~The Aftermath of Thanksgiving Dinner~

Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from my weekly newspaper column, coincidentally called On The Homefront. I speak to my readers as if they are my friends (actually many of them are, and even more are relatives–I am related to almost everyone in my corner of the world, and I may be mistaken, but I think some of their cats are related to mine.)

Like many of you, we had Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Sunday, and now the remnants of a fairly decent meal sit in my fridge. The remnants are the best kind of leftovers there are, just waiting to be made into  soups and casseroles (in other households not mine) and the piece de resistance—the turkey sandwich. There are many ways to build a turkey sandwich and we all have our favourites, mine being white meat on buttered white bread (I know, I know, it should be a whole grain bread, but it is not) with a little mayo, lettuce, a tiny bit of salt on the lettuce, and then the sandwich cut into four dainty pieces. To make the meal complete it should be served with a side of cranberry sauce, green onions, and potato chips (if ever there was a politically incorrect meal, this is it.)

But let us go back to before the leftovers. Back to yesterday, when I was fixing the grand meal for Thanksgiving. I always have lots of food for Thanksgiving, as if I am expecting to feed an army. I guess I think the bounty of the harvest season should be on my table. The good thing about my “over cooking” is that we have lots of leftovers, which at Thanksgiving is a good thing (here I am, channelling Martha again). Speaking of channelling………

As many of you know I am not a domestic diva or gourmet goddess. I cook because we need to eat, which makes me a very practical (read: fast as I can) cook. I enjoy reading gourmet; I do not particularly enjoy cooking gourmet. So yesterday while I was making a couple of new recipes (yes, actual recipes—I was not just cooking by rote) I channelled a couple of my favourite Food Network personalities: Michael Smith, most recently star of Chef  Michael’s Kitchen and Chef at Home, and the Barefoot Contessa or “how easy is that” Ina Garten.

Michael Smith, a bona fide chef, and Ina Garten, a former caterer and now famous cook, are both somewhat laid back but at the same time enthusiastic about cooking. And that is exactly what I need in the kitchen–a little enthusiasm as I peel, and chop, and cut. And follow a recipe. Most of the time when I cook, it is tried and true stuff I have made hundreds of times, thus need no instructions (take frozen lasagna out of freezer, take off plastic covering, insert into oven, set timer).

Yesterday was very similar to every holiday when I cook a turkey, as it is never as easy as you think it is going to be. In an effort not to wrestle with a thawed out turkey I got one of those already stuffed birds that you do not have to thaw before cooking. But you do have to run it under warm water for a couple of minutes. I found out why when I took off the plastic wrapping. It is to make it possible to remove a plastic package of innards (ugh) and the neck (double ugh) that is tucked beneath an immovable wing. It took a bit of a tug of war, and my youngest son pulling the stupid plastic bag from under the frozen wing with all his might (and he is no little guy at 6’1” and over 180 pounds) which led me to declare the statement I make every holiday without fail: “Hope you enjoy this bird today, because it is the last one I make” and restate my vow to celebrate all future holidays with a pot of chili.

Once we had the plastic bag and neck loose and deposited promptly in the garbage (look away those of you who find this blasphemy and boil this stuff to make gravy) I proceeded to pour some melted butter over the turkey and shove it in the oven (covering parts of it with foil as instructed). Then I just basically forgot about it—which is the way I like to cook.

Cranberries popping

Cranberries popping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I came close to enjoying the prep of the rest of the meal: the apple and sweet potato casserole with a yummy syrup was pretty darn good (even though I forgot the cinnamon); the green stuff with marshmallows was a hit; the roasted potatoes a can’t miss; and the made from scratch cranberry sauce (which I am so proud of ) was good too. If nothing else, I am a gravy aficionado—so the gravy was delicious. The meal was crowned by pumpkin pie (with my cheat of Cool Whip on top) and spice cake with cream cheese icing. All in all, it was a decent meal—with Michael and his enthusiasm and Ina and her “how easy is that?” attitude keeping me company (plus a little calming piano music in the background, and a glass of wine that helped take the edge off.)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and better yet, that you are still enjoying a few leftovers.

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44 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Our Thanksgiving is in November, so I’m looking forward to it. I’d love to make your sweet potato apple casserole, where did you get the recipe?

    I like your day after meal, definitely not healthy, but for me it’s all about what I can grab and not even warm up after cooking a big meal the day before.

    • I will post it for you — I just finished having a hot turkey sandwich with the leftover gravy – delicious

      • Thank you I’d appreciate it. I’m getting ready to make dinner, some scrambled eggs and toast. See what happens when you don’t have anyone else to cook for 🙂

      • sometimes it is a luxury

  2. Happy Thanksgiving Day!
    Waiting to enjoy mine next month. And – I can’t wait!

    • I have whet your appetite!

  3. Oh my your day after meal sounds so delish (it’s dinner time here and I am so hungry).. Can’t wait until we celebrate our Thanksgiving next month. Love the cooking & family around!!

    • that is what it is all about — you only have few more weeks!

  4. We just finished an early dinner so the tall kid could go off to hockey practice and the out of towers could get home in a reasonable time. I can’t even think about leftovers right now. Why is it we eat until there is pain, and then stuff in some pie on top?

    Glad to hear your recipes were a success. My husband is then feast cook in our house, and did an amazing job again.

    And I know what you mean about being related to everyone in your town. I am too. Not sure about the cat though. His parentage is questionable.

    • and when you are not used to having dessert often, it is even more painful
      so you are a local girl too, eh–there is both good and bad to that

      • True. Mostly good, I’ve finally come to believe.

      • I agree – mostly – not so sure when I was younger–and when I write my column I have to stay pretty conservative

      • When I was younger it was impossible to get away with anything, but now it’s nice to know that so many people have my back.

