Saturday, December 10, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving my oldest daughter, Lynn, cooked while I recovered from knee surgery. She did a fantastic job and the meal turned out beautifully. At the end of my story is the Cornbread Stuffing recipe that Lynn made. Now I think it is time to tell the story of my wife and my Thanksgiving dinner. We were young and not really into cooking at the time. I am not sure why we did not go to one of our parents houses, I guess turning old causes memory lapses. Here is the story as I remember embellish it.

My youngest daughter, Ashlyn, was born on Thanksgiving day. Now being young and foolish my wife and I decided to give her and small birthday party the day before Thanksgiving. We decided to make her a cake with some kind of cartoonish character on top. As we started to make the cake I turned on the water and the water faucet broke off in my hand. Now is a good time to tell you that the previous owners of our house were very frugal and when it came to repairs fixing things did not mean they did it correctly if they could save a buck. Water was spraying out of what was formerly a faucet handle with such force that it was bouncing off the ceiling and puddling in the middle of the floor. At this point I am pretty sure I let a few 4 letter words fly, which brought my wife and 3 children flying into the room. As they hit the wet spot on the floor bodies were flying in all directions. They looked like penguins sliding down a glacier until their bodies hit the cupboards on the other side of the kitchen and they collapsed in a heap on a floor. After what seemed like hours we managed to find the shut off valve and turn the geyser off. Now the fun begins. As my wife and children dry off, I head to the local hardware store to buy a new faucet.

When I arrive at the store I assumed I would be able to grab a faucet and come home. Nobody told me I had to know how many holes were in the sink. One thing that you need to know about my handy man capabilities is that I have none. So back home I head to see how many holes were in the sink. To count the holes in the sink you would have to remove the old faucet or be able to look at the underside of the old old. Well at the time I was the size of a small kitchen appliance and I had to contort my body to even get under the sink. This involved wedging my shoulder under a garbage disposal while lying on my back, squeezing my 3 foot wide body into an 18 inch opening. Turns out that I couldn't see the under side of the sink. Plan 2 remove the old faucet. I squeezed my body back under the sink, took a wrench and started to loosen the water supply. After an hour I gave up.

I went back to the hardware store humiliated as a man and with a look of defeat on my face. Now we lived in a very small town where everybody knew everybody. When I went back into the store and talked to one of the family members who owned the store he offered to loan me a faucet wrench as it was designed to get into tight spots. I took it home and 2 hours later went back to the hardware store again in total defeat. At this point the helpful store owner offered to come home with me for a mere $20. I took him up on that offer. He crawled under the sink and began the task of unscrewing the water supply. After a few minutes he came out from under the sink and headed to the store. He returned with a small flashlight that had a flexible neck and a tool box. Eventually we discovered that the previous owner had replaced the water supply not with a supply line but with 20 brass fittings that were all screwed together. As we would start to loosen one, you would stop and try again but land on a different fitting and start loosening the next one and tighten the previous one. Eventually we replaced the water supply and the faucet. It only took us 5 hours to do that 2 hour job. The cake was made just in time for the party and none of the pre-Thanksgiving preparation was started because we had a party to host.

Now Thanksgiving morning we got up early and began cooking and everything seemed to be going fine. The smell of turkey was in the air, the pies were cooling, the stove top was filled with side dishes in various stages of doneness. We went to add the dressing to the oven and the second disaster hits us full on. We opened the oven door and the turkey was white and the oven was not hot. Sometime during the first hour of cooking the oven had died. Instant panic sits in, what are we going to do? We can't afford to try to have it repaired on Thanksgiving day, the stores are closed so we can't go buy a precooked one. Yes 20 years ago the stores actually closed on Thanksgiving day.

Since the bird was partially cooked and started to take on some color we decided to... are you ready for this...microwave it. We had turkey for Thanksgiving that year, it was barely edible but it was turkey. It was dry and tough and tasted the best when completely covered in gravy. The kids didn't seem to mind and we had accomplished making our first Thanksgiving dinner. Over the years we have had numerous successful Thanksgiving dinners, but this is the one I will always remember.

Cornbread Stuffing with Bourbon, Sausage and Apples
based on recipe by the Neelys from Food Network

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 pounds cubed and dried cornbread stuffing, store-bought
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups turkey or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put olive oil in large skillet and heat to medium high.
Brown sausage. Add celery and onions and cook until softened. Salt and pepper to taste. Add apple and cook for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add the bourbon. Simmer until bourbon almost completely evaporates.
Put cornbread, parsley, chicken stock eggs and pecans in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add the Sausage, apple mixture and combine all ingredients. Spread mixture out evenly in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake until cooked about 30 to 40 minutes.
Lynn and Rouz


  1. Interesting story...thanks for sharing! :)

  2. This was such a funny (I'm sure not at the time) and delightful story. You had me laughing right along with you. This is stuff that happens here all the time so I can totally relate. Great to pass the torch, your daughter is gorgeous. The stuffing looks perfect. I love the addition of apples and sausage.

  3. I would love to be a neighbor your personality is such fun, I love the family and she is a doll! You really are a great writer good luck in your new endeavors~

  4. So funny! Sei molto simpatico. I am following you from Rome, but I am Sicilian. Tanti auguri!!! Nice to meet you.

  5. Bourbon! YES please.... I was drinking Bourbon all day on Christmas (hidden in egg nog so no one would know! :D)