Yup – we know we're falling down on the job of making you pants-soilingly anxious about Thanksgiving dinner. You know, being all "rational" and "helpful" and whatnot with our recipes and tips for laid-back hosting - so sorry. To make up for it, let's induce some needless panic.
Please share your most entertaining horror stories in the comments below and we'll include our favorites in an upcoming post.
You may now resume rationality.
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My best friend offered to host Thanksgiving one year - and forgot that he didn't have an oven!! (It was a new rental unit.) Another time, we had a bunch of gay friends over who insisted on decorating the table. By the time they were finished, the turkey was cold, and all the rest of us were already drunk from a case of champagne! LOL!
Left the giblets simmering in a pot of water & went out for a little while – came back to a frantic neighbor & a smoky condo. Also, learned to REMOVE THE PAN FROM HEAT & LEAVE THE LID ON! I took the pan off the heat, removed the lid, and added water – WRONG! Smoked up the place immediately – big stink for weeks!
Eatocracy can be summed up in one hilarious book: "Are You Gonna Eat That?!" Check it out!
A little over one month into my sister and bother-in-laws marriage they decided to host Thanksgiving dinner. For most people this is a large undertaking at any point in your life. My brother-in-laws family never had a traditional turkey they always served capon. My sister wanted to continue this tradition so she purchased two of them and she and her husband, after seasoning them and getting them oven ready put them in a disposable aluminium roasting pan. The pan had a pin hole in it and during the cooking process the grease from the birds started to drip out off the pan and on to the heating element. This caused the oven to catch fire! Yes, really the oven caught fire. Disaster, both birds were ruined but my sister did get to use the kitchen fire extinguisher she received as a shower gift. Good thing for great side dishes, because it was a birdless meal for us. She and her husband are hosting Thanksgiving this year. It is the first time since that fateful day almost 10 years ago. I am bringing the extinguisher.
When I was little, my mom had a house full of guests and accidentally turned the oven knob to the automatic cleaning setting, which locked the oven and made it where she couldn't get the food out. Some stuff burned I think. I'm not sure how long it was locked but she somehow managed to make it all work. It probably took longer. I just remember how upset and embarrassed she was. I should ask her how she made it all work. I've somehow managed not to have to host a big Thanksgiving yet. I have a mortal fear of any sort of entertaining...I wonder if it's attached to that memory. Hmmm....
Check out a book called Thanksgiving Tales: True Stories of the Holiday in America! It's a collection of essays from writers across the country with stories of meal mishaps, first-time hosts, memorable guests and other crises and humor from the holiday.
One year my brother and his family came to Thanksgiving dinner and my brother seriously got choked on macaroni and cheese very first bite off his plate. None of us knew how to do the heimlich maneuver. We did what we could to help dislodge the food so he could breathe again but part of it was still stuck in his wind pipe for an hour or more later. He spent the next couple hours in the bathroom trying to throw it up on his own. Our nerves were too shot to eat much after that. Several of us took Red Cross CPR not long after that.
When I was 16 and visiting family in Texas, I was shoved onto the "kids table" with my sister who was 17. We were the only ones there above 5. And there were three empty seats at the other table. At the other table, there were some 13 year olds as well, so WTF.
Try having the pipes burst in the wall while cooking for 14!
Instead of slaving for hours made reservations at a nice restaurant...
first, ya'all have to understand that i am no fan of a traditional turkey inspired thanksgiving feast. i'd rather have pork roast, baked spuds and a green salad. that said- one year i caved. my aunt was bringing her 3 kids, my mother was coming over and given that the travel for them was a bit of a hardship....
so asked what they wanted- turkey, (yuck) mashed spuds,(double yuck) pumpkin pie (gross) stuffing (disgusting) and i had to (parental blackmail) make enough for left overs- they would of course take it all home with them. so i hunted up the time tables of thawing and cooking the bird , consulted w/ mom and..... a thawed bird just wouldn't do. it had to be "fresh" never in a freezer. several phone calls to grocers, i did find a "fresh bird" source in time to order.
the day before the big feast day, i did up the pumpkin pie x2 and a small apple crisp for me, baked the bread for the stuffing ( that box stuff stuff has too much salt ya know! yeah – mom again) i get a nap and go in to work the 3rd shift.
i'm back home by 8am and start working on the timing of the remaining dishes so everything is done when the guests arrive. i call mom- does she know when her sister plans to leave Kansas? it's a 6h drive to my place. uh- no. she will call and find out though. about on hour later auntie calls- her daughter is sick. stayed home from school 2 days. won't be coming. so sorry she forgot to call and tell me. my mom decides to "avoid the traffic" and stays home ( 2 hours from my place) since her sister won't be here.
it's thanksgiving day- i have a 20+lb bird that i have no plans to eat, a crock pot of mashed potatoes, a green bean concoction, 2 orange looking pies and a pan of baked yams, the stuffing and fresh rolls and the cranberries. and i have no guests.
i ate the rolls and called the 2nd shift at work. they were happy to take care of my "leftovers".
i have not cooked a "thanksgiving dinner" since.
Family-The other 4 letter word!
Wow, not to mention time but the cost of that is huge too. How inconsiderate!
we forgot to put oil in the turkey fryer. due to an over-abundance of pregaming with wine, no one could figure out why the temperature on the thermometer wasn't rising until the bottom of the fryer melted to the ground. whooops...
