Liar, Liar Apron on Fire

Lying Cook

This Thanksgiving I was betrayed. Deeply, inconsolably betrayed. What makes it worse is that I was undone by my own people. Culinistas.

During the two decades that The One and I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner together, food authors, editors, and writers have been chirping the same saccharine, Pollyanna mantra: “Prep, and all will be well!” Each year, beginning in September, they hammer away their make-ahead message in books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, and on TV, like Glinda the Good Witch repeating, “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” to Dorothy in that helium-infused bleat of hers. And each year, even though The One and I wanted to believe what they said, we were never organized enough—or, to be honest, humble enough—to think their message applied to us.

Instead we committed the sin of hubris, believing we were far bigger, greater, and savvier than the average 22-pound turkey. We laughed in the face of a never-ending list of guests. We were so confident in our non-existent skills that we didn’t even begin cooking until the night before—and that’s when the gods smote us. Because every single year found us spending Thanksgiving in an overheated kitchen having even more overheated arguments. The bird was usually undercooked, several side dishes went missing because we ran out of time, and 30 minutes before guests were due to arrive, we’d be racing around the bedroom, screaming at each other, “I’ll never do this again!” And we have the burned pots, physical scars, and couples’ therapy bills to prove it.

That’s why I decided to start cooking ahead of time this year.

“We’re going to do it right,” I told The One as we pored over potential menus two weeks before Thanksgiving. Two weeks! Normally I was still finding ways to use up Halloween candy two weeks before Turkey Day. But we finally decided upon a holiday menu to christen our new kitchen.

Our Thanksgiving Menu
Prosciutto-Parmesan Puffs
Carrot-Ginger Soup
Two 12-pound Roasted Turkeys, Portuguese Style
Grandma Costa’s Chouriço Dressing
Potato and Pork Dressing
Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Chestnuts, Onions, and Bacon
Broccoli and Blue-Cheese Gratin
My Euphemistically Killer Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry-Orange Relish
Cranberry Chutney
Pumpkin Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie
Mini Lemon Curd Cakes with Meyer Lemon Curd

I started cooking a full five days before the holiday. That’s 128 hours of potential prep time before 11 guests were scheduled to walk through the front door at 4 p.m. last Thursday. (Do the math—five days x 24 hours a day + 8 hours on Thanksgiving = more than 9 hours per dish.)  So the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I set upon the kitchen Gladiator-style. I ripped opened three packages of turkey necks and gizzards with my teeth and seared them to a rich Corinthian leather brown. I sautéed onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in another pan until equally dark. I deglazed both pots with white wine, combined it all, added water to cover, and made what I was confident was the richest turkey gravy known to man. It was so earthy and lusty, The One and I could have chest bumped each other, but my bloodied apron was no match for his oatmeal-colored cashmere sweater.

To round out the day, I whirred the crust for the pecan pie in the food processor, whipped up the maple-cream cheese frosting in the stand mixer, and measured out the dry ingredients for the pumpkin cake. After that, I fell onto the couch to watch TV and called out, “Wench! Bring me some mead.” To which The One glared at me over his reading glasses with half-lidded eyes and said, “There ain’t no wenches here. And if you want mead I suggest I kick your ass back to the Middle Ages to get some.” A glass of milk and some store-bought pumpkin pie sufficed.

For the remaining four days, the kitchen ran more efficiently than a Japanese car factory in the ‘80s. Sunday saw the gravy, both cranberry dishes, and soup made. Monday I crossed the mashed potatoes off the list. On Tuesday we were dancing around the island and shouting over the music, “We’re in incredible shape! This will be the best Thanksgiving ev-ah!” while I baked off the pumpkin cake layers and whipped up the lemon curd. That afternoon, the turkey hit the brine while The One hit his “jacuz” and I fell onto the bed for a nap. Ah, Lifestyles of the Organized and Pompous. On Wednesday we boasted and bragged to anyone who called about how perfectly everything was going. The One and I often stood in front of the filled fridges (plural, thank you very much) and exchanged glances that just screamed, “Can’t touch this!”, MC Hammer-style.

