A Thankgiving story. And cake.
On Wednesday night, I was feeling pretty good. I had scrubbed and vacuumed the downstairs, vacuumed the stairs, made some quick chicken enchiladas for dinner, set the table and had moved on to Thanksgiving baking.
I decided about two months ago that I wanted to make this glorious cake from the front of the October/November issue of Fine Cooking for the holiday this year and it was finally time to get baking. I knew there were a lot of steps, but I figured I could do some other meal prep in between. My goal was to be out of the kitchen and on my way to bed by 11:00.
Things went well. The topping alone for the cake was magically delicious and I feared if I didn’t stop nabbing buttery toasted pecans soon, there wouldn’t be enough for the cake. Then I made the frosting and whoa, Nellie! I love cream cheese frosting, but who knew it was even crazy, insane better with brown butter? Well, it is. I even relaxed for a few minutes with my stepdaughter watching Beauty & the Beast on ABC Family while she licked the beater and I licked the spatula.
I was so excited about the final product that I took a crappy picture with my phone and tweeted it right away.
In the meantime, I had also made cranberry salsa and had started in on peeling potatoes. This is what my mother always did so I do this too – peel and chop the potatoes the night before, and leave them in a pot of cold water overnight. I was pleased when by 10:30 I had peeled and chopped 10 pounds of them and I was ready for bed!
On Thursday morning I was up at 6:00 and wishing I had managed a little more prep in the days before Thanksgiving. I baked the sweet potatoes for The Merry Gourmet’s Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole while I took the dog for a walk and got to work assembling it while the regular potatoes boiled for the mashed. I got the mashed potatoes into my slow cooker to stay warm and I was just about to wash the pots when I heard an urgent call from downstairs,
“JEN! BRING TOWELS, QUICK!!!”
Ut oh. That can’t be good. I grabbed about 4 towels and dashed downstairs to find my husband feverishly plunging the utility sink in the laundry room and chunky brown water overflowing to the floor and inside my washing machine. Oh my.
We tested the toilets and the shower and the kitchen sink and came to the conclusion that even though the kitchen sink wasn’t backed up, the clog was being caused by gunk that had come down that way and diverted to a shared drain. My husband called our plumber friend and no, he couldn’t come out that day and no, he didn’t think Drano would help at all. The good news? We could all take showers and use the bathrooms. The bad news? No kitchen sink or dishwasher all day on Thanksgiving.
This is not by any means a mommy blog, but for the first time I am reporting on a crying fit anyway. And yes, it was me. When it is 10:00 AM and you are still vacuuming the upstairs and you haven’t cleaned the bathroom or taken a shower yet, and you haven’t put the turkeys in the oven yet and you are expecting the first of 12 guests to arrive at 11:00 AM, there’s a possibility that you could freak out and collapse into a rather pathetic heap of tears. This is a %&$ING NIGHTMARE, I shouted through the blubbering while my husband helpfully suggested we wash dishes and rinse the turkeys in the tub.
When I pulled myself together, I thought of at least one thing that might help a little.
Nothing says class like a big old used kitty litter pan in your kitchen sink on Thanksgiving. Uh huh.
So, for the rest of the day, dishes were hand washed in my makeshift wash tub and water was dumped outside. We survived. My turkeys were tender and delicious, there was plenty of gravy to go around, I burned the bottom of the sweet potato casserole a bit but they were still awesome anyway. And there was the cake. The beautiful cake made me forget all about my woes, as the brown butter and pumpkin and cream cheese melted in my mouth, the pecans gave crunch and the candied ginger a bit of zing. Mmmm. Cake!
The plumber came the next day and had the pipes cleaned out by 9:00 AM and I could run the dishwasher and scrub pots & pans to my heart’s content, or at least until I could see some semblance of my normal kitchen. And later, there was still leftover cake. Thanksgiving was saved and all was good.