Friday, November 16, 2012

Pilgrims' Progress


1. The act or process of desensitizing.
2. Physiology, Medicine/Medica. The elimination or reduction of natural 
or acquired reactivity or sensitivity to an external stimulus, as an 
3. Psychiatry, a behavior modification technique, used especially in 
treating phobias, in which panic or other undesirable emotional 
response to a given stimulus is reduced or extinguished, especially by repeated exposure to that stimulus.


            Well, what do you know? It’s six days out from Thanksgiving and I’m not freaking out. Yet. About the ginormous stuffet I must prepare in less than a week. I can tell I’m relaxed this year because it hasn’t even occurred to me to locate my fountain pen in order to calligraphy the menu and after that the multiple it’s-pert-near-Turkey-Day to-do lists. I call that (Pilgrims') progress.
            For decades, my ma-in-law had the knack of feeding dozens of diners with amazing aplomb. I wonder how long it took her to lose her fear of cooking 30 items for 30 people and exactly how many years did it take her to master the skill of arranging everything on the buffet at the same time at each individual item’s appropriate temperature? I haven’t even begun to grasp that ability and probably won’t until I a) buy a turkey roaster or b) get one of those fancy-schmancy multiple oven stoves. Instead, I vacillate between two mantras:  1) even-if-it’s-slightly-too-cool-it’s-still-yummy and 2) it’s-better-than-eating-out-isn’t-it?
            Alas, my own mother is eighty years old and she still hasn’t conquered cooking for a boatload of folks. In fact, it still jangles her to prepare open-faced Longhorn Colby sandwiches, Mrs. Grass’s chicken noodle soup, and Crystal Light lemonade for four.
            Even though she does not possess high-level hostess abilities, I have managed to learn a thing or two from my mom with regards to feeding a crowd. Namely, if something can be made ahead of time, by all means, add it to the menu. To Mom, this means prepare as many items as you can two to three weeks in advance and freeze them. To me, this translates to make or bake as many items as possible two to three days out and Ziplock and/or refrigerate them until needed.
            Holy cow! We’re inside a week now. I guess it’s time. To make the list and check it twice.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012
(Adventure Girl will hog these for sure.)
(These bites inevitably yield garlic breath but Sandwich Child claims they are exceedingly worth it! Especially if there are no handsome,
available young men present.)
Shrimp Butter on Crackers
(Boy Child would weep if I didn’t make this family favorite.)
Spiced Pecans
(I find these alarmingly addicting. In fact, they may not make it to the buffet line. I might just hide them in the kitchen built-in alongside the
Pretzel-Cheddar Combos and bite-sized Reese Cups.)
Herb Roasted Turkey
(From Bon Appetit’s 1994 November issue. Why change perfection?)
Bon Appetit’s Mushroom Stuffing
(I did change perfection. Amped up the traditional flavor with the addition of celery, roasted chestnuts and scads of sage.)
Thyme-Scented Browned Butter Green Beans
(I love green beans either bright green and crisp or grey- green and cooked to death with ham bits and a whole onion. These are the former.)
Super Buttery and Garlicky Smashed Potatoes
(With regards to smashed potatoes, there is no such thing as too much butter.)
Sherry Shitake Turkey Gravy
(Bon Appetit 1994 strikes again. Note to self: Mince the mushrooms super tiny
so Boy Child can’t find them.)
Sister-in-Law’s Superb Secret Recipe Orange-Scented Sweet Potatoes
(Sometimes she even lets us keep the leftovers!)
Mom W’s Corn Pudding
(I requested this dish last year to dissuade my mother from bringing lime-Jello-with-cottage-cheese-salad. As if it wasn’t scary enough, Mom insists on serving it atop a bed of Iceberg lettuce with a dollop of Miracle Whip. I used to furtively distribute air-sick bags to my kids whenever she brought this item.)
Cranberries Jezebel
(To my amazement, I'm the only one who cares for this delicacy. The secret ingredient is horseradish. Oops!)
Mom T’s Bread
(Every year in my tummy of tummies, I pray Mom T will bring her famous potato rolls, but anymore she just shows up with sliced Italian bread in a waxed bag. Know why? ‘Cause at 84, she’s totally over cooking for the masses.)
Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie
(This is the only new item on the menu. The recipe is from Southern Living so I expect it to be to-drool-for.)
Pecan Crescent Cookies
(Know why these delicately delicious, boomerang-shaped treats crumble on your tongue? Because the recipe calls for two, count ’em two, sticks of butter.)
Cappuccino, Coffee, or Milk
(I suggest the former to ward off the effects of turkey tryptophan.)
          I have good news. I just took my blood pressure and checked my pulse. Neither is elevated whatsoever. Maybe I have indeed desensitized my Turkey Day Phobia. Thank you, Jesus! Now if only I could do something about my gephyrophobia; you know, bridge phobia.


(I'm curious and/or nosy. What's on your menu for Thanksgiving 2012?)

(Desensitization definition found at


Optimistic Existentialist said...

My gosh what a Thanksgiving list!! Sounds amazing!! Save an extra plate :)

Heather Day Gilbert said...

My mouth is watering just reading the menu! I think I saw that black-bottom pumpkin pie and it looked great! Have a great Thanksgiving, Diane!

writingdianet said...

Yeah, I think it'll be tasty. Today I invited a young, single gal to join us since she can't make it home to Massachutsess (I know. Epic Fail on the spelling there.) She's either gonna bring brussel sprouts or cranberry meringue pie. You might be surprised to hear I'm cool either way:)

Tony said...

I'm eating what ever you are cooking my love!!!


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