New house, new man (with two sons…why do they come in two’s?) and yet another memorable Christmas. Still cooking. In this case, cooking up a veritible storm. It started out pretty simple me, Tom and the boys with a few friends…but then I started getting these phone calls. There was a bevy of Christmas orphans that year with nowhere to go and could they come to my house? Sure, the more the merrier!
As each day inched nearer to Christmas, more phone calls, more unexpected guests to feed. I’d never made a really big turkey but this was the year to do it. The house was small so there was no way we were all going to sit down, so a buffet it was.
It’s a rather odd and surreal experience (even to a Christmas nut like me) to have a houseful of guests for Christmas dinner when you’ve never met half of them. Sort of like stumbling into a big frat party. But I loving to cook and have guests the way I do decided to just roll with it.
I got up early (can you say 5 am?) and Tom just had to get this shot of me in search of my first cup of coffee. Oh how I love to have my picture taken in my jammies with no makeup and a dumb expression on my face.
But I digress.
So, out came the 30lb turkey to sit on the counter while I drank coffee and made the stuffing. Now I’m a kind of organic cook – I generally abhor recipes and I honestly can’t follow one completely as I always add things or change things. So instead of taking the easy way out and following Mrs. Cubbitson’s recipe that was quite conveniently on the back of the box, I set to chopping up apples, nuts and onions, sauteed all that in some butter and threw in a few handful of raisens – I happened to have some cranberries too so in they went. Once the vat of dressing was made and the turkey stuffed to the gills and the remaining dressing in a sheet pan, we set to making the basting sauce. Butter, chicken broth, orange juice and white wine, a little sugar for good measure and we were ready to roll. Into the oven it went.
The next hour was spent peeling potatoes because of course home made mashed potatoes were a must and I had a lot of guests and they were going to want those darn potatoes. Ooops, one of the kids just shot a toy soldier into the potato pot. No harm done, the soldier was barely injured. On the back burner with those. Next sweet potatoes, peeling, dicing, glazing with butter, cinnamon, pineapple juice and brown sugar. My gawd how glad was I that I made the pumpkin pies the night before? Very, I must say.
As an afterthought, I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen peas since no one really likes vegetables with their Christmas dinner, do they? Unheard of, really , absolutely scandalous!
And between the basting and trying to find enough dishes and the the parade of guests and little gift giving, before I knew it, it was time to pull it all out of the oven. Of course by that time I was ready for a nap but i had an army to feed and they were getting restless with Ruffles and beer being their only appetisers (I know, shame on me – but I just couldn’t clone myself to make nibblies).
The turkey needed to rest before we could carve him up – so I put on my best Julia Childs impression and entertained the guests while extolling the many virtues of the giant perfectly browned bird.
Then came the rue for the gravy and separating the fat from the drippings – oh my where was that little bit of coffee I saved for the gravy? Is that bowl big enough for the potatoes? Why on earth don’t I have an electric mixer? Do you know how hard it is to mash and whip 10 pounds of mashed potatoes? My biceps were quite impressive that day. At least Tom opened the cranberry sauce and carved the turkey.
Finally we ate and ate and then we ate some more. We played Trivial Pursuit, got drunk and finished the leftovers. I think I finally had to kick everyone out around midnight. Since my orphans had cleaned up after me when dinner was over, I had a clean kitchen and just enough to share a turkey sandwich with Tom before we crawled into bed for a long winter’s nap. Of course I swore I’d never do that again. And yet I did, the next year and the next year and the year after that. 😉