Saturday, November 26, 2011

a "SciFiChick kinda' Thanksgiving Dinner"

oh man...i was sooo looking forward to yesterday. that's when we celebrated American Thanksgiving Day. as we had missed Canadian Thanksgiving Day - we were thrilled to be able to celebrate yesterday!

jambaloney had gone into town a few days prior to pick up whatever we didn't already have. and i planned out our traditional menu. our day started off pretty gloriously, slept in a little, all the snow was melting, and we drank our coffee and tea in the hottub.

what started out as a glorious day very quickly turned into a "SciFiChick kinda' Thanksgiving Dinner"! oh SciFi - i had good intentions too! wrong!

our menu was simple and one that we have been making for years! with great success!

turkey, stuffing, gravey, mashed potatoes, honeyed carrots, maple syrup turnip mash, brussel sprouts with bacon, and ginger/pear cranberry sauce. although it may seem like a lot of complicated items, with proper preparation and timing - i can do this menu in my sleep!!!

have a look at our 2009 Thanksgiving Dinner (we didn't do Thanksgiving Dinner in 2010 as that's when we were showing our house for sale):

that's my famous stuffing - this stuff is so full of flavour and goodness and the croutons are home-made! next up - my now Cape Breton famous ginger-pear-cranberry sauce.

look at this beautiful turkey-drippings gravey!

and here is the spread that we put on that year for just ourselves. and yes - those are edible nasturtiums decorating the bowls.

honestly - i have made this Dinner so many times and have never screwed it up! but i guess the gods conspired against me yesterday or something! or, i guess SciFiChick and i really are sisters from another mother! because she royally messed up her dinner yesterday as did jambaloney and i. and after reading her post about messing it all up, and laughing, not at her but with her, and seeing how honest she was about screwing up their first Thanksgiving - i had to come here and be brutally honest, too. oh ya - we royally messed up our favourite holiday and our first Thanksgiving dinner here at the Manor in grand style.

first up - the stuffing. i was sure that we still had wild rice. we made several prep run purchases when we first got here and one of those preps was a 5lb bag of wild rice. i guess we ate it all up since then and haven't gotten around to replacing it. and what i thought was a container of wild rice turned out to be korean sticky rice - which is not so good for stuffing. no prob - we'll just leave the rice out! i normally use dried cranberries in the stuffing but because we have so many fresh ones, i tried using fresh ones in the stuffing - not a good idea! they made the hard-as-rock-homemade-croutons, that normally retain their texture, a big mushy blob! adding very healthy hemp-seed hearts, in place of wild rice, just contributed to the mushiness! woops - forgot to pick up celery (the celery that we grew this summer was a total bust)! all in all the stuffing just sucked! and we wasted those delicious giblets when we could have made giblet soup - arghghghgh!

moving right along - we thought that using frozen brussel sprouts would work just like fresh ones. wrong again. i steamed those babies for only a minute or two and they came out soggy as crap. oh well - they will firm up when i fry them in bacon grease. nadda chance. those were crap too!

because we have such a tiny stove we had to pull out our hotplate. and cooked the bacon on it. or tried. the bacon just went watery and we ended up adding additional bacon grease, from our stash, to it. the hotplate took forever to heat up, but when it finally did - it went into overdrive. we went from cooking bacon for almost a half hour to it burning our honeyed carrots in minutes. so both of those were dismal failures as well!

at this point we have dirtied every pot and pan in the house - jambaloney is washing pots and pans in the sink AND in the bathtub (look - ya gotta get creative when you live in the middle of nowhere and don't have any counterspace!) - and that's when we realized we couldn't bake the potatoes - because the turkey was in the oven - so we would have to boil them. and because we had planned on baking them - we dug up russet browns. they are great for baking first and then mashing - they are delicious! but they suck when steamed. but at this point we were going for broke to just try and finish and have a nice meal. but they came out like soggy, whipped with too much cream, potatoes.

the turnip was steamed for almost 45 minutes before i said enough is enough and pulled it out to mash. into hard little chunks. not even the butter, maple syrup or cream could save it. it tasted good but what was supposed to be a nice mash turned into nice, maple-syrup coated little hard balls of turnip. oh man!

