Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm Not Cooking This Year

It's quiet in my kitchen right now. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

I generally have the privilege of doing Thanksgiving every other year, and this is not the one.

I won't be waking up at 5 AM to saute onions in a LOT of butter, cube Wonder bread that's been getting stale on the table overnight (no other kind will do), mix in the sausage and Bell's poultry seasoning (no other kind will do), dump a turkey out of the brine bucket and shove as much stuffing as possible into the cavity--after Checking It Twice to make sure that all Bags of Miscellaneous Icky Turkey Parts have been removed, and finally put the bird in to bake.

The very first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner was the year I was in graduate school at Notre Dame. We only had two days off, and I had no money for a plane ticket home to New Jersey. My sister was working, so she had money for a plane ticket to visit me. Two of my three roommates would also be staying, and we planned among ourselves to cook a Thanksgiving feast in our little on-campus apartment.

We rounded up a few friends who also did not have the chance to go home for the holiday, among them an international student or two. Then we divided up the dishes. I don't remember what was served that day other than turkey, because the turkey was MY job! My grandmother wrote down the recipe for her famous stuffing and mailed it to me at school.

At 5 in the morning I woke up to prepare the turkey. I was a little slow, because I was new at this, but the job got done and I didn't wake any roommates or houseguests in the process. Then I sat down at the dining room table with my cup of tea, and proceeded with my daily ritual of translating 50 lines of Beowulf, as I dared not go to that class unprepared--there were only 6 students in the class!

I basted the turkey on and off all day. My roommates prepared their parts of the meal. I can't remember where we all sat, or how many we were, but we had a great time and a very good meal.

Having been diagnosed with bronchitis on Monday, I appreciate the "bye year" this year, and I know that at my sister's house we will be fed wonderful food and enjoy the company of many relatives. But I still miss the gift of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

I'll have to take comfort in baking the obligatory "Granma's Rolls," which deserve a post all their own.

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