My mother always drove herself nuts when holiday dinners rolled around. She would cook all day. And back in the day, when we were all young kids, a 27 -28# turkey was the norm. We had to eat dinner by 2 or 3pm because my father would leave about 7pm to get back to the woods for deer hunting.
So, she'd get up at 2 am, get the turkey in the oven by 3am and spend the rest of the day, peeling, chopping, cooking, mashing, and getting the table finery ready. One year, my grandparents decided they were coming to our house for dinner.....don't get me started. Suffice to say, if tranquilizers were the norm, Ma would've needed a whole bottle. Thank goodness there was beer or wine to cut the edge.
Of course, pies were baked the day before. Insight is a good thing.
So, for my 48 years of preparing my own family holidays, I did what my mother always did. As the years went on, and the kids disappeared for other venues, the turkey got smaller. But somehow, there were always others to take their place. Other relatives and friends who found themselves to be alone were always invited and welcomed to our table.
Also as the years progressed, I've begun to lose interest in cooking and baking. Holidays have now become a drudgery I would just as soon leave to someone else. But I don't. I salley forth.
Last year, something was going on. Maybe I was in the middle of Christmas preparations along with Thanksgiving. Maybe some people didn't know if they were going to be here; maybe there was a danger in the weather. Anywho, it occurred to me: "why not prepare most of the dinner and put it in the freezer?" Just about everything can be frozen. Everything. Except the mashed potatoes and maybe one more fresh veggie side dish (green beans).
GENIUS!!! So, I spent the week before preparing candied yams, butternut squash, 2 kinds of stuffing (we now have a vegetarian in the family......), cranberry relish and roast turkey. Even the gravy is made and frozen. Come Thursday, it all goes in the oven to warm through (except the cranberries, of course). The potatoes are peeled, cooked and mashed, green beans done. Table is set beautifully as we await the family.
I do have to say, the only way this can really all be accomplished is because we have 2....yes 2.....freezers; a big upright and a big chest. If only my mom had freezers. Even 1 would've eased her crazy cooking day.
So now, on Thursday, I will have time for a glass of wine or 2....3....how many glasses are in a bottle, anyway? Don't have to worry about something burning or forgotten about. At 12pm, the wine starts flowing. My daughter exclaimed one year, "Mom, wine already....it's only noon." And you know the standard response:
"Ahhhh, but it's 5:00 somewhere!"
4 weeks ago