My husband knew when he married me that I was nothing like Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray – – I do not cook and I hate to clean. My family has become accustomed to my idea of cooking which is takeout, frozen Banquet dinners and Hamburger Helper. I clean only because I cannot stand to live in a dirty house. I avoid the kitchen except to grab some Sarah Lee brownies from the box. I was relieved that my husband’s family never seemed interested in spending holidays at our home until last Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law invited herself and the rest of my in-laws to my home for a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I stood my ground and said “no” but my husband caved.
Thanksgiving dinner was different but no one got ill (or hospitalized) and I did not die from spending more than 10 consecutive minutes in the kitchen. Therefore, for the women who are like me, I give you my Thanksgiving dinner checklist.
1. Fire extinguisher – No this is not a joke! If you do not cook then you should be prepared for anything.
2. Grownup china and silverware – Mother-in-laws frown upon the use of plastic utensils and paper plates for Thanksgiving dinner. I had to purchase a set of china because I did not have eight place settings that matched.
3. Fully cooked turkey breast from the deli – If you do not boil water, do not attempt to stuff and cook a raw turkey. I tried watching a cooking show to see how that was done but immediately drew the line when she put her hand up the turkey’s backside.
4. Spiral ham – Grab a spiral ham from a specialty store or the grocery deli when you get the turkey. They are delicious and if you throw it in your oven on warm that morning and add a few pineapple rings on top it looks as if you cooked it yourself.
5. Green beans – It is difficult to mess up green beans from a can. Add water and let them simmer for an hour or so. I threw in some leftover cocktail weenies from our party the night before with some almond slivers and you would have thought I was Rachel Ray.
6. Instant potatoes – I know people say they can tell the difference; however, with some butter, salt and pepper they are better than my attempt to make them. Besides, if you cover them with gravy no one knows the difference.
7. Canned gravy – Speaking of gravy, do not even attempt to make gravy if you do not know how to cook. Skip the dry packages of gravy (thank goodness I tested it the week before) because they are too much trouble. Go for the jars or cans of gravy that only require some heat to make them edible.
8. Rolls are easier than dressing – When I read a recipe for homemade dressing, I promptly put rolls on my shopping list. If you must have dressing, then make the Stovetop dressing – – you will thank yourself later.
9. Cranberry sauce in a can – My mother-in-law commented that I had not made homemade cranberry sauce (there is something like that) but I informed her that it was my family’s tradition to have cranberry sauce that had can ridges around it and went “plop” when it slid out of the can.
10. Pumpkin pie from the bakery – Apple, pecan or pumpkin, it really does not matter as long as you do not have to bake it from scratch. Grab a container of Cool Whip and dessert is done.