Thanksgiving Side Dish RecipesThanksgiving morning The One meted out his agenda. He’s a man fond of agendas, and I make believe to listen to and obey him because it’s my pseudo-spousal duty. “Today, let’s finish up the last few things by three,” he said as he sat down on the couch with me to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. “And I want us doing nothing but sipping Prosecco the hour before guests arrived.”

“Naturally,” I replied, the way those haughty, Valentino-swathed women with names like Sylviana or Theodora who starred in Fellini movies did. As if the idea of doing anything more would be absurd considering how everything is completely under control.

What followed was a master class in physics as we both watched in horror at the slow-motion trajectory of the proverbial shit hitting the fan with gale-force winds. Somehow the simple tasks of basting a turkey and making three simple side dishes eluded us, because by 3:00 p.m., our appointed bubbly time, we were both running around the kitchen in full-blown panic of the Top Chef kind.

“Where’s the [bleeping] broccoli?” The One screamed.

“How the hell do I know? It’s not on my agenda to make the gratin,” I snipped.

“You know, you don’t have to be so pissy,” he said, looking over those damn reading glasses and pointing a finger at me. I contemplated the 10-inch chef’s knife in my hand

“Well, if a certain someone had started cooking five days before—like I did—perhaps we wouldn’t be in this position,” I slammed right back.

I watched his mouth form a perfect “O” of shock, and, with great delight, I waited for his next volley. I could handle it. After all, until an hour ago, I was Davidicus, the Champion of the Kitchen Arena. But instead he said, “Screw it. Forget the chestnuts, onions, and bacon!”

So, just because he’s buckling under the pressure, I thought, my nuts are the ones to get kicked, culinarily and metaphorically?

But I could see his logic. With fewer than 25 minutes left before guests started arriving, we both shoved pots—dirty and clean—into every available drawer, cabinet, and closet. (I’m still discovering crusted-over Le Creuset pots.)

He ran back to the kitchen and, panting, grabbed my arm. “Go, Love. Go and take a shower,” with that mano-a-mano tone of a brother-in-arms telling a fellow soldier to save himself.

“I can’t leave you,” I said. “You go, I can handle the guests.”

“But you’re the star,” he said. “You’re the one they’re expecting to have done great things, not me.”  Well, who was I to argue with a desperate man? So I went up to the bathroom and took what is without a doubt the fastest shower and shave of my life. Then I flew downstairs, only to body check The One into the wall on his way up. In the kitchen, I spun in place counting burbling pots on the stove and burping casseroles in the oven. My blanched and peeled pearl onions mocked me from a dripping colander on the counter. I opened the coat closet and chucked the colander among our winter coats.

Once again drenched in sweat, I ran out into the frigid backyard to cool down. “I WILL NEVER F%&KING DO THIS AGAIN! DO YOU HEAR ME, GOD? NEVER!!!” I screamed to the battleship gray sky. “NEVER!”

At 3:55 p.m. the doorbell rang. The One pulled me to him and whispered threateningly, “We will never let on to anyone, ever, that we had a problem. You hear me?” I nodded. “No one ever has to know.” And with that one simple request we went from being the victims to the perpetrators of the Great Thanksgiving Lie. So much for Honest Entertaining.

UPDATE

For several days now, I’ve been smelling a foul, rank odor in the basement. I began to wonder if Devil Cat had killed some defenseless creature and left its moldering carcass for me as an early Christmas present. Then this morning—December 16th, exactly 20 days after Thanksgiving—The One came trudging up the basement stairs with the roasting pan we borrowed from our friend Matty in hand.

“Remember the smell downstairs?” he asked. I nodded. “Well…,” he said, holding out the pan accusingly. He whipped off the lid with a flourish, and something that smelled as if it came from the bowels of the earth wafted through the kitchen. I peeked inside and there sat a package of pork sausages that was so full of busily noshing bacteria that the square plastic package was the size and shape of a basketball. “You forgot these when we unpacked the groceries for Thanksgiving.” And with that he thrust the pan at me.

I blinked at him. “Really?” I asked. He nodded victoriously.

And then I remembered.

