“Do these need to be cooked, like really cooked?” Pretty asked as she took the three large catering size aluminum pans from our fridge Thanksgiving afternoon. She placed the pans on top of our stove – they were so big they covered the top. I had come into the kitchen to help because I was really hungry. Old people like to eat their noon meal at noon, and it was already 1:30 by the time the pans, which were to be our meal, were rescued from the fridge. We both stared at the contents: dressing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese.
“I think they might need to be cooked,” I answered. “I can’t believe there were no instructions for people like us.” People like us meaning those who never cooked anything except breakfast with a menu of grits and toast. White bread toast.
“Oh, wait!” Pretty exclaimed. “I think they gave me a sheet of paper when they handed the pans to me, but I left it in the car.” She promptly turned and hurried to the car, returning with an 8 x 11 sheet of typewritten Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Instructions. The word microwave wasn’t mentioned anywhere which meant we were in trouble.
Macaroni & Cheese – Preheat oven to 350. Loosen foil cover. Bake 15-20 minutes covered, then remove foil and allow to finish cooking another 20-30 minutes, until bubbly. If macaroni looks dry during cooking, add a little milk and stir.
Uh, oh, I thought as I mentally calculated the nearly an hour amount of time required to cook the mac and cheese. Hm. Dressing cooking instructions were actually a few minutes longer than mac & cheese which left us with mashed potatoes as our only hope for something quick. (Why just three choices? Because we are going to a Friendsgiving the day after Thanksgiving and we were assigned to bring the “sides.”) To Pretty who is a pescaterian the word “side” is a synonym for carbs, although I was asked if these three sounded good. I was quick to say yes; I liked everything.
I made a spur of the moment decision to work on the mashed potatoes because they offered an option to be removed from the aluminum pan and heated thoroughly on the stove top in a different pan. So we took three spoonfuls of mashed potatoes from the huge aluminum pan and put them in a pot on a large burner on top of our stove. I tried to speed up the cooking process (remember I was the one who was already starving) by adding a splash of half n half. Pretty came up with the idea to add butter, but she added so much butter I thought I should add more half n half to counteract it. Which I did. Unfortunately, by the time we finished adding things, we ended up with potato soup.
Pretty grated cheddar cheese for me to add to the smashed potatoes because she knew I loved all things cheddar cheese. She heated the gravy the Cafe had supplied and added to hers. Delicious. Not exactly what we had expected, but an important lesson for our Friendsgiving contribution. We will definitely need to get started much earlier on the sides than we originally thought…plus beware tampering with the cooking instructions.
Our granddaughters were with us the day before Thanksgiving when we drove up to Pretty’s antique empire in Little Mountain to meet Ella’s favorite Aunts Darlene and Dawne. We had a wonderful family time together with lunch in the Cafe and shopping in Pretty’s booths before we loaded up our aluminum pans in the grannymobile for the short trip home. Dawne always captures the fun with her camera, and I would have added her fab pictures if only I knew how to send photos from my new iPhone. Will add later!