Since I couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to host a celebration myself for my other homeless friends and me.
In preparation, I giddily bought every piece of Thanksgiving-related decor at Target, spent at least 45 minutes making this e-invite, and got an 18 lb turkey. I was so consumed with being cute and festive that I totally overlooked the basics of hosting Thanksgiving and the multiple problems that can crop up…
Obstacle #1 – how the hell do you brine an 18 lb turkey?
When I bought the turkey, I had no idea what recipe I was going to follow. I blindly purchased a bigass turkey. The internet seemed to suggest that brining was the best way to keep the meat juicy after hours of roasting, so I decided that I was going to brine my turkey using this recipe because it had the least complicated brine.
Now onto what vessel to brine the turkey in?
I asked every clerk at the grocery store and none of them gave me a good answer. Then I spied the (free) shopping basket in the corner…
Yes, I disinfected every millimeter of that shopping basket.
I mixed up the brine inside of unscented trash bags – doublebagged, of course.
The trash bags couldn’t fit over the edge of the basket, but luckily the basket fit snuggly in my kitchen sink. Then I tied up those bags and patted myself on my back for being so clever and resourceful…
Obstacle #2 – how to deal with the biggest catastrophe ever on Thanksgiving Day
Nope, I’m not talking about the Lions losing.
This problem came out of nowhere and it was an equivalent (in my opinion) to being knifed in the back.
My oven broke. It gave the message of death – F03 Err. Google and a phone call to the manufacturer told me that my oven’s lock motor was mostly likely broken and that if I were to break it up with a wire hanger, the oven would be inoperable.
In a span of 15 minutes, I experienced all seven stages of grief. I was in denial. I got angry at all appliances too smart for their own good. Then there was light at the end of the tunnel. Rohin suggested using the communal oven in my building’s lounge. There was a group of very nice old ladies who were already cooking in the lounge, but they sympathized and let me use the oven! They turned out to be a gift sent from heaven because they helped me roast/baste/turn/cover my turkey in tin because I had no clue.
Obstacle #3 – how to lower your blood pressure back to normal
In the meantime, I had to adjust the rest of my dishes due to F03 err and devised a plan of attack. Then I cooked and cooked and cooked.
I did a take on How Sweet’s lightened up green bean casserole. I used frozen beans and steamed them because I’m lazy. Instead of baking, I let the mixture simmer in my dutch oven for it to thicken. After sprinkling parmesan and panko on top, I put the lid on for it to melt. The end product was not your traditional casserole, but it was still tasty!
My usual go-to for stuffing is Ina’s sausage and herb one because it’s deceptively simple for the flavor it packs. I used Zingerman’s bread from Emily’s gift. Rather than toasting the bread first because of my oven constraints, I made sure to put more bread on the top layer so that it could brown nicely when I did bake it.
I made apple cider sangria, another recipe inspired by How Sweet. I used a bit more wine and brandy than the recipe says ;) For presentation purposes, I also added grapes and ice cubes with pomegranate seeds inside (not pictured).
I used turkey giblets and the neck to make broth as Emeril suggests. It’s still sitting in my fridge and I’m not sure what’s the best way to use it – any thoughts? I actually steamed my green beans on top of this pot of broth.
In between the cooking, I set up the table, wrote up the menu, retrieved the beautifully crisped turkey & stuffing using a shopping cart, and changed out of my PJs.
The gift I got from my foodie penpal is turning out to be really useful!
And before I knew it, the guests started coming and food began piling up on the table.
In my haste, I totally forgot to snap a picture of my beautiful turkey before I carved it to bits. Here it is in the background. The turkey turned out wonderfully! It was really juicy and surprisingly salty from the brine. And there’s the sangria in all of its glory. It turned out to be a big hit and I ended up making two more batches.
This resulted in a massive food coma.
Obstacle #4 – remembering what the essence of Thanksgiving is
In my major freakout, I totally forgot what Thanksgiving is actually about – being grateful and appreciative of what you have. I am thankful for Rohin for being the opposite of me – patient and understanding and helping me throughout the entire day. I am thankful for all the new friends that I’ve made in Seattle. Even though I couldn’t be there with them, I’m always thankful for my family!