“Or was it when you ran around the kitchen like a mad man, hiding everything in sight?” I asked.

I saw the realization ripple across his face.

“Yes, that’s right, my love,” I said. Those are the sausages I told you to put in the downstairs fridge.” Suddenly his puffed chest reduced a suit size or two and he headed toward the trash.

“No one ever has to know about this!” I shouted after him. “Ever!”

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Comments
Comments
  1. Karen Depp says:

    My Dear FL and The One: I can only imagine! If only our new kitchens didn’t lure us into the Land of the Invincibles. Go check the flour bin – I think I see a missing casserole dish in there! I am sure you will need it for the next round coming soon….

    • David Leite says:

      THE FLOUR BIN!! I forgot to look there. That’s where the cast-iron skillet could be. Yes, Karen, consider this a cautionary tale….

      • Ellen Kroner says:

        Well, I, for one, reaped the rewards of your suffering. What a glorious meal it was! And you were both cool as cucumbers!

        • David Leite says:

          El, well, you’ve seen behind the green curtain at other times. You KNOW what lunatics we can be. At least the food did come out well this year. And even YOU, a turkey disliker, loved it.

  2. Anne L says:

    You never fail to leave me laughing and make me feel wonderful about any ‘minor’ mishaps that I may encounter, while tossing a dinner party. This time I’ll take the time to tell you. Thanks. :) Pissst.. your menu that made it to the table sounded delectable.

    • David Leite says:

      Anne, thank you. If I have in some way made you feel better about yourself in the kitchen, then my job is done here. Too much of what we see these days only contributes to us feeling less than and incompetent. I know plennnnnnnnnnnnty of many top chefs and writers who screw up. You re not alone.

  3. Beth says:

    Oh, Davidicus, I do adore these accounts!

    And “helium-infused bleat” is priceless!

  4. Eric Noak says:

    I will NEVER tell a soul…I promise.

  5. Pieri says:

    Like some others here I am a bit (???) of a control diva in the kitchen. In the past I run around like a half crazed Italian off her grappa -screeching, gnashing teeth and pulling hair and yet am able to sit down at the table in front of guests like I had just had a soothing 2 hour nap. (Oscar worthy performance.)

    Then this year someone suggested that we have a potluck Thanksgiving–I could use my control-freak tendencies (who comes up with these labels anyway??) to organize everyone so there wouldn’t be 12 potato salads. Guess what…I baked Cornish hens for everyone (22 of them) and everyone else did sides and desserts. The house was clean (mostly), and I walked around the kitchen looking for something to do. There was peace in my house and not an empty grappa bottle anywhere, I didn’t screech, scream or threaten to castrate anyone.

    I hated it. I think I save up all the slights for the year and then have a reason to get it all out. It was an anticlimactic day and not to be repeated. Too sedate–all that drinking, screaming and carrying on makes me feel like a new woman and a hero of sorts (if you are a control diva you get this). I think it is my form of scream therapy. So David and the One…save on the therapy: open a bottle or 6 and enjoy the ride.

    • David Leite says:

      Pieri, your comment was so funny I think peed myself. I would love to be a fly on the wall on your wall during one of your non-sedate Thanksgiving preparations. The Momma Leite in me secretly enjoys the beating of the breast and the screaming of the lungs!

  6. pattipanuccio says:

    thanks for the giggles

  7. pamela says:

    this was great… laughed all the way through!

  8. KellyLott says:

    I feel much better now. Apparently I am not the only one who hides dirty dishes in any available dark corner. I swear one day we’ll find that really nice grease-filled roasting pan I placed outside in the leaves, somewhere.

  9. Jenni Field says:

    Um, don’t look now, but I believe you have some pearl onions in your coat closet. I smiled through the whole post, but I guffawed out loud (gol) at “I can’t leave you!” Never leave a man behind!

    I can imagine that your meal was grand, Davidicus!

    • David Leite says:

      Thank you, Jenni. If I smell something foul in there soon, I’ll know I’ve left a few onions behind!

  10. I needed a good chuckle this freezing morning, thank you. Still smiling and feeling not so alone after my own dinner mishaps.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Too, too funny! I am picturing this scenario in my head and LMAO. Thanks for making my day.

