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 A Thanksgiving gift from Fran

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Luann Posted - 11/22/2010 : 09:38:51 AM
This year we lost stalwart forum member and spam zapper extraordinaire, master knitter Fran Marrs. The originator of the 10-minute rule, she'd been there, knit that, yet answered every knitter's question as if for the first time. Despite numerous health problems, she lived every day to the fullest, and raised a trio of strong daughters who have continued her legacy of making powerful contributions to their communities.

Lest we remember her for her patience, generosity, and giving spirit alone, I offer this story that she first posted 7 years ago today.

The original topic thread is locked, but I invite you to read the comments so you can see Fran's responses.

Originally posted on 11/22/2003

This is the Thanksgiving day memory I am sharing with my children this year. I thought you might enjoy it, too.

One year I was planning a Thanksgiving dinner for my sister’s family (2adults and 10 children), my mother, and my 3 seven year olds. I had just bought the 24 lb turkey and was calculating thawing time when she called and said they could not make it for dinner. I popped the turkey back into the freezer and recalculated my time for a capon for my mother and 3 girls. On Thanksgiving, as we sat down for our dinner, the doorbell rang and in walked my sister and her family saying “surprise, we made it after all”. I looked at my little capon, heated up some hot dogs and said: “We are having our dinner at 6 pm this year. Here have some lunch.”

Now our traditional family dinner is entirely homemade, no shortcuts, with only fresh fruits and veggies, etc. Our only concession was using canned pumpkin, which was allowed only once in a while, and one can of jellied cranberry sauce for the few who would not eat fresh cranberries. I knew that was impossible this year, I had to take shortcuts and convince them I had done it without taking any. My sister and her husband are very critical of me. They love finding my mistakes. The impossible task was dealing with frozen turkey. I looked into my freezer and found a smaller 14 lb. turkey, so I pulled that out instead of the big one. I popped 2 potatoes into the microwave and when they were finished put the turkey in there to thaw and put the potatoes aside. I made pies and put them into the oven and while they were baking mixed bread and put it aside to rise. Then I began to cheat on my menu. I boiled some cranberries with sugar until they popped, dumped in a can of jellied cranberries and placed it into a mold in the refrigerator to cool. I opened cans of yams (instead of fresh), took the liquid, added brown sugar and seasoning and thickened it on the stove top, added the yams and put them into a casserole dish and set that aside. I made that famous green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and canned fried onions and set that aside. I made stuffing and put it into a pan instead of in the turkey, but topped it with a lid so it would not brown on top and look like it came from the inside of the bird. I was not about to peel potatoes for that crowd and even though my brother-in-law swore he could always tell instant potatoes from fresh, I was determined to fool him. I know a few tricks, too. I knew instant potatoes lost that instant taste if they were allowed to sit for about 20 minutes after mixing but that made them too cold, so I added a few more convincers. I made instant potatoes and set them aside, after a half an hour, I added a generous dollop of sour cream, then took those 2 baked potatoes, peeled them and smashed them lightly with a fork and mixed them in with the instant potatoes for instant lumps. I made gravy from powdered mixes and served that. Meanwhile, I had prepared the turkey and was cooking it in the microwave. I baked the bread and dinner rolls and added it to the finished food with the pies. I planned on putting the turkey in the oven for the last 30 minutes to brown while I heated up the vegetable dishes. I topped the yams with marshmallows and put that along with the green beans, potatoes, and stuffing into the oven to reheat. While that was going on I prepared platters of olives, pickles, celery sticks, etc. along with broccoli and cauliflower and dumped ranch dressing into a serving bowl on the platter. I HAD DONE IT. Now it was time for the taste test. I asked for help to carry everything into the dining room and as everyone was sitting at the table, went back into the kitchen to get the turkey. HORRORS. I had forgotten to put it into the oven for browning. There I was alone in the kitchen with this perfectly cooked bird with white wrinkled skin.......yuck. Feeling desperate but ready to face the music, I stuffed the bird with the prepared dressing and put it on its platter surrounded with parsley and small tomatoes. It looked so pathetic,I though of covering it with gravy. Then I got inspired. I grabbed a pastry brush, reached into the cupboard and PAINTED the turkey with Kitchen bouquet sauce. Then I took a deep breath and carried it into the dining room. My brother-in-law just stared at that turkey and I waited for what he was going to say next. After an embarrassingly long pause, he looked up and said: “ that is the most perfect turkey I have ever seen, it is browned so evenly with no burned spots. It is absolutely beautiful.” Then we sat down to eat and I waited for my criticism. After all this was my sister ad her family, I knew there would be one. Finally, my brother-in-law said that I had outdone myself this year, everything was perfect. Then he looked at his wife and told her that he still preferred her mashed potatoes to mine because hers were smooth. He had found a lump in mine. As my mother helped me to clear up and do dishes, she asked how I had managed that in so little time and we laughed the night away as I told her each secret of the “made from scratch” dinner.

