Shaken and Stirred — What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco?

Once a year, half the population of the Blackstone Valley dusts off their driver’s licenses, takes the old buggy out of storage, and heads for downtown Uxbridge. It’s the day before Thanksgiving … and what the weather people call “a wintry mix” is plopping from above.


The nasty, slushy, sloppy mix of ice and snow falling from the skies is the perfect finishing touch. Over all, when I think “holiday,” I think “expensive” and “work.” Sorry for my lack of spirit, but I think I’m one holiday meal over the line. Fortunately, the kids are doing almost all the cooking this year. If if were up to me, I’d send out for pizza, if anyone was open and delivering. Which they aren’t.

Fancy cooking has fallen victim to the years and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I used to make special dishes for the holiday. I have a bread pudding recipe to die for. Literally. It almost killed a guest one year when, despite active diabetes, he went berserk and couldn’t stop eating it. It’s that good.

I continue to make my cranberry-orange relish and cornbread. The relish is made entirely in a food processor. No one could call it complicated, but it’s a favorite. The cornbread is delicious, but ridiculously easy. It turns out that many fancy recipes are no better than simple ones. And not more popular, either. A lot of people prefer simpler food.

If you do make fancy food, you can watch hours — sometimes days — of kitchen prep vanish in a few minutes, sometimes seconds. It can be a bit disheartening. I used to wonder if anyone noticed what they were eating or if they cared.

Thanksgiving 2013 table

I used to make stuffed cabbage. It was as good as anything you could get in a New York deli or restaurant. The recipe took me years to perfect and its preparation was a multi-day event. It wasn’t difficult to make, per se. No special genius required. You merely need to be willing to do everything.

The secret to gourmet food is not skipping steps. Not taking short cuts. Not skimping on rich, expensive, caloric, high-cholesterol ingredients. You have to use the heavy cream; milk doesn’t produce the same results. Do use the entire dozen eggs, the whole pound of butter. Don’t cut back on sugar.

I can’t eat that way anymore and neither can most of us. Or shouldn’t. I’d like to keep my new heart valve for a few years.

So, other than wrapping almost the entire turkey in bacon (it’s just once a year, after all), it’s a pretty simple — large — meal. Turkey. Cranberry relish. Cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Veggies. Hot cornbread. Pies for dessert. No one had time to bake all the pies this year. Usually we have a pre-Thanksgiving  baking frenzy, but this year, we bought frozen apple, mince, and pumpkin, leaving only custard to make from scratch tomorrow. You can’t buy good custard pie.

Thanksgiving 2013 table 2

Oh, nearly forgot. Mashed potatoes. Mashed sweet potatoes. Gravy. We forgot to buy cider to drink with the meal. It’s too horrible outside to go back to the store and the roads are a parking lot. All the last-minute shoppers are out there.

I have no idea what we’ll serve in the way of drinks. Oops.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Whatever you eat, have fun. No fighting at the table.


      • Auto-correct does definitely up the ante on typos, but I make tons of typos without any help at all. I just don’t notice them until too late. Not to worry … I’m solid on typos. We haven’t set the table yet this year. I’m not even sure how many people are coming to dinner … and it’s in the over.


  1. We often make a special drink which is a combo of a scoop of orange sherbert and ginger ale. But I suspect that with the winter weather hitting the East Coast, your guests will really appreciate anything hot!

    Marilyn, I hope that you, Garry, the fur kids and everyone else have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Stay warm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m planning on it. Got the parade on the TV, pies in the oven. Took a few pix of the snowy landscape … and yes, it’s snowing still, though it’s more sleet than snow (how nice) and there’s not much accumulation. Ah well. Such is life in New England. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Glad we are still all here to celebrate!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As the years go bye, the joy and fun of these big events also go bye. Thank goodness for those that enjoy cooking large meals and thank goodness for those that decide to celebrate elsewhwere, altough I love having my family around me, but it does not have to be all at once. You get tired and weary of planning, thinking all about it, and collecting everything. Let’s just let the turkeys run frree. Am with you all the way on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The kids seem to think if we don’t do the whole thing “the old folks” will feel neglected. I don’t have the heart to tell them otherwise. Garry asked me if I had led them to believe that …. but I haven’t. They are the kids. They have to believe it. As long as they do the cooking and cleanup, I can cope. But you are right. Our holiday spirit is really at low ebb. Too much work. Too much money. Just too much. It’s not that I don’t love them … I’m just getting old and I’ve got a lifetime of holiday memories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Think I’m on cleanup as usual. No big deal. It’s the easy detail. Actually, it’s nice to have “the kids” around for this day. I remember too many Big Bird days when I was working, putting on my nice TV smile and chowing down at the Chinese restaurant.


