It’s been a few years since the Lund’s have come up on the family rotation list to host Thanksgiving but it is our turn this year and we’re actually looking forward to it. I am, anyway because I’m not the one who does the serious indoor house chores from the floors, bathrooms and dusting to the tedious task of cleaning the mini-blinds one mini-blind at a time. Now, I can hear some of you saying, you could help Linda with the housework, ya big oaf. Well, I have offered..sort of. The thing is, when she goes into deep cleaning mode, our house becomes a bit like a CSI crime scene and I am truly not qualified to lift up the yellow tape and go schlumping around disturbing things. My job is to do the grocery shopping, help cook and serve the Thanksgiving meal and lead the prayer before we eat. She’s happy..I’m happy and, yes, I know, very lucky.
I’m also happy about the deal I got at HyVee; buy a ham at the regular price, get a turkey FREE. That was over a week ago and I’ve been back to the store a couple of times and a couple hundred dollars since and see the special is still going on with lots of hams and turkeys spotted in people’s grocery carts. Now, most of those turkeys were in the 10 to 12 pound range but I managed to sweet talk the butcher into checking his freezer in the back for the biggest bird he could find and, sure enough, he came out with a 14 pounder which is the maximum weight allowed to qualify for the deal. Now, that along with the 8 pound ham, should be enough meat to satisfy the carnivores in our group although we do have three college-age grandsons with the appetites of lumberjacks but the metabolism of hummingbirds so their stomachs are like washboards.
There will be all the traditional foods for our feast and a couple extra features that have become a tradition over the years; our daughter Patty’s veggie casserole, Doug’s escalloped corn, Linda’s wild rice stuffing and, of course, lefse. (Usually store-bought at the last minute in hopes it will be the freshest.)
The last time we hosted the holiday, I bought a 25 pound frozen turkey and, according to instructions, put it in the refrigerator to thaw three days prior to cooking. Well, it was still hard as as a carp on Thanksgiving Eve so Linda and I spent forever taking turns messaging that dadgum carcass under warm water in the kitchen sink until we finally were able to pull the giblets package out and feel confident we wouldn’t wind up having to take everybody out for Chinese turkey. Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra.
I also learned a long time ago that with a large group of people the Norman Rockwell idealistic view of Thanksgiving dinner with gramma presenting the beautiful browned bird to grampa at the table for carving..just isn’t practical. Unless the old guy is Crocodile Dundee or runs a deli, that bird is going to be ice cold by the time everybody gets a desired slice. I tried it once and it didn’t take long for my efforts to go from encouragement by family members to muffled snickers to uncontrolled laughter. If you, like me, dread the turkey carving part, try checking youtube on the interweb. There are lots and lots of easy to follow demonstrations. Worked for me last time resulting in less mess, more satisfied customers and more intact leftovers.
So, no carving at the table. In fact, we’ve given in to convenience and serve up our entire Thanksgiving meal cafeteria style just like a pot luck church picnic. Sure, by the time the last one’s through the line..the first ones are ready for seconds but it’s just the way we roll.
Linda’s mother, Mary, who passed away a year ago last July, was never a big fan of Smorgasbords; much preferring everybody all sit together at once but as the family grew she realized that wasn’t practical or possible. Part of her compromise, though, was dessert. Mary always provided the most wonderful pies for the feast; Apple and cherry were her specialty but any fruit filling became irresistible with her magic touch and nestled inside those delicious homemade flaky brown crusts. But at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mary would hold those pies hostage. No wolfing down a big dinner, inhaling dessert then going off to watch TV and falling asleep with your mouth open occasionally waking yourself up with a loud snort and then going home. No sir! She would decide when to release the pies, wanting everyone to at least share that part of the meal together. I think she also loved to hear the waves of complements coming in unison from all around the house about how terrific they tasted and how relieved they were to finally have at them.
Linda is making a couple pies this year; lemon and chocolate. Others will bring pumpkin but I doubt anybody in the family will attempt apple or cherry. That’s a pretty hard act to follow. I also doubt if we’ll insist that people wait.
I’m not too sure about the quality of the free turkey I got. I did ask the HyVee guy if I should be concerned about “getting what I paid for” but he said he’s had this brand before and couldn’t tell much, if any, difference. I said, “Put enough turkey gravy on anything and it’ll taste good right?” Ha, ha ha.
Linda assures me that the bird is thawing nicely and there will be no need for late night warm water baths this year. As for preparation; no brining, no deep fat frying, nothing odd and unusual at our house; just remember to take out the bag of innards (giblets) place him on a rack in a covered roasting pan for the recommended time and let it rest for a while after taking it out of the oven. Just remember that rare may be fine in steak but not turkey so I probably tend to over cook the thing but, like I said, gravy covers a lot of sins.
Linda and I send best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving from our little house to yours.