the gravey....well....the drippings just didn't seem strong enough. or turkey enough. so i took one of those packets of turkey gravey and added it to the drippings. suddenly it became very dark brown - not unappetizing looking - just very dark brown. something was wrong. i took the packet out of the garbage and realized i had added a packet of ROAST gravey....oh someone kill me now!

on the plus side the turkey came out beautifully moist and browned and delicious! so that is our saving grace - we can still cook a turkey!

all throughout this mess of a dinner - jambaloney kept saying "it's okay babe, we'll enjoy it anyway". he has a way of doing that and keeping me calm when i want to climb the walls.

so after cooking all day (from about 10am until 5pm) - and we had to cook all day in batches as our stove and oven are sooo small, and although our stove has 4 elements, you can only use 2 at a time - unless you are using smurf pots. and there is no counter space in the kitchen - we had dishes everywhere for the whole day and were taking turns keeping the dishes being washed and dried and used again - well, after all of that - we took the time to lay out a spread and have our dinner at our dining room table.

here's a pic of the spread (nice and blurry eh?):

and here's a pic of the dining room table:

we set up our plates and sat down to what was not a very enjoyable meal. jambaloney kept saying, "oh the brussel sprouts aren't that soggy" or "well - the turkey is really good"...and then we just laughed and talked and gave thanks for all of the things we are happy for...and picked at the stuff we liked best - for me, the turkey, the potatoes (i'll eat any kind of potatoes!) and the roast/turkey gravey. for jambaloney - it was the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the turnip mash. both of us stayed away from the burned carrots and the soggy brussel sprouts.

afterwords, we gathered up the last of the dishes and got 'em all washed and sorted. then we took our glass of wine and did what any self-respecting cooks would do when they royally screwed up a meal - we got in the hottub!

all is well that ends well. and we did spend two days remembering and sharing all of the things that we were/are thankful for on our first Thanksgiving Day at Framboise Manor. we had lots of things to be thankful for. but not that dinner!

we pray that next year will be less SciFiChick and more Gordon Ramsay. no offense Sci!

(make sure to go and read her post! it's hilarious!)


  1. Must be something in the air this year. Mama put the turkey in the oven plus stuffing cooked separately then left me to bake pies.

    Come dinner time the turkey had steamed into lumpy soup, the stuffing was watery and inedible, and the pies had raw bottom crusts, but LOOKED super.

    Next time I think it will be me driving the cooking and I'll give her a day off.


  2. Oh no! lol Sorry, but that is funny and sucky at the same time. The bird is what matters.. and you got that covered. :)
    We also had to wash things in the tub!! I discovered in this miserable Barbie miniature nightmare kitchen.. that my friend's RV kitchen is bigger.
    While this is the 3rd Thanksgiving type spread I've done this year.. it is the first time in this house and the kitchen sink & faucet... must be replaced if he ever wants to eat like that again.

    He just got a faucet and is tracking down a sink atm. lol

    I'm still washing dishes & pots & pans!!!!! It's post Thanksgiving sans dishwasher hell. Isn't there some sort of rule that the cook doesn't have to do the dishes?

  3. You mentioned Smurf pots :)

    It's all OK the turkey is the important thing IMO.

  4. We lucked out this year and got invited to my stepson's girlfriend's for Thanksgiving. The food was better than what you'd expect from most "kids" of 35 or so, and she wouldn't even let us bring anything. Enjoyed your post; I guess if all else fails, such times are good for a story!

  5. oh Milt - you poor dear! did you at least eat the TOPS of the pies??? i think you are on to something for next year - give Mama the day off - teehee!

    Anne - you got it - funny and sucky! i am glad to hear that we are not the only ones who have to wash dishes in the tub - barbie kitchens - arghghgh!

    Anne - check out - they have awesome kitchen stuff and that is where we got out RED double sink...and on sale for half price. i will stop over to your blog and tell you more!

    since both me and jambaloney do the cooking AND the washing up - the horror gets shared pretty evenly! make that man help you clean up!

    PioneerP - i knew that you would catch the smurf reference. i promise to include more smurf references in upcoming posts in deference to you ...and Flier 389!

    the turkey is delicious - we just don't have our usual side dishes to go with it!

    thanks for stopping by guys and gals!

