Lessons Learned - Penny Lane Blog at Allrecipes.com - 290556

Penny Lane

Lessons Learned 
Nov. 25, 2012 9:25 am 
Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 6:52 pm

Each year as the holidays roll around I am acutely aware that this could very well be the last holiday that the entire family gets together.  It was with great joy that we welcomed our children, grandchildren and a couple of strays to celebrate Thanksgiving together.   We packed in 25 eaters this year.   

It was a loud and crazy day and like any other year there were lessons to be learned.  


Lesson 1 - Make more than 20 lbs of potatoes.  These eaters love their taters and 20 lbs of potatoes vanished.  

Lesson 2 -  Three pans of stuffing is too much.  The eaters obviously prefer potatoes to stuffing. 

Lesson 3 -  Gravy, there can never be too much gravy.  I made about 4 - 5 quarts of gravy and there was very little left over.  The eaters like gravy.  

Lesson 4 - When cooking green beans with bacon for this many people, skip the fresh green beans and buy the frozen organic green beans from Costco.   It took way too long to clean and snap 3 huge bags of fresh green beans. 

Lesson 5 - Skip the Sweet Potatoes, the eaters don't like them.

Lesson 6 - There can never be too many rolls.   

Lesson 7 -  Green Salad does not belong at the Thanksgiving table. 

Lesson 8 - There can never be enough Sausage Rolls or Apple Cranberry cake.  

Lesson 9 - Tangerines are not considered an appetizer.  

Lesson 10 - Cranberry / Ginger Ale Punch is a hit and will also hit the floor within the first 30 minutes.

Lesson 11 - 3 huge pies, 2 pumpkin and 1 apple is just about right but there is no such thing as too much whipped cream.  

Lesson 12 - The game of 'Spoons' will get loud enough to drowned out the football game, the piano and be heard across town.  Ear plugs are optional but a highly recommended accessory for the over 50 crowd. 

As I clean up the aftermath of another Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the biggest lesson of all.  Despite the chaos, the noise, the laughter and squeals, the sticky fingerprints, spilled drinks and smudged glass door, I Thank God they all still want to see each other and spend the day with us.

Even the bent spoon & scratch on the dining table are reminders of how precious these days are.  You never know, this could be the last time we get everyone together.

