Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy #Thanksgiving from Mystery Lovers Kitchen

LUCY BURDETTE: By the time you get to our blog on Thanksgiving, you are finished with cooking for the day, right? Who needs a new recipe for stuffing or cranberries or even dessert? Who needs to be reminded what she forgot to do, or wished she done for the holiday? We thought it might be fun instead to tell you some cooking disaster stories. Because believe it or not (LOL), not every dish we make comes out perfectly!

My disaster came a couple of years ago when we hosted a giant family Thanksgiving dinner. Along with the turkey and gravy I made pumpkin and chocolate cream pies. Chocolate cream pie on Thanksgiving, you say? But my husband's family loves anything chocolate. And I was happy to show off, even buying designer chocolate instead of the usual Baker's. I've made this pie a dozen times--using a recipe right out of the JOY OF COOKING. The graham cracker crust was lovely, but the chocolate pudding part looked grainy. And though I refrigerated it overnight, it never set. We served it in bowls and I was humbled. Though the mounds of whipped cream did help...(These pix are the actual offending pie--If you look closely at the full pie, you'll see the grainy texture. Why you might ask, did she stop to take a picture? I must have known in my heart this would come in handy one day!)

Happy Thanksgiving to all our MLK readers! xoxo Lucy

KRISTA DAVIS: At least you could eat it, Lucy! Our big holiday disaster happened one Christmas. My mom was ready to put the goose in the oven when – boom – the electricity went out. We probably could have tried roasting it on the grill, but what about all the side dishes?  Instead, we phoned everyone and ate our Christmas dinner the next day. As I recall, the electricity returned about eight o'clock that night.

My current trend seems to be forgetting at least one dish in the fridge on Thanksgiving. LOL! No matter, everyone seems thrilled to have another dish added to the yummy leftovers the next day. 

A very happy Thanksgiving to all! Whatever happens, don't forget that the little kitchen mishaps often make for the funniest memories. ~Krista

 Krista, I know about forgetting a dish. LOL! I think we all do that. My disaster was the Thanksgiving we moved into our new house in Los Angeles. New kitchen. Lots of people. Not enough space. And everyone wanting to "help." Ooops. Too many cooks, you know? I dumped the stuffing on the floor as I was trying to negotiate going around someone to get to the oven. I really hadn't figured out the square footage of "between the oven and the island" very well. And then the milk boiled over for the mashed potatoes! And the milk oozed

below the stove to the drawers so they all had to come out and get washed down. Before dinner!  Ugh!!!  But the dinner was delicious, and by this time, everyone was participating in clean up.  Too funny. But not so funny at the time. I do remember having a delicious sauvignon blanc...again and again...

Happy holidays, to all. May you enjoy those you love and let those you love "help" when they can.

~ Daryl aka Avery

SHEILA CONNOLLY: I can't recall a lot of disasters of my own, although for the first half of my life turkeys were either overcooked to dryness or still pink in the middle--there didn't seem to be any such thing as "just right." I can remember my mother and grandmother poking the darned things and arguing whether it was ready or not.

The worst Thankgiving dinner I ever attended was when my husband and I were guests of a colleague of his, in North Carolina.  His wife was a bit mentally unstable and retreated to the bathroom in tears, and Jim was left holding the turkey and asking us, "How do you make gravy? Do I just add water to the pan?" We all survived, but their marriage didn't.

To balance that, one of my best Thanksgivings ever was in Berkeley, where there are lots of people with few relatives around.  One person gathered together 25 guests for a potluck.  The long table occupied the entire living room and extended six feet into the hallway.  That's the way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

PEG COCHRAN: I, too, have forgotten side dishes in the fridge--usually the homemade cranberry sauce!  With so much on the plate how would you even notice!  When I was a kid my grandmother made the turkey, getting up at some ungodly hour to get it in the oven.  That turkey was COOKED by the time it came to the table.  As my cousin always said, you don't have to carve Grandma's turkey, just hit it on top with a fork and all the meat will fall off the bones.

I've been lucky not to have had too many disasters (okay the make it now, bake it later dish that contained tiny canned shrimp and white bread..but that was before I knew better.)  At some point, it was in the late 90s, I learned about brining a turkey.  It was all the rage almost overnight (I was really into food and had honestly not ever heard of it before.)  I decided I would brine our turkey.  It was fairly small but I still didn't really have a big enough container for it (this was before I learned you could use a clean garbage bag.)  I ended up putting it in my large soup pot.  It was a snug fit, and the lid wouldn't quite go on.  And there wasn't any room in the fridge for it, but it was hovering around freezing so I put it outside on the front steps (I had no deck and the back door was downstairs.) 

When I went to retrieve it to cook it the next day, I had to chase a whole bunch of birds away.  They were nibbling on the raw turkey!  Fortunately I was able to retrieve the situation by cutting off that end of the turkey.  We all survived!  Hope you not only survive but thrive!  Happy Thanksgiving to all. Peg

Oh disaster! You bet, and If only it had been food. All our food disasters happen at Christmas and New Year's. But two years ago, as we were driving to the cottage after having picked up a turkey for Thanksgiving, we drove over the crest of a hill just as the sun was starting to set in the early fall sky. We were blinded by the sun in our eyes -- the windshield went black. Worried about hitting someone head on, the little mister pulled over to the side of the road, taking out a farmhouse mailbox and the front bumper of our 4-month old car.  

