After last Thanksgiving’s fiasco, my mom threatened to not have family Thanksgiving dinners anymore (she can be such a drama queen sometimes). She replied with an “I don’t know,” when asked if we will be doing dinner.
So here is a little background on what happened last year….
As usual (as I have been doing for the past few years… 2013 / 2014), on Thanksgiving 2015, I did the works….a dinner of the Thanksgiving classics (turkey, ham, mashed yam, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, stuffing, green bean casserole…….and the not so traditional lasagna, only because it’s always requested). And my mom did her usual Korean dishes.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I had come home after a long day at work. And then I had yada yada things to finish at home. So I don’t think I got to start the preparation until around 12-1am.
The first thing I did was take out the turkey from the fridge to let it sit for a bit, to ensure a more evenly cooked turkey. The turkey had been dry brining in the fridge for days, preparing itself for maximum juiciness.
While the turkey was sittin’ and relaxin’, I got to work on preparing the other stuff. I started with the pumpkin pie. I cubed some butter, threw it in the freezer while I mised out the other ingredients. The butter cubes got icy cold in no time, all ready to be cut into the flour mix. I mix dough the old school way, with two forks until the dough comes together. Lindsey of American Heritage Cooking does a great job of demo-ing just that (She uses knives, as most people seem to do when doing this. I prefer forks lol) ! After it came together, I threw it into the fridge to let it chill and allow the gluten to relax.
Oh yeah, and my brother’s birthday was around that time too. I was making a Cookie Monster cake for him, so I remember making the chocolate chip cookie dough that night (then wrapped up, threw in the freezer, and baked days later).
After all that dough making fun, I turned on the oven and the fun times began. While the oven was getting warmed up (all ready to be used and abused), I threw in lasagna noodles into the boiling water I had going. While that was going, I made the filling. I don’t do anything fancy with the lasagna. It’s a pretty basic, uber-cheesy recipe that I’ve been using for years. I have tried venturing out into more *sophisticated* recipes, but apparently, my brothers seem to find more comfort with the lasagna that they grew up with. And it has Ragu sauce as one of the ingredients…. So how much more basic can it get, right?
So, when the sauce and noodles were ready, I assembled and then threw them into the oven. I also seasoned a couple of ginormous yams and threw those in as well.
On the stovetop, I had turkey stock and cranberry sauce going. While all that multi-tasking madness was already going, I started cutting bread to be used in the stuffing. I had the Korean style milk bread from Paris Baguette. I seasoned that a little bit, and into the oven it went with the others.
When the cranberry sauce and croutons were done, I laid down and watched TV, hoping that I wouldn’t fall asleep and burn the place down. The turkey stock, I attended to as it simmered for hours and hours, skimming along as needed. How do you like to make turkey stock? I usually add the goodies that come with the turkey (stuffed inside), mirepoix, and some herbs (in cold water). Then, I simmer it for hours. The stock is then used later in gravy at the end. For the stuffing, I prefer to use chicken stock (which I store-bought).
When both the yams and lasagna were out of the oven, I got to business and in went the turkey, the star of the show. While that was happening, I rolled out the dough onto the pan. I lost all my pie pans, so I just use a cast-iron skillet (so versatile) for my pie needs now. After I rolled it out, back into the fridge it went.
I laid back down. I exhaled. By that time, I was about to fall asleep, so I made myself a cup of coffee.
The next thing I got to work on was the mashed yam. They have cooled a little bit but were still warm. Mashing yam sounds like a fun project for the little ones (given that the yams are safely cooled enough). I mashed, I sipped (coffee), I seasoned, I tasted, I mixed, I whipped, I dosed off, I seasoned some more, I tasted again, and was on repeat until the desired taste was achieved.
Next, -the stuffing. Honestly, I don’t even know what I am doing when it comes to the stuffing. All that matters is that people gobble it up. I just throw in whatever I feel like, throw it in the oven and call it a day. It’s usually a mix of croutons (like the one made earlier), apple or pear, walnuts, sausage (I prefer a spicy kind), celery, onion, eggs, herbs, raisins, some stock, seasoning, and into the oven it goes.
By the time all that is done, it’s show time for the relaxed/ rolled out pie dough. I made the pumpkin pie filling, filled the shell, and into the oven it went (above the turkey, of course). Some people are anal about not cooking sweet and savory at the same time in the same oven, but what can we want trying to make most of our time with a single oven?
Next, green bean casserole and glaze for the ham. I like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for the glaze (but I used coke instead of dr. pepper. Maybe I will try with dr. pepper this year if we even have a Thanksgiving). While attending to those, I started clove-ing the ham, which is a tedious task (maybe another fun activity for the kids to do lol). The ham was purchased already cooked, so all I did was warm it, then glaze it at the end.
