Food Crisis Number 3

No lie, I fucked up the PEPPERIDGE FARM STUFFING. That is how bad a cook I am.

Similar to the lesson about thyme, “3 cups bread cubes and 1 cup water or broth” should not be translated as “3 cups bread cubes and 3 cups water or broth.”

What IS it with me and reading directions today?

I mean, besides what it is with me and reading directions every day.

The good news is, it only took 5 minutes to make a new batch — this time with 1 1/2 cups bread cubes and half a cup of water, ’cause I’d fully acknowledged we had enough food to feed 10 other people by then. The bad news is, I wasn’t that impressed. I’ve enjoyed their cornbread stuffing in the past, but the sage and onion version isn’t very exciting.

Also, I put too much milk in the mashed potatoes, so they were mushier than I wanted them to be. Seriously, mashed potatoes are one of the only things I can reliably make well, so I don’t even know what’s up with that. And I have certainly never fucked up packaged stuffing before. It was just not my day in the kitchen.

But! The squash was AWESOME, and the turkey tasted just fine, despite seasoning mishap. Jar of gravy and can of cranberry sauce were… exactly what you’d expect. And the pumpkin pie is still cooling, but I might just have tasted what came out on the knife when I checked before it was done, and it might just be excellent. (Even though that was mini-food crisis #4 — I didn’t have cloves, as it turned out, but I went with nutmeg instead, which I like better than cloves anyway.)

By the way, if you’re ever wondering what it’s like to live with ADD, just read over today’s entries again. There’s your nutshell.

Aaaanyway. I am now full but not sick-full — yay! — and I’m about to sit in front of the TV with Al and the dogs and some wine, until I get hungry for pumpkin pie and/or turkey sandwiches. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

38 thoughts on “Food Crisis Number 3”

  1. Aw, Happy Thanksgiving, my American cousins! Congrats on your dinner, kate – I could never cook that much and keep it coordinated, so celebrate yourself!

    My non-TG dinner tonight will consist of homemade meatballs and a salad, and maybe a baked potato, or rice – haven’t decided yet.

  2. Hey, yours turned out pretty good. Ours, well, the one son showed up on time, so since dinner was ready, we ate. The second son, who was supposed to show up at 3, didn’t show until 4:30, so all that was left for them was turkey and dinner rolls and pie. There would have been enough had they shown up on time, but with everyone going back for seconds and sometimes thirds, the green bean casserole and dressing just didn’t last. Ah well, as I told them, if you’re late, you eat left-overs. When everything is done at 3, I really don’t want to eat a cold dinner because someone is an hour and a half late. But really, this was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember (step-son’s wife and I sat in the kitchen eating and talking, while the men ate in the living room with the kids, heaven!).

  3. The good news is, those are mistakes you only have to make once. Now that they have been blogged, they will burn themselves into the collective unconscious which includes you, and you won’t forget. And if you think you might, 1) buy an extra box of stuffing and extra potatoes (just nuke ’em and toss ’em in), and/or 2) get Al to stand there in the kitchen with you while you measure shit, or better yet, have him (or someone else) do it, and/or 3) write yourself notes.

    It may sound silly, but if you’re ADD you have the right to use all the reminder tools you need. I had to learn the hard way that feeling stupid because I fucked something up felt a lot worse than feeling stupid because I needed to use a tool to prevent myself from fucking up. We have PVC pipes in the kitchen sink and Chris was always reminding me to run cold water before draining pasta or anything else I was boiling, and I forgot like 5 times before I said, “OK, I’m going to make a sign that says, ‘Turn on water before draining pasta’ and put it over the sink.” It may sound stupid, but hell if I didn’t remember to do it the last 2 times since I put the sign up.

  4. Of course the squash was great. It had bacon in it. Bacon is like the universal solvent. Except it’s food.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Your ADD Thanksgiving sounds stressful, but the important thing is spending the day with loved ones anyway. The food is just secondary. Well, except for the pie. That’s really very, very important… I hope yours turned out delish.

  6. I like using the herbed Pepperidge Farms stuffing, but I don’t make it to package directions: I sautee celery and onions in lots of butter, then crack an egg or two over some crumbs, mix it in wit some sage, the celery/onion/butter mix, some salt and pepper, and some water, and cook it in the bird. I’m missing not having it this year because I ate at some friends’.

    Homemade cranberry sauce is unbelievably easy. I have a vague recollection that you like the jelly (?), which from the recipe I use looks just as easy, except you cook it longer and strain it. I use the recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It involves a grand total of three ingredients (including water), the complicated procedures known as boiling, stirring, and chilling, and *always* garners rave reviews. It probably takes 10-15 minutes and can be made the night before.