fran
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Jane Posted - 12/05/2012 : 06:39:22 AM
Thank you for posting this, Jane. I've experienced some big life changes, too, since I "met" Fran, and your words describe her legacy just perfectly.

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album
Punctuatedknitter Posted - 12/04/2012 : 9:40:15 PM
I have not had time for much knitting the last two years, and I've moved several times, so my supplies are a mess. I'm getting started organizing my knitting again and everything seems to remind me of Fran. I have so much gratitude for her generosity, both her knitting advice and her life lessons.

I am still learning from her. As my life has changed dramatically since I joined the KR, she has taught me that you can take both the good and the bad that life brings, and make something wonderful out of it. Every day I can work to bring warmth, knowledge, and love to my little corner of the world, and to banish bitterness, ignorance and hate.
Shalee Posted - 11/25/2012 : 02:24:09 AM
Thanks, Luann for re-posting her Thanksgiving experience. When I remember Fran it is with such adoration. With everything she experienced she kept us grounded with the knowledge that everything has a bright side. She has left us a wonderful legacy of love and her knowledge of knitting.

Sharon in NW PA
I always wanted my own library but I didn't realize it would be all knitting books!


donnawatk Posted - 11/24/2012 : 04:57:44 AM
Luann, I read this a week ago thinking about Fran. I always cook Thankgiving dinner with my Mom, this year she is sick I cooked. alone. We always cook more because someone always shows up? This year it was just two. I hope we all had a Happy Thankgiving. I sure Fran's family had a good laugh as they sat down for dinner. Donna
imamshua Posted - 11/23/2012 : 2:11:08 PM
I hope Fran's family comes and visits the forum on occassion. I'm sure they would be pleased to know how Fran impacted so many people beyond her immediate family. I join in as one of the group that misses Fran. I can't believe it has been 3 years.

Sally

If you think you're too small to be effective you have never been in bed with a mosquito - Bette Reese
anderknit Posted - 11/22/2012 : 12:05:04 AM
Thank you so much for bumping this thread. Fran was the most patient, most honest, most accomplished poster. I wish I had the chance to get to know her "off-line"; I bet she was a hoot. I hope her family finds peace and solace in memories of her. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' "
Ceil Posted - 11/21/2012 : 7:01:15 PM
LuAnn, that's a good idea. I didn't try to read the story again because I remember it so well. Fran was such a wealth of information, and she always freely shared. May we all follow that model. That is what makes KR so special.

Ceil
(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
Lanea Posted - 11/21/2012 : 09:18:35 AM
Thank you for bumping the thread, Luann!

Fran was an absolute treasure, and I miss her kindness and humor and knowledge. We're so lucky that she shared so much with us here.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
Luann Posted - 11/21/2012 : 08:13:26 AM
My annual tradition is to bump this topic up, as a memorial to our dearly departed Fran and also as a happy thought to assist those of us who are crazily preparing for American Thanksgiving tomorrow. Though she's been gone three years now, and it's been 9 years since she shared this story, I still miss Fran. She was the most giving person, and she's still giving after all this time - I laugh every time I read this. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Luann

Knit and let knit!
http://www.luannocracy.blogspot.com
mjhealy Posted - 11/24/2011 : 09:23:52 AM
Thanks for sharing Fran's story, Luann. I'm sorry never to have met her, but admire her resourcefulness and cheer. Not sure I'd could pull off a last minute Thanksgiving dinner with such grace, but that's the point of the tale, eh? We knitters can do anything...

