Kitchen Mayhem

**  I will be hosting another holiday giveaway TOMORROW!  Be sure and stop by!  **

**  The winner of the Stella & Dot necklace is:  Mary Lu with comment #74  **

**  The winner of the LeAine Dehmer Clinical Skincare Starter Kit is:  Hallie with comment #30  **

I've been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for years.  The first few times I took on such a monumental cooking task, I worried excessively about making everything perfect.  The table centerpiece, the food, the timing of the dishes, the desserts – everything needed to be perfect or I felt like a failure.

One good thing about the car accident?

My perfectionism has gone right out the window.

When things go wrong, I no longer worry (much) about it.  Life goes on, and most of the things we worry about on a day to day basis aren't really of much lasting importance anyway.

This year, more things went wrong in preparation for Thanksgiving than any other year. 

To start with, every year I've used a recipe for roasting my turkey which has been handed down through generations.  It doesn't require brining the turkey.  It's delicious.

This year, I bought a 23 pound, free range, antibiotic free, hormone free, super natural turkey.  It was allowed to live a fun turkey life before someone killed it for my dinner.  (A carefree turkey life also resulted in it being the most expensive turkey on the face of the earth.)  

The day before I cooked it, I started reading more and more about the need to brine free range turkeys since they aren't injected with all the crap the regular store bought turkeys are.  I started worrying I might ruin the most expensive turkey on earth if I prepared it the way I've prepared a zillion other turkeys before it.

Twitter friends began giving me advice on their favorite turkey brine recipes.  I've never brined a turkey before.  I put the big, gigantic, turkey in a huge brining bag.  I might have overfilled the bag with too much brine.

Then, as I went to seal the bag something went wrong and brine came rushing out all over me.  I was drenched in turkey brine.  (And yes, I do mean drenched!)  I hastily mopped brine off the counter top, the floor, and myself – all the while musing how juicy, tender, and tasty I would be the next day.  Fortunately, I was able to salvage enough of the brine to still soak the turkey overnight.

Thanksgiving morning found me busy making oyster stuffing.  My stuffing recipe takes quite a long time to make, and it needs to be made before the turkey can go in the oven since I stuff the turkey with it.

When I pulled out the cans of oysters I bought, I realized they were not actually oysters at all.  Somehow, I had mistakenly bought clams instead.

I quickly dressed and bolted to the grocery store (sans makeup or brushed hair) to buy the needed oysters.  Of course, looking like a total disaster meant I ran into numerous people I knew while there.  By the time I got home and made the stuffing, I was running an hour behind schedule.

As I worked on the stuffing, I asked Briefcase if he could change a light bulb for me.  My kitchen has recessed lighting and a bulb had burned out.  A minute later, I heard the crash of splintering glass and Briefcase swearing profusely.  While standing on a ladder, he had dropped the bulb and it had shattered everywhere on impact.  Briefcase began cleaning up splinters of broken glass.

At this point, I began to giggle.

What else could go wrong?

Well, it turns out – plenty.

I got the turkey in the oven, but I had leftover stuffing.

I pulled out my, one and only, really nice (Emile Henry) ceramic casserole dish to put the remainder of the stuffing in.  As I did so, I realized *someone* had thrown another heavy dish on top of it in the cupboard and broken it.  Briefly, I mourned the dish.  I have other casserole dishes, but this was my only nice company-worthy one.  I transported it to the trashcan, all the while reminding myself it's only a casserole dish.  There was a story behind that dish, however, and I felt like I was discarding an old friend.

I began working on the next side dish which was sweet potatoes.  I had three cans of sweet potatoes to open.  (No, I wasn't using fresh – don't judge me, I'm three weeks post-surgery.)  

I opened the first two cans.  When I placed the third can in our can opener, it EXPLODED.

And yes, I mean EXPLODED!!

"Light syrup" became an eight foot geyser rupturing out of the can.  It coated my stove, my kitchen cabinets (reaching up to the ceiling), my coffee maker, the floor, and ME.  Everything within eight feet, in every direction, was coated with sticky syrup.  It was ALIVE, I swear it was!  I've never seen anything like it in my life.

I had a toxic can of sweet potatoes (with a good code date) on my hands and it wouldn't stop spewing sticky syrup over everything.  I held the can at arms length, yelling at it to STOP!

How does that happen?