  7. I do not wonder what it’s like to live with ADD. And yet I’ve managed to be a good cook. But there are haps of the mis-est kind. I rarely read a recipe through, so I’ll find out halfway through the process that there’s this whole other leg of work I hadn’t anticipated. Or that it needs to chill for 12 hours before the next step. And I just have lots of kitchen spills and accidents.

    I’m really trying to address it in the kitchen, because it can be so upsetting. The hardest part for me is remembering, in advance, that I DO this stuff, which can help slow me down enough to NOT fuck up.

    Last year I did a turkey dinner for a New Year’s Day party. The turkey was still frozen the morning of, so Joe spent like, hours essentially bathing and massaging the beast in my kitchen sink (which meant I couldn’t get anything else done in the kitchen). And then the new baster I’d bought MELTED ON CONTACT so yeah, we didn’t have a baster.

    Oh good times.

  8. Hahahahahaha, oh, the joys of living with ADD.

    I had to make three trips to the store in a day and a half, because I don’t read directions and plan ahead, and each new recipe I started required something I didn’t have on-hand. Last year I tried to make a few new recipes that had more than 5 ingredients and steps. Big mistake. So, this year I bought a box of pumpkin bread mix, stuff to make my low-fat, Splenda pineapple upside-down cake, the Tofurkey feast and sweet potato mashed potatoes.

    The cake and the bread turned out fabulous and I made them the night before so I thought I was all prepared. Thanksgiving morning, I pre-heat the oven for the Tofurkey, completely forgetting that the husband told me the night before he had put the bread in the oven so that the cats wouldn’t get it. Oops. Do you realize what happens to cream cheese frosting when it is baked for an hour at 350 degrees? It’s not pretty.

    Then, I completely underestimated the time it would take to cook the tofurkey, and so we couldn’t have it for our thanksgiving lunch with my mom after all. Same with the mashed potatoes. The Tofurkey dumplings were meant to remain frozen until you were ready to boil them – I had dethawed them with the Tofurkey and they were just a mess.

    By the time we got to his family’s house for dinner, neither of us were hungry. So, now we have a huge Tofurkey feast chilling in the refrigerator. The cake turned out beautifully, though. The problem is, everyone knows what kind of cook I am, so very few people even tried it.

  9. Kerry, the problem with your stuffing-doctoring (which sounds delish) is that it involves nearly as much actual cooking as making it from scratch. I was looking to avoid the chopping and sauteeing of onions and whatnot. And I paid for it.

    I’m really trying to address it in the kitchen, because it can be so upsetting. The hardest part for me is remembering, in advance, that I DO this stuff, which can help slow me down enough to NOT fuck up.

    Oh, man, Roberta, I’m about to post about this. (And I’ve done everything you mentioned doing.) Or, well, about how if I don’t remember I do it beforehand, I need to remember afterwards that it’s the ADD, not me being a horrible fuck-up.

  10. Last year I tried to make a few new recipes that had more than 5 ingredients and steps. Big mistake.

    Oh, WORD, Rachel. The Rotund and I both recently figured out that we like cooking if there are less than 5 ingredients involved, and can’t stand it if there are more — but because we try to do more so often, we’ve developed a belief that we hate cooking. The more ingredients there are, the more likely it is that I’ll fuck up a step along the way. It’s that simple. Took me long enough to figure that one out.

    And that’s part of why I’m so geeked about the squash I made yesterday, btw. Butter, brown sugar, and bacon. That’s all. And butter and brown sugar would work as well by themselves, since you don’t eat bacon — but I might even try that with a couple drops of liquid smoke or something, ’cause the smoky flavor of the bacon really added a lot. (It was, in fact, more about the smokiness than about regular bacon flavor.) Everything else I made was just fine/good, but Al and I both dug into the squash and went, “OH MY GOD.” We will be having that again as a main course soon, I think. 4 ingredients, and the hardest part is cutting the squash open. That’s my kind of recipe.

  11. Oh, and Meowser, I forgot to respond to you, along the same lines.

    It may sound silly, but if you’re ADD you have the right to use all the reminder tools you need.

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s just, some days, even if you write yourself a note, the problem is remembering to read your own fucking note. Sorta like you have to take your Ritalin to remember to take your Ritalin, you know? (I’m not actually on Ritalin anymore — though I am about to go on Wellbutrin — but that’s a pretty common problem I did have when I was on it.)

    Yesterday was totally one of those days.

