Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude, for all of life's blessings, and the lessons learned in our failings.
Some of my personal "failures" from Thanksgivings (and other holidays) past:
- the "turnip" pie. I cooked my pumpkin filling in the same pan that I had previously used for cooking mashed turnips. It was an aluminum pot which absorbs flavors and odors. The whole pie-eating experience was tainted with turnip overtones.
- The Rancid Turkey Fat Disaster of 2011. It was late Thanksgiving night, when I was cleaning up the kitchen from our feast. I had a tall, narrow container of turkey fat/liquid sitting on the counter, with a long spoon in the jar. I reached over to get something, and knocked the whole container over, spilling onto the counter, into a partially opened drawer, all over me and onto the floor. I used every rag in the house to clean it up, along with a couple of bath towels. I threw the whole mess into the laundry room, and added my turkey fat-soaked clothes. I forgot to deal with this until early the next week, when everything smelled like rancid turkey fat. I ran a load of wash, adding additional clothing to the load. After washing, everything in that load smelled like rancid fat. I rewashed everything 3 or 4 times, on hot, with extra detergent. Many items came clean enough, but one sweatshirt and one t-shirt never came clean of rancid turkey fat. I wound up throwing those two items out, as I couldn't wear them without detecting the faint odor of rancidity.
- the too-tough-to-cut-with-a-knife pork roast that I served to my son's girlfriend's parents, for son's GF graduation. I had one opportunity to impress my son's girlfriend's parents -- this one dinner. They live in Shanghai, so it's not like I can invite them for a do-over. I planned this menu very carefully. I really did work hard this day, trying to make everything perfect. But I am lousy with cooking meat. That's just me. I have a good thermometer. I just have bad timing. The pork roast came out so tough, I cringed as I watched our guests work at cutting it into bites, then work further at chewing it all. In the end, they did say that they liked approved of our son, as a BF to their daughter. So, I don't think we ruined his future with them. Maybe I'll get a do-over another year.
- the gravy with more lumps than liquid. I was newly married, and invited my grandparents over to dinner. I made a roast with gravy. I had only made gravy a couple of times before this occasion. My gravy, literally had more volume in lumps than liquid. My grandmother came to my rescue, however. She asked if I owned a sieve (mesh strainer). I got it out, and she showed me that I could push the gravy through the mesh, and make something almost respectable, for gravy. Fortunately, we do get better with experience, and my gravy has improved over the years. (hint: if your gravy looks insipid and pale, use soy sauce to add some flavor and color to the gravy.)
- scorched mash potatoes, burnt green beans, cold coffee served to guests, and more blunders, yet we survived. Holidays are not about perfection, but about celebration. Have a happy holiday, no matter what goes wrong!