RC came running in to see what was happening.  I handed him some money and begged him to make our second trip to the grocery store on Thanksgiving morning to buy more sweet potatoes.  While he did, I began scrubbing down myself, and the entire sticky kitchen.  When he returned, I was still tackling the viscid mess.

Awhile later, the sweet potatoes caught on fire.  I'm not joking.  Huge 18 to 24 inch flames were lighting up my kitchen!  We managed to extinguish them fairly quickly.  I discarded the burned parts and managed to salvage the dish without it affecting the flavor.  There's nothing like an extinguished kitchen fire on Thanksgiving to make you feel grateful.  (After all, we did save the house from burning down.)

Oh – also, there was one more thing!

I bought two cheesecakes from The Cheesecake Factory this year.  (I don't do this normally – but again, three weeks post surgery!)  When I picked them up at the restaurant, they told me to keep them frozen until one hour before serving.  "Just set them on the counter an hour prior to serving and they'll be perfect," said the cute little 19 year old at the counter.


I pulled them out TWO HOURS prior to serving and they were still frozen as hard as rocks when it was time to serve dessert.  They did taste very good the next day with leftovers, however.  (A couple bites of frozen cheesecake goes pretty nicely with coffee anyway.)

In spite of it all, the turkey ended up being the best tasting turkey I've ever prepared.  In addition, although my timing in the kitchen got screwed up, all the side dishes turned out fabulously.  We did end up having a later meal than originally planned which meant more Wine Time before dinner.  With enough wine, no one really cares what time they eat or whether or not everything is exactly perfect.

Now it's your turn.

Make me feel better.  (Please?!)

What holiday kitchen disasters have you experienced?

© Twenty Four At Heart 

16 Responses to “Kitchen Mayhem”

  1. Deidre

    Ah, well…my thanksgiving dinner only consisted of the following things: Mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, Pumpkin pie, and apple pie (and whipped cream). It’s hard to mess that kind of thing up…although I couldn’t find any gluten free pie crust for the apple pie – and there is no way I was attempting gluten free pie crust from scratch. So, I turned it into Apple Crumble/Cobbler/Crisp. Nom nom nom.

  2. karen

    I tried a new stuffing this year that totally sucked. It sounded good, with raisins and apples and the normal celery,onion, butter, sage salt pepper thing. Then it called for martini olives chopped and thrown in. I thought that would be exotic tasting, yummy even. That’s what ruined it. YUCK. So no stuffing this year, it went in the trash.

  3. Margie Smith

    I just wanted to say, CONGRATULATIONS to Hallie for winning the skin care kit. I hope it makes her day. It brought me happy tears. And I wanted to thank Melissa for entering her down to the wire. I tried but couldn’t figure out how on my cell phone and I didn’t have access to a computer. But she won, and in my book, that’s happy news. Thanks, 24. Have a great day.

  4. Hallie

    Just wanted to say thank you to everyone that entered for me. I can truthfully say that you brought me to tears. Throughout this nightmare it truly has been the kindness of complete strangers that has impacted us the most.
    I do not wish our pain on ANY PARENT. It is the most painful thing we will ever endure. CJ was one/half of my heart – he and his brother Connor were my everything. That we didn’t know he was hurting will haunt me for ever.
    I know that a skin care giveaway prize will in no way fix me. It can not stop the image I have of my son, mere feet away, shooting himself in the head.
    But it did make me smile for just a second. And for that I can’t say thank you enough. Smiling is so rare for us now – any smile is that much more special.
    24, you and your readers are an awesome group.

  5. Liz Tee

    I’ve (mercifully) blanked out most of my bad holiday experiences, but the most recent was 2006.
    I had just left my husband of 26 years and was living in a shitty basement apartment. I had agreed to make a huge batch of my sister’s awesome succotash for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Crappy little kitchen, hardly any kitchen tools, and I didn’t even have a good knife. Sure enough, as I was chopping onions, I cut a huge chunk off the tip of my left index finger. I knew it was bad but I wasn’t letting 5 pounds of succotash go to waste! I swaddled my finger in half a roll of paper towels, finished the dish, dropped it off, and went to the ER.
    Missed the T-day potluck but on the way home from the ER I stopped by the ex’s house for some turkey leftovers. Yeah, we were/are still friends.

