Every cook has horror stories; I have my own fair share and two of them are related to Thanksgiving.
Some years ago, I was attending a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and their extended family, including their elderly grandmother.
I decided to contribute a pumpkin pie.
The pie baked nicely and appeared worthy of a food magazine cover shoot.
But looks aren’t everything. When dessert time rolled around, we discovered that I had forgotten to put in the sugar. I don’t know if you have every tasted raw pumpkin. I do not suggest trying.
We just laughed about it. But grandma, who was hard of hearing, didn’t quite glean the situation. In addition, she loved pumpkin pie. She insisted on having a slice.
She ate it, as we looked on in amazement.
Then she had seconds.
A hands-on approach
The first year I took on the chef role for my family, I was in my early 20s. We had a fairly large gathering of siblings, our dad, and a few friends.
Everything was going smoothly. The turkey — a 26-pounder — had attained that golden brown hue worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. The mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes were fulfilling their supporting roles as well.
You know how it is at the very end of any meal preparation for a large gathering: You are multitasking.
I actually enjoy this part of the process. It is sort of a personal challenge to have several things going at once and to synchronize the big finish.
On this day, I had the gravy bubbling and I had an extra casserole dish of stuffing that I had just pulled out of the oven and placed on the stove. I took off the hot pads to stir the gravy.
And that is when disaster struck. I decided to move the casserole dish to the table to get it out of the way. I picked up the steaming hot ceramic and swung around. It was then I realized something was amiss.
I had no gloves on. I was holding this thing with my bare hands.
Now, instinct will tell you what to do in this situation: Drop the damn thing.
But I was not wasting a perfectly fresh batch of stuffing. And so I swung back around and dropped it (gently) on the stove.
The flesh on my hands was beginning to resemble the turkey at this point.
Fortunately, one of our friends was a nurse, and we had adequate amounts of aloe and ice.
I healed without any damage done. But eating dinner that evening with bandaged hands was a chore.