Thanksgiving Turkey


Cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

My dad was the family cook. And he always cooked the entire spread for Thanksgiving dinner.

Since he had been bedridden this year, I had been planning on taking over cooking Thanksgiving dinner anyways. There was no question in my mind that we wouldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner. Ever. Even if, at first, because the big turkey is my favorite meal of the entire year. And even if, at last, I had already bought $200 worth of groceries that I didn’t want to go to waste.

When the question over the holiday first came up my mom threatened…I mean offered…to make Thanksgiving dinner this year. Considering that her culinary expertise includes opening a can of Beef-a-Roni and her idea was to buy a Butterball (the thing pops up when it’s done) and pre-made refrigerated mashed potatoes, I knew the day was up to me. I had always been the one to take after dad in the kitchen. Although we definitely had our differences in that he mostly liked to wing it and I mostly liked to follow recipes.

He also would plan Thanksgiving weeks in advance and write a schedule on a white board in the kitchen. I went shopping the weekend before, looking up recipes right before going and writing down ingredients without proportions. And then I re-searched for said recipes the night before because I forgot to make notes about which I had chosen. And I hastily wrote out how long things took to cook so I could get them in the oven at the right time the morning of.

But I somehow got it done. And we ate a delicious turkey and all the sides at the same time. And no one complained that they didn’t get to the table until an hour and a half after I said they would.

And I know I did my dad proud.

And here was my day. I made notes along the way.


10:00 – Thankful that Starbucks is open. Pumpkin Spice Latte is much appreciated, and holiday-appropriate.

10:30am – After making good time driving to the burbs I decide to stop at Jewel because I am freaked out I don’t have enough butter. End up buying more of everything because I suddenly become freaked out I don’t have enough of anything.

11:30am – Sweet potatoes “scrubbed” (my dad always said that dirt is an ingredient), punctured (I wasn’t sure how many fork holes I needed to put in so I put in a lot), oiled and salted. Put into the oven to roast. I have never made real sweet potatoes before. We always used can ones but I wanted to try something new. Actually there are two different types of yams and sweet potatoes in the roasting pan. The two different yams because I wasn’t paying attention at Whole Foods to the fact that there were two different kinds in the bins. The Sweet potatoes because they were one of the items I freaked out about this morning. Note: I will be able to feed three times as many people as will be here. But mmm, leftovers.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Sweet Potatoes

12:20: Decide that the sweet potatoes are not soft enough. Bake more.

12:50: Decide that the sweet potatoes have to be soft enough because I am tired of them baking. Take out of oven.

1:10: Sweet potatoes whipped. Did I mention my thumb is permanently callused because I have the tendency to not wait for food to cool before I handle it?

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Making Sweet Potatoes

1:20: Melted the butter and cream. Mixed them into the sweet potatoes with brown sugar and maple syrup and nutmeg and salt. Added more brown sugar until it all started tasting like sugar.

2:00: Un-brined the Turkey. Made stuffing.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Taking the turkey out of the brine

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - The turkey is ready to be stuffed

Cuteness Break:

My nephew.

3:00: Dressed turkey all pretty. Olive oil rub and then butter mixed with fresh herbs. I didn’t truss it because I didn’t know how and forgot that I think you are supposed to do that.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Preparing the turkey to go into the oven

3:07: Turkey in the oven!

4:00: Peeled enough potatoes to feed a small country. I like leftovers, OK?

4:15: Diced onion and garlic in preparation for the gravy.

4:45: Prepared the green bean casserole. Trying to keep ahead so when the time comes all i have to do is stick everything in the oven.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Green Bean Casserole

4:50: Luckily people understand when you say “We’ll be eating late because I don’t know what I’m doing.”

4:53: Don’t forget the cranberry sauce. Don’t forget the cranberry sauce. My mom is the only one who likes it. And she likes the jellied kind from a can. Easy.

5:15: Filled a giant pot with boiling water to eventually cook the potatoes in. Needed something to do.

5:25: Put out butter. Let it soften I guess.

5:27: Put out the cranberry sauce. I don’t think it matters if it sits there?

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - cranberry sauce from a can

5:30: Put the sweet potatoes in the oven to heat up… Started boiling water for potato potatoes… Feel as if I am jumping the gun…but I am IMPATIENT! Also, took temperature of turkey: one said 190 the other said 145…

5:59: Potatoes are in the boiling water. Well, almost boiling water. Did I mention I’m impatient?

6:10: 150 degrees says one thermometer…come on 15 more degrees!!! Also, took out sweet potatoes…may have added a little more butter. Everything is better with a little more butter. Also, still cooking mashed potato potatoes. Probably too soon.

6:15: Drained potatoes. Too soon I say! But I can reheat them over the stove as I add the butter and cream.

6:45: ~ 160.

6:50: This turkey is never going to be done. I think I burned my finger. Can’t find the potato masher. Using a whisk I found. Whipped the potatoes while I am waiting. Will add butter and cream later though.

7:00: GOGOGO!!! All three thermometers I found are now registering at least 165. Turkey out! Sweet potatoes back in! Green bean casserole in! Stuffing in! Mashed potatoes whipped! Gravy fixings stirred!

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - The Turkey comes out of the oven

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - The Turkey comes out of the oven

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Making Gravy

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Side dishes in the oven

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - mashing the mashed potatoes

7:15: Stirstirstir! Don’t forget the rolls!

7:17: In grand Bromann tradition…almost forgot the rolls!

7:30: Take everything out of the oven! Finish the mashed potatoes! Finish the gravy! Carve the turkey! DONEDONEDONE!!!!

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - carved Thanksgiving turkey

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Sweet Potato Casserole

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - mashed potatoes

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Thanksgiving dinner

7:35: Eat! Eat! Eat! I always take a drumstick for myself 🙂

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - My Thanksgiving Plate

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Turkey drumstick

Later: Pies. From the store.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - Thanksgiving Pies

Learn on Skillshare

Affiliate Link

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

1 Comment
  • Shannalee
    November 29, 2009at5:00 pm

    Beautiful! I’d say you did your dad proud, no question.

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.