  12. I have to chuckle, because while *I’M* not ADD, my biological mother is, and one of my best friends is, and one of my cousins is… get the drift? I’ve known enough people in my life with it that I can totally relate to what you’re talking about, even if only from an observer’s p.o.v.

    The one thing I noticed (at least with the ADDers I know)? The person WITH the ADD is always harder on his/herself than the people around them. Its like *I* can make concessions for the fact that my mother, my best friend, and my cousin have it, but they’re always like “I’m so STUPID!!”

    But ya know what? Even without ADD, I STILL have those kinds of days! (Although I personally believe there is a kind of parenthood-induced ADD… ;) )

  13. Kate,

    1) When you can’t find a roaster rack, use balled up aluminum foil (several balls) to raise the bird off the bottom of the pan.

    2) For future reference, if you want easy stuffing, buy Stove Top. It may be demoralizing, but it tastes good. Pepperidge Farm is not meant to stand alone — it requires (at least) the celery, onion, butter, pepper, and this year, the can of creamed corn that’s been in my cupboard since I bought it by mistake last year!


  14. J,

    1. I actually thought about balled-up aluminum foil, and in fact started to make myself a fake rack, but then I decided to screw it, because I’ve roasted birds sitting in the bottom of the pan before (I’ve had the same roasting pan for years, and I’m not sure I’ve ever known where the rack was at the right time, though I’ve found the rack randomly in cupboards when I didn’t need it), and nothing that bad ever happens. As it didn’t yesterday. Once I got some liquid in the pan, sticking wasn’t a problem. And since it was just a breast, it didn’t end up soaking in a pool of fat quite the same way as it would have if it had dark meat on it.

    2. Good call. I actually like Stove Top, truth be told, but I bought PF because I was suckered into believing it would be fancier. Learned my lesson.

    Chagrined in Chicago

  15. Even without ADD, I STILL have those kinds of days! (Although I personally believe there is a kind of parenthood-induced ADD…

    Heh. I don’t have kids and I have plenty of those days, mostly because of job stress and insomnia. I honestly think that if I could get more sleep, half my problems would disappear. The other day I locked myself out of the house and left a bag of produce at the grocery store. Then I gave up and stopped trying to do anything.

  16. The one thing I noticed (at least with the ADDers I know)? The person WITH the ADD is always harder on his/herself than the people around them.

    Yeah, I left out the part where I was in a furious rage throwing Reynold’s wrap and anything else handy around the kitchen while saying F-this and F-that, because things were, as always, fucked up. I know it’s not me, that it’s the ADD, but it doesn’t cease to make it any less frustrating.

    Kate – I’ve been on Welbutrin for years and I love it. It’s the only anti-depressant I will take, because I am convinced the others make you gain weight (keep in mind everyone else, I am recovering ED. I don’t pretend to be logical). Plus, Welbutrin has also been prescribed for ADD use, so with me, it killed two birds with one stone.

    I had to go off it though just recently, after years of being on it. The way my company structured the agreement with our health care provider is that if there’s a generic available, you are penalized for the difference. I’d have to pay about $100 a month for brand name, and this is through the usually less expensive mail order service. But I tried the generic for three months, and it gives me debilitating migraines every day. So, since I couldn’t get the name brand, I’ve just gone off it completely instead. Kind of makes the whole point of “health care” useless, doesn’t it?

  17. Wellbutrin alone did nothing for my depression or my ADD, and when I took it with Effexor I felt like a twitch-monster. It works on norepinephrine rather than serotonin, and if norep is a deficiency of yours it might help. (I found out later I was one of those people who was markedly deficient in dopamine and serotonin, but whose norep levels were actually OK, which is very odd.) I know it’s frequently used as a quit-smoking drug — is that why you’re using it, Kate?

    Yeah, Rachel, I know what you mean about the generic drugs. It’s very hit-and-miss. And like you said, you pretty much have to have independent wealth to take all name brands.

  18. Heh, I’m switching to Wellbutrin for all of the above reasons, actually. For ADD, because I want to quit smoking, and because Lexapro has caused weight gain like whoa. It’s, like, 9 birds with one stone — and it worked really well for me as an antidepressant when I went on it to quit smoking a few years back. The only drawback — and the reason I tried Lexapro instead of Wellbutrin again in the first place — is that it makes me bad crazy for about 10 days, before my system gets used to it. Like, panic attacks and crying in a heap crazy. I’m hoping that this time it won’t be as bad with the Lexapro in my system, but Al’s been warned that things might get ugly for a bit.

