Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful Planning

It's less than two weeks from the epic gorge-fest that is a Thanksgiving meal at our house.  My family's German, we say "I love you" with food.  We say "I'm sorry" with food.  "Please could you..." and "Thank you for..." get more food.  Yeah, I should probably try talking more and eating less, right?  It's just the way I was taught, and changing that is hard.  I try, but it's hard.  It's far easier for me to ask about a favorite dish and make sure that it's provided than to hold an awkward conversation, so anytime that I cook a meal there's been as many palates as I can manage to pull together.  There's vegetarian and meat-filled, highly processed and made from scratch organic, traditional and exotic, and everything in between.  Dwight always joked that I "cooked for the Russian and Slobovian armies" when we had family or friends over, and I did (well, do, truth be told).  This is totally ironic because when it's just the three of us, I try to cook just enough since he refuses to eat leftovers.

So this year we get to host the family dinner.  With another of Dwight's siblings having joined us in Kent, the older brother in Los Angeles not coming out, and the sister being gone for the holiday, it made sense that festivities happen in Kent.  I would happily have let the younger brother and his wife host in Kent, but this makes sense.  The important thing- I'm cooking here where I'm comfortable and have good tools instead of driving 4+ hours and cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen.  Yeah, aspie tendencies much?  Ah, well, I try, and can't do much else.

And honestly, I'm looking forward to this for the first time in a long time.  There won't be any chemically-smelly things to drive me mad, there won't be as big a crowd, there won't be hours in a metal box on wheels, I won't feel trapped, and this year I won't be pumping (I might look like this in celebration).  Possibly the nicest thing- a far smaller selection of dietary demands to be dealt with.  I'm actually looking forward to cooking a small meal.  Relatively speaking.

Of course, this poses its own challenges, namely, breaking habits.  I have to pare down the menu, and that's an interesting proposition.  Lack of youngest sibling means no Stove Top stuffing and no bag of egg noodles (YEAH!), home made noodles are a real possibility.  Father in law necessitates mashed potatoes, but can handles real potatoes.  Mother in law is coming in later for dinner, so baked brie, crackers, crudites, and munchies can wait until the evening (or do I serve them twice?  Decisions...).  Still have to have the Can-O-Berries, but I might be able to also swing real cranberry sauce.  Missing older brother in law means far less turkey needed, and I can be more creative with the bird. Local sister in law is Chinese, so do I have some Asian fare as well, add some Asian flare to traditional dishes, or just keep it traditional?

Of course, the big choice is do I go traditional or do I have fun (but make more work)?  Turkey, noodles, and veggies are non-negotiable, but endlessly variable.  My favorites are green bean casserole, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, and roasted root vegetables.  Decisions apparently don't end on election day, let's just hope that these decisions are less contentious and less stressful.

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?  Any ideas or suggestions?  How do you celebrate?

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