Monday, November 30, 2009

A Preppy Thanksgiving... i.e. What happened to the turkey?

A circa 1980's Thanksgiving meal on Tybee Island with yours truly sippin' sweet iced tea:

This year's Thanksgiving has come and gone and... this year...

...I made the meal. Yes, that's no typo! You read it right. Shocking though true, I actually cooked the turkey, several side dishes, rolls and so forth and had the table set n' ready n' candles lit by the time James came back from helping out at our church's community meal.

Well, the turkey was really only a large turkey breast and both James and I had prepped a lot of the side dishes the night before but heck, for once I actually had a holiday meal all ready-by-myself. This was a big deal for me though I'm sure it's quite nothing at all for others. But you see, the way I grew up, none of the women in my family cooked. Period. In Georgia, there were other people cooking for our family as well as cooking for my extended families' households. After we moved up north when I was in fourth grade, um, we either "did canned soup and sack lunch style sandwiches" or Dad took us all out to dinner after he got home from the office. Needless to say, I loved being over at my various girl and guy friend's houses whose mothers were great cooks and even might have fresh baked cookies awaiting us after school. Gee wiz- how neat was that?! Stay-at-home mothers that cooked? Wow... My mother, bless her Southern Belle heart, was usually still in her impractical at-home wear playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon unless of course she had played tennis that morning. Then she'd be in her tennis togs playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon. She'd finally get dressed for the day right before Dad came home- funny that eh? haha

And meals featuring turkeys were quite interesting after we moved up north and mother was attempting to fix a festive meal oh, at least three or so times a year. I remember her calling our next door neighbor Mrs. Foley to ask what the little bag was tucked inside the turkey that she had bought at the grocery store the first year we transplanted ourselves from Georgia to the great white North. I also remember an experiment with her placing slices of bread on the outside of the turkey (for goodness knows what) as it cooked and the truly decrepit looking result that had my brothers and I losing our appetites long before the carving of said sad bird. Then there was the cook-it-in-a-paper-bag fiasco where the kitchen smoked-up. Oh my.

I guess then that I shouldn't have been too surprised when, trying to find a picture to post of a past Thanksgiving meal, I could only find this one here of some of our family at the Tybee Island beach house circa mid-1980's when I was about 15 or 16. That's me sipping what I know could only be super-sweet iced tea while sharing a table with my father, two brothers, grandmother, aunt, cousin and a baby which I think is one of my second cousins. My aunt who married into our family could cook and so I'm also quite sure that the food featured in this photograph features mostly her cooking.

There was one dish however that my mother contributed every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal that was a hit and still is- a praline sweet potato side dish. It is absolutely delish and one of my husband's favorites and so, but of course, I made a big batch of that this past week.

I inherited my late mother's love of reading cookbooks but I smartened-up big time by marrying an incredible classically-trained chef who does wonders in the kitchen! I've happily played sous chef and clean-up crew in our household for almost two decades now. However, this particular Thanksgiving, it was so neat to see the delighted surprise on James' face when he walked down the hallway from the front door and saw that his meal at home had already been home-cooked for him. He had been expecting to finish cooking it himself once he returned from volunteering at our church but lo and behold, a Thanksgiving miracle happened indeed.

Next year... who knows, but at least for one year in my life, I managed to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself with not a motley, encrusted slice of bread on the turkey in sight.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone...

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