Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The "Professional" Cook Does Thanksgiving

I literally spent the day in the kitchen. I’ve never done that for a holiday before. And, when I look at the fruits of my labors, they don’t seem to be much to show for twelve hours of galley slave work. I created one batch of homemade salsa and one batch of spinach dip for pre-Thanksgiving-dinner munchies. Aside from the chopping, thawing, draining, and mixing, these recipes were pretty straight forward, so I managed to sail through them almost unscathed… "Almost" because I ignored the conventional admonishment to wear gloves when seeding and chopping the jalapenos. Found out you definitely don’t want to do that the day after having a manicure. Terminally burning fingers!

Unfortunately, I had less luck with my baking projects. Since I consider myself a baker by profession, I probably shouldn’t admit this. I tried some new recipes, and purposely did my baking today, instead of Thanksgiving morning, or the night before, so that if I had disasters I had time for "do-overs." And I did.

I owe my lack of baking success largely to my attempt to come up with desserts that are low-fat but still edible. The two I made today, I tried to modify to cut out as much fat as possible. My first gingerbread turned out like a flat brick of slightly damp sawdust, and my premier attempt at pecan pie ended up with this thick brown skin over the top. Come to find out you can NOT replace the eggs called for in the pie recipe with egg substitute...I knew something was wrong when, thirty minutes into its baking time, my pie began to look like a brown leather "jiffy pop." It dutifully sank after I took it out of the oven, but, unfortunately, the leather didn’t magically disappear. Had to start all over again, using honest-to-god real eggs…and since the "lowfat" quotient was now in the crapper, I decided to throw in half a bag chocolate chips as well. Husband and I ate the reject…it tasted fine. It just didn’t look like something you would serve to company. And then, of course, I had to keep trying samples of the gingerbread---the first batch in order to judge it a reject, and the second batch to make sure it was really edible this time. How many "points" did I use trying to come up with low-fat desserts for the holiday? Can you say "counter-productive?"

I also managed to guilt one of my sisters into bringing a vegetable dish for Thanksgiving dinner, along with her home-made cranberry sauce. Which means, on Thursday, we’ll be down to the bird, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and the rolls. Maybe I won’t be stuck in the kitchen all day,,,   And since I'm nodding off trying to write this, I guess I'd better quit here and get some shut-eye.


  1. Sorry you're pooped! Hope you're getting a great night's sleep.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

  2. My sympathies for jalapeno mistake, as well as the kitchen fatigue and the do-overs. BTDT, and it isn't fun.  I sincerely hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful one.  You're on my list of "People and Things To Be Grateful For" this year.

  3. Well, I for one am impressed.  As a non-cook, non-baker, to me you sound like a mad scientist.  Anyone who can experiment with food is a genius in my book.  Have a great day, gingerbread or not!

  4. LOL! at your "half-baked" attempts. ;-) I remember the first time I made pecan pies, I cooked them for something like 3 hours because the knife never came out clean when I tested them. Those were the chewiest pies ever. But, I don't do re-dos. Happy Thanksgiving! :-) ---Robbie

  5. The Oregonian had a great spread in their Food section on using cheese and fruit a la Europe instead of traditional deserts. I held it up for mom to see and asked (tongue firmly lodged in cheek) how far she thought we'd get with that idea come Turkey Day. We're still doing pumpking and marionberry pies today. Guess that answers that question. WE still think it's a good idea though. I made the mistake back in our Chatel days of doing the pepper cheese for the cheese sticks, not washing my hands before I left for the day and then rubbing an itchy eye on the way home. At least itching wasn't my problem any more. Trying to drive one eyed took over. :-)

  6. Hey can you come cook for me on Christmas?