This is the time of year when people gear up for the holidays. In the U.S., people are planning their Thanksgiving dinners. How many people are coming over? Is this turkey going to be big enough? Does everyone like creamed onions (or yams or rutabagas, or raisins in their stuffing)? What time do I tell them to get here? When does his flight get in? And so on. Alternatively, people are on their way to other people's shindigs, visiting Mom or daughter or maybe just a close friend who likes to cook.
And then there are the rest of us. Time and distance and money and death preclude travel "over the river and through the woods" or, far more likely, across the country via ORD, DFW or ATL. Nobody in town is going to feed us unless we pay them to do so, either making reservations ahead or standing in a buffet line or both. So we go out or we cook in - not for twenty people, or ten, or even five, but for one or two. And when friends and co-workers mention their big annual shindigs, we nod with frozen smiles and pretend that our Thanksgivings will be equally splendid. But the truth is, they won't be. Those big family gatherings are a lot of work and highly stressful, but almost certainly worth it. The one-or-two-person Thanksgiving simply can't compete, and ends up being kind of depressing. Or is that just me?
Case in point: the turkey in the first shot above is from Thanksgiving, 2004, probably the last time I made a full-blown Thanksgiving turkey. Even at that it was heavily compromised. See the carrots? I had attempted to stuff the turkey with scallions and carrots and celery instead of stuffing, because John was Atkinsing. It really didn't make for a very satisfactory meal, but at least I got my rutabagas in as well, just for me.
This year I've got what I've been calling a "turkey roll," based on a 40-year-old memory of something my mom cooked once in the summer and it was horribly dry and awful. But the real name of what I'm cooking is a Butterball Boneless Turkey Roast, White & Dark Meat. These are kind of hard to get, so when I saw them at Safeway a week ago I bought two. (I've already cooked the first one.) I'd really rather get the whole turkey, but sometimes one just has to do the slightly depressing, sensible thing. In a choice between a lot of work and a lot of leftover meat vs. slightly less work, considerably less expense and not enough meat, I know John prefers the latter. And really, these white-and-dark roasts tend to come out pretty well, not too dry, no awkward bones or gristle.
Again this year, John is doing Atkins. I'm not, but should be. So I'll make my one rutabaga and one yam and maybe one potato, and probably cook carrots or zucchini or something for John. No bacon, but I may try for a mini-portion of sausage stuffing if I can figure out how to do it. And I'll spend hours working in the kitchen for a meal John doesn't much care for, trying to recapture a tiny piece of my childhood by eating certain high-carb foods. Oh, yes. A merry time will be had by all. Except you know what? If I don't do this, I'll be thoroughly miserable. That's how it is.
One thing is going to be different this year. St. Michael's is having a Thanksgiving pot luck after the 11 AM Thanksgiving mass. John said he didn't mind my going, so I'll be there, with Kevin and a bowl of rutabagas. It will be interesting to see who else likes them - and who else is willing to spend part of their holiday with their church family in lieu or (or in addition to) their real family.