  12. ATNell says:

    O Davidicus, you do have a way with words. The imagery that you conjured has made today much lighter and brighter.

    This year, we solved the problem of the holiday scramble and went to Maui the week before Thanksgiving, coming home the evening of Thanksgiving to a quiet and clean house (& 3 needy but grateful cats). It felt strange to not be roasting a turkey, but the freedom was so sweet. We may do this again next year.

    • David Leite says:

      ATNell, at the end of the day, that’s really all I want to do. Make someone’s day brighter and it bit lighter. So thank you so much for that.

  13. Mark says:

    Hilarious, can definitely identify with “full-blown panic of the ‘Top Chef’ kind” when guests are imminent and dinner is not!

  14. Oh, to be a fly on that kitchen wall at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day – I can just picture (and hear) it! That will be me on Christmas Eve, which is my assigned holiday feast for the family. I’m sure everything was breathtakingly delicious down to the very last bite!

    • David Leite says:

      Kate, I have to say the food was very very good. But I simply can’t imagine you being anything less then utterly calm. If you can run a huge division of a company, I know you can run your kitchen.

  15. SusySlais says:

    Ha ha ha . . . lovely article! I hear you! I spent Monday and Tuesday doing as much prep work as I possibly could (including turkey stock from scratch!) . . . then hubby and I drove three hours up-north to my in-laws on Wednesday (after spending two hours just packing all my ingredients and kitchen tools!), did some more cooking that evening . . . and spent Thursday cooking (with the help of my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law) from 8 a.m. through 7 p.m., and finally served dinner at 7:30 p.m. I was extremely tired but, you know what? It was worth it every single second I spent cooking! The menu included: 20 lb. turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, challah and sausage stuffing, cranberry-port compote, yellow rice. caramelized carrots and pumpkin cheesecake trifles . . . Thanksgiving dinner was simply wonderful! :)

  16. David, a hilarious tale–worth all the pain you went through! But, seriously, I simply cannot keep attempting to cook and entertain on the scale I once did–there would have to be two of me to do what the younger me used to do alone!

    • David Leite says:

      Why, thank you, Jean. And I often wonder why I’m compelled to entertain on such a large scale on Thanksgiving. It just doesn’t feel like the holiday without all that food and all those people.

  17. Martha in KS says:

    Since a little birdie told me that you’d had a “challenging” day (or week) of preparing your Thanksgiving feast, I really wasn’t surprised since I’d seen your menu. And then a post on tumblr showed Proscuitto Parmesan Puffs not even on the list. Dinner for 10 or so does not need to include FIFTEEN items (including the gravy). Darling, take it from a once-upon-a-time caterer – DON’T MAKE SO MANY DISHES! When a Bridezilla selected 20 hors d’oeuvres from my list of offerings, I gently informed her that would only be possible if she planned on robbing a bank to pay for her reception. Next year one cranberry dish, one dressing, one vegetable casserole, maybe two desserts & you won’t be naked 15 min. before your guests arrive (unless you want to be). Or better yet, go help feed the homeless as I did. That table of six semi-toothless guys were thrilled with everything on their plates & I didn’t break a sweat.

    It’s 14 degrees & dropping in KC.

    • David Leite says:

      Dorothy, all good counsel, for sure. The thing is I’m just constitutionally unable to stop myself. Add to that The One and his fiendish ways of prodding and provoking me, and the next thing you know, we’re ready to host the Queen of England.

      And why can’t it be 14° here?

  18. linnett says:

    that was the most entertaining article I have read in a while, I am still wiping the tears of laughter off my face. Thanks for making my day.

  19. Hahahaha I love it- soooooooo sounds exactly like what we do here, only my girls and I are the ones running around like chickens with our heads cut off.

  20. Ah yes, the big lie. I always tell my hubby that my guests will never know the panic that happened just minutes before they arrived as long as I have room in the garage to throw the dirty pots and pans. Deception is always an appropriate appetizer for a holiday meal.

