- Kid Katie: OMG THANKSGIVING IS THE WORST. I have to sit at the kids' table and attempt to eat the worst food ever, everything is gross.
- Preteen Katie: This is still the worst, but as long as I can remember to stick a book in my purse, I won't die of boredom or rage. Rudely read during the meal, nobody (important) notices because no one can GAF about the kids' table, at which I still must sit with my super-sheltered cousins.
- Teen Katie: Probably hung over, suddenly the food seems tolerable, I mean, at least turkey and mashed potatoes are basic foods and therefore edible. Most side dishes still seem suspicious and foreign. Gleefully use this day as a welcome excuse to freak out square relatives.
- College and post-college Katie: OMG FREE FOOD AND SO MUCH OF IT.
We lived in Seattle from 2009-2010, and it was my first year away from people who could make this delicious feast for me. Like a baby, I ordered a fully cooked ham dinner from Safeway. By 2011, though, we were back in Austin (our adopted home town) and not interested in the expense or hassle involved in driving to our actual home towns for someone else to make us one meal. We also knew a lot of strays who weren't traveling home that year, so we decided to host our own Thanksgiving, free from political rage (normally provided by my well-meaning but infuriating extended family of 1%ers) and football games. I just hate football, it is the boringest part of Thanksgiving. Instead, I put together an epic playlist, stocked my fridge with Lone Star, bought several bottles of cheap red wine, put together a kid's table (with crayons, toys, and actual entertainment!)... but I was still pretty freaked out by the actual food responsibilities. I consulted the internet for Thanksgiving staple ideas and cobbled together a rough menu from websites and my trusty Betty Crocker tome. It was a decent success, and we had extra food for over a week. Now it's my preference to cook at least part of the meal because I like the control! Every year, though, I've had to repeat the research process, since I never have the foresight or discipline to keep my plans/notes.
This year, I'm planning my menu here for future reference as well as a resource for other Thanksgiving noobs.
Turkey - NO
Truth time, this makes me a charlatan. I have never prepared a turkey. I just don't care about turkey, but even when I go out of my way not to cook one, someone is happy to show up with a bird anyway. My suggestion is to buy it fully cooked because it seems like a huge pain in the ass, this is confirmed by various sitcoms and watching my stepdad lose his damn mind every year.
Ham is better, only babies with no taste buds prefer turkey to ham. Also, this is the south, so we are allowed! I buy a cheap ass (literally!) bone-in spiral cut ham from HEB and pop that sucker in the oven. Requires no effort really, which is perfect.
Mashed PotatoesIf you don't know how to make mashed potatoes, maybe rethink cooking your own Thanksgiving feast. Or cooking ever. Or just buy instant flakes and lots of Velveeta. Because, still delicious.
Green Bean CasserolePreparing this in a non-white trash way betrays Thanksgivings everywhere. Buy:
- Giant can of French cut green beans
- Can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, the full of fat and salt kind
- 1/2 cup milk
- Canister of French's French fried onions
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine the soup mush, milk, beans, and half the fried onions.
Spread this soupy green bean paste into a casserole dish.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining onions on top. Continue baking for another 5 minutes. Done!
Glazed Sweet PotatoesNo need to gross up this dish with marshmallows and other bizarre accoutrements like pecans, which are already too expensive (thanks, China!) and better used in a pie. Sweet potatoes just don't need to be pies or casseroles. Slice them or mash them - so much nom without a bunch of bougie fanciness.
^Should specify to use four large, peeled sweet potatoes.
Cranberry SauceStraight from the can, into a dish. Slice up the can-shaped gelatinous mess you are only including because your amazing and deserving husband insists.
StuffingIf you've been paying attention, you've noticed we don't like or cook a turkey, so stuffing isn't something that happens organically around here. Even as an adult that lurfs Thanksgiving, I still find this dish just unpalatable. If you're into that sort of thing, this recipe doesn't seem too nasty.
GravyUse a mix, quit making things hard. This is postmodern America! Food is supposed to come in powder form.
ONLY HAWAIIAN EVER
DESSERTS ZOMGChocolate Chip Cookies
Easy for Babies Chocolate Pie
- buy ready-made graham cracker crust
- beat 2 packages of instant chocolate pudding mix and 1 1/4 cups cold milk for a hot minute
- mix in 1/2 a tub of whipped topping, fatty
- spread in ready-made graham cracker crust
- top with the remaining whipped topping and chocolate chips, shavings, whatever
Vanilla Ice Cream, only Blue Bell, because today we are thankful we don't live in one of those Yankee states that are forced to carry on without this ice cream brand's glory
After the Meal
Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt/Turkey Trivia Game, via Pinterest
DIY Centerpiece: $6 if ya crafty
2. Soak in diluted bleach bath and line insides with a layer of Vaseline and then a layer of plastic
3. Paint that pumpkin eggshell to show it who's boss
4. Fill with DIY leaf roses (see below)
- Super big tortillas
- Package of cream cheese
- Diced pimento peppers, green chiles, black olives, green onions (~4 oz each, maybe fewer olives)
- Chipotle seasoning, 3 tbsp; hot sauce to taste
- Lay out tortillas face-open
- Mix everything else
- Taste it and adjust as necessary
- Smear all over open tortillas, then tightly roll
- Refrigerate for an hour
- Slice and serve
PlaylistThe Staple Singers - The Weight
Elvis - That's All Right, Mama
Lou Reed - Perfect Day
Tom Waits - Come On Up To The House
The National - All the Wine
The Beatles - Two Of Us On Our Way Home
Sam Cooke - Bring It On Home To Me
The Roots - Lovely, Love My Family
The White Stripes - We Are Gonna Be Friends
John Lennon - Stand By Me
The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar
The Smiths - Back to the Old House
Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant
Check out NPR's 2011 "Songs for Stuffing" playlist. Someone was nice enough to make a YouTube playlist, helpful since the audio at NPR no longer works. Tracklist here. Not a great playlist IMHO - mostly just any song about food, it seems; however, you might dig it.
Just put on Miles Davis if you get stuck. DO NOT PUT ON A LOVE SUPREME. Coltrane is for Christmas!
Watch This Instead of Football
If you have to turn on the TV, here are some movie recs
Planes, Trains, and AutomobilesI don't like it that much, but you just have to. Every year, no matter what. Sit through it.
Home for the HolidaysRobert Downey Jr, Steve Gutenberg, directed by Jodie Foster, yes pls
|Not a scene from that movie.|
Hey, guess what, this entire movie is streaming on YouTube!
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Get your historical facts all screwed up with this charming classic. Streaming on YouTube.
Crawl is a nightmare, and there is that red-headed kid with all the freckles.Instant classic.
The House of YesChances are, your family is nowhere near as damaged as this one.Also, the anniversary of JFK's assassination always falls close to Thanksgiving, so watching this movie is multitasking pretty much.
DutchDutch (played by Al Bundy) is a probably mob-affiliated construction king and blue collar champion who must set straight a prissy private school oppressor. He achieves this with violence, fireworks, prostitutes and porn. I cannot recommend this film enough, because it is full of so many bizarre scenes and bad advice for potential stepfathers that it is possibly the most entertaining thing I've watched in months. Steaming on Netflix.
Addams Family Values
This movie doesn't really need me to advertise for it, because it's accepted fact that this is a damn fine movie. You can rent it from YouTube for 2.99 (pricy!). Or, if you're a decent human being, you already have it on DVD and can just watch that.
Wikipedia has a whole convenient list and you should check it out: List of Films Set Around Thanksgiving
I made a playlist of Thanksgiving-themed specials. You can watch it if it pleases you: