BOB MCKINNEY: What I Know


bobmckinney-1I know for most of you, Thanksgiving is long in your rearview mirror and you are well into Christmas, but since I took a break last week and did not write a Thanksgiving column, and it is my favorite holiday, please indulge me with a retrospective.

Thanksgiving officially kicks off the eating season. If you are like my family and me, you started with a bang.

For a number of years, on Thanksgiving morning we have participated in the Turkey Trot 5K in Cool Springs, which benefits Graceworks. When going for that second piece of pie, it helps (at least mentally) to think back on starting the day with exercise.

I doubt a significant amount of calories consumed were offset by that brief morning run, but, hey, at least we did something.

We had 12 at our Thanksgiving table this year and we had a feast. I do everything I can to help, but my wife is primarily the one who makes the Thanksgiving meal happen.

This year she was particularly efficient. Knowing she was going out of town for a wedding the weekend before, she had all the groceries bought and table set long before she left.

The table had to be altered a bit when we learned we would be having three more than originally thought, but it was an easy – and welcome — fix. For both of us, part of the joy of the Thanksgiving holiday is expanding our table if the opportunity presents itself.

But back to the food. I would not say my resident chef makes it look easy, because I see all the preparation and work that goes into it. But I will say it comes off at least without the appearance of any stress or anxiety.

Not that things don’t happen. When I got up Thanksgiving morning, my job was to bring up the roasting pan for the turkey from the basement – the one we have used for years.

Only it was not to be found.

When I notified my spouse, we both vaguely remembered having a discussion after last Thanksgiving about discarding it due to its age and the wear it was showing. We decided that’s what we must have done and had never given it another thought.

I was able to find another pan that worked, and the bird went in as scheduled.

The blender that is pushing 40 years old that my wife brought into our marriage (which she swears by, pooh-poohing suggestions of updating while it is still working) wouldn’t do what it was supposed to do to the corn, the main ingredient in a corn casserole that is one of the signature dishes at our Thanksgiving table, but my resourceful daughter-in-law and wife used the food processor instead.

I’m sure there were other minor glitches of which I was unaware. But at approximately 4 p.m., after a whirlwind of kitchen activity throughout the day, a multitude of hot dishes (except for those served cold or at room temperature, like salads) were all set out at the same time, ready for the hungry masses.

Everything that was supposed to be piping hot was just that, and that’s pretty incredible to me, considering the variety of items offered.

The menu included the aforementioned turkey, along with dressing, which is hands down my favorite part of the meal. I am an oddity, in that I don’t eat gravy. To me, my wife’s dressing, prepared the correct southern and American way with cornbread and a liberal amount of sage, needs nothing to make it better.

Before I proceed, let me ask this question: Does anyone carve their turkey at the table where everyone is about to eat? That is the way it is portrayed on TV as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Folks who do that must know something I don’t, because I find it a bit messy and I couldn’t imagine doing it at the table. (If anyone does, I would love to hear from you, and I could probably benefit from some lessons.)

Side dishes abounded, which included, in addition to the corn casserole, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, a strawberry Jello salad, green salad, cranberry sauce (that’s required at Thanksgiving, isn’t it?) and rolls.

Did everyone eat a portion of all of this? With 12 folks there, I did not watch what everyone put on their plates, but I doubt it. I know I would never touch a sweet potato and I’m not a big fan of Brussels sprouts.

The thing is, one of the reasons my wife prepares such a variety of dishes is so there will be something for everyone.

Did I mention dessert?

After taking a break and having a couple of games of Left, Right, Center (it’s a mild form of gambling but it’s fun and harmless, so don’t judge), it was time for sweetness. There were three pies – pecan, peanut butter and pumpkin chiffon; a chocolate Italian crème cake and a carrot cake; and chocolate chip cookies (carrot cake and cookies compliments of my daughter). And there was ice cream to accompany any of the aforementioned.

Again, something for everyone, and a “sampler plate” was an option.

And another Thanksgiving is in the books. Now it’s time to find some Christmas 5Ks before the next damage is done.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, husband of one, father of three and father-in-law of two. Email him at bmac1018@yahoo.com.

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