    Interesting tip about the generic issue, Rachel. I had a similar problem with generic Ritalin — and of course, when you say you need the name brand, not the generic, that’s just ONE MORE level of people thinking you’re crazy and/or planning to sell it on the street. Sigh. I do have generic Bupropion right now — and it was actually Zyban I used before. Fingers crossed that it’ll work out. (I haven’t even started taking it yet, because I wanted to make sure the potential crazy didn’t overlap with Thanksgiving.)

  19. If it’s the chopping you’re looking to avoid, a couple of alternatives:

    1. Trader Joe’s sells containers of prechopped mirepoix. If you’ve got a good big grocery store near you, they probably do, too. It has carrots in it, and it chopped maybe a little fine for stuffing, but it certainly saves a lot of time. I buy pre-sliced onions and peppers from Wegman’s (supermarket, most in the east coast, I think) all the time. I hardly ever chop stuff anymore.

    2. Another alternative is to buy dried celery and onions; I get them from Penzey’s. You rehydrate them before using and they aren’t bad. Not quite as nice as the fresh stuff, but still might be better than the packaged stuffing mix if you’re just looking to avoid the chopping, but don’t want to go the ST route.

  20. ..the problem with your stuffing-doctoring (which sounds delish) is that it involves nearly as much actual cooking as making it from scratch. I was looking to avoid the chopping and sauteeing of onions and whatnot.

    Something I saw for the first time this year, while buying Thanksgiivng ingredients … Pre-chopped and seasoned celery and onions all mixed together, labelled as stuffing mix. Just add bread crumbs, I guess – sort of the opposite end of the pepperidge farm mixes. It was in the deli section, packaged along the lines of pre-made salads I didn’t look closely and wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole, as I thoroughly dislike onions and celery, myself, but a bag of the pepperidge farm mix and a container of that and you’d have a pretty traditional stuffing with minimal effort.

    (My own stuffing problem is that I DO like stuffing – as in, I like the seasoned bread cubes with some turkey juices baked in, and so forth. I’ve been known to go so far as to take stove top mixes and run the seasoning packet – when they HAD separate seasoning packets – through a sieve to get the bits of dehydrated onion and celery out. Now that they’ve mixed the seasonings in ahead of time, I can’t do it :(. I have relatives who make stuffing from scratch and they’ve started acknowledging that neither my mother or I like onions, so usually make a small dish of it without… problem is, my mom doesn’t eat it and they still put celery in, so I don’t want it. But I feel GUILTY not eating it, since they went to the extra effort to do it… and so forth. I suppose I need to start making my own from scratch. I enjoy cooking, but stuffing is just something I’ve never attempted.

    My one kitchen mishap this year came in the form of overbaking a pre-made frozen marionberry pie… All I had to do was throw it in a hot oven, and I managed to cook it 100 degress too high. The apple and pumpkin that I made from scratch went smoothly, but the easy one… go figure. (There would have been other mishaps, no doubt, but dinner was a shared effort and I only brought pies and corn pudding).

  21. In re: chopping – I actually buy a bulk amount of peppers or onions or whatever, then chop it all and freeze it for later. That way, I get it done all at once. Put on some good chopping music, wiggle your butt and chop away!

    T-Day is late here, we’re doing it tonight because we’re Americans living in Canada. Just me and the hubs, and some friends (from US, living up here). The “master of ceremonies” is in the oven, smelling divine, and everything is done except the mashed potatoes and green beans with carmelized onions. Even the table is set! See… obsessive/compulsive disorders come in handy sometimes! ;)

  22. One nice thing about the whole thing is you’ll have something to laugh at in later years. I still remember my great Thanksgiving meltdown when half the oven crapped out halfway thru roasting the turkey. This was the first time I’d cooked turkey day dinner for anyone in my immediate family (my mum) and wanted everything to be perfect. It all came out well in the end, my mom told me stories of her turkey day disasters and I am very thankful for neighbors who let me finish the bird in their oven.

    This year’s dinner went off without a hitch (okay, the onions on the green bean casserole were more blackened then golden brown and delicious, but it all was tasty.

  23. This is why I don’t cook. In fact, almost no part of our Thanksgiving dinner was cooked. My parents ordered up, like they order up every other meal, and then today we went out to my cousins’ and they had caterers. (They asked people to bring desserts, and at least two families brought Hostess snack cakes. Real devotion to family.)

    My mom did make roasted carrots, because I objected to the near-zero vegetable level, and they were GREAT. Put the carrots on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and cook at around 400 for around 45 minutes. Even you and I can’t fuck that one up, Kate.

