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Our Thanksgiving was a bit of a strange one — it is warm enough to have windows open and of course, no snow on the ground. Apparently it’s been a warm one in Wisconsin as well, so that really shouldn’t feel weird, but I don’t think I’ve ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner in cropped yoga pants and a short-sleeve t-shirt before.

The night before T-Day, we had gone out in search of Kringle Kreme for our morning coffee. Alas, this Wisconsin delicious alcoholic concoction is not distributed anywhere in Nevada, so I had to make due with Almond Milk Bailey’s in my coffee instead. However, we learned that our local liquor store wrangles up a bunch of food trucks in the parking lot every Saturday night, so basically that’s our weekend meal planning from now until the end of time. Liquor store parking lot taco trucks. This is what was promised to me in Trump campaign speeches — I’m glad to see it coming to fruition!

Esteban and I were planning on a quiet turkey day with minimal fuss — between the complications from his condition and my own flutter tummy, we can’t really eat large quantities of food, so it didn’t make sense to make a ton of side dishes, especially when we both just wanted to get our turkey and mashed potatoes on. I made two pumpkin pies earlier in the morning, while watching the parade. Typically I also make at least one if not more pecan pie because it’s so fricking easy and I always have everything you need for the recipe in the pantry, but the bowl for our food processor broke and we haven’t yet ordered a replacement bowl. Not that I really NEED a food processor to chop pecans, but that’s just the way I like to do it, plus we had plenty of pie anyway.

The day before Thanksgiving, one of my fellow graduate students invited us over to their house and I had promised pie and wine, which is why I made two pumpkin pies. Although honestly, if you’re going through the mess of one pumpkin pie, you can easily make two, four, eighty. Pumpkin pie is so easy it feels like cheating — crack some eggs, measure some sugar and spices, open two cans, stir and pour. I come from orchard country — if you haven’t been working at peeling and prepping/stoning fruit for an hour and you still haven’t begun to start the pie, you’re barely cooking. This is also the reason I love making pecan pies — again, you open some stuff, measure and stir. I don’t even LIKE pecan pies, but everyone else does and they make the house smell amazing — plus everyone acts like you invented fire when you show up with a pecan pie. Bitch, please, you do not realize how easy this shit is. Let’s instead talk about the time I whipped up a gluten free black cherry and blueberry torte in an American Flag configuration — now THAT deserved applause.

The lack of Kringle Kreme wasn’t the only tradition broken — in Wisconsin, you don’t even worry about where you’re going to put your Turkey to thaw because every house gets a walk in refrigerator half of the year — the garage is generally a nice 35-40 degrees, and you can modulate that by opening and closing the garage window, setting something on the concrete versus a table (up off the pavement is warmer, obviously). So we’re accustomed to storing and brining our turkey in the garage on a bowl set on the floor. However, in Las Vegas, the highs were in the upper 70’s and I didn’t feel like shitting my brains out from food poisoning, so we had to get ice frequently all week and keep replenishing a cooler set out on our deck. I am unreasonably irritated by that fact — I think it unsettles me the most about Desert Thanksgiving, to be true. That said, the brining worked beautifully and the turkey took on a really lovely herbal flavor from the fresh rosemary and thyme, so maybe keeping it in the garage is a little too cold.

Once I finished the pies, I started peeling sweet potatoes for slow roasting, per the Serious Eats method — which had to happen prior to getting the turkey in the oven. However, after peeling the potatoes and dumping the peels down the garbage disposal with the egg shells from the pie, everything went to hell. Our drain completely backed up. Esteban hauled everything out from under the sink and proceeded to dismantle the plumbing.

Let me tell you about this house we’re renting in Las Vegas. It believes it is a very fancy better-than-you mansion, but it doesn’t want you to look too closely at any details. Sure, it’s the newest house I’ve ever lived in my entire life. Sure, there’s marble floors in the guest bedroom’s closet for the love of god, but the windows? The seals around any openings? The sliding doors? The freaking appliances? The way that the air is handled in the attic? The cheapest possible. They put a thousand dollar ceiling fan in the living room, but the sliding door is locked with a bent piece of metal. And the garbage disposal is more of the same — once we took apart the pipes, I cleaned out the trap and found that it had merely suggested the concept of grinding the waste — it hadn’t really done anything worthwhile to the scraps. Basically, it’s another “they can’t see it so whatever is the cheapest” decision made by the corporation who built every house in our neighborhood.

We put the sink back together and found that somehow the seal around one of the pipes was missing — either it had disintegrated or got accidentally disposed of with the sludge that we drained while taking apart the plumbing.

You know what’s not open on Thanksgiving? Lowes. Home Depot. Places that sell gaskets for plumbing. We went back home, Esteban rigged up a fake gasket out of a Target plastic bag (which weirdly is holding) and we basically didn’t use the sink for more than simple hand washing for the rest of the weekend.

All of this put our entire dinner back by several hours. While the turkey was in the oven, we Skyped with family back in Wisconsin, and then I decided that I was too hungry to put off eating anymore and wanted pie. So you know what? We had pie before the turkey dinner and it was a fantastic idea.

We are adults who eat pie before dinner and set our social calendars by the appearance of liquor store taco trucks.

After a truly delicious but Marie Kondo minimalist Thanksgiving, we drove into town to meet at the grad student party and brought them a pie and some wine, and then hung out talking about character agency and dorky literary stuff, like how many submissions should you have out at any given time (answer: 100 is the goal, 10 is the minimum) for the rest of the evening, which was delightful.

Esteban managed to out my age, by telling one of my classmates that we’ve been dating since 1990. One of my classmates then came over to inform me that my relationship has been longer than she’s been alive. Now they all look at me like the old freak, which is awesome. Ah well, I knew it couldn’t last long. I mean, I got my masters degree in 2008 — most of these folks are MFA students straight out of undergrad, so when I was getting my Master’s hood and walking to Pomp and Circumstance, they were going through puberty.  I’m probably older than their moms.

Now I can justifiably be grouchy in workshop and tell someone to get off my lawn. In my defense, I frequently say “I’m old” in workshop — I think they just thought “old” meant something like “34 or 35”. It’s sweet, really.

Don’t forget — Holiday Card Exchange is taking names and kicking ass this year! You can sign up until Dec 1 and names will go out on Dec 3 so that you can start sending and receiving holiday cards through the New Year. Don’t forget to give your complete address!


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