What was your biggest Thanksgiving disaster - and how could you have prevented it?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    It was the first Thanksgiving after my husband and I started dating. He drove three hours to spend the holiday weekend with me so I wanted to impress him with a home cooked meal. I waited until leaving work Wednesday night to go the the grocery store and in the mad push of people, I reached in the bin and grabbed a turkey. The next afternoon, I placed my turkey in a sink full of water to thaw and began on my side dishes. After he arrived and we had a drink, he ventured into the kitchen at which point I noticed he was peering down into the sink and frowning. I asked if something was wrong with the turkey and he said "Yeah . . . it's a duck."

    To my horror, I had picked up a duck and never noticed that this long narrow bird was not a fat round turkey. I attempted to roast it and while it had a nice flavor, we quickly realized there isn't much meat on a duck. In addition, my gravy was burnt, my potatoes were salty and the macaroni and cheese was a solid block. I finally accepted defeat and we ventured out to the local 7-Eleven and had a Thanksgiving hot dog!

    I wouldn't have done a thing to prevent it!! That night my husband told me he loved me for the first time and we have been together for over twelve years. He turned out to be an incredible cook and I have never cooked another Thanksgiving dinner! And every year we toast our famous Thanksgiving duck!

  • 1 decade ago

    My biggest Thanksgiving disaster is about to happen tomorrow. I didn't get a job in time to make money. The state didn't provide me with enough food stamps to feed my 3 children and I still have an injury to my back. All I have in the kitchen is a can of Saurcrout and mushrooms. Absolutely nothing else. No money and no means to travel. This will be the worst Thanksgiving I or my family will have ever suffered. This question sucks and so does the Holidays. Happy Thanksgiving. I can prevent this by going into Shoprite and walking out with a cart like some people do and we will have a great feast!

  • 1 decade ago

    It wasn't a big disaster, but it certainly was embarrassing.

    The first Thanksgiving after I married my now ex, it was my turn to host the entire family for Thanksgiving. Because we only owned 6 plates, silverware for four, with four chairs and a dinette table, I arranged to do all the cooking at my house and bring the meal to my in-laws, who had enough space, dinnerware, cutlery and chairs for 25 people.

    This was my first turkey. When I started to prepare the turkey for the oven, I felt inside for the giblet bag. Couldn't find it, so I foolishly decided that perhaps there was such a thing as a turkey that didn't have the giblets included, and went ahead and stuffed the turkey, roasted it, and made the gravy.

    We loaded the turkey, the extra stuffing, the pies and all into the car and drove the hundred miles to my in-laws. Once everything was reheated and ready to serve, my brand new mother-in-law discovered the giblet package....still in the turkey!

    It didn't seem affect the overall flavor, but for the duration of my marriage, I never lived it down. Every Thanksgiving thereafter, someone would bring it up.

    Now I know that the giblets are always there, and I've learned to be able to tell the difference between the feel of the turkey and the packet.

  • 1 decade ago

    This disaster was about 20 years ago, I had gotten a large microwave with the probe and the turntable. The microwave instructions said I could cook a turkey in half the time! Since timing everything to get done at the same time is one of the biggest challenges in preparing a Thanksgiving dinner I thought why not save some time! My Mother-in-law had always had the whole family of over 30 for Thanksgiving dinner in the past. But because of circumstances that year it would be just my husband, his mother, myself and our two daughters. It would be the first turkey that I had ever prepared. I was always there to help and I considered myself a fairly good cook! Well, after 3 hours of microwaving the turkey as the instructions said it was raw on the bottom side and just right on the top. I was determined to have a beautiful dinner so I attempted to then place the turkey in the oven. After another two hours we had stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, rolls and pie but NO TURKEY. It wasn't fit to eat, in my haste to get everything prepared at the same time I had left the oven on Preheat and burned the bird!

    I could have prevented the whole disaster by NOT USING A MICROWAVE!

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  • 1 decade ago

    The biggest Thanksgiving disaster my family and I have faced so far happened when I was about 15. My sister would have been around 9. All four of us--Mom, Dad, my sister, and me--shared a room. We were staying in a resort about thirty minutes by car away from Charleston, SC. We had eaten a lovely lunch on the day of Thanksgiving, and we were counting on the resort's restaurant's many dining facilities to provide us with some semblance of a meal. We went to the buffet-style restaurant, but my father was appalled at the seeming disregard for the food, so we left.

