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 Fran's Thanksgiving Story

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purlthis Posted - 11/24/2013 : 3:54:44 PM
For those who weren't fortunate enough to know our KR angel and knitting ninja, Fran/fmarrs, I'd like to post the best Thanksgiving story of all time. I read it every year, and miss her wisdom often. Enjoy!

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.

As I get older, I prefer to knit. Tracey Ullman
13   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
marfa Posted - 11/28/2013 : 12:00:04 PM
How do.

Thank you for posting this - it's a lovely tradition.

Luann Posted - 11/27/2013 : 11:55:13 PM
Here's Fran's original posting, now ten years old. It's worth rereading just for Fran's further comments.

Knit and let knit!
Ceil Posted - 11/27/2013 : 11:07:31 PM
Fran was just so,wel, EVERYTHING! A great knitter with a lot of good ideas, which obviously stretched toquick thinking in the kitchen!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
Lynne604 Posted - 11/26/2013 : 09:10:31 AM
I'm afraid I would not have been so gracious, and I know I couldn't pull off such a delicious meal at the last minute. Anyone showing up at my house uninvited would have to make do with a "Healthy Choice" frozen dinner.
purlewe Posted - 11/26/2013 : 07:27:15 AM
This definitely one of my favorite Fran stories. I do hope her family gets together and thinks of her as we do every year.

And thinking of Fran, reminds me that last yr I invited 2 friends to an "adults only" dinner and they informed me (thankfully with enough time in advance) that they would bring their 7 children with them. It makes me marvel at Fran's level headedness all over again. I nearly lost it!

Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming. ~Myrna Loy
donnawatk Posted - 11/26/2013 : 05:42:10 AM
I think about Fran every year at this time. I'm the cook at Thanksgiving. I will say I haven't had as much fun as Fran must have had making that dinner and later the laughing that must have went on. I miss her. Donna
anderknit Posted - 11/25/2013 : 7:12:41 PM
I was thinking about this story just yesterday. What a classic, and classic Fran. I do miss her here on KR. Thanks for re-posting it.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' "
dothead Posted - 11/25/2013 : 1:13:51 PM
Reading this story has become one of my Thanksgiving traditions. Thanks for posting.

Vicki, the Constant Lurker(who sometimes stops lurking and actually posts)
Lanea Posted - 11/25/2013 : 09:45:58 AM
I miss Fran so much. Thanks for posting, Rachel!

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robinstephanie Posted - 11/25/2013 : 07:29:33 AM
I was waiting for the yearly bump! I almost died laughing the first time I read this, although I wanted to grill Fran's family alive. Imagine showing up with NO notice with... how many people—ten? And expecting to be fed! So, to me, this always speaks to Fran's generosity, not just her inventiveness. I might have just served that capon and told them to divvy up! Thanks for keeping it alive, you guys.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
eldergirl Posted - 11/24/2013 : 10:40:37 PM
Thank you Rachel! Fran was also a great writer! What a genius she was, to do this !

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends!


Life is beautiful.
purlthis Posted - 11/24/2013 : 8:30:49 PM
I was thinking of you when I posted it, thinking you usually posted it. <3

As I get older, I prefer to knit. Tracey Ullman
Luann Posted - 11/24/2013 : 4:20:02 PM
A classic! You beat me to it this year. Thanks for remembering.

Knit and let knit!

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