  24. You can do plenty with 5 ingredients or less. Especially if your ingredients are tasty in and of themselves. I did count the ingredients in the pecan-crusted catfish I made yesterday (which turned out great), just out of curiosity. Eleven. But most of them were spices that got thrown in with the flour and cornmeal when I was dredging the fish, it wasn’t one of those “roast the garlic powder until it turns puce and then sprinkle in a tablespoon of paprika 3 grains at a time” kind of things. And that was the ONLY thing I made that required anything close to brainpower. Squash was cooked and just needed defrosting, mashed potatoes were done with the skins on, C. handled dessert. I know my limits.

    And when I eat my Thanksgiving Sequel dinner on Sunday, when I’m off, it’ll be even more mindless. Stove Top stuffing. Canned cranberries. Canned gravy. Jennie-O turkey roast (that’s about all the turkey you’ll find at Safeway the Friday after TG, I learned my lesson there), and Sara Lee pie (they had a 2-for-1 special).

    Hostess cakes? Wow, FJ, you poor thing. Even frozen pies are better than that. They must’ve stopped off at a gas station on the way.

  25. Man, I very nearly had a disaster with the apple pie – I was distracted by my mom and my friend, and wasn’t measuring very closely and grated in way too much nutmeg and completely forgot the vanilla. Luckily it tasted fine, but I was super nervous.

    Hostess snack cakes are deserving of shunning. Who DOES that? Seriously? Ack.

  26. If you need a roasting rack all of a sudden? Get some really big carrots and onions (cut the onions in half) and use those as the rack. You should probably peel the carrots and take the paper off the onions, but seriously, so good, if you like your roast vegetables dripping with poultry fat. I’ve only done this with chicken, never a turkey, though: you might have to get really big monster carrots.

  27. “My own stuffing problem is that I DO like stuffing – as in, I like the seasoned bread cubes with some turkey juices baked in, and so forth.”

    Me too! But, since I live alone, it’s a bit wasteful to roast a whole bird just for me. Plus I hate messing with them – it takes too many skills I never learned, and then later there’s a giant bird skeleton. My solution is to put made-up stuffing in an oven-proof dish, then bake chicken breasts on top. The juices run down into the stuffing and fill it with happy goodness. The only down side is that there’s no drippings for gravy.

  28. My solution is to put made-up stuffing in an oven-proof dish, then bake chicken breasts on top.

    Ooh, good idea, iiii!

    Except for the gross-out factor, and depending on your level of salmonella paranoia, messing with the bird is not hard at all. (And look who’s saying that.) In my experience, roasting the turkey is about the easiest part of making a holiday meal, even though it seems scariest before you’ve done it. However, I’m with you on the whole bird being a lot for one person — or two people, which is why I only did a breast yesterday. Maybe you could do Rock Cornish Game Hens on top of the stuffing or something?

  29. Nah, a whole turkey isn’t too much for two people, in our house it isn’t enough LOL. Hubby LOVES his turkey leftovers. But then again we have a deep freeze and I process all the leftovers into containers and into the freezer to be used over the course of the next couple months. If you don’t have a freezer, then yeah, a whole bird might be too much :D

    Prepping and cooking a turkey is no harder then a chicken, just consider it a BIG chicken, esp if you just get something in the 10+ pound range. No real difference at all :)

    I’ve done the box o’stuffing with the bird pieces on top and it has come out nicely. I usually use a bit less water then the directions call for as the bird pieces usually give off enough juices to make it perfect. Cornish game hens are wonderful this way. Split them in have, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with whatever seasoning you like and YUM!!!!!!!!!

  30. DH is the one with ADD, and he doesn’t cook anyway, so mostly ktichen mishaps are a minimum. I still have to go behind him and put away the milk, bread, unplug the toaster, whatever after breakfast, though. :)

    DH was on Ritalin as a kid and HATED it. On my doc’s recommendation, he started taking 2 (1000-1200mg) capsules of fish oil morning AND night. It’s been helping, and he says he sleeps better and his legs don’t twitch. Also, he had these little bumps on his arms that have gone down (apparently a side effect of the lack of omega-3 from what I’ve been able to find out). So, yeah, he can focus a bit more without the side effects he didn’t like. The only side effect is, umm…fish burps. NatureMade has a brand that’s coated to avoid that. :)

  31. Oh, I love to cook and I love turkey, so I’m feeling a bit envious of you Americans right now.

    I cook Xmas dinner whenever I can, and it has to be a stuffed turkey with pan gravy and roast potatoes. And I make my own stuffing. It’s quite easy with a food processor. But in concession to the season I match the turkey with salads, and make an icecream-based dessert. Since I also LOVE Xmas pudding with custard and brandy butter, that happens at another meal. It’s too much to combine them one summer meal.

    And on the ADD cooking – we all have these moments. Check this thread, it’s hilarious:

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