    We then went to the main restaurant, but the meals there were so expensive, and more sophisticated than my sister and I would have enjoyed at the time, so we turned down that option, as well.

    We went back to the room to regroup. By that time we realized the pizza place right across from our building had closed, and we were all too exhausted to go back into Charleston, and there were no more restaurants in the resort or the nearby area.

    We had no idea what to do. We thought about it for a few minutes before diving into the minibar. We ate a banana my mother had brought on the trip, a NutriGrain bar (strawberry), and a large can of honey-roasted peanuts! And this was for Thanksgiving dinner!

    I suppose the only way we could have prevented it would have been to stay in Charleston instead of coming back to the room, since there is no shortage of restaurants there.

    We now think about this story and laugh. We retell this story every Thanksgiving for fun, and also to give Thanks for the delicious food we have in front of us.

  • 1 decade ago

    Mom and aunt were raised by a nanny so neither had practical experience in the kitchen.

    My early childhood memories of holiday meals included the turkey and trimmings ordered from the deli usually with the milkman delivering a frozen ice cream "log."

    At eight years old I decided I enjoyed the kitchen and cooking and I began the tradition of cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. The only advice mom had ever been able to supply was "hot dogs are done when they split open and the water turns pink."

    When cooking for extended family it's difficult to always please three dozen palates. One doesn't like onion in stuffing. One likes potatoes creamy while another prefers them not whipped but mashed by hand with lumps.

    The best bet is to stick with tradition. Those years when someone suggested instead of turkey... well, the Polynesian pork ribs, coconut shrimp and frozen pina coladas just weren't "Thanksgiving" fare.

    Now after forty years of planning the holiday meals there's little stress and the joy in the kitchen is quite satisfying. Another hint, PLANNING! Plan a menu and make a check list. Plan what preparations should be made ahead and even make schedule, "what goes into the oven when and for how long." (A compulsive obsessive and a computer with a spreadsheet? Marvelous!) That cranberry relish that you prepared ahead but forgot to serve? A checklist is a marvelous thing.

    With good timing when the turkey rests before carving you will also have time to rest while the fresh rolls are browning.

    OK... biggest disaster? My family isn't punctual. There's always a cousin and kids arriving an hour late. It's hateful to have everything just at peak to be served and then you have try and hold the meal for an hour.

    Last year I decided to have plenty of appetizers and snacks to satisfy everyone and allow me more leisure to put together dinner.

    I had hummus, pita, feta, olives, and spanikopita. I had little crab cakes, shrimp and assorted handrolled sushi. I had buffalo wings, cheeses, fruits. There was rumaki, chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. Spinach artichoke dip, smoked salmon, baked brie, little pork medalions encrusted in pepper.... all of this was just to allow a little taste for everyone, forty-two people, until everyone arrived for dinner.

    I was busy in kitchen and didn't realise that everyone assumed that dinner was a casual "heavy hors deurve" buffet. I had the table in the dining room spread with roast turkey, stuffing, veggies, fresh breads, pies. There was a look of horror on everyone's face when I told them dinner was ready. Everyone was so "full" that there was no room for dinner.

    Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and a family tradition has always been that each person names a particular blessing or some event for which they are thankful. The long running joke between brother and I is "then mom will tell each one what they "should" be thankful for."

    It was humbling to think of the excess of food which would not be eaten when a little nephew said, "I suppose there are people who don't have so much."

    With that thought out came the aluminum foil, the papers plates, the phone directory; there were plenty of older neighbors who had no special meal planned or no family visiting. The dining room became an assembly line of meals. Nephews and nieces organised a "road rally" to deliver.

    What seemed a disaster of excess became a new family tradition.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hi Martha...

    My very first Thanksgiving dinner I had was when I was 21 years old. I wanted to try to impress my boyfriends dad and sister with a great Italian style dinner with a turkey.

    Unfortunately, I made the biggest error of all and it was all because I didn't read the cook time on the turkey package, my mom wasn't there to help and the bird ended up being NOT entirely cooked on the inside. I made the very sad assumption that because the skin was golden brown, it was done. I was so embarrassed I could have died right there on the spot. Thank goodness the outer portion was cooked and editable. I most certainly could have prevented this disaster just by reading the directions. But I had tossed out the wrapper without checking and 'just guessed'. So much for a young person using their own judgment. :>)

    Now, as I'm 57, years have passed and I know better. My children and their families love mom's cooking because I did learn.

