“So I’m thinking about ordering a pre-cooked turkey.” A friend texted me two days before Thanksgiving. It’s this time of year when the texts from friends and family are less about “how are you doing?” and more closely resemble a conversation with the Butterball helpline. I love it. I consider it an absolute pleasure to be able to speak for hours about all butter crusts, to par-bake or not to par-bake and brining – wet, dry, is it really needed (yes, salt and pepper the day before)? My ease and joy in the kitchen is a gift and one that I absolutely am delighted to share.
“Should I order a pre-cooked turkey? Should I be scared about cooking a turkey?” My friend continued. Even through my iPhone screen I could feel the tension. He was kicking himself for not thinking about all of this sooner and feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the turkey cooking task. “First of all roasting a turkey is not hard.” I started “but don’t let the turkey cooking overshadow the point of the holiday. If a pre-cooked turkey will help you focus on the actual thanks-giving and the company of friends and family then that’s the way to go.”
I love spending hours in the kitchen slowly simmering homemade stock for the purpose of creating a luscious and deeply flavored gravy. Pie crusts and bread doughs relax in the fridge days before the main event. Weeks before I’m scouring blogs, magazines and cookbooks trying to craft the perfect menu although I don’t usually iron out all of the details until the day before. But I realize that not everyone is like me.
And while the table will be mightily set with a half a dozen dishes including caramelized squash with feta and onion, a crisp Brussels sprouts salad with smoky bacon and tart cranberries and a pumpkin pie with a thick sugar cap, the sink will also be piled high with dishes, there will be socks scattered around the house that the dog has chewed and I’ll be lucky if the kids have brushed their hair. But I’m happy and giving thanks for a bustling kitchen and a house filled with people I love.
This time of year is so busy, the endless tasks can so easily choke out the joy and quite frankly the purpose of all the celebrating in the first place. I hope for all of us that the moment we start to feel overwhelmed we’ll order a pre-cooked turkey, or whatever that may look like for all of us. I’ll forgive myself for the lack of Christmas garnish around the house or unmade beds if it means that I’m digging deeper into the peace, hope, and joy that this season seeks to bring us.
Food Blogger, notwithoutsalt.com