[Tweet “Backseat Cooking: A Thanksgiving Cautionary Tale”]
My husband is the worst driver. The. Worst. Driver. He is always gawking at everything but the road. He spots rare birds. He spots a chair in that yard sale back there. He fidgets with the radio. While he is swerving around his peripheral vision, I am in the passenger seat with my Nagging Wife Voice on full blast barking orders to Pay Attention! Watch the yellow line! Don’t hit that mailbox!
Until I was married with children I had less than no interest in cooking. The only recipes I had any experience with were take-out menus. I suppose I had it coming that one day I would find myself stuck in the kitchen with my husband who would be armed with the Nagging Wife Voice and barking orders at me to, Pay Attention!
It happened last Thanksgiving when I insisted that we spend the holiday at home so that I could live out my wildest Rockwell family dream. I wanted to get up at dawn to stuff that giant bird. I wanted to wear an apron and pearls and look like January Jones. I wanted to drink small glasses of wine all day while I prepared breads and pies and doled out motherly wisdom – and the secret to perfectly candied yams – to anyone who wandered into my kitchen.
For all the doubt my husband was knocking around I couldn’t help but be wholly optimistic that this was going to be easy because I had Martha Stewart AND Pinterest on my side.
I pulled out a few copies of Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving back issues. I did a quick search on Pinterest for holiday recipes. I opened a bottle of wine, sat down, and started pinning the shit out of Thanksgiving. By the end of the night (and the bottle of wine) I had figured out the perfect albeit spectacularly misguided menu.
The day before Thanksgiving and $389.00 later I was ready for action. The problem? I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was doing. What would Martha do in this situation? She would pour a glass of wine and start the easy stuff. Right?
I opened the can of cranberry sauce and dumped into a nice glass bowl. I was off to a brilliant start. Until…
Husband: Hey, did you start the pies yet? Where is the turkey?
Me: Whoa, hold your horses there, tough guy! Look! I made cranberry sauce!
Husband: Honey, it is the day before Thanksgiving; the cranberry sauce can wait.
Me: Look, I got this. Really, now buzz off, mmm-kay?
Husband: (rolls eyes and walks out of kitchen)
Six hours later I had burned two pies and accidentally put salt instead of sugar into a batch of pumpkin bread. We wouldn’t find out about this last blunder until dinner the following day.
This is what my Rockwell family dream looked like the next day; Thanksgiving Day aka Prove My Husband Wrong Day.
4:30 AM Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze button…lots of times.
8:45 AM Wake up, notice time, nearly jump out of my skin in panic.
8:53 AM Coffee started, Pinterest turned on, Martha magazine opened up to page 87.
9:15 AM What. The. Hell. The turkey is still frozen!
9:42 AM Pour lukewarm bath and toss in the plastic covered turkey. Pour glass of wine and pray to God that it thaws. Fast.
Husband: You forgot to thaw the bird, didn’t you? I told you not to forget to thaw the bird, but did you listen to me? NoooOOOooo!
Me: Shut up and drink your damn coffee.
Husband: Honey, it isn’t that bad just let me help. You are in over your head.
Me: (tapping fingernails on the counter top) Pass me that knife, please.
The turkey is floating in the bathtub. I poke it with my finger and it seemed thawed enough to me. I pulled it out, wrapped a towel around it, and hauled it into the kitchen.
Pinterest says to make stuffing separately. Slather butter on the turkey like sunscreen at the pool. Dust with seasoning. Seasoning? Shove turkey into oven.
Husband: Did you make sure the bird is thawed? All the way thawed?
Me: Of course I did! I’m not an idiot. Would you please stop pestering me?
Husband: Do you want me to make stuffing and gravy?
Me: I want you to hand me that recipe.
Husband: Wait! What are you doing?! You have to cook the sausage BEFORE you put mix it into the stuffing. You know that right? What, are you trying to kill us?
Hot damn if I didn’t have something to prove to Mr. Know It All!
Husband: What’s for lunch?
Forgot to turn the oven on. Sonofab**ch. I FORGOT TO TURN THE GODDAMN OVEN ON!
Turn the oven on.
Look over shoulder to make sure Mr. Know It All isn’t around.
Stick a knife into bird to make sure it is thawed all the way.
Damn thing is frozen in the middle. I thought to myself that no one had to know that it was frozen. I could just shove the bird in the oven and hope and pray that the heat would simultaneously melt and cook the bird. Maybe cooking it at a higher temperature would help.
I was wrong.
After ruining the pies, only partially baking the breads, forgetting about rolls and candied yams, and telling Martha to go to Hell about 6,000 times, dinner was finally ready.
It was only five hours late.
The inside of the turkey was not fully cooked. The outside of the turkey was burned. I told everyone that it was Cajun style. My husband had the decency (or complete lack of nerve) to not remind me that he indeed had told me so.
Next year we’re having dinner at my in-laws.
(Honey, you have my word.)