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  • Jeanette Baker

The Thanksgiving Grinch

Black Friday has come and gone. My only purchase of the day was a Christmas tree, a large 8 foot Noble fir from the Christmas tree farm which I won’t pick up until the entire house is "de-Thanksgivinged." I’m an official Thanksgiving Grinch, grateful the day is over, particularly the food of the season, turkey, yams, mashed potatoes and pumpkin. I’m craving salad, fresh spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers with absolutely no protein, no candied walnuts and absolutely no bread products.


What is it about this time of the year that causes people to indulge? Eight pounds is the average weight gain for the holiday season. EIGHT POUNDS! 28,000 calories over what our bodies need to maintain our current sizes! Those statistics alone are worthy of exclamation points. I suppose the cold has something to do with it and those clothes that camouflage the worst of our consumptions, except that California is warm enough to walk around with bare feet and our wardrobes usually work year round.


I threw away what was left of the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie, everything with too much butter, saturated fat and calories. I saved the turkey, the cranberries and my sister’s sweet potatoes, a concoction that is absolutely delicious. My family isn’t big on leftovers. After a turkey sandwich or two, thankfully, they’re gone.


I’m a fairly decent cook, meaning that I’m great at finding other people’s new recipes and trying them out. However, I’m a washout with large joints of meat, rib roasts, turkeys and ham. Except for the latter, which only requires heating, I can’t tell when anything over 3 pounds is done and, for some inexplicable reason, my meat thermometers (I’ve tried two) don’t register correct temperatures. Someone suggested that I’m not inserting these into the thickest part of the thigh but then no one else in the vicinity seems to know exactly where that is either. I’m strictly a “roast for 4 hours at 350 degrees” kind of person, except that whoever decided roasting an unstuffed 12 pound turkey at 350 for 4 hours likes her turkey to taste like jerky. Then there is the salmonella threat. I blame my mother for that one.


Inevitably, my main course is either blood-rare or bone-dry. On the few occasions when I manage to get it just right, I have no idea what I’ve done differently. This year was an exception. I experimented with brining and the turkey turned out moist and delicious. My ham, on the other hand, did not. I tried a crockpot recipe which included crushed pineapple and chai tea latte concentrate. Given the reviews, I had high hopes, but it wasn’t to be. The flavor was decent but again, it was dry leading to an overindulgence of everything else except the vegetables.


Every year before the holiday, I suggest that we go out. After all, Thanksgiving is about family togetherness and being grateful no matter where we eat. We could also become, for one day, vegetarians. I’ve hinted at both, to no avail. Apparently, my family doesn’t mind eating dry meat. “It’s enough,” said my son in years past, “to smell turkey cooking and then eat too much of everything else.”


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