Some time later, we were
 grateful that we hadn't killed someone or been killed. There's always a bright side when turkey's involved.  Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy your family, friends and food.  Look our for mailboxes.

XO  MJ (aka Victoria)

CLEO COYLE: MJ, sounds like that turkey was a party crasher! Hey, no groaning. Bad jokes are allowed on Thanksgiving--after a few adult beverages. And adult beverages were definitely on the menu after this disaster...

This one is a story from my dear husband (and partner in crime-writing). On Marc's first Thanksgiving in New York City, he wanted to whip up a feast for his roommate and some friends.

Marc was no novice at cooking. He’d preparing meals for his family since the 9th grade (because both parents had careers). Unfortunately, he’d never gotten up early enough on Thanksgiving morning to watch his mother and father prep the bird for the oven; so he failed to learn an important lesson...

Fast-forward to a small apartment kitchen in New York City. Marc proudly prepped and stuffed his ten-pound turkey, and popped it into the oven. All done! Right? Wrong. Before long a foul plastic smell filled the apartment. What was it? Some illegal incinerator going full tilt? An unlicensed construction crew? No matter, the stench quickly passed and the turkey roasted to beautiful perfection—but looks were deceiving.

Marc had failed to clean the gizzards out of the neck flap, and they were sealed in plastic. The bird looked great—but it tasted like hot, wet Styrofoam! That Thanksgiving, Marc and his friends enjoyed dinner at the local fast-food joint (Nathan's), where the hot dogs were delicious. 

Which goes to show you: no matter what you're eating for dinner, if you're sharing it with people you care about, Thanksgiving can turn out to be a doggone beautiful meal. May all of us...

Eat with
(Thanksgiving) joy!
~ Cleo 

And to all
of our readers...



  1. Thanks for sharing your hilarious holiday disaster stories -- it's so reassuring to know that others are not perfect in the kitchen either! My Thanksgiving disaster occurred a few years ago. I normally do not make potatoes, as I feel the stuffing is all the starch we need, but that year I decided to surprise my husband with mashed potatoes, which he dearly loves. Everything was done and ready to go, so I asked my husband to get the white wine out of the fridge and open the bottle. Unfortunately, I had set the pan full of potatoes on top of the fridge, since one of our dogs was a notorious counter surfer and had knocked many a food item off of the kitchen counters in the past. As soon as my husband opened the fridge door, you guessed it -- the whole pan of mashed potatoes crashed to the floor. We managed to salvage about half of the potatoes, but guess who got to lick up the rest from the floor? We had one extremely happy Dalmatian that year (and her sisters got to help). Later on, as I was washing the dishes, I managed to break my favorite vegetable bowl -- the perfectly disastrous ending to a perfectly disastrous day.

    The following year I made my husband take me out to eat at a restaurant for Thanksgiving, and I have never made mashed potatoes for this holiday since!

    Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Thanksgivukkah to all!

    1. Oh Cee, that definitely deserves a spot in the annals of holiday disasters! At least the dogs were happy...Happy Thanksgiving whatever you're eating today:) xo

    2. LOL, Lucy!

      Cee - I just had to say thanks for sharing your story! Don't you love it when our pets get the better of us?! Good for you on making the best of it, and having the heart to let the furry friends enjoy the fallen taters. Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Cleo

  2. Cee, that sounds like something that would happen at our house! Hope this Thanksgiving is everything you wish for shared with family and friends!

  3. I love all these posts! Have a fabulous, disaster-free Thanksgiving everyone.



  4. Cleo, I did the same thing your hubby did the first time I cooked a turkey for both my grandmothers. They sure got a giggle when I pulled that plastic bag out of the cavity.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all ~

    1. Linda - Marc thanks you for sharing your story. (He's glad to know he's not the only one who did something like that!) Happy Thanksgiving to you, may you eat with joy ~ Cleo

  5. I bet a lot of cooks have overlooked the gizzards! They're often well hidden! Cee, my dogs would have been thrilled with those mashed potatoes. I'm with your husband, it's one of the best parts of the meal.

    Great stories, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!


  6. My worst Turkey day disaster actually belonged to my sister in law. She'd never done a whole turkey before and didn't realize how long it weird take to thaw. She called us in tears since the bird was still frozen solid when ir was time to be stuffed and put in the oven. We told her to the it in the microwave and dinner would just be an hour or so late so serve extra munchies before dinner. One hour later we get another call 'What do I do with turkey parts?' When we asked where she got the parts she told us. Turned out that the bird was too big to go into the microwave so they cut it to pieces with, wait for it, their CHAINSAW! That bird wasn't cut it was shredded. When we got done laughing we just said. Go out to dinner that turkey is a dead loss. To this day this had become as family legend 'The Evanston Turkey Chainsaw. Massacre'.

    1. Lil (aka Dr. Mom) - If your SIL had taken a video of chainsawing that turkey, I'll bet it would have been a YouTube sensation. Good save on going out to dinner--and great cooking disaster (slash horror) story. We all have them!

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!