I already knew about pre-cooked turkey breasts and pumpkin pie at Costco. Since it was just the two of us, why deal with a giant carcass afterwards? And the pie… I bake good pies and homemade pie-crusts, but the Costco pumpkin pies are a force to be reckoned with. So it was mostly the side dishes. We picked roasted yams and Spinach Gratin, along with oven-roasted stuffing, and a mix for those cheddar muffins you get at Red Lobster.
Timing would be everything. As I said, I have never done this solo. I have fleeting memories of my father showing me how to sew a turkey closed in the late 1970s, and me and a friend cooking an LA Thanksgiving once when my band played there – but we cooked together. Most other times I was one small cog in the gears of family Thanksgiving preparations. This year I was on my own. Wayne was taking care of environment and entertainment.
Work-related issues caused me to commence shopping at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Preparing for an onslaught of anxious crowds, list in hand, I went over to Costco and surprisingly found a good parking space early on. Once inside, I headed straight for the bakery. As I approached, the bakery shelves looked bare. Not one single package of the “Everything” bagels we usually get. I didn’t see any pumpkin pies. A bakery employee informed me there was a 30-minute wait for pumpkin pies, and there was a line over by the side wall.
“It goes all the way to the front door!” another man added.
I nodded and shuffled off with my empty cart, trying to stay calm as I considered alternatives. I headed over to the meat section where the pre-cooked turkey breasts usually were. They too, were nowhere in sight. I was beginning to worry. I had planned on going over to the Winco supermarket after this. Maybe I would have to bake a pie and cook a whole turkey on my own… sigh… I took a deep breath and invoked my “Let the Best Thing Happen” strategy. Then, rounding a corner, I came upon the turkey breasts, which had been moved to a different location. Whew! I cruised around, filling a prescription and picking up a few other things, trying to decide what to do next. From across the store, I could see that there wasn’t really a line for pumpkin pies all the way to the door. I grumbled something about men exaggerating the sizes of things and wheeled my cart over. The line seemed to be moving. Then it stopped and a female employee came by and told us that there would be another 30-minute wait. I figured I couldn’t make a pumpkin pie in 30 minutes, so what the heck. It was still only around 5:00. More people began arriving. “Is this the proverbial ‘pie line’?” they asked. Others arrived behind me and gasped at the line, but everyone remained friendly. After all, it’s Oregon. I just relaxed and read the entire Costco savings bulletin. Then I messed around with my cell phone. After about 20 minutes the line began moving again. I quickly got my pie, thanked the bakery employees profusely and headed to the checkout lines, which were remarkably short.
I picked up the rest of my items at Winco, whose parking lot and checkout lines were also curiously calm. I whispered a quiet thanks to the God of Best Things and drove home.
Back to the relaxing day:
We got up and made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I had my game plan written out. I’d read all the instructions and made a prep list of the dishes and their cooking times. It’s one thing to show up at a potluck with a single dish, and another, to figure out how everything you cook is going to arrive at the table hot and at the same time.
I got started at around noon with the yams and the turkey, which only needed to be heated for an hour. There was good music and the sun was streaming through the windows. My only two stumbling blocks were 1. When I accidentally dropped the plastic bag from the stuffing onto a burner on the stove and it caught fire. I quickly extinguished it and scraped the remains off the stove-top, and 2. The right butt-muscle I’d pulled in yoga the other day was slowing me down, causing me to limp around the kitchen. I took some Advil and kept going. My late mother, who would have been 90 today, watched over me from her photograph on the windowsill above the sink.
All things considered, we sat down to a delicious dinner at 2:30, only ½ hour after I’d originally planned. Since Wayne doesn’t have more than three drinks in an entire year, he was perfectly happy with root beer while I enjoyed my beloved Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. We never even changed out of our pajama pants.
Several hours, a movie and a phone call from dear friends later, we had the coveted pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream.
Sound good? We have leftovers. Come on over.