"Why do we eat turkeys at Thanksgiving, Mom?" Anda said.
"Yeah," Caleb said. "They didn't have them at the first Thanksgiving. They ate deer that the Indians brought." He knows, too, because he just studied that era in his US History course.
I'm glad I didn't have to dress and cook a deer. That is something out of my ability and experience.
But I did manage a turkey today. We were given a 20-lb turkey, and one of my old mission companions has a cooking blog and recommended that you put a couple of peeled carrots, sticks of celery, and a quartered onion into the cavity of the turkey before you cook it.
I got everything ready yesterday, and I took her advice. Then popped the thing, stuffed with veggies, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, in the fridge overnight. I considered baking it a day early, but it turned out that the large baking pan is with the muffin tins, pot lids, and blender pitcher: lost in the still-packed stuff in the garage. So Tim had to get home with the car and buy me one of those foil pans so I could bake the turkey.
So it sat in onion fumes all night, and then I got up early and baked it.
Just at the end, I got to talk to my parents in Portugal via Skype (whoever invented Skype deserves the greatest thanks!). That was wonderful, even though I felt bad keeping them awake so I could talk to them. It's 7 or 8 hours different there, so I end up talking to them past their bedtime sometimes! Anyway, turkey came out of the oven.
At it turned out to the best turkey I've ever made. Seriously. Maybe one of the best I've ever tasted, even (and my mom and sis-in-law both make KILLER turkeys!). It was tender (because for once I didn't overcook it!), and the meat was perfectly flavored. Enough so that I wanted to eat more later, and I'm not usually too fond of turkey.
It was the first dinner we've had in a year where I didn't look over the meal and watch it all disappear and then say, "It's not going to be much longer before I have to double all these recipes to feed all these boys!" There was actually enough on the table for the whole family plus another family our size. Or more. And I was consciously trying to keep it conservative (so we didn't do two of every kind of food, or double any of the recipes....there's just a lot of expected dishes for Thanksgiving when you add a fruit, and a veggie, and jello, and meat, and bread, and stuffing, and potatoes....lots of starches, actually.)
Even keeping it all fairly simple, it was really literally all I could do to make it all and get it on the table--and we skipped the pies. The kids and Tim cleaned up and set the table, and Tim took care of all the hungry kids pre-meal snacks (veggies, canned pears, olives....stuff). I think just standing in front of the mixer for that long wiped me out. I had to keep using it, washing out the one mixer bowl, and mixing something else in it. Over and over--bread, pudding, cake, whipped cream, mashed potatoes, etc. One thing after another. Thank goodness you can beat a KitchenAid up for an hour strait and it barely even gets warm!
Kids seemed happy with the feast, and Tim and I got full, so I guess it was a successful Thanksgiving. Each of the big kids actually came to me privately and asked to help, even without being prompted by Tim (since he was out of town). That was really sweet. And they willingly (eagerly) sat and talked about things they were thankful for during the meal. (I, personally, was thankful I didn't have to try to get that all together with a newborn!).
After our "feast," we rested a few minutes and then headed over to a good friend's house for an evening of desserts and chatter with some of our favorite people in the area. There were 18 kids there (oddly, a family with one, a family with 2, two families with 3, a family with 4, and a family with 5...), ranging in age from a few months old to 12 or 13, so it was a riotous good time for the kids. And I can't think of anything I like more than gathering with a bunch of smart people and talking to them. REALLY fun for me. (Thank you, Laura, for doing all that EXTRA work to open your house to us all on a busy work-day for Moms!).
Came home and chatted with several of my siblings on the phone, and the kids talked to a few of their cousins. Then I ran out of time, so I didn't get to talk to everyone before it was much much too late to call. But it was joyful talking to my family that way.
And I guess it was a successful holiday. The kids are satisfied. Tim seems happy. I'm happy. Isn't that what it's all about?
Happy Thanksgiving, all.