        I guess it’s hard to censor yourself for so many people. I do it a bit on my blog because my kids outed me, but I think I still manage to write in my voice.

      • I have lots of other ways to write where I do not censor myself, but if I were honest with you–I am none too racey anyway. I am a bit grouchy tonight–I am lucky to live in a place with so many people who care about me.

  5. Lou Ann, it sounds as if you had a lovely Thanksgiving and I bet your readers loved it as well. We have ours coming up next month but since it’s just the two of us, we’ll most likely be cooking up a steak.

    • a steak – what a wonderful break with tradition — I like it–we are having chili for Christmas–no more turkeys for me this year — I may agree to lamb but no turkey!

  6. I love the leftovers, too. That’s the best part of Thanksgiving–the day after sandwiches. (I like toasted, open-faced with stuffing and turkey and gravy on top)

    • that sounds good – never tthought of it toasted

  7. Glad your day was a yummy success….We did not have a turkey this Thanksgiving but instead a turkey breast with stuffing. There was only my husband and I this year and as we had a turkey dinner at our nephew’s wedding on Saturday we decided to fore-go the whole Turkey dinner thing…Too bad…now we don’t have the delicious left-overs that you describe…Ahh but Christmas is not that far behind….did I just say that?….Diane

    • the turkey breast is what I like the best anyway–Christmas does creep up on you — but that is a good thing

  8. All this feasting is a little unfair to bloggers hailing from other parts of the world, sitting here drooling over the computer keys.
    But getting down to the nitty gritty – I’m with you on white bread for the sandwiches, and blow political correctness!

    • sorry — I got a little carried away – tend to live my life out on my blog
      glad you approve of my white bread turkey sandwiches

  9. I just got warm fuzzies from reading this post so your Thanksgiving dinner was more than resounding success in my opinion. Sadly, no one celebrates Thanksgiving in my neck of the woods right now and the family’s far away in a country that does but at least I can live vicariously through posts like yours. 🙂

    • I think living vicariouly is a good thing–and just think of all the work that goes into Thanksgiving that you avoided
      — happy that I gave you the warm fuzzies

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog and supporting my long absence, OTHF! The States have Thanksgiving in November, but it’s all based on a false story about how the Anglos grew all this food and raised turkeys and then graciously invited the Indigenous people to eat with them. Actually, the Anglos enslaved the Native Americans, who (even though treated badly) SHOWED the Anglos how to grow maize and other vegetables, and of course, get those wild turkeys.

    We are activists, so we skip the whole observance. But when we go to the homes of others (invitations being hard to pass up when you’re a pastoral couple), I always bring homemade cranberry relish, which has lots of horseradish in it. Mmmmmmmmm! And I do love a well-basted turkey breast. Thanks for the mouth-watering post.

    Oh – and Thanksgiving? Hell, we celebrate that every day, along with praying for an end to war, poverty, and other White Man Caused problems!! (My Mayflower relatives really hate me!) Peace, Amy

    • We do gloss over the unpleasant parts don’t we–to get to what we want to believe.
      Cranberry relish with horseradish–sounds so good–I loved the two apart, so together they have to be great
      Celebrating Thanksgiving every day is really the way to go

  11. We ate so much of the main, we couldn’t find room for dessert until closer to bedtime…..why do we stuff ourselves? Sounds like your Thanksgiving was great.

    • It was good — I always like dessert later as then I enjoy it more once all the other stuff has settled–sounds like a new tradition to me.

  12. Aaaah you make me wish I was part of the thanksgiving tradition my friend – glad you had a wonderful one 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • thank you – just make one up– you don’t need an excuse to feast and being the wonderful chef you are, you should have no trouble

  13. Happy Thanksgiving! You’ve definitely got me excited and looking forward to ours in another month or so! 🙂 Sounds like it was a delicious meal, and a wonderful tradition.

    • thank you Andrea – now you are primed for your own feast and parades and shopping!

      • I am! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays 🙂

  14. Congratulations on having a wonderful thanksgiving. Because of my mom’s recent death, we are not having the traditional thanksgiving that we are used to having every year. My sisters and I are getting together and will be spending Thanksgiving week end out of town. That means I will be having my thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant. That’s something I thought I would never be doing.

    • sometimes a change of pace helps with loss–I am so sorry it is so fresh for you — it does get better with time–but it takes awhile

  15. We are also big fans on Ina! Heck, we simply love Food Network, so who knows how many recipes we’ve tried from there after seeing an episode – especially me!

    Glad you had a bountiful Thanksgiving, and enjoy the leftovers!

    • I love Ina’s recipes – they are usually not too complicated
      And I am enjoying the leftovers – see what you still have to look forward to!

      • Yep – on the other hand, we may not be hosting this year.

  16. LouAnn I don’t usually do a turkey but now you’ve got me hankering for that after meal goodness. Truthfully, I prefer the leftovers WAY more than the actual meal…Perhaps it has to do with the fact that many hours go into THE meal, but the leftovers are a snap.
    My fave post Tday sandwich: turkey sandwich on rye with mashed up creamed onions, a schmear of stuffing and some cranberry jelly…no waist watching sandwich 😉 but it is dee-lish.

  17. I am not crazy about the time needed to put on the meal, but the leftovers are a reward.
    Love the sound of your favourite turkey sandwich–I may just modify mine to include some of your favourites

  18. You may say you’re not a cook, but you sound pretty awesome to me! 🙂

    • well, I try 😉

  19. Our Thanksgiving isn’t until November and it’s a big holiday here in The Guat household. I saw your sweet potato apple recipe on another post. I will definitely check it out.

    • it is very good and probably really good if you follow the recipe as I didn’t (and it was still good)

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