I have never cooked a turkey, in 17 years of marriage. I never intend to, either. I really hate to cook. And I suck at it. I do the nightly cooking, ( or as Peg Bracken called it, the daily anti-climax) because every one else in my house is even more useless in the kitchen than I am, but I draw the line at Thanksgiving. If you get your groove in the kitchen, don’t waste your time reading this. But if you are a professional woman like me who needs to guard her time carefully, it is important to become an expert at getting out of doing the things that you hate as much as possible.
Now, I don’t hate Thanksgiving. I actually really like this holiday. I just would prefer to enjoy the way a man or a child does, and not bother with getting up at 3 am to brine the turkey, or spend the week before the feast cooking, shopping, and freezing. These activities including many things that I really dislike, namely:
Getting up early
Lifting heavy things
Dirtying and then cleaning the kitchen, multiple times
Here are my three main ways of getting out of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Get invited to someone else’s house. Believe it or not, there are some people who actually like to cook these big dinners. You need to be friends with them. You will have to bring something but that can be wine. Or pie (purchased). You will also have to help with the dishes, but that’s not so bad when there are 10 other people working with you and the wine and gossip are flowing. I am going to my mother’s for Thanksgiving this year and am actually expected to make something. But even then, you can volunteer for something easy that you know how to do. I offered to bring green bean casserole and another vegetable. My family, in turn, knows what I am up to and is maintaining polite silence on the topic. They know I’m good for the wine. (If you have to bring the green bean casserole, the recipe is on the back of all the cans of French’s fried onions and most stores have helpful end-caps with all the ingredients.)
2. Eat out. This is not as pathetic as it sounds. We’ve done this twice, and both times were much more memorable and fun than any home-cooked feast could be. The first time, we had gone into NYC to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. We spent the previous night at the Roosevelt Hotel, and in the morning got our Starbucks and walked over to the parade. Here’s the thing about New York. As soon as the parade ended, it was a ghost town. I’m talking tumbleweeds. We walked down the deserted streets and found an Irish pub that was serving a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. We were there with maybe three other tables, and discovered that Guinness goes very well with turkey.
The second time we had gone to Disney for Thanksgiving week with my brother-in-law’s family. My sister-in-law has a similar attitude toward big fancy dinners that I do, so we made reservations at a darling Cuban-themed restaurant in Celebration, which is an American-themed town. Disney is big on themes. Anyway, the 10 of us sat around a huge table and enjoyed Cuban appetizers and a lovely Turkey dinner, and we discovered that Mojitos also pair well with turkey.
3. Cater it. This is for those times when you didn’t manage to square an invite or a decent reservation. Or maybe you have company and couldn’t get out of having dinner at home. Restaurants, bakeries, and gourmet food shops will cater your dinner, bring it hot to your door, and deliver it when you want to eat. All you have to do is set the table, light the candles, and put the food in those fancy dishes you got for your wedding. As for the cost, I’ve usually spent less on a catered meal for 5 than I would have spent in groceries to make the entire dinner from scratch. Really! Add in the fact that there are no pots to clean and that you spent the first part of the day sleeping in and you will truly feel grateful that you didn’t have to cook.