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the kitchen and around the table today.

Martha H.
Ceil Posted - 11/23/2011 : 1:17:19 PM
I remember reading this story, maybe a year ago? Very fun to read again. Yes, we lost a really knowledgeable knitter in Fran, and I join those who have benefited from her experience. It was she who helped me transition into Combination knitting by suggesting that I knit a dishcloth that way. Everyone needs a dishcloth, and we don't care how they look (in fact, the current one in the kitchen needs to be replaced now).

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! (And Lord have mercy: I am in Santa Barbara CA this year, cooking dinner without a microwave! My DH just found some metal nuts and a quarter in the garbage disposal--his son just moved here last week--and we have yet to know if the oven works! That plus a 10 lb. $40 turkey in the fridge from Whole Foods?) Fran must be smiling right now.

Ceil
(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
Lanea Posted - 11/23/2011 : 09:36:47 AM
Purlewe, thanks for reminding me about that tree. When I read Fran's description of that, it made me feel so warm and happy. She was a wonderful person, and I miss her so much here on the forums.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
AngieSue Posted - 11/23/2011 : 09:07:12 AM
I remember Fran talking about Magic Loop and how it could be used for most anything. I took her advice whole-heartedly! Her stories and knowledge will live forever within me.

Angie

Ravelry: AngieSue
Luann Posted - 11/23/2011 : 08:55:17 AM
Robinsteph, thanks for your post, it's further proof that Fran lives on here not only in our memories and hearts, but in the collective wisdom of the KR Forums.

Knit and let knit!
http://www.luannocracy.blogspot.com
purlewe Posted - 11/23/2011 : 08:09:46 AM
Every day I seem to remember something Fran said, but this is probably one of my favorites. This and the story about the tree with all the grafted branches to represent her family.

Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming. ~Myrna Loy
http://purlewe.typepad.com/
dschmidt Posted - 11/23/2011 : 06:41:07 AM
Thanks, Luann. Fran was a fabulous woman with a huge heart and I was blessed by knowing her on KR.

Donna in VA

The Honor Roll? It's easier here than in school. Scroll up to "Want to Make Betty Happy?" and be an Honor Roll member.
robinstephanie Posted - 11/23/2011 : 12:24:35 AM
When I started posting on the KR forums, I also went back and checked out the archived newsletters, which always had links to what all ya'll were talking about in the forums, all the way back to the beginning. Thus, from January 2011 on, I had an online forum acquaintance with the inimitable Fran Marrs. I enjoyed reading about her ten-minute rule, her tater tots, and all her intricate, expert advice to forum members, and even adopted (and quickly came to love) her ten-minute rule. I was shocked and honestly grieved when I read here about her recent death, as I felt her presence here so strongly.

I do ever so much wish I had been lucky enough to know her, and thank you, Luanne, for posting this wonderful story of hers for us to enjoy. Perhaps Fran would have been touched to know how you who knew and loved her keep her memory alive here.

Robinsteph

Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
Luann Posted - 11/22/2011 : 11:29:31 PM
It's that time of year again, so I'm bumping this story up. Among the many things I am thankful for this year are KR and Clara, without whom I never would have been introduced to the amazing Fran Marrs.

Knit and let knit!
http://www.luannocracy.blogspot.com
purlthis Posted - 11/27/2010 : 06:53:08 AM
Even my husband, who hates any kind of long story, was cracking up!

Rachel
------------------------------------------------------
As I get older, I prefer to knit. Tracey Ullman
http://purledthis.blogspot.com/ UPDATED! WITH PICS!
Jane Posted - 11/27/2010 : 03:58:27 AM
Oh, the tater tots story! One of my favorites! I wonder if I can find it...

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album

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