Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I've dusted off my favorite Dinner Failapron. Why the pessimism? Because something ALWAYS goes wrong. It's inevitable. I can't tell you how many times I've cried, or had too much to drink while cooking, or had to hide away a ruined dish... probably because I've blocked those memories. This is part of my problem: I have trouble learning from my mistakes because I kind of want to just pretend they didn't happen.
Anyhoo, I'm going to be brave and try to remember those mistakes anyway. For your sakes, dear readers. Here are 7 mistakes you might make for Thanksgiving dinner -- and how you can avoid them.
1. Getting totally overwhelmed/emotional: For years I planned these elaborate feasts because I had a VISION for how this meal should be. And then I'd get overwhelmed, and I would ruin something or maybe I'd just get emotional and frustrated. By the time I sat down I was exhausted and irritable. No more! Now I'm under-doing dinner. My mantra is to keep it super simple. I'll probably fail at that, but it's my goal, anyway. Also? Don't drink and cook. Until after disaster occurs, and then, maybe have a glass of wine.
2. Guests bring gross food: Come on, be gracious about it. I know, you were hoping not to have a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper on your beautiful Thanksgiving table. Offer to decant it. Put the soggy stuffing on the table anyway and don't say a word aside from "thank you."
3. Dried-out/burned turkey: See the two items above. But also -- this can happen when you follow a recipe by the letter rather than paying attention to what's actually happening to your bird in the oven. Look, your recipe could be wrong, or your oven's temp could be off. Keep a thermometer in your bird, check it regularly (BEFORE it should be done) and keep basting.
4. Timing is off: So, your turkey is done before your sides are. Or your sides are done before your turkey. Or your sides are all done at different times. You know what? This is not a problem. Just relax. If you're super ambitious you can attempt to time everything perfectly. But if you're not, just do what you can to keep some dishes warm-ish while you wait for the others.
5. Turkey takes waaaayyyy too long: Start your turkey earlier than you think you need to, just in case. In the event that it's early way ahead of time that's all right. Keep it covered, and fifteen minutes before serving put in a warm oven again.
6. Gravy is lumpy: This is why man invented the fine mesh sieve. You might want to use this in any event. Just pour the gravy through it and dump the lumps.
7. Your guests argue: Um, sorry, now we're outside my area of expertise. Good luck with that.
What have been your worst Thanksgiving dinner fails?
Image via Mat the Barber/Flickr