  21. Kelley Butler says:

    “could have chest bumped? But my bloodied apron was no match for his oatmeal-colored cashmere sweater.” LOL the pictures you draw in my head are hilarious. Yes, dear Davidicus, pair down that menu and make some of it with the leftovers?

    • David Leite says:

      Oh, we had all kinds of leftovers. Casseroles, cranberry sauce-stuffed breakfast stratas, etc. I just find it hard to pair down, Kelley.

  22. Bea says:

    I am still standing here with rolling tears of laughter running down my face and out my nose. I love your blog and your food. Such is a great man! Have a great day, you made mine much better! Love and best wishes.

  23. Hysterical, David, and so nice to be reminded that the kitchen giants among us are mortal after all. My family thinks they are the only ones who get subjected to this kind of panic and frenzy before major holiday feasts, thinking that everyone else they know is cool, calm and collected. It’s time to shatter the illusions!

    • David Leite says:

      Please, shatter away! There is no one I know–professionally or personally–who doesn’t get flustered at this time of year, lambsearsandhoney. No one.

  24. Ling Teo says:

    Choking with hysterical laughter and tears here. Bless you and The One both – now onwards to Christmas!!

  25. Jamie says:

    I will admit that when we have guests for dinner it is usually 2. Us and two more. Possibly four more. So I cook for a grand total of 4 or maybe, rarely 6. Yet what you describe sounds just like me. Every time. I think that Thanksgiving dinner or any dinner with high expectations always always ends up this way with dishes forgotten, overcooked, undercooked, heated arguments, hysterical screaming and screeching and out-of-control panic. And really one must just accept it and plan it all into the agenda.

    And that menu has me swooning and one day I might just have to show up on your doorstep like Elijah showing up at a Passover seder. Place a wine glass out for me.

    • David Leite says:

      Jamie, hell, I’ve never done it, but if you want to come for Passover dinner, I’ll make all my fave dishes. We can think of it as an ecumenical Passover.

  26. Oui, Chef says:

    You slay again with this story of best laid plans going awry….too funny, David. Happy Holidays to you and The One.

  27. Christina says:

    This was so funny that I laughed until I cried. I am glad that I am not the only one who hides dirty dishes when guests are coming over. When I am preparing for Thanksgiving as the crunch begins I always start to feel like I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This year my husband said, “When this is all over you should have a really big glass of wine.” I sure needed it.

    • David Leite says:

      Christina, I know what you’re feeling. And as far as that big glass of wine, make sure it fits 750 mL of your best Bordeaux.

  28. ruthie says:

    Just your typical holiday fun, eh, Davidicus? Speaking of whom, he looks like he’s been moonlighting changing oil at the local JiffyLube. No wonder The One sent you to take a shower. ;) Pity about the chestnuts, they sounded delish. I took it totally easy this year and only missed the madness a little bit. ;)

    As always, I love your way with a story. BTW, when I redo my kitchen, I’m having the old cabinets installed along the garage walls. The perfect place to stash things until the guests have gone. Or, hey, I just thought…there’s this thing called a garage gorilla or something*. It’s a platform that you put stuff on, then press a button and a motor pulls it up toward the garage ceiling! Out of sight, out of mind. What a place for the dirty dishes. LOL!

    * Huh. There’s the Gorilla and a Gator both. Handy things, though, as long as your garage ceiling is high enough.

    • David Leite says:

      ruthie, we had all the old kitchen cabinets and counters installed in the basement. But they’re taken up with hiding all the junk we’ve collected the past 20 years together and the stuff The One won’t let go of from the 34 years before we met. I am planning on installing more units, though, because we finally repaired the basement, and it’s no longer damp or smelly. Wonder of wonders. Now if he would just let me be a TRUE Portuguese and add a sink, stove, oven, and fridge to the basement, I’d be in heaven. My people have a knack for cooking in cellars….

    • Martha in KS says:

      Ruthie, my cousin in Las Vegas has those overhead racks in her garage. They’re great!