Nov. 25, 2012 9:52 am
Lovely blog, Baking Nana! Your lessons seem to be right on the mark. The only thing is that when I said there'd be no green salad, my DIL said, "WHAT??? But I love your salads." My son, who hardly ever eats all his, said, "WHAT? No salad??" So the night before I threw together some blue cheese dressing, and the green salad was GONE! Go figure!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:00 am
Maybe it was the threat of NO green salad that made them gobble it up. I love your blue cheese dressing. For Christmas I think I will put out the salad about 1/2 hour before dinner hits the table. About the time the eaters start circling the kitchen. Let them start filling up on salad. :)
Nov. 25, 2012 10:04 am
As usual I didn't get any pictures..... I guess we have to do this again!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:30 am
It's too hard to get photos when you are the main cook AND the photographer!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:59 am
BN: You'll have to look back on this blog next November. As far as Lesson #2, I disagree. If it'll last another five days, I'll volunteer to help you get rid of that stuffing.
Nov. 25, 2012 11:07 am
Hi bikerfamily! Sorry but the stuffing went to my eldest daughters house yesterday. She is the one with the most eaters and as she says, when hungry they will eat anything! Honestly, I don't know how she manages to feed them all 7 days a week. Can't wait to see you, we are going to have a blast!
Nov. 25, 2012 11:12 am
Very nice blog! Sounds like I can learn from your lessons. I need to especially learn #11. I always waaayy overdo desserts. Thanks!
Nov. 25, 2012 11:22 am
I can't imagine feeding 25 people for labor-intensive Thanksgiving dinner. The most I've ever fed is 12, and I thought that was a bunch. This meal, more than any other, is loaded with those traditional, tried-n-true, recipes that everybody expects and looks forward to. I find the mood is don't try to deviate too much, or those smiles could end up frowns. You're so lucky to have your family near enough that you can get together for the holidays. And yes, I agree, it is all worth every ounce of effort you put into it!
Nov. 25, 2012 11:27 am
Hi Mother Ann. I didn't make the pies this year. My DIL bought them at Costco and it worked out really well. By the time we are finished with the carb fest most of the adults don't really want too much dessert. But there is no filling up the teenage eaters. For Christmas I will be making trifle and they will be licking the bowl clean.
Nov. 25, 2012 11:32 am
Nice Blog BN. Thanks for sharing it with us. No matter if people eat the dish or not several of my family want the "traditional" dishes. I tend to try a new twist on traditional recipes and it is about a 50/50 split as to who likes the "new" version vs who likes the traditional. Last year we had Saveur's balsamic green beans and those were a hit. This year dinner was at my sister's house and we had the traditional green bean casserole and people seemed to like it. It is ok but not my favorite. That is ok. I don't mind if we do traditional one time and then a slight twist on traditional the next time. My other sister dumped the traditional dinner and had a Mexican buffet dinner. Everyone is different. I'm happy that you all were able to get together for Thanksgiving. That is what is most important.
Nov. 25, 2012 11:33 am
lutzflcat you are so right about those traditional expected dishes. Years ago my sister in law was hosting and decided to make lasagna, that went over like a lead balloon. Another time she tried doing game hens with wild rice stuffing, that was a bust too. I don't think we asked her to host after that. We are indeed very fortunate to have everyone so close. Even the two eldest grandsons didn't have to work, as planned. How cool is that? It is only a matter of time though before they start flying the coop and head off to parts unknown. In the meantime I plan to soak it up, sticky fingers and all!
Nov. 25, 2012 11:39 am
You are right Occasional Cooker, it is the getting together that really counts. We don't do the green bean casserole, fresh green beans with bacon and onions are not only expected they are demanded. Notice I didn't mention the turkey? It doesn't matter how I cook it, it gets eaten but if I change up the taters or beans the crew might find somewhere else to eat. ;) I am going to change up Christmas some what this year. We will see how that goes!
Nov. 25, 2012 1:10 pm
Baking Nana, you are right on ALL counts, including your last sentence! Simply listing your lessons let us know exactly how your day went. (I laughed out loud at number 10, b.t.w.) I think it's totally lovely that everyone wants to spend time together, and I know you will savor the smiles and laughter for days to come. Thanks for pulling your curtains aside for a bit to show us your love-filled home!
Nov. 25, 2012 1:31 pm
If this is not a great blog, it must be fantastic, instead! ... There must be an unwritten rule (or is it the lucky 13th rule?)that it is just fine for grandkids to beat up on grandpa. ... I have similar thought for my next post and I hope I will articulate as well as you. (If I get to finish it.)
Nov. 25, 2012 1:59 pm
Thanks for stopping in Bibi. There are 18 good reasons we still live in Southern California. Even so, the times that we can ALL gather together are rare and harder to pull together. I will probably be finding juice splatters for weeks to come - no worries though, those are just little reminders of how blessed we are.
Nov. 25, 2012 2:08 pm
Thank you so much Mike. The 13th "Lucky" rule is a good one! The grands actually get away with so much more than their parents did - I am sure that my kids must wonder what the deal is with that! Heck, the house is still standing - although I think we should check the roof, I do believe the noise raised the roof more than once. Fortunately, our stray guests seemed to enjoy the chaos and join right in. It would be a very dull life without our 'eaters'.
Nov. 25, 2012 6:33 pm
Baking Nana-you never disappoint me when you write a blog. I enjoyed reading it. I still have pie left because everyone filled up on the main meal. It's funny what you say about the salad. My husband's family doesn't care for salad, but my side of the family always had salad on Thanksgiving. So, it's good to know what people prefer.
Nov. 25, 2012 7:09 pm
Loved hearing about your family gathering.. and the food!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:25 pm
Thank you Lela. What is about the pies - we think we needs so many, because 1) we love them all, 2) we are hungry while plotting and planning. But there is so much food for one day! I try to save a slice for the next morning. As for the salad & tangerines, I can just hear my son saying, "Mom, are you trying to healthify this meal?" Geez.... what can I say? I try!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:27 pm
Hi Magnolia Blossom. Thanks for stopping in. I know you are missing your solider this year. Send him our best and thanks to you for raising and then sharing a hero with us. Hugs to you!
Nov. 26, 2012 8:35 am
Enjoyed reading this ,thank you.
Nov. 26, 2012 9:27 am
Thanks for stopping in manella. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Nov. 26, 2012 9:49 am