    I did take the opportunity to watch the videos on Yahoo! so I could see some of the splendid dishes you create. I loved the butter and wine with the cheese cloth for browning the turkey. I jotted everything down. But it was just enjoyable watching you cook. Thanks a bunch.

  • 1 decade ago

    When I was 21 (I am now 47), I was an au pair in Paris. By Thanksgiving, I had been in Paris for about 2 months, taking care of an infant for a very nice couple. The couple was curious about Thanksgiving dinner, having seen it in movies and on TV. Somehow I agreed to cook a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixin's - even though, at the time, I could barely boil an egg. I even encouraged them to invite family. Oh my god what a disaster! To this day, I cringe when I think about it. I had to special order the turkey, which I picked up from the butcher Thanksgiving morning. When I got it back to the apartment, it hadn't been cleaned - I mean the feet were still on it, and the insides were still in it!! Back to the butcher; when I asked him to clean it, he thought I was accusing him of selling tainted meat and became enraged (my French was not the greatest). Finally, he cleaned the bird, but by then I was waaaay behind schedule. It went downhill from there . . . French flour is milled differently, and the pie crust didn't turn out right, I could not find the French word for a number of spices and had to locate cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. by SMELL (harder than it sounds). I never could find the sage. The potatoes were boiled before I was ready to mash them. Turns out, it's not such a good idea to leave them in the boiling water for a half hour. They were a gluey mess. I used baguettes for the stuffing - turned out awful, dry and flavorless. The gravy was a greasy mess. The only thing edible was the overcooked turkey, the dry as a bone dressing, and the greasy gravy. And some French bread. I was in tears, but luckily, everyone was very kind. I mean, this was back in the day . . . no internet, no FoodNetwork, no Martha. How could I have prevented this? By preparing better, and not being a dumb, over-confident 21-year-old. P.S. I now make a terrific Thanksgiving day meal, but I plan every detail very carefully.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believe I have the biggest Thanksgiving disaster last Thanksgiving 2005. It had all the pieces of a perfect dinner but ended with flames...literally!

    Me and 5 of my friends decided to rent an apartment for 4 days in beautiful scenic Zermatt, Switzerland. I would not have Thanksgiving without a Turkey dinner and decided to buy a Turkey and bring it along and cook a traditional meal at the apartment for everyone. After lugging a 20lb bird up a hill to the apartment (no cars are allowed in Zermatt) I prepared the bird and put it in the oven. After a couple of hours I realize that the bird was not cooking! The stove was not getting any hotter than a candle flame! Every hour the temperatue did not go up, I had a drink. By the time everyone came home from skiing and hungry for Turkey dinner, I had one too many drinks and told the hungry men what was wrong. I gave up and offered to get some local Fondu...instead the boys insisted on Turkey dinner and covered the bird in aluminum foil and threw it in the fire place!! This caused black smoke to cover the entire living room! The turkey actually cooked and they ended up eating a pale ugly white turkey!!

  • 1 decade ago

    I was cooking the usual Thanksgiving diner for me and a few friends. I prepared the turkey as I normally would. Didn't see anything wrong with it. I put it in the oven at the proper temperature however within an hour and a half, the turkey timer had popped up saying it was done. I found that to be unusual but even more so, it was all but floating in about an inch and a half of grease. I cut the turkey open and the meat was all gray inside.

    I called butterball the next day and they said that the only way the turkey could have that much grease in it is if it got stuck in the machine that injects the butter or whatever they use into it.

    They sent me a coupon for $10 off my next butterball turkey.

    There was no way that I know of that I could have prevented it other than buy a different brand of turkey.

  • 1 decade ago

    It had to be the year that we built our first new house. We were so anxious to have the entire family over that we moved in and 3 days later had Thanksgiving dinner with 12 family members. Upon arriving the sod had not been laid yet and family trompped through the mud only to carry it on the WHTE CARPET I THOUGH I JUST HAD TO HAVE. Oh that is not all after the turkey was done we went to get it out of the oven and while moving the turkey from the pan to the platter the turkey slid across the floor with oily turkey juice covering the new tile floor. After all that it was time to sit down and having a new home without lighting the fireplace would have been unheard of so we lit the fire and little did we know that the temperature outside would reach the 80 degree mark and 50 had been forcasted. Oh well thank goodness for air conditioners and thank goodness there won't ever be a another NEW HOUSE THANKSGIVING. ! ! The way to prevent it was never building another new house hehehehehehehe

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