I was fixing my first Thanksgiving dinner (I had moved away from home 6 months earlier) and I didn't know it yet, but I had an internal infection that got worse as the day went on, so by the time my family arrived, I was white as a sheet and my mother took me right to the emergency room, before I even got a chance to set out the food. The rest of the household ate without me.
We had a powerful storm a few years back that knocked out the power in the middle of the afternoon when most families were still baking their turkeys. The local newscasters still bring it up around Thanksgiving! Everyone in the are had to scramble to fix something, most without the light to work by!
I guess that's a great reason to always have a charcoal grill and some camping equipment handy. At least then you can have something for dinner. :)
Two years ago I brined a turkey for the first time and it came out salty. I don't know why I did it, but all the tv cooks kept saying how wonderful turkeys are when you do it. I don't like stuff with much salt in it anyway, and as soon as I tasted it I could taste the salt a mile away. I will never brine a turkey again. We mostly threw it out that year. Every other year it turns out great. My sister has come some years and we have fought, but that is kind of fun!
When you brine a turkey, you have to leave it in for EXACTLY the right amount of time for the size of the bird. You see, the salty water has to go INTO the turkey, then it all normalizes as stuff moves into and out of the bird. If you take it out too early, it will be far too salty.
Try a sugar and water brine, it is much better!
Several years ago, we arrived at my mother's house to find my brother-in-law standing in the middle of the kitchen holding up the oven door by the handle with both hands. My mother and sister were pulling out the over-sized bird and trying to decide how to finish roasting it after the oven door simply fell off! While they discussed the limited options for saving Thanksgiving dinner, Bob patiently stood there, hefting a red-hot oven door that wouldn't go back on the hinges for love nor money. Our family's arrival increased the male, action-oriented quota by 300%, and they helped him wrestle the hunk of metal through the dining room and out onto the brick-paved yard behind the house.
Tom Turkey was smashed into the microwave, and we all braved food poisoning later that day as everyone took small helpings of the most done parts in order to bolster Mother's feelings against the sense of a failed dinner. It wasn't the worst meal we ever had (that's another story), but it was far from the best. My sister and mother went range shopping the next week, and Christmas came off without a hitch.
I selected 'turkey didn't thaw on time' but it was more a case of 'Mom doesn't read the instructions that come right on the turkey or decided they just didn't count.' (My sister has this same disorder.)
Mom put the turkey in the fridge the night before. The next day it still had ice crystals on it was I was washing and preparing it. I was about 14 and had read previously that you don't stick a frozen turkey in the oven. Mom 'knew better' and said do it anyway. Turkey gets put in oven.
Dinner time arrives. Turkey is perfectly cooked . . . to a 1/4 inch depth. The rest is cold to the touch.
Mom carved it anyway and we finished cooking it in the microwave. We didn't tell my sister for years because she wouldn't have eaten imperfect turkey.
I ended up the ER with a kidney stone. Not a pleasant Thanksgiving
One experience while going to my other half's sisters place for Thanksgiving. I walked in with a made-from-pumpkins pumpkin pie and I asked if they had whipping cream. They announced that they had Cool Whip. Yikes, you are not putting Cool Whip in this pie. We're going to get some. Found some whipping cream at a 7-11 store. Put it on the counter and the young lady asked me what it was for. I told her that this is what you made whipped cream out of. "Is that how they do it?" she asked incredulously. Back in the kitchen I gave a lesson on whipping cream to a bunch of wide-eyed pie-eaters who never knew that there was anything other than Cool Whip.
BTW, Cool Whip is not much more than Crisco and Sugar. Not very appetizing.
I prefer real whipped cream, but I still LOVE Cool Whip!
1. An aunt brought her dog (she didn't have children and her dog was her child) and proceeded to let it eat at the table, from a chair. My mom got disgusted, (along with everyone else) and there was a huge fight.
2. My grandpa, the alcoholic, got drunk, as usual and then threw up, on the table.
3. My aunt, a different one, brought a friend, who berated and insulted the entire family and all the food the entire day, until my mom started a fight with her. Not a fist fight, but even if it was a fist fight, it wouldn't have surprised me.
That's just three instances. And yet, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday. It is actually my favorite day of the year.
Kat, I can totally understand why it is still your fav: I would treat it like it is both dinner and a floor show, but that's just me when I am full of Thanksgiving! LOL!
I was renting a house with a solar water heater. A pipe above the dining room broke open above the dining room table just before we served Thanksgiving dinner. The ceiling started to sag, then drip, then it burst open spilling hundreds of gallons of water onto the table. Fortunately, the foot wasn't out yet. We got the water shut off, cleaned up the water, reset the table and had a most interesting topic for discussion during dinner. I'm thankful the pipe didn't burst an hour later.
Best / worst thanksgiving: Us guys decided to have two meals, one for just the guys before thursday, then one on thursday with our own wives / girlfriends / families. We got all the fixings, put a 17 pound bird in the oven, and turned on a football game. Three hours later, I found that the oven had gone up to 500 degrees and stayed there the whole time. Miracles do happen, the bird was properly cooked for the most part, but not a single side had been started. We ate turkey and white bread for our supper, and skipped preparing anything else.
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