PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Holiday meal too much pressure

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OK, I admit Thanksgiving was a failure on some level. Doing something different always has its challenges and expectations, some which cannot be anticipated.
As I wrote for Thanksgiving Day, the menu was varied and expansive. My good/bad. What I failed to mention – so nobody would break into my house – I was at my sister’s house in Pensacola, Fla., preparing for the big day. Oh, your poor sister, some of you are saying. That would be correct. But first, please say, “Oh, poor you.” Yes, poor me.
Of course, I had to haul all manner of cooking devices, recipes, utensils and receptacles, as well as The Grandpup’s stuff and my stuff. I got there on Sunday, went to the grocery store on Monday for the first of three trips, then began holiday food preparations in earnest Monday afternoon. Yes, for three straight days, I stood in my sister’s kitchen prepping and cooking the my-fault massive menu.
My sister followed my instructions to acquire a large turkey for our large turnout. She was successful at 26.44 pounds, which I failed to anticipate how heavy it would be at 4 a.m. Turkey Day as I hauled it myself from her backyard storeroom refrigerator fully loaded with savory, briny water.
If a cubic foot of water weighs 7.48 pounds, that puts this load pushing 40 pounds. My wonky, hyper-extended elbow still reminds me of it. And if I’d realized it would take four hours for the bird to cook, by temperature, I’d have gotten up at 3 a.m. and started the monster an hour earlier.
Frankly, the completed meal – which I down-sized for lack of cooking time – was fabulous. Turkey, creamy sweet-potato casserole, green beans, squash, ham, key lime pie and more. Delicious, as were the compliments.
But never, and I mean never, will I stand in somebody else’s kitchen for three days on a lovely Mexican-tile floor and work against the clock to feed 20.
Usually, when we’ve had these joyous occasions, the guests come to my house. It’s small and crowded, and that’s why my sister and I agreed to the movable feast.
My original plan allows me to cook along a little at a time, first with the dressing, then casseroles etc., so that there’s very little pressure to get it done in a compressed time frame. Also, my blessed sister is a neat-freak who doesn’t cook much. So, my relatively messy activity in her newly redecorated kitchen across multiple days was unsettling, to say the least. My sister is so neat that her stove repairman complimented her on how clean her one-year-old stove was, “like it’s almost never been used,” he observed.
Even though my brother also deep-fried a turkey, we barely had any leftovers, which made the gastronomical holiday even more delicious.
My hosts got grumpy and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough by Saturday, when the final family guests departed. My sister and I hugged as I prepared to push north toward home. “I’m sorry you and I were the only ones who didn’t have a good time,” I told her. By the time I got home for the Alabama-Georgia kickoff, Bonnie and I collapsed onto the couch and didn’t wake up until half time.
Next year, I’m buying a counter-top roaster, which will free up the sole oven for other necessary purposes. And so, God willing we’re all still alive, Thanksgiving 2013 will return to The All-America City and we’ll just cope with the tight quarters.
It’s all about family and keeping the cook happy anyway, isn’t it?
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com (662) 678-1596. Follow her on Twitter @realnewsqueen.