Margaret Hair: Thanksgiving, Steamboat style
November 21, 2008
In an extremely dorky moment after work on Monday, I decided to start a recipe binder, complete with dividers for main dishes, sides, desserts and bread.
I had motivation for doing this – every year for the past six years, I have called my college roommate two days before Thanksgiving to get her family’s recipe for stuffing. Then I call my mom to get our family’s how-to for mashed potato casserole. Then I call another college friend to get his family’s secret to mashed root vegetables. It’s a hassle.
And now all of those instructions are in one place, neatly organized and grouped with like dishes.
Collecting recipes is relatively new to me. All of the recipes I compiled in more than two years working in a kosher kitchen during college are lost somewhere, falling out of a blue notebook with “Hillel cooking: What worked” written on the front. And until a few years ago, making a concerted effort to cook tasty food for Thanksgiving hadn’t occurred to me (it wasn’t really a pastime I was made aware of until college).
Then I discovered the nomadic Thanksgiving, a phenomenon that usually develops something like this: At least two people aren’t planning to leave wherever they are for the holidays. Those people like the comfort and community of a big Thanksgiving Day dinner, so they decide to make one. They recruit two more people, who in turn tell the friends immediately surrounding them.
My senior year of college, this led to 25 people sharing a 10-pound turkey – as of 2 p.m. that day, we thought we were cooking for four, maybe six people at the most. Luckily my roommate and I inadvertently aimed high on how much food to make, having worked in the same bulk kitchen and having no concept of how to prepare recipes that serve any less than 30.
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That college tradition has been easy to apply to Steamboat Springs, where finding affordable holiday flights out of Hayden is about as easy as pan-frying a 16-pound turkey. You can see it in the potluck-style annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. And you can see it in the way young people gather at a friend’s apartment for a more-than-likely poorly balanced Thanksgiving feast.
For my second turkey day in Steamboat, I plan to wake up early (before noon) and cook all the recipes I should have started prepping the night before. I’ll overload the oven, and completely underestimate how long it takes to thaw a turkey (in the fridge, 24 hours for every five pounds).
Hopefully, I will remember to remove the giblets. At least one of the dishes I make will be an utter failure, as I miscalculate ingredient proportions when I try to make one-and-half times more of a recipe (friends, I will not tell you which dish this happens to, but it will be obvious). I will blame this blunder on the North Carolina public school system.
And despite all that, a bunch of people likely will cram into my basement apartment to eat Thanksgiving dinner off paper plates, because that’s what you do when you’re not home for the holidays.
And it will be awesome, because nomadic Thanksgiving isn’t any different from family Thanksgiving – it just means you have more people.
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