It’s the day before the Big Feast. Many things need to be done today, such as pies. The turkey needs thawed. Cornbread for the stuffing needs to be baked. Sweet potatoes need roasted for the pies or casseroles.
All of us had to spend more this year to buy the ingredients for our feast meal on Thursday, despite an economy that says most of us have less money to spend. That means that the pinch of the meal is felt far deeper in the budget than ever before. The cheapest turkeys found in the Pascagoula area was a brand at Walmart, for seventy eight cents a pound. Gone are the days when turkeys would hit as low as a quarter a pound in hopes of luring holiday meal shoppers to the store.
Many people are forced to economize some. In my case, the pecans were cut from the menu. They were too expensive this year to use in pecan pies and sweet potato casseroles. For what it was going to cost for the pecans alone I paid half of the turkey price.
Turkeys are smaller too, probably with an eye to the smaller budgets of the buying public. Most of the turkeys I saw were about 15 lbs., with few even coming close to the 20 lb sizes of years past. There were also a lot of turkeys in the 10-12 lb. category, something that also used to be rare.
So what is going to make up for the smaller turkey servings?
More side dishes, especially with the economical sweet potato! We’ll have sweet potato casserole (minus the pecans) and candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, stuffing, giblet gravy…and hot cranberry sauce, along with dinner rolls. Nobody will notice that we’re not pushing the turkey so hard, or that even the drumstick has been raided for turkey slices. We are also going to carve the turkey before serving it, partly because it’s being cooked and transported, rather than served with a dramatic flair. Being cooked in a roaster oven to guarantee juicy, tender turkey…it won’t have the browned skin anyhow.
I’m borrowing a kitchen for the prep work, which means working around other cooks and their efforts. It’s frustrating for someone who is used to being the queen of the realm to share the throne! Nothing they do makes sense to me, as they bumble around, but that’s the way it is with someone who is ruling the roost. It also fouls up my efforts as they appear to fry eggs, make tea, fiddle with a frozen turkey, and assorted other tasks that befuddle me. On the plus side, it allows me to walk away and take a break.
And all I was in need of accomplishing at that point was washing out the roaster pan, rack, and lid.
I hate to think of it when I am actually trying to cook things, besides roasting a few sweet potatoes in the oven and drying out a loaf of bread.
But somehow, just like every other year I’ve gone through this production, I will accomplish dinner…on time, everything hot, and everything tasty. This year, I just seemed to want to make everything harder and share it with perfect strangers.
How else can you have perfect guests?