A Tasting Buds Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Candy Turkey

  • Turkey Treats by Kaetlan

As the Tasting Bud who claims not to cook, I surprised everyone last Thanksgiving when I volunteered to bring a side dish to the feast. We were expecting more than 30 family members and friends, so I had to come up with something good. I thought about three of the essential food groups: carbs, cheese, and bacon. You really can’t go wrong with that combination, so I opted to make macaroni and cheese. I can, however, tell you a little about my process.

Mac n Cheese w/ Butternut Squash

  • Butternut Squash Bake by Kristina

I had never made it before, so I scoured the internet looking for a recipe. I looked at about a million recipes, and in the end, created my own recipe for macaroni & cheese made with four cheeses and topped with bacon. It was a heart-wrenching process, which resulted in one tossed out batch of cheese sauce, two oven burns, and a myriad new phrases comprised of colorful expletives. The dish was a hit, and only a small serving survived the Thanksgiving feeding frenzy.

Before I recount my Thanksgiving Day task, I have to thank my lovely sister-in-law, Sondra, for helping me avoid the grocery store headache altogether. She went ahead and picked up everything I needed while she was purchasing her Thanksgiving Day necessities. And yes, I did reimburse her.

I had never worked with butternut squash before, but luckily, my mom was on hand Wednesday night to help me peel and cube the gourds. The next morning, I looked over the recipe as I drank coffee and thought, “Ok, this is easy. Time for laundry.” I put the squash (tossed in olive oil and lightly salted) to roast in the oven, and then I took a couple of loads of laundry down to the laundry room. This really was a rare exhibit of domesticity on my part. After a quick shower, I checked on my squash, which was happily roasting away.

Macaroni Closeup

I prepared the next few steps of the recipe and went back downstairs to put my laundry to dry. When I came back to my kitchen, the squash was ready and it was time to put the whole thing together. The next 20 minutes went by in a blur of scallions, butter, cheese, and bread crumbs.

The completed dish was finally in the oven to finish baking, and I stood back to assess the damage. My tiny apartment kitchen had random bits of parsley scattered about. I had managed to get mascarpone on the stove, floor, and wall. I even found some bread crumbs on the vent hood. I’m not sure how they got there. Oh, and I successfully sliced open a finger while dicing scallions.

Tastingbuds Thanksgiving Spread

  • Thanksgiving Feast by Tasting Buds

The result was a tasty dish that did not survive Thanksgiving 2009 – not even a bread crumb – so I would call it a great success. More importantly, I learned a very important lesson: always, always prep before you start cooking. Don’t wait until you need to sauté the scallions before dicing them. Don’t try to chop parsley while you’re trying not to burn butter. And definitely don’t get distracted by an email notification while wielding a very sharp knife.

Will I ever regress back to my bag o’ salad? Maybe someday. In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I actually like cooking, so you may see the occasional recipe posted in the future by this Tasting Bud.

Happy holidays!

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