Meanwhile, after how many dishes were already finished and ready to go, I waited for the turkey to be done. I went back on the couch to chill and unwind. I set the alarm to go off because I desperately needed some zzzzz’s.
I have Nelly’s “It was just a dream” for my alarm lol. So now whenever I hear that song on the radio, I get unpleasant feels. So when I heard the sounds of, “I was thinking bout her, thinkin’ bout me. Thinkin’ bout us….” I was pulled out of my cozy little nap and walked myself over to check on the turkey. I think it must have been close to five or six at the time and I was a zombie.
When the turkey was done, I let it sit and let it rest for a while……while I went back to rest myself. And you think my work was done? Ha!
There was gravy to be made. And since I prefer to use the pan drippings, I can’t make it until the very end. So yeah…..the finale of the whole fiasco was the gravy.
And then nap time? I don’t think so. To prepare for my brother’s Cookie Monster cake, I decided to make the chocolate frosting that (crack of dawn) morning.
After that…..a little bit of rest time, clean up time….the turkey’s still resting……
And of course, the turkey had to be cut. But that didn’t happen until hours later.
I swear, it was lunchtime before I knew it. Like I said, my mom was preparing Korean dishes. For lunch, I had a plate of my own labor of love (one of everything), along with what my mom was making. I crammed one of everything onto a plate of what I could. I got two plates, one for the traditionals, one for the Korean dishes.
My youngest brother was dating this girl last year (that my SIL and I were not too crazy about). She volunteered to fry the jeon (Korean savory pancakes), with the guidance of my bro.
Dinner was around 5pm, the Thanksgiving table all set and ready to go. Okay, so I had worked the previous night, and then cooked all night after work until the sun came up, and was up to eat lunch. How am I still alive, right?
Well, come around dinner time, the power went off in my system. I couldn’t help myself….I left to go crash while others were left to enjoy the works of my labor.
I wasn’t around to notice, but later I heard that my SIL was appearing to look depressed, pissed off, and just in a somber mood. It was actually the beginning of her being in excruciating pain.
Fast forward a year later and the pain is still killing SIL. From what I understand, she was having a bit (I think it was mild at the time) of back pain. She went to go see a chiropractor and it ended up getting worse…..worse to the point where it hurts to even exist. He fucked her up. Please pray for her recovery. Please pray for her to be able to go back to a normal life, to be able to enjoy being a newlywed, and be able to enjoy things she loves again (like cooking).
I hope that next Thanksgiving, she’ll be able to take on some of the labor of love of our Thanksgiving dinner. I look forward to tasting some of her creations soon.
So with my absence and my SIL feeling all defeated, my mom said that it was the saddest Thanksgiving of her life, with a daughter that was MIA and a daughter in law looking and feeling like she just lost the will to live. I am hoping that she said what she said out of frustration and that our usual Thanksgiving dinner will take place.
I can’t imagine what SIL is going through. She has always been such an active and energetic person, so it is especially sad to see her so down all the time. My mom treats her DIL as she would her own child. But she gets frustrated at the fact that SIL won’t listen or keeps finding things that she doesn’t like about each doctor. It’s complicated. In my honest opinion, I think there is hope if she just listens and consistently gets treatment despite the temporary discomfort the treatment may bring. But she seems to just go a couple of times, says she feels more pain, then wants to find a new doctor. Then, it’s back to square one all over. So I don’t even know what to do or say to her anymore either. I feel like she needs to be dragged continuously until she gets better.
Our family is more on the Americanized side and typical Korean traditions don’t always hold. In old school Korean traditions, during holidays, it is typically the daughter-in-laws that have to suffer through the labors of preparing all the food. And I understand that it is usually a ton of food, like enough to feed the whole neighborhood sometimes (maybe an exaggeration, but it is A LOT!). So the daughter-in-laws in Korea often dread the holidays because it is so much work for them, while others can relax and play. And I, as an unmarried daughter of the family, would be able to partake in just kicking back and just pigging out. I heard those traditions are lessening, though, thank goodness for the poor daughter-in-laws of Korea. I have seen some of my older 1.5 generation cousins (living in the states) going through that some years ago. But in my immediate family, it’s obviously a tradition that has skipped us.
So I guess I will find out soon if we will be doing Thanksgiving or not. I am 99% sure that my mom was bluffing. After confirming, I’ll need to go pick up a turkey ASAP and get a start on dry brining it.
After if and when we do have dinner, I will be taking off to Vegas for round two of pigging out for the week.