I can't seem to get it out of my head how this time next year I'll be sharing Thanksgiving with my community and other volunteers who are looking for a small piece of America to celebrate. I don't feel sad or worried about missing my family's holiday at all, I just hope that my older brother and his wife and kids make the trip east so my mom and little brother aren't totally alone.
Given that my mom is still on a walker and can't stand for a long time or move around quickly, I'm in charge of dinner this year. I absolutely love to cook, but one of the things that comes with being a younger family member (out of thirteen cousins, only my little brother is younger than me) is that growing up I was never responsible for holiday meals. I would always find a dish that I liked to make and offer to be in charge of it, but I kind of always felt like it was kind of an afterthought, to eat what I made. It wasn't the centerpiece by any means, and it was always kind of easier to let those who had the experience take charge.
All of that is out the window this year. Knowing that I can have free reign in the kitchen, I scoured the internet for turkey recipes, interesting ways to cook mashed potatoes (and have found yet another use for that buttermilk!), and from-scratch desserts. This is what I've come up with: Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Roast Turkey (it smells DELICIOUS), Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Pepperidge Farm stuffing (the only thing that isn't from scratch, we had a bag in the pantry), Sweet Potatoes (my sister in law's recipe, don't have it online), turnip & apples, cornbread (recipe not online, just from my head), and cranberry-orange sauce. I also made a cranberry-apple crisp, a pumpkin pie, and a pumpkin roll. (We didn't even touch the desserts.) I love the variety of foods during the holidays, but not having a ton of family makes it an overwhelming amount, since we obviously can't skip anyone's favorites! The turkey came out wonderfully, and I felt a little more grown up than I did yesterday, now that I've cooked a Thanksgiving dinner (isn't that a rite of passage or something? I've done Christmas before, and now I've done the other big one). I'm glad that I did it before leaving, where ever I end up for the next two years, I'll be able to contribute to a holiday meal like an adult rather than a kid who wants to make the jello salad.