I had no idea what I was doing. Not one clue as to how to begin. So, I called my dad. He got me started. First, buy a turkey. Ok, that was priceless info because I thought that turkeys just showed up in the kitchen. Put the bird in a pan and turn on the oven (my dad was a gourmet cook who didn’t hold out much hope for my traditional thanksgiving being that I was 17 and didn’t realize I had to actually go and buy the turkey). Got it. Bird, pan….wait… was I supposed to take off the wrapping? Ok, hot wrapping off the bird. So far so good. I made real, undercooked, lumpy, mashed potatoes and stuffing out of a box (the best kind). My best friend made her green bean casserole and some other gross tofu/veggie dishes that I would never eat because gross.
My favorite part of the meal is the gravy. It always has been and always will be. I could drink gravy. I love gravy. Now, how do I make gravy? I had no idea. Hello Dad? Ok, I needed flour. Or cornstarch. Yeah, we were 17 years old….I didn’t even know what cornstarch was. I thought it was what you used on shirt collars. The grocery stores were closed by this time, so I went to my across the way neighbors. They were a couple who were, um, 17 years old!!! No, they didn’t have any flour or cornstarch (don’t you use that for keeping collars stiff?). I tried some of the other neighbors. Most were gone to friends or families for dinner. And the rest didn’t have flour or cornstarch. But Terry was home. He was the super special guy that lived below us and he was already half in the bag. He assured me I could make gravy with the coarsely ground cornmeal he had in the cupboard, as long as I invited him up for the festivities. Excellent!!
And off I went to make my fav part of thanksgiving, confident that coarsely ground cornmeal would do the trick! How exciting to be so grown up and independent and making our very first thanksgiving dinner!!! My best friend and I set our tiny table with what we considered our best china. She had bought some cool plates at Pier One….yep, we were all grown up!! I stirred that coarsely ground cornmeal into the gravy for about an hour trying to thicken the drippings. No luck. Come ON!!! It’s cornmeal you really can’t get more traditional than that!!
2 hours later Terry showed up ready for some yummy thanksgiving dishes. Instead, he got lumpy mashed potatoes, turkey broth with what resembled saw dust shavings in it and some tofu sweet potato disaster (it very well may have been delish but it had tofu in it so it was just simply nasty in my book). The turkey itself was not bad. Except for the bag of salmonella that no one told me to take out before I cooked it. What kind of a joke is that? A whole bag filled with the grossest parts of the bird!!! And I was supposed to TOUCH that thing???
Despite it all we had a lovely dinner, all grown up like. Since then, I have been fortunate to have some of the best thanksgiving dinners with some of the most wonderful people. But I will never forget that very first one, which despite the food fiasco, was filled with good friends. I have since grown up to make the most incredible gravy anyone has ever tasted, I know anyone who tried to down that first gravy experiment would agree!!