  3. Happy Thanksgiving Marilyn & Garry. We don’t have it over here in Australia but Christmas is just around corner. That will be our big spread but there will only be three of us. David and I and my sister has managed to get the day off and will join us for the first time in some years. If she wasn’t the day would be a very low key affair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 Our Christmas Eve is full of people, but Christmas Day is usually just Garry and I … and I rather like it that way. Because although Garry and I spend a lot of time together, it is rarely a celebration … but Christmas is. Even — maybe especially — when it is just the two of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you: although I love to cook, I am a big “simple is better” person. In fact, we got home after an epic battle with the snow, and I made white clam sauce with angel hair pasta. Took me all of ten minutes and cost about two dollars.


    • Having gone through the gourmet phase, I have come back around to simple. Simple because it does NOT have a complex set of tastes, but is what it is. Chicken that tastes like chicken, salad that retains its textures and flavors. Simple is easier to digest. Easier to clean up after — doesn’t use every pot and pan in the kitchen in preparation.


  5. It all sounds so very traditional Marilyn and so familiar. I am a half hour from being picked up by Warren and deliver to his parent’s home in Salem, OR, about 50 miles from here. They are putting on the big feed, as usual, a day before Thanksgiving. Their son must always work on Thursdays, meaning Thanksgiving. I was on that same shift for 4 years.

    My most elaborate meal that I prepared from scratch was sweet and sour chicken, chicken fried rice and freshly made egg rolls. I even made the egg roll skins in a wok from scratch. It was a huge success since the pastor of my church with his wide and the assistant pastor & his wife. They almost had to cancel evening services that Sunday night because they ate too much, an easy thing to do with delicious asian food. I did good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve made a lot of fancy dishes in my life, but not any more. Asian dishes can be very complicated, but Moroccan food took some kind of prize for labor intensive. And now, I’m off to the kitchen. I have to make dinner, two kinds of cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Hugs.


    • Bob, I recall pre and teen Thanksgiving years at Aunt and Uncle’s house. Grownups ate at the big table. Kids at the smaller table. We ate and ate and ate. How did we eat so much and still have room for DEE-sert? ENJOY!!


      • Darn if I didn’t do it again last night. I had to try everything which required I empty the first plate before reloading. I’m grateful I didn’t have to drive the 50 miles back home so I took a small snooze as the passenger. It was all great and will be again when I get into some of the leftovers sent home with me.


  6. I would love to have stuffed cabbage being a vegetarian I would miss out on most of your dishes. Hope the filling is veg too. Oh, yes even mashed potatoes would be an ideal choice. Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂


  7. When I first saw the picture picture at the top with the dogs, I thought it was a Normal Rockwell painting. And even the other two…of the Thanksgiving table, had that down-home, Rockwell American to them. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.


    • We shall try. I just wish I’d remembered to buy the cider. It’s all frozen out there. I looked at last year’s pictures and realized it was snowing then too. I hope this is not a harbinger of the winter coming up.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds like a great meal Marilyn. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Garry and your family. We’ve had ours already. Next big meal will be Christmas dinner. Take care.


  9. That is a lovely table and your food sounds delicious. My grandmother used to make me a bacon wrapped meatloaf when she would come cook and clean on Tuesday. She was a jewel in my life. Tell Garry that if he has a Verizon plan to check out Page Plus. They use the Verizon network but are not Verizon and have saved me quite a bit of money.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Marilyn and Garry.


    • And a happy Thanksgiving to you too. We have AT&T and any attempt to change will cost us bigger than we are able to pay. They’ve actually been pretty decent about everything. I’m not going to deal with the cell phone issue till after New Years. Garry’s contract runs out in the middle of December, so it puts us in a better negotiating position. I wish it were not slushing out there!


  10. Hubby and I had planned to just skip Thanksgiving, but now that my middle daughter is back home temporarily (trying to pay off those student loans and save up for a house of her own), we’ll be doing the whole spread as usual. She will do a good portion of the cooking and baking, so that’s OK.

    And yes, here in Buffalo, NY, it’s snowing again today, but only a little, so that’s OK, too.


    • The kids doing KP makes a huge difference. If they left it to me, there would be no dinner. I think these dinners wear a bit thin after 50 or so years. But I still like watching the parade while the smells from the kitchen waft by 🙂 It’s not exactly snow. It’s ice/snow/freezing rain and it’s horrible, both for walking and driving.


  11. Have you ever actually had fighting at the table? The Thanksgiving table that is. We’ve not, but wow! would it provide something to blog/write about! Your meal sounds delish, and we’ve got some of that slushy white stuff on the ground here too. We’ll be driving about an hour south mid-morning tomorrow, the weatherman says it’ll be okay for driving, just cold. But I’ve noticed I don’t do cold very well these days. I’m starting to become more and more of a hermit during winter.


    • Actually, we’ve never had anything but groaning about eating too much and dogs begging with excessive enthusiasm … but apparently others have had different experiences. When I was growing up, there was a lot of sniping and tension, but not at my table. Maybe because we don’t make huge dinners and in such a small, familiar group, there’s nothing to fight about.

      I think getting older and “cold” are mutually exclusive. Probably explains the popularity of places like Florida for old folk. For me, it’s not just the cold. It’s also the slippery footing and fear of falling. And the scary driving. And the shoveling. It’s the whole winter package … I loved it when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

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