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This year, as way to have an intimate family gathering, we decided to do an Un-Thanskgiving Menu on Wednesday evening, taking a twist on the traditionals. Thursday we would be spend with relatives. This could be our chance to be fancy, gourmet, and thankful, because, well, neither of our families seem comfortable going around and saying what they’re thankful for. In my family, it’s more about the food and small talk than anything else.

The Menu

Cranberry sauce

Mashed sweet potatoes

Rotisserie duck

Brandy Alexander Pie

The Result

Well, since it had been a busy day, I plopped down in a chair with baby on the ground and my laptop on my lap. Of course, my presence was keeping the baby happy, you know? I shouted a “do you need any help?” to my husband once and he said no. See how we shatter conventional stereotypes?

From the living room I asked if he bought cranberries. Nope, only the canned kind, thinking there would not be enough time to make cranberry sauce. He offered to doctor it up and my moody, hungry tiredness made some difficult conversation around that subject. He found cranberries in the freezer and went on to make the cranberry sauce.

Lesson 1: Discuss the grocery list.

After an hour, he said “the duck is finally thawed.”

Lesson 2: Don’t by frozen duck the evening you want to cook it.

After thirty minutes he went to the garage and said he was looking for the roaster. The dusk did not fit on the rotisserie. Then my eyes opened to what was happening in the kitchen.

Lesson 3: Work together for strange last minute menus. Check in to help assess the situations because four eyes, two heads, and four hands are all better than half that amount.

I remembered where the roaster was, so up the attic he went, and brought it down. I never said we had to continue, but in his deep desire to make this fancy meal for me who has a yen for fancy things, he would not give up.

The duck was in the roaster (roast duck sounds more like it, right?). I put the finished cranberry sauce in the fridge (we did have time after all). I forgot all about the “fancy” and setting the table. It was already 8pm at this time and we usually eat by 6pm. The man made his world-famous garlic bread. Delicious!

Lesson 4: Yum, appetizers!

He brought the bread over to me on the couch (I’m even worse now because the baby is asleep and I’m still not helping).

Lesson 5: Set the table ahead of time, this will help keep me alert to the active world.

Next course (each course consisted of whatever was cooked already): mashed sweet potatoes. Our reaction to the first bite: hmm… My husband’s second reaction: it kind of grows on you.

Lesson 6: Skin sweet potatoes before cooking/mashing when making mashed sweet potatoes

Lesson 7: Don’t use too much water in the mashing process.

Lesson 8: Don’t make mashed sweet potatoes.

We still had a while for the duck to finish. What course could we do next? Dessert, of course! We stole a gingerbread turkey cookie from the platter prepared for Thanksgiving day and dished ice cream on top. No needed lessons here, it was simply good. Now that I write this I realize we forgot the dessert we had planned on. That’s just fine. We’ll save it for Gaudete Sunday.

We ate the duck with the cranberry sauce. My husband did an amazing job with his first time making duck. The cranberry sauce was thick with great flavor. When I bit into a pine needle, though, it took away from the cranberry zest.

Lesson 8: Don’t cook with cranberries you froze after using them for a centerpiece.

Use Cranberries to Make Thanksgiving Table Candles

So we learned a lot! I’m not sure what happened to me and my alertness. Conscientiousness is usually my strength. It’s absence might be tied to sleep-deprivation. We had talk about working as a team (I should stand up and help; he should ask for help or at least say yes when I ask if he needs it).

Final menu in order of appearance

Garlic Bread

Mashed sweet potatoes

Gingerbread turkey cookie with vanilla ice cream

Cranberry Sauce

Roast duck

We may do it again next year, change the menu and try again.

Lesson 8: Be thankful to go with the flow. We invited friends over and I can’t imagine how it would have gone had they been able to come!