  29. Karen says:

    FL: I have 50+ coming for a “stand-up” dinner of sorts this Friday. I was awake at 4:20 AM pondering which Leite’s Culinaria recipes could bail me out and keep me from the usual General Quarters routine a la Flaming Apron. Is it too soon to start brandishing the flamethrower and hiding the electric knives? Or should I restack those kitchen appliance crates in the garage so I can hide the evidence behind them?

    I appreciate any suggestions.

    K.

    • David Leite says:

      I’m getting lightheaded just thinking about it. I’ll defer to both Renee and Beth here, but I think dishes that 1.) can be made ahead, 2.) served in toto (casseroles) 3.) don’t required futzing around with (individual hors d’oeuvres), and 4.) can be sliced and served by the guests (think a roast, ham, etc.). I would DEFINITELY have a storing and cleaning strategy. If it means the garage, it means the garage. No one would fault you. You must hire servers who clean. The last thing you want is to be faced with mountains of dishes after all have made merry and left. And last, please, see a professional. Shrink, that is. Fifty plus??

      • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

        Definitely a ham or two, Karen. Soooo easy and can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. It also allows you to decant several different sorts of accompaniments—mustard, chutney, cranberry relish, and so forth—into pretty little dishes that’ll sparkle like jewels in candlelight and make everything seem quite abundant with very little effort. You’ll want another main course or two—perhaps a turkey or roast? And biscuits or rolls, lots of ‘em, to help fill folks up. Bake them in advance, freeze them, and reheat them in a warm oven just before setting them out or just buy them (shhhhhh). As for sides, we’ve got a slew of recipes you can make in advance. And as for setting things out, buffet-style, surely items like mashed potato and even sliced ham or turkey could be kept warm, if you wanted, in slow cookers on the counter? It’s not silver platters, but it beats cold spuds. Perhaps you can borrow some cookers from friends and family? If alcohol will be involved, I suggest sticking with just wines—some red, some white, some sparkling—because you’re certainly not going to have time to mix drinks. Or if you want a cocktail, consider having just one house cocktail for the event—or even put out a bowl of punch or fill one of those slow cookers with a batch (or three) of mulled wine. Yes, as David says, by all means, throw the dirty dishes in the garage. Finally, darling, consider, if you haven’t already, enlisting two friends or family members to help you work the party—folks you can delegate to and rely on to help you get stuff done.

        • ruthie says:

          Karen, if you have multiple crock pots, you can set them up with soups or chili, stuff that needs to keep warm. This time of year, that’s always a hit. A basket of breads and rolls, and that’s something that can take care of itself.

  30. ruthie says:

    I must be part Portuguese. ;) There is a sink in the garage, and an additional fridge, freezers, food dehydrator, FoodSaver…let me think…the giant microwave is going out there, too. LOL! The current kitchen has a stovetop, one of those glass ones. When I redo, I’m probably going to go for a stove instead. You can bet the stovetop is going to be installed along with the cabinets. I’m getting one of those weird plastic strips things that hang from the ceiling to cordon off the food area, like they have in places that store food, and an exhaust fan, too. It helps that the cars aren’t allowed in the garage. ;) Now if I could just find room for a merchandiser, life, at least food storage-wise, would be perfect.

  31. Our undoing with Thanksgiving hosting happened a few years ago. Our parents were meeting for the first time as we were hosting Thanksgiving (on my birthday) in our 700 square foot city condo. I may have told you this story when we met. We moved the couch and stole a few chairs from the office and unfolded our drop-leaf dining room table, while screaming and crying and fighting like our lives depended on this one stupid dinner. The food went off without a hitch, thanks to prep, but the days leading up to Thanksgiving were awful. We stashed dog bowls, shoes and laptops instead of pearl onions and pans, and I got a “look” but it wasn’t over gold-rimmed glasses. But like you, when the doorbell rang–wait, we don’t have a doorbell–when the knocking of our first guest was heard, we hugged each other, smiled, and vowed to never tell them about our aggravations. So, I can say I completely understand the hilarity of the situation, only in the completely opposite way! Happy Holidays, David!

