I decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe being between jobs at the moment has left me feeling a bit like a freeloader in the household. Though, on the plus side of unemployment, the dishes and laundry are always done and I’ve been getting to the gym a lot. I’d include a photo of my physique, but this is a post about Thanksgiving food and I don’t want to put anyone off their leftovers!
Ever since I earned a Cooking merit badge in the Boy Scouts by cooking a steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions, I’ve always considered myself a decent cook. I can whip up a dish or two here and there and I have my standbys like cheese sauce and crock pot chili, but if you complimented me on any of those dishes I would insist that I’m not the kind of cook who can prepare a whole meal or keep a group of people alive for very long (I’m nothing if not self-deprecating and also not useful at all if you’re putting together a group for your next nature survival trek).
But whatever the reason, I decided to do it this year and I even found some handy recipes at the local grocery store!
For the main course, I chose a maple-thyme dry-brined recipe that sounded easy enough to pull off. No fancy stuffing, roasting techniques, or anything. I mixed up the thyme, salt, pepper, and maple syrup mixture, slathered it all over the turkey and stuck it in a giant Ziploc baggie in the fridge two days before.
Of course there had to be shrimp! The shrimp were from the store but the cocktail sauce is my secret recipe (I’ll give you a hint, it involves horseradish)!
I had intended to take photos at each stage of the process but trying to get a turkey and three side dishes cooked and finished at the same time consumed all of my attention. I did manage to get a photo of my plate!
Pictured: Chicken Sausage Stuffing, Mashed Potato Casserole, Roasted Butternut Squash with Parmesan Cheese, Spiced Port Cranberry Sauce. Not pictured: Turkey Broth Gravy.
And then I sat down and experienced something I’d heard from nearly every woman I’ve ever known who cooked a huge meal for friends and family; I wasn’t enthusiastic about eating. The food smelled good, looked good, and I had poured myself into the preparation and cooking and I should have been starved, but I just picked at my plate. Don’t get me wrong, everything tasted fine. There was just some internal balance between the effort that went to making it and the taste on my plate that was off. Cook’s remorse maybe?
Anyway, everyone else raved about the meal so I shouldn’t complain. I mean, I should be “thankful,” right?!
Turns out this cook’s remorse thing is short-lived because the next day when I went to make a leftover snack, everything tasted wonderful! And after all, isn’t that the true meaning of Thanksgiving: leftovers!