  6. Pam

    Congratulations to Hallie!
    Last year was the first year in our new house. In the past, we’d always gone to a family member’s house for Thanksgiving, so I didn’t really have experience cooking a turkey. It was only going to be the three of us, since we were in a new state and our son was not coming home for Thanksgiving. The new house had nice appliances, but the oven is small! My roaster pan wouldn’t fit in it. I did not realize this until I tried to put the ready to start cooking roaster pan in there. I ended up cooking it in a turkey bag, but somehow got messed up and cooked it upside down. (yes, I am the only person on earth who has cooked a turkey upside down!!!)
    Turkeys don’t brown up nicely when you cook them upside down… Anyway, we got through the dinner, learned some lessons and this Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. 🙂

  7. jenn in tenn

    Yaay Hallie! Congrats to you!
    As far as Thanksgiving disasters go, this year went pretty good at my house! Sorry about all your drama, Suzanne! At least all ended well!

  8. Jan

    My determination to make everything “healthy” was an epic fail – sprouted whole wheat flour and sprouted corn flour do not make Southern-style cornbread. They make a heavy, dense, clay-like mess that goes into the trash. After that, I didn’t even want to try to use the sprouted stuff for anything else other than the onion rings on the green bean casserole. Then even the addition of an orange rather than a lemon to the new cranberry sauce recipe couldn’t save it, so I ended up adding sugar (not even Splenda).
    So, yes – my Thanksgiving was full of bleached flour and refined sugar. And a garbage can full of some heavy, dense, clay-like mess.

  9. Laura

    Congrats Hallie!! So glad you won. Even the slightest smile on your face makes me smile for you. THere are so many of us that just wish we could do more for you, so I’m glad the readers of 24 helped.
    No real Thanksgiving disasters…go to mother in laws house, so don’t have much to do. I guess one year I’ll host and I’m sure I’ll have stories to share.
    Our cul-de-sac started a tradition last year called the “Manly Man’s Thanksgiving”…everything in the meal is fried. We do it outside and fry anything and everything you can think of…forget any kind of diet on this night. The tradition will continue this Saturday, but it has now been renamed (since it’s after Thanksgiving) to the “Hillbilly Christmas” party. Same rules apply…everything fried!! Wings, turkeys, fish, okra, onion rings, corn dogs, elephant ears and this year maybe even a snickers bar!!

  10. Melissa

    Congratulations to Hallie! Anything to brighten you day a little bit helps, no doubt.
    I also tried brining a turkey a few years ago with Williams Sonoma brine, bag, etc. Mine did the same thing as Suzanne’s – somehow the brine solution was all over the counter, floor, me! But mine was way to salty. Actually tried another brine recipe last year and it was delicious. I just needed to rinse and dry the bird! Suzanne can take a disaster and turn it into a great read for all of us.
    Thanks again.

  11. goodfather

    Congratulations to Hallie!
    Although I master disaster in so many other ways, I’ve got nothin’. In fact, we opted out of Thanksgiving this year – I barbecued a flank steak instead. We’re not anti-turkey (although I had trouble understanding many of the adjectives you used: ‘free range?’ ‘Brine?’ ‘Natural?’), but we decided to keep our meal very small. It turned out to be exactly what we wanted; BW, me, the kids. Thanks for the hilarious story of being brined, syruped, and (nearly) flambe’d!

  12. Michelle Pixie

    Sounds like you had one for the history books! Knock on wood I don’t think I’ve had that many hiccups in one day of cooking. But now don’t ask me to make soup from the carcass! 😉

  13. Amy_in_Stl

    Two years ago I agreed to make the dressing for dinner at my parents house. They buy a fully cooked turkey – since mom doesn’t eat turkey and dad can’t handle cooking anymore – but make the sides. I made the stuffing, one was our Beef mushroom and the other was fancy Harry and David. I put them in the oven and set the timer. Then I fell asleep on the couch. Turns out that a buzzing timer in the kitchen isn’t loud enough to wake you right away if you’re in my living room. The middle was okay, but the rest was kind of blackened.

  14. linda

    OMG! LOL! Sorry, I’m glad you weren’t hurt by flying glass, exploding cans, broken pottery of flaming potatoes! These are all reasons I rarely cook;-)

  15. di

    NO way could I out do your story. I just let Hubby handle the whole meal except for the deviled eggs and green bean casserole. You and your kitchen certainly took some abuse.

  16. Rob

    Wow. That’s like a whole decade of Thanksgiving kitchen disasters in just one. Talk about equanimity!


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