Next year we get the Family Thanksgiving at our house for the first time. I will be expecting 23 people I think - depends on whether my brother has a girlfriend or not. I'll stick your lessons learned in my back pocket and hopefully some of them will apply for my family. Great blog as always.
Nov. 26, 2012 9:49 am
Great blog BN, you are too right.
Nov. 26, 2012 9:49 am
I think the most I've had for Thanksgiving was 18. And that is what I miss the most now, having others to talk to during the big meal. I know what the DH & DS have been doing. Loved your rules! Potatoes, gravy, rolls and whipped cream just can't have enough!
Nov. 26, 2012 11:49 am
I have the sound turned up on the laptop and as I read your blog I could hear the squeals and chatter in your household. Spoons-that game should be banned, many a good table has been scratched or broken over the years, but a wonderful game just the same. Lowering head, I can't get upset with the boys or my neice and nephew for wrecking my table, when I was the one who went across the top----great family memory LOL
Nov. 26, 2012 1:24 pm
I had one small Thanksgiving and one larger one. Each was enjoyable in its own way. One more great part of holidays and getting families together is remembering and sharing stories of the past. I told Hailie a funny story about my oldest sister as we make apple pie together and told her to be sure to mention it when she see's Aunt Mary Ann next time. It felt wonderful to be able to include Hailie in my family lore. Wishing your family many more opportunities to enjoy each others' company.
Nov. 26, 2012 1:42 pm
Hi Doug, thanks for stopping in. I imagine you are already plotting and planning next years feast. I am pretty much turkied out and I am on to planning our Pre - Christmas feast.
Nov. 26, 2012 1:46 pm
Hi Randy. I haven't seen you around for a while. I hope you had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving. If you lived a little closer I would be asking you to have a look at re-finishing this table. But not until after Christmas, I think the eaters are planning another game of spoons.
Nov. 26, 2012 1:50 pm
Cat, I would miss the company. If it weren't for the eaters, I would be alone in the kitchen like any other day. I think it is time for you to adopt some strays to share the holidays with you.
Nov. 26, 2012 2:07 pm
redneck gramma - Are you sure you didn't hear us all the way out there in the back 40? Spoons is a dangerous game! My youngest daughter may have a fractured wrist. It is all her fault too - by now she should know to not mess with the master grabber! Mind you, if it is fractured she might have a cast on for Christmas ... my poor table! Not to mention the weapon aspect. Our funniest mishap playing Spoons was at a campsite, on a picnic table. One side of the table stood up in unison and the whole table went over in a roar. That was just about the time the Ranger pulled up to tell us to quiet down! Good memories, for sure.
Nov. 26, 2012 2:10 pm
Hi Janet - aren't those 'remember when' stories the best? I am sure your girls are already stockpiling the memories of family gatherings, the laughter and the mishaps. Give those girls a hug from me.
Nov. 26, 2012 2:48 pm
LMAO! you know you have had a good time camping when the Ranger knows your family members by name:D
Nov. 26, 2012 3:44 pm
Oh RNG - the Park Rangers all seem to know us! Update: Daughters wrist is not fractured, just a sprain. She will be good to go by Christmas for sure.
Nov. 26, 2012 4:29 pm
Awe I loved it every word so good.
Nov. 26, 2012 4:51 pm
Thank you Joey Joan! You know, it isn't about the china or the perfect table setting, it is really about the people in our lives.
Nov. 27, 2012 6:08 am
Great story. Reminds me of my Thanksgivings growing up.
Nov. 27, 2012 9:49 am
Thanks for stopping in Clover. I hope the kids remember these Thanksgivings....I sure won't forget them.
Nov. 27, 2012 11:55 am
Wow, 25 people! And some good lessons there. I went with frozen organic green beans this year for my made-from-scratch (read: no canned soups) casserole, and it was so much easier. I have to admit, being a Southern girl, I love my sweet potatoes, but I'm not crazy about the standard sp casserole. I have my own version of one that is not too sweeet. We skipped the potatoes this year in favor or mashed cauliflower. And those sausage rolls...oh my, we love those things! Since it was just the hubby and I this year (we chose to stay home and relax) we went very simple. And you are so right...treasure each gathering as if it was the last because it might be. Happy Holidays!
Dec. 2, 2012 6:51 am
What a great blog! It made me laugh in recognition. Those things go on at our house, too. We did not have 25 people this year, but we have had that many in the past. Although we had fewer this year, we did not let up. We literally planned and worked for three weeks leading up to that Thanksgiving meal. It was like staging a military campaign--all contingencies thought out and planned for. The table was set two days ahead. We were baking pies on Tuesday, and making ahead whatever food we could on Wednesday. When it was all said and done, it was totally worth the time and effort. What a blessing to have family that wants to gather and be with you and share the meal! Playing Spoons is a great idea. We don't have that many children attending any more, and I had not thought of that in years. I would certainly risk a scratch on the table to create those memories. Your blog is a treasure. Thank you so much for sharing.
Dec. 3, 2012 6:52 pm
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Baking Nana

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About Me
Every morning my granddaughter calls and says, "Good morning Nana. Whatcha doing? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my name, Baking Nana. I love to bake bread and never get tired of it. Yeast is additive! Visit me at BakingNana.com If you would like to contact me directly please use the 'Contact Me' on my site. http://bakingnana.com/contact-me/
My favorite things to cook
I go through phases, Asian for a while then Italian then on to something else. I love experimenting with new flavors and different spices. Some times my husband will ask if we will ever have "ordinary" food again. Once in a while I have to toss him a burger just to keep quite! Actually, he is a good sport and my favorite taste tester.
My favorite family cooking traditions
In our family if it is your birthday you get to choose the menu. We have had some really interesting meals. In March we have 5 birthdays so we do one big party - what a crazy menu that is! Christmas dinner is very traditional. Sausage rolls, Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding, gravy, Green beans with bacon, Mashed Potatoes (the really fattening kind) and trifle for dessert. If I were to dare to omit any of those items I would be lynched.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering really great bread is probably my biggest triumph. I am always so pleased when I create a perfect Asian dish.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few but none so horrible that I can't laugh about them now.
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