 101 and the recipe on the gravy separator box. I thought I was well prepped for gravy making but Wednesday afternoon after some hesitation I added a jar of mushroom gravy to my cart at the last minute - just in case.
The trouble with making turkey gravy is it is essentially the last bit of work that needs to be done before sitting down to eat. The table was set, the turkey was resting, the twice-baked sweet potatoes and stuffing were warming in the oven as the rolls finished baking. I was directing kitchen traffic to get everything to the table at the same time. I enlisted my brother Nick to help me out. Nick is a terrific cook in his own right and we generally make a great team when we pair up to make a meal. I consulted various directions and instructed him to pour out the juices (and set them aside) and then bring the bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan to a boil to loosen up the crispy parts. It sounded gross to me but everyone reassured me this is what gives the flavor. Nick stirred and stirred and we watched the fat separate in my nifty new toy. But the various recipes were telling me conflicting instructions and people were asking questions about serving dishes and utensils and lighting the candles and I was trying to get the green beans cleaned, snipped and steamed.
I mixed up some milk and cornstarch and we started another pot with white gravy (something I know I'm capable of making). Unfortunately we continued consulting the recipes and added the nasty strained bits to the white gravy and although after far more time than anyone wanted to pass, it thickened and began to resemble gravy.
Anxious to eat, we poured it into my beautiful new gravy boat. Right as we were about to all sit down, I decided to taste it. It was DISGUSTING! Grosser than gross. It tasted like I had just licked the bottom of that nasty roasting pan with the carcinogenic bits clinging to the pan. I immediately dumped it into the nearest container in the overflowing sink and pulled out the mushroom gravy and heated it up as Nick finished carving the turkey. So happy I didn't trust my gravy making skills.
The best part of the failed gravy experiment was after dinner when we finally pushed ourselves away from the table and returned to the kitchen. My friend Bryan was the first one to the reach the sink with me - mainly because I forbade anyone from bringing anything in from the kitchen until after we cleaned it up out of a fear that we would drown in all the pots and pans and plates and bowls. As Bryan and I assessed the sink, I regretted my decision to dump the nasty gravy into the dish topping the tower in the sink. Jason claimed it looked like Thai peanut sauce so he was fine with it but Bryan got queasy and said "I can't look at it anymore" as he walked out of the kitchen. For whatever reason this struck me as the funniest thing I had heard all day. I started laughing and I couldn't stop. Tears streamed down my face and my over-stuffed stomach ached as I doubled over as my guests questioned my sanity. Eventually I composed myself and got rid of the chunky, pan-licking flavored gravy.
Luckily I redeemed myself with a juicy turkey, perfect sweet potatoes, buttery rolls and fantastic pies (to name my personal favorites).