The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 22, 2012

Vos: Thankful for a holiday potluck

Kathy Vos
Free Press News Editor

— I am full of thanks today.

Of course, I am full of gratitude for good health, my family, my friends.

But on this Thanksgiving Day morning, I am so thankful that I did not get up at 4:30 a.m. to brine a turkey. Or that I didn’t have to give any thought to keeping lumps out of gravy. Or to baking a last-minute pumpkin pie.

I am thankful that our Thanksgiving meal is a potluck this year that I’m not in charge of. Sometimes it really pays off to have bossy older sisters.

It’s not that I haven’t cooked the feast in the past. I have. But it wasn’t without numerous sleepless nights worrying about the flow chart of tasks to get everything on the table at the same time. (Now there’s an app for that.) There are also the nightmares about all the mishaps that could litter my kitchen floor.

You have to understand that I am the so-called cook who dropped an entire peanut butter pie trying to put it in the oven. I also brought my then 3-year-old to tears when I flipped over his dad’s “surprise” upside-down pineapple birthday cake and it gushed all over the plate onto the floor. “Well, that was a surprise!” I said, trying to reassure him it wasn’t the end of the world — just the end of homemade cakes at our house.

The first time I took on the Thanksgiving meal, my husband, who is the real cook in our family, was sick in bed. I gathered the troops to help, which amounted to my toddler. I put a cooked pot of potatoes on the floor, introduced the potato masher as a new Bob-the-Builder-like tool and put him to work mashing potatoes while I tried doing three other things at once. Five minutes later, I checked on my little guy’s progress. He was standing in the pot, wearing his favorite slippers, grape-stomping the potatoes to a fine pulp.

“Good job,” I said, figuring the fuzz balls looked a lot like coarse black pepper.

After I cooked for four hours, my husband rolled out of bed to prop himself at the table for 5.8 minutes. He spooned himself a bite of jellied cranberry sauce (I saved him the end with the can-lid imprint), took a nibble of turkey breast, croaked  “uhmm” and slumped back to bed.

Then I spent the next two hours cleaning up.

So this year I’m glad our meal is a shared affair. I just had to worry about making the Idiot’s Recipe for Pumpkin Cobbler and bringing the bread.

Other than that, all I had to do is to remember to wear the pants with the most comfortable waistband.

That, I can handle.

Kathy Vos is day news editor. Call her at 344-6357 or email kvos@mankatofreepress.com.