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Talkin’ turkey

The first Thanksgiving we cooked together, November 1994. Note the wedding china has been pressed into service. We ducked out of bigger celebrations for a day to ourselves in the third-floor, downtown Greenwich walk-up where we lived at the time. The menu included my first shot at butternut squash soup, which wasn't half-bad. Note that Basil has NO GREY HAIR!

The annual week’s worth of cooking madness is about to begin.

I’ve got my spatula ready. How about you?

Compared to a lot of folks (like a fellow Jazzercise instructor who’s expecting 40 guests), my turkey madness is pretty tame, a far cry from the annual food orgy I grew up with.

When I was a kid, turkey was the LEAST of what we ate at Thanksgiving. I don’t honestly know how Mom made all that food — or how we managed to eat it! (Or what on earth it must’ve cost!)

The day started with an Italian antipasto; segued into a full pasta course — ravioli (or stuffed shells), gravy (yes, gravy — don’t go there), meatballs, braciole, sausage — before stumbling headlong into the traditional turkey feast.

By the time the turkey, (other kind of) gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish (and the canned kind with the lines), green beans almondine and sweet potatoes arrived, we were, well, already full. It didn’t stop us from filling up our plates, though.

Or doubling up on dessert, with its choice of pumpkin, apple or mince pie (with Cool Whip, natch); nuts and figs. Where did we put it all? And how much Brioschi did the grown-ups down in all those years? We ate like that for many Thanksgivings before finally downsizing. It seems like such a sin now, when so many go hungry.

Our quiet Vanech Family celebration is much more low-key, but not a spartan Charlie Brown toast- jelly beans-and-popcorn affair, either. (Don’tcha love when Snoopy “fights” the lawn chairs?)

Every year we flirt with either something exotic (Basil is itching to try to turducken) or vow to streamline. Still, we lean heavily on tradition, which had me at the grocery store at 7 this morning starting to gather the provisions.

On Thursday, we’ll sit down to the classics: Turkey, of course (Basil is in charge of this); mashed potatoes; gravy (brown, not the red one I woke up smelling every Sunday morning of my youth); stuffing; stuffed mushrooms; a broccoli casserole so laden with calories I gain 10 pounds just making it; green beans (hold the almonds); and cranberry relish (also nut-free). Dessert will bring apple pie and this year a vegan pumpkin pie. (Food allergies make our house a nut- and recently egg-free zone. Yes, I mean the nuts you eat. The other kind of nuts remain here — I can’t get them to move out.)

But the best part of the day will be the chance to power down, relax a bit and just hang out. (Don’t tell, but I might even stay in my PJs all day.)

And, yes, of course I’ll take time to reflect on my numerous blessings — so many of which are easily overlooked as I “push on a rope” each day. I hope each of you has plenty to be thankful for, too.

Happy Turkey!

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


One thought on “Talkin’ turkey

  1. Basil can talk to our oldest son about turducen or however you spell it. Will did the boning and preparation last year. I wasn’t sure it was worth the effort — but then, I don’t care for duck.

    We’re doing family Thanksgiving on this Sunday when the granddaughters are home, then Thursday will be spent with friends. Bill says someone else’s dysfunctional family is always more fun than our own. So true.

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | November 19, 2011, 1:10 am

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