  6. Mr. Smythe - so glad you got off from cooking this year. and glad to hear that your stepson's girlfriend did a pretty good job and cooked you a nice meal! as for such times being good for a story...we are looking forward to the day when our posts are entitled - "boring day number 1,423"...and the actual post will say "nothing to report" - bahahahahah!

    it seems that around here - everything turns into a story and we are really starting to be ok with that. we love being here - and it seems that every day is a crazy adventure! so we have started waking up in the morning and asking each other - "ok...what is today going to bring?"

    and we are learning to laugh even more than we used to. such is the way of life at the Manor.

    thank you Sir for dropping by. it is always an honour.

    and thank you to all of you for dropping by - we love your visits!

  7. kymber,
    I have had meals like that when things just kept happening, going from bad to worse, just never Thanksgiving. Washing dishes in the tub? Sounds good for the strong of back. I would hate not having a dishwasher! At least jambaloney is not stewing about a ruined dinner. Hey, if the turkey is good, it is the thing that will last longest. I guess next year you will make a list and check it off for days to make sure you get it right.

    Funny remark about 35-yr-olds being good cooks for Thanksgiving. When I was 35, I had been cooking Thanksgiving on my own for about 12 years.

    Mushy Brussel sprouts would not bother me. Potatoes are potatoes as long as they taste good. Okay, except for whatever kind gets mealy when mashed. Yuck.

    I know you will be glad to get the kitchen better situated for large cooking. Too bad about that crazy hotplate.

    The whole story will make a good annual revisiting and retelling tradition. Trust me.

  8. That's a shame and I'm sorry least you had each other. I've always thought the best money spent in a home is on a good working kitchen. I can never go back to the electric ranges, gas for me, or propane. Six burners a must. Quality tools in the kitchen make all the difference, that and careful planning. Bet the food was still good.

  9. We truly must be sisters somewhere in time Kymber... at least in the end though all mine came out edible if rather late! I love the fact that you guys still had a good Thanksgiving. This one will live in our memories forever. And thanks for posting this.... See? It wasn't nearly as painful as you thought it would be! Hahahahaaa!!1

  10. PracticalP - i have been cooking this same Thanksgiving Dinner for myself since i was about 18?!??!? don't really know how we blew it this year! i think we are run down, tired, full of expectation and just have too much on our plates! jambaloney is trying to dig a trench 50ft long and at least 4 ft deep for our permanent drainage of the eliminate the need for a sump-pump. later, we will divert the gray water to it. but before all of that - he has to plow the 100ft driveway, build us a porch, add underneath support to the porch, build a shed, build a cover for the atv, fix the rest of our wiring, wire for a freezer and a washer before the real bad weather comes on, finish the attic, build a protective structure over the hottub...oh and in between all of that, i am trying to find our winter clothes, pack our summer clothes and finish putting this place together. on top of both of us being shocked by him being sucker-punched and in the hospital and both of us have not been running on full speed for over a year now. we just can't seem to catch a break!

    but jambaloney says that on our 1yr anniversary here on December 4 - that's when everything will get easier. until then - we just keep on keepin' on - that's our motto. and nothing will break us - not even that sucky Thanksgiving Dinner.

    oh Stephen - we tell each other daily that neither of us would ever have done this without the other! and yes - we have put some of our additional money into the kitchen (getting the double sink and cabinet) and we are planning to do more with the kitchen when extra monies have been saved - which we do every month. we save as much as we can. but there are a million other jobs around the Manor that need attention as well...and we try to stretch the extra bit of savings every month for every job that we budget for. someday we will have our dream kitchen. it sure sucks knowing and remembering that we left our dream kitchen back in the city - arghghghgh!

    Sci - gurl - oh man - when i read your post i just knew that i had to post about our first awful Thanksgiving! you were such an inspiration!

    and i just know that next year will be even better for both of us. but when it comes down to brass tacks - we are both on our own land Sci!

    we are on our own land! and i know that means the same thing to you and Mars as it does to me and jambaloney!

    thanks again for inspiring this post my friend. thanks again!

    your friend,

  11. Ahh, cooking disasters. They make for great stories between loved ones. If you've cooked long enough, you have some kind of disaster story. While it seems like the end of the world at the time I've found that either A) it isn't as bad as you think or B) if it is as bad as you think you'll cry now and laugh later. One of the best stories my mom tells is trying to make a pie when she and my dad were first married. The homemade crust came out so hard and tough she threw it out the back door to the dogs and it didn't break when it hit the ground! She immediately burst into tears, but to this day I love to hear her tell the story. It has become a humorous memory for her. Or, is it "humourous" for you guys up there? :) I'm glad you two can enjoy your time together.

