Max’s Costco Thanksgiving Dinner

My sainted Nana often said that the road to perdition was paved with good intentions.

I’ve found that aphorism to be very true, especially after I magnanimously volunteered to prepare this year’s Thanksgiving Day dinner.

“I could have told you this was a bad idea.”

To be fair, my intentions were not totally altruistic. Indeed, craft and guile were my closest friends.

See, I contrived that I could deeply ingratiate myself with the AJF whilst simultaneously minimizing expense and effort, parsimony and and sloth being high among my life goals. Also, I thought that if I played my cards right there might be extra goodies for me under the Christmas tree. As Boris would say as he stroked his mustache, “Iss gut plan for Moose and Squirrel.”

Knowing that the AJF is wise to my ways and that she would be reluctant to risk my personal brand of baffoonery in her sacred kitchen, I launched my plot by sympathizing about how much effort she had always expended in years past preparing lovely holiday meals and how tiring all that must have been. Surely this year she deserved to take a break and I was just the wonderful husband who could make that happen.

Since we expected only the Tolerant Daughter as a guest, I assured my spousal unit there was little downside risk to my taking charge of the meal. After some back and forth the AJF agreed, provided that she would still be in charge of making our traditional family sausage stuffing without which “Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving.”

By the way, some sadly misinformed people, savages actually, call stuffing “dressing.” If you are one of those heathens, kindly leave this blog right now. But I digress.

“I hope you are more generous with the turkey roll.”

Other than the stuffing I was granted total freedom in the kitchen. Admittedly, I could see in the AJF’s eyes a premonition of impending horror.

I immediately exercised my enormous authority as Kitchen Master and unilaterally declared that we would skip the traditional, time consuming albeit delicious cooked-from-scratch elements of the holiday feast and instead substitute quick and affordable items from the “microwave and serve” section