  32. JC Marc says:

    I can so relate. I start cooking/prepping DAYS before. I set my table three days in advance. I have all my serving dishes washed and placed on the table with small tags with the dish’s name written. My family knows to leave me alone and to stay far away from the kitchen the whole week before Thanksgiving. I tape my recipes all over my kitchen cabinets (along with a master checklist). I make almost everything 2 ways (My family insists on 2 broccoli faves, 3 green bean dishes, etc.) and I have two diabetics for whom I have to change sugar content. I pride myself in cleaning up after myself as I go along and all is orderly. Until an hour before dinner is to be presented. Then everything goes to the dogs and as I start setting my dishes out, I start losing my calm demeanor. Pots and pans get thrown everywhere and the sink piles up and explodes. The kitchen looks like a bomb hit. Then I slip out and grab a hamburger. (FYI – my children and their spouses clean up for me.) Happy New Year!

    • David Leite says:

      JC, word. I hear you. And I know I am not the only food writer to get into this situation. Hell, I’ve been with some writers who when planning a meal toss up their hands and we go our for dinner. I think Thanksgiving would be great if it weren’t for guests….

      • JC says:

        Here’s the crazy part – I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I love everything about a Thanksgiving meal. The banter and the laughter, and yes the food. But, after tasting all this food for days, I crave anti-turkey food. Did I mention that I usually make 2 turkeys a ham, a prime rib roast and sometimes a goose? So this is my yearly norm. Next year I will share some photos. Wishing great things for you in 2014!

        • David Leite says:

          Wow, JC, I think your initials are apt, if you know what I mean. That could feed a small country. What I crave after Thanksgiving? A cheese hamburger. Thick, juicy, with ketchup and mayo.

  33. ravengoth says:

    Great story David! My worst Thanksgiving was the year I had to work half a day and came home to help Mom cook and my two teenage daughters started fighting and Mom ran in the kitchen to help break it up and tripped and we all went to the emergency room to get her checked out (she was okay) and stopped at Denny’s to eat on the way home. We cooked the next day.

  34. synopticalle says:

    Humor, the greatest mask for pain…your story is my story.

    I too was saying, “Never, ever again!!” on New Years’ Eve after an 18-hour cooking-crunch-day culminated in a mad dash to buy Heath Bars 45 minutes prior to guests’ arrival. (Toffee for crumbling on cake, not yet frosted because just-sampled purchased toffee was stale). And yes, I had made certain to get the cake out of the way previous day, but, alas, that first cake had to be drop-kicked into the garbage disposal.

    Massive prep work had seemed to assure NY’s lovely dinner would be a slam dunk. In fact, while cooking that day, I felt so on top of the game, I happily indulged in billowing our “Winter Wonderland,” (icy, shimmering Anne-created atmospheric decor in front entry hall) into other rooms.

    As guests arrived, I was just disappearing up the stairs to get dressed. Not an ounce left in me for entertaining. But as the guests’ eyes lit up like children’s over food and decor, I started to recoup energy. Their delight meant something. Though lifelong dear friends, they are also classy folks, having dined at Bill Gates’ and such.

    The next day, after our three overnight guests departed, still exclaiming, my husband’s and my “never-ever’s” started to morph into mutual congratulations. Tentative statements crept forth. “When we do this next year, we’ll add. . .”

    But I really do need sane middle ground. Or an intervention? Can’t seem to put the lid on inspiration. Creative vision demands execution. Doesn’t it?

    At the very least, I want to master that body check on the stairs.

    • David Leite says:

      synopticalle, thanks for the kind words. And knowing you I can image how gorgeous it all was.

      Yes, we overachievers need a swift kick in the pork butt, if you ask me. Yet, I know despite it all, I’ll be standing at the stove next year saying, “THIS time will be different.” What’s that definition of insanity? Oh yeah, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

      • Indeed. BTW, this is your Puerto Rico buddy, Anne Chalfant. FINALLY getting the website up in a week, thanks to your suggestion lo–how long ago was your pina colada “seminar in a bar?” Besides your good advice, I look at your site as a model site on the web. Clean, inviting, fonts et al reflect what it is.

        • David Leite says:

          Anne, don’t you think I know who you are? Fatty Daddy knows all! And, yes, it was two years ago that we had out fateful piña colada meeting! Best of luck with your site.

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