  12. kymvber,
    Nothing ever turned out a disaster at Thanksgiving, but I do remember getting up at 4 am with two babies in diapers and trying to figure out how to thaw the frozen turkey enough to get the bag of giblets out. (I thought I had thawed it enough. Obviously not.) One year, I decided giblets would cook inside. Obviously, the turkey processors knew people would do this. The paper bag was intact and the giblets were done. Of course, the turkey took longer to cook that day. But, when you have two in diapers, there is always plenty to fill the intervening time.

    My husband was not amused, consoling or forgiving about the whole fiasco.

  13. Some things just seem to happen every now and then. Try getting hard boiled egg off of your ceiling. Or, a presser cooker full of beans. And the little valve thingy blowing off. And beans on the ceiling. Or dropping the cooked turkey on the floor.(We ate it any way.)

    I don't think it is so much the meal, as it is the people you share Thanksgiving with.

    So, next year, maybe stew? Or maybe a smoker for your fish and turkey.

  14. SOunds like the secret to success is to make sure, ahead of time, that you have everything you need so you don't have to substitute and discover nasty surprises. Glad the turkey turned out good.

  15. Hey Kymber and Jamboloney,

    Rather than sending the usual condolences for
    your many mishaps of the day ( which I feel are totally appropriate of course ) but I can't seem to help myself ... BAHAHAHAHAHA !!! Been there too, but with the turkey destroyed. Days later when we're over the shock of it all ... just roar with laughter and look forward to the Christmas feast.

    You're a brave girl my friend to tell all, but venting is a good thing. I know you still had good eats together and much love for another. So all is well ... Cheers, Helga :))

  16. Oh dear oh dear, that sounds like a normal cooking day here. actually it doesn't because we wouldn't even attempt to cook anything anyway!

    The turkey and the table look good. And is that wine I see?

  17. Great post! Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving, even if you weren't happy with all the food...but you were together,and that's what matters,right??

  18. You made the best of it, that's what counts. It's memories which bond us together and we can laugh about it in years to come.

  19. 45er - yes, i agree - cooking disasters DO make for fun stories later. and we will definitely laugh about this for years to come - we just weren't able to laugh until it was all over. i love the story about your Mom's pie crust and glad that she retells it to you - that's priceless! and ya - good catch on the Canadian way of spelling humourous (British English), although most Canadians now follow American spelling. but i am old school - teehee!

    Linda - i am sorry that your husband didn't console you or laugh with you over your disaster. it is hard enough to prepare a big meal, wreck it, have it take longer than planned - but adding 2 babies to the mix could make one pull their hair out! the great thing for me is that i always have jambaloney there helping with all of the cooking - normally, we are pretty fine cooks but this dinner just went haywire on us!

    Flier - you and Kathi sure have had some interesting fiascos - bahahahahah! all pressure canning that goes on around here is done outside - thanks for reminding me why! as far as next year's dinner - it will be the full-on spread again - i just can't have anything else on Thanksgiving!

    Commander Zero - you are so right! we have been running around for months now like chickens with our heads cut off. we thought we had everything but didn't check. could have saved some tears by simply checking!

    Helga - thanks for being there, laughing with us AND at us!!! sorry to hear you have had turkey mishaps as well - i guess everyone has at least one! ya - i am looking forward to the Christmas meal as it is pretty much the same meal - i must redeem myself! SciFiChick's funny post about how she messed up her dinner was the inspiration for me to tell it like it was. and yes - we had much love for each other and are still eating the turkey - thank goodness that came out delicious!

    Joey - yep - that's wine and it was much needed by the end of the day. we sort of felt how you felt after that big party you had a few months ago - the whole kitchen a mess and all you want is a glass of wine. plus we always have a glass of wine with our supper on special occasions.

    Donna - exactly! the dinner was a mess but spending the time together and remembering all of the things that we are grateful for is what mattered most to us that day.

    Duke - ya - we tried to make the best of it. and were soon laughing as we tried to eat the soggy brussel sprouts! and it is definitely a funny story to tell and re-tell in the years to come.

    thanks to all of you for stopping by and sharing in our dinner-tragedy! we really appreciate all of your comments!