The thankless job in the kitchen | AspenTimes.com

The thankless job in the kitchen

Janet Urquhart

I hope next week’s Thanksgiving guests at my house have something other than the invitation to dinner for which to be thankful, since I’ve been nominated to handle the cooking.I’m envisioning a multicourse affair – whenever something happens to be ready, we’ll eat it. Items will appear randomly in the buffet line – maybe the obligatory cylinder of can-molded cranberry sauce as an appetizer, giblets at noon, mashed potatoes at some point later, and so on. Gravy will be the final, possibly lumpy course, unless my pumpkin pie turns out better than last time. The Pentagon may be interested in my pie crust recipe. Its impervious surface could play a vital role in our national defense.Maybe I’ll just make mincemeat. Everyone will decline a slice out of fear of the mystery “meat” and they’ll never know whether it was edible or not.To say we’re inadequately prepared for dinner guests is putting it mildly. We own four plates and two chairs, but there will be five people. Nothing like inviting people to dinner and then requesting they bring their own dinnerware. We should slip in other innocuous requests, as well. “You’ll need to bring a chair. Oh, and could you bring a roasted turkey while you’re at it?”Yes, while others are hitting the slopes on opening day Thursday, I’ll have my hand stuffed up a turkey’s butt, trying to pry still-frozen giblets from the fowl orifice while I place my third call of the morning to the Butterball hot line. I need to ask the experts if my prior use of the turkey baster to pick particulate matter from the hot tub is problematic.Turkey is a given as the entree, but what else we manage to produce from our brimming cornucopia remains a matter of household debate. We have yet to agree on whether it’s “stuffing” or “dressing,” let alone what kind to make. It has been suggested that I whip up a batch of cornbread on Thanksgiving morning so I can then proceed to make cornbread dressing. I’m advocating the kind you pour out of a bag and mix with hot water, just like the pilgrims did.Who first came up with the idea of stuffing wet cubes of bread inside poultry, anyway?Far more brilliant is the traditional green bean casserole. I’m a big fan of the bean thing, if only because it’s a dish that’s virtually impossible to screw up. The most technical aspect about it is the operation of a can opener. And, it has those irresistible, crunchy onion things. They’re a bigger mystery than mincemeat. How can anything be that crunchy and that greasy at the same time?Anyway, I’m pretty sure I can have it ready in time to coincide with the opening of a bag of dinner rolls, thereby giving our guests an opportunity to sop up remnants of cream of mushroom soup with the bread course.They’ll be thankful for the sustenance when it turns out the turkey won’t be ready for another three hours.I’ll be thankful that Thanksgiving comes just once a year.Janet Urquhart is thankful for turkey sandwiches. Her e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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