I come from a family who loves to eat, but I am just going to say it: none of us can cook.
I mean, I can sort of cook. But it's not effortless or intuitive in any way.
As an adult I've tried to build up a repertoire of a few solid dishes my kids will accept. And while I give myself a B+ for effort, when you grew up on take-out Chinese, every slightly complex meal feels like a MasterChef challenge.
Still, Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite meal of the year and I believe the pressure that comes with cooking it is worth it.
Here's the thing: The bird always fights me.
It started the year my parents decided to cook a turkey on the Webber. After six hours of "lightly smoking" the main course, the thing was still pink at midnight.
A few years after that unfortunate vegetarian celebration, we worked up the courage and bought a beautiful roasting pan. We polled everyone for the best turkey tricks -- brining! Cheesecloth! Tiny tinfoil hats on the drumsticks! All was going great until we slathered our turkey with butter and herbs, opened the oven door ... and it woudn't fit. Again, a midnight meal.
Two years ago, a close family friend and I decided to get back in the game. We went to an organic farm for a "slimmer" model. It still had feathers when we picked it up. And feet. Not only that, there were all sorts of innards and a long floppy neck to deal with. It required endless basting, and while our guests had a great time chatting, polishing off cheese plates, and drinking, I was babysitting the bird. After all the hours I'd spent bonding with the thing, I could barely eat it.
This year, I have a new plan. My turkey will be arriving from the caterer, looking just like the photo I have in my head. I will happily carve it without stressing about whether it's raw inside and fill my oven with extra pies instead.
Do you always cook your own turkey on Thanksgiving?
Image via Slgckgc/Flickr