Countdown to Turkey Day: The 2010 Postmortem

Heather says:

After big events or projects, a lot of companies like to get together and do what they call the postmortem. It’s a way to figure out what went well, what didn’t, and what you should do differently next time.

You could do this privately and save it for yourself, but what’s the fun in that?

I and other home eccers would like to know:

What was your favorite part of the meal? Will you make it again?

What will you never make again?

How were your estimates, did you have the right amount of food or was there too much or little of an item?

And of course,

Were there any disasters?

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Next year my plan is to have the series pre-assembled so I can release it by email to our Canadian friends in October.

I’ll be starting the annual Sweets for the Season series tomorrow. Do you have any requests? I’ll do my best, unless it requires special equipment. Transparency, my stand mixer is on its last leg, I’m hoping it makes it through this year. If it doesn’t, Sweets for the Season may be temporarily derailed.


  1. casey on November 30, 2010 at 11:43 am

    The Good: My mom and I decided to try Alton Brown's gravy recipe and it came out great. First year since my grandpa died (1997) that we didn't have to add Beasto to make the gravy work.

    The Bad: My job has always been the pie. Well last year we were at a cousin's who ordered pies, and the year before I was overseas so I was all excited to make my pies this year. Well the neighbor who came offered to make the pies. Found out Wednesday morning she was only making pumpking (I HATE pumpkin) so I offered to make an apple pie. Ran to the store, bought apples, and started cooking around 7PM Wednesday. Fortunately my mom noticed that i was using Red Delicious (didn't know you couldn't bake with those) so I had to run back to the store and buy more applies.

    The Awesome: My niece showed up a week early by being born on Tuesday night.

  2. Pam on November 29, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I have had some eventful Thanksgivings in my life, but never had a fire… until this year:

  3. Steph on November 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Your site helped me have a great Thanksgiving Day. The portion estimators were the key part and I loved the shopping list, too.

    I saw a reader saying prep is important … they are so right! All we had to do the morning of T-day was pull the bird out and mix up the stuffing. Everything was ready.
    As a side note, next year I'll post the menu on the refrigerator, almost forgot to put out the cranberry relish!


  4. CarolinaDreamz on November 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I had a few disasters that turned out well, in the end. I bought fresh andouie sausage, from Whole Foods meat counter (which I highly suggest doing!) for the cornbread/sausage dressing. When the cornbread came out of the oven, I touched it to see if it was done.. it was dense.. and that's when I remembered I never put the leavening in it. It still came out wonderful. I used my sweet cornbread recipe with fire roasted green chiles and 2 oz chopped canned jalapeno. That mix with the sausage was very good, but spicy.

    My second disaster was planning to make lasagna for the poultry allergic. My no cook noodles were expired, in the pantry. When i decided to resort to regular lasagna noodles, I noticed they were Albertson's brand. That meant I bought them when I lived in Florida!!! I couldn't believe it. How they managed to stay in the pantry all this time is beyond me. They expired eight years ago. :: sigh::

    So, I decided to boil up some manicotti noodles and just layer it all like lasagna. After I had my pan full of layers, we noticed I had not used the ricotta mix, in it, at all. :: bigger sigh ::

    So I disassembled it into another dish, making two dishes and improvised with drops of ricotta here and there. After it was in the oven, as I was looking at the leftover ricotta, I remembered I never put the eggs in the ricotta mixture. It meant we could snack on it, raw, but it was not, at all, what I planned. (Did I mention my fresh mozarella was bad and I had to use sandwich slices??)

    I never lost my cool. I was complimented on not falling apart. I just let it roll.. didn't let any of it bother me. I had so many dishes planned that it didn't matter if one died. None of it died, so we ate like Kings.

    I cheated and bought deep fried turkey breasts and we'll have them sometime in the near future.. after I get more andouie to make that cornbread dish I could live on. I didn't pay much attention to quantities so I can't blog it.. but it gets better every time I make it.

    I hope your meal is/was less stressful on you. I cooked. That's the bonus. 🙂 <3 ~Heidi

  5. Eugene Mah on November 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I usually do Alton Brown's tart cranberry dipping sauce each year. Each year, one or two more people select it over the jellied canned stuff. i'm slowly converting people over.

    this time when i started on the cranberry sauce, i discovered most of the ingredients got left behind back at home, so some improvising was in order. No ginger ale, but i did find a stash of cranberry juice cocktail. 2 lb of cranberries, 2×450 mL cranberry juice cocktail, 4×450 mL water, about 1 c sugar and an hour of slow simmering to let it all reduce and thicken. Mash through a strainer to get rid of the skins and I had a cranberry sauce that tasted pretty good. Went very well with the turkey i made too. A little less sugar next time if I have to do it again.

  6. Stacy on November 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Well for my first full Thanksgiving dinner on my own, I would say it went okay overall, but there's definitely room to improve. The stuffing was good and I confess it's the first time I made it completely by myself, not from a box. Who knew it was so easy? Not me. The pumpkin pie tasted good but I think it was a little overcooked since it separated from the crust a bit..also I didn't mold it into the plate or trim it very well–not so pretty. I made sweet potatoes for the first time, in the slow cooker. Not too bad for a dish I don't really like. But the biggest downside, like Anna's, was that the turkey was underdone. I did several temperature readings which said it was done, but it wasn't. There was enough done to eat but afterward I put it all back in the oven to get it all done. I wish that hadn't happened. Other than that it was okay. Holidays are kind of stressful here and I wish they weren't but there are personality conflicts. I really want to have a bigger party next year and mix it up more. One thing I liked was that I gave an open invitation to friends and family to come here if they didn't have other plans. We ended up with one couple and one person who would have come if he'd checked his email. Next year I'll plan ahead more. Since we have such a small family, I think it seems fun to share the holiday with friends too.

  7. Anna on November 27, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I had a wonderful day. The food was all delicious, even I surprised myself. Two issues, though, that I will have to consider for next year.
    I was very accommodating to my husband's family. I made white and sweet potatoes, I made stove top (YUCK!) and homemade stuffing. I made steamed green beans, green bean casserole, and roasted brussels sprouts. The steamed beans are my favorite, and my FIL doesn't eat green beans. He loves brussels sprouts, but he didn't eat one. NOT ONE! *sigh* Also, I made the casserole with potato sticks on one side and french fried onions on the other. Guess what? Nobody ate the potato sticks side. It was a good lesson on generosity- being generous isn't always about the gift being accepted.
    Then, the turkey was under done, despite getting good temp readings. That was very frustrating. Let's just say that I should have used your guide, and not the one from another very.famous.blogger. You said not to foil, I KNOW not to foil, but I did it anyway because she's a very.famous.blogger. Dumb.
    Leftovers? We have so many! But I wanted them for a leftover potluck this evening. There won't be much left after tonight, except the turkey because I LOVE turkey with a little mayo on a sandwich. YUM.

  8. Bonnie on November 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I made a feast with all the trimmings including a dish made from sweet potatoes with a pecan crust. (No marshmellows in this receipe!) All turned out perfect. The only thing missing was family! (Only a couple of friends made it for dinner due to a snow storm.)

  9. Laura on November 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I made a turkey breast for the first time and it came out great! I brined it overnight in the fridge and it was moist and looked and tasted perfect! I also made dressing and that was – not a disaster, but it did not come together like I wanted it to. I used a bag of dry cubed bread and today I doctored it by adding 1/2 box of chicken stock and that seems to be the trick.

  10. Melinda on November 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I have to figure out gravy. I can make a white sauce like nobody's business. But brown gravy, turkey gravy… I can't seem to grasp it.

    Everything else came out fabulous. 😀 In fact, I even boiled my turkey carcass last night and made turkey stock! I was so proud of myself. 😀

    • Eugene Mah on November 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      My gravy starts with a roux and turkey stock. Turkey stock is either from the carcass of the last turkey I made, or from the innards (gizzard, heart, neck) packaged with the current turkey. cook the roux to light brown stage, add the meat picked off the turkey neck and then the stock. Season to taste. the roux will thicken things up nicely, and the meat adds some nice chunky bits.

  11. Alice Dick on November 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The Yukon Golds for the mashed potates boiled dry as we sat in the living room with wine and dip. Fortunately we rescued them before it got too bad and my friend simply cut the scorched bottoms off the potatoes. They tasted fine. I learned, again, that the more prep work you can do the day before, the better off you are.

  12. Jean on November 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Coconut milk for pumpkin pie took 13 hours to condense. Granted I had it on low-low because I am so distra… what was I saying? Thank goodness we didn't "do" Thanksgiving yesterday and I didn't need it for dessert.

  13. Keter on November 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

    For the first time ever, I did absolutely nothing for Thanksgiving. Since it's just my husband and myself and our friends all spend the day with their families, I've scaled back my cooking a lot. This year, we're both broke and very busy (I quit working and started a business that has shown a profit 9 out of 12 months and is growing, but still hasn't replaced even half of my former income), so spending time and money on a feast just wasn't an attractive option. Fortunately, my husband's business partner invited us to dinner, and that was quite nice. His wife is Filipino, so we enjoyed both traditional Thanksgiving fare and some spectacular ethnic sides. The extent of my preparation was to bring wine, cheese, and pate, and I ended up hiring his daughter to do some graphic design for me after seeing her artwork. I'm not sure if this will become a new tradition, but it was nice.

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