Sunday, November 25, 2007

18 People. 1 Oven. WTF?

I LOVE to cook. And I have a really small kitchen. So when the opportunity came about again this year to host Thanksgiving, I gladly accepted the challenge.

The minute I said I would do Thanksgiving, the “what can I bring?” phone calls started. I didn’t even know what I was going to have for lunch that random day in October, let alone know what I wanted to serve to a crowd six weeks from now.

Finally, though, after many weekends of trial runs of dishes (is it acorn or butternut squash that I like?) I decided on a menu and handed out assignments. Because we had to have two tables (whose dining room table can seat 18? I mean, really?) I told everyone to make two casseroles of everything.

I gladly handed turkey duty over to my mother-in-law. I didn’t know the first thing about cooking a bird, and I didn’t want to learn with 17 hungry people at the table. My mother was on mashed potato duty, my cousin was bringing appetizers, and my aunt was bringing the broccoli casserole – a staple at our holiday gatherings. Dad gladly supplied a case of wine.

Leading up to the big day, everyone kept asking me what they could do to help. My answer became the running joke, “Just the mashed potatoes…oh, and another oven!” Ha ha ha.

THE MENU

Stuffed Mushrooms
Assorted Cheeses
Mini Tomato And Bococcini

Rigatoni With Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Turkey
Stuffed Pork Loin
Gram’s Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Casserole
Roasted Butternut Squash
Cranberry Sauce
Corn Muffins

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Enough food to feed an army, right?

So how did I do it? What’s the secret to serving 9 casseroles of side dishes, two platters of turkey and a large plate of pork WARM to all those people?

Super hot gravy.

And lots of aluminum foil.

It was a loooooong day in the kitchen. And I had no trouble whatsoever staying warm all day long, since Thanksgiving day arrived at a balmy 60 degrees, and I was in front of an oven that had been on since 6:30 in the morning.

In the end, it all worked out. Everyone ate and drank too much, and thought the food was delicious.

My two favorite compliments of the day:

“My God, you are SO organized!”

And

“This pumpkin cheesecake tastes JUST like it’s from The Cheesecake Factory.”

Um, WOW.

I am thankful that everyone was able to be together for the holiday.
I am thankful for my family and friends that love me unconditionally.
And I am thankful that next Thanksgiving is still 362 days away.

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