My mom is usually the queen of Thanksgiving and all of our family holidays, but this year, she asked for my help. Most years, I tend to look indifferently at my Thanksgiving-themed food magazines that pass through my mailbox and toss them aside since I am never in charge of cooking. Plus, we usually have the same menu year after year.
But this year, Mom gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted, so I planned a menu based on Mom's classic traditions (Ritz Cracker stuffing! pierogi!) and a few new dishes to spice things up. I came to New Jersey on Tuesday night, and Mom and I spent the next two days cooking and baking to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal.
That's me and Mom, about to kick ass in the kitchen in our matching hair nets.
Here's a little insight to my mom's thinking (or some may call it, madness) when it comes to cooking food for holidays. I planned to prepare a chocolate cheesecake, an apple pie, a lime fruit tart and a maple walnut cake - pictured here. I thought that four cakes for eleven people seemed reasonable. But Mom had other plans. Before I arrived, she made a rum cake ("for the Polish guests") and asked Iza to make some vanilla wafers ("Dan loves them!"). Then, early Thanksgiving morning, she went behind my back and put a pre-made pumpkin pie in the oven ("just in case.") That's seven desserts for eleven people! To be eaten after a THANKSGIVING MEAL.
As you can imagine, we had MORE than enough food. After everyone ate, it didn't look like we even made a dent. We had leftovers for days. Here's my overflowing dinner plate.
I am really proud of the work, especially brining and roasting my first turkey! I loved the quality cooking time spent with my mom--even though she kept making fun of me because on the first day, I told her I am "an experienced cook." (She was trying to help me out, and I told her I knew what I was doing.)
Between you and me, I AM an experienced cook. Okay, I am not an expert and I still have a lot to learn, but I know my stuff better than most people I know. But considering my mom and sister Annette are cooking geniuses, my knife skills can perhaps look a bit questionable, I still rely on recipes and I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to food preparation, no one in my family takes me seriously.
But--they still ate my meal and said they liked it.
Dan and I hang out with the dinner rolls.
Being at this will probably be the last Thanksgiving on the East Coast for a little while, I am very grateful for the time spent with my family! I am trying to avoid thinking about the fact that soon we will be far apart. To make myself feel better, I keep telling myself, "It's like going to college. No big deal. I will be back soon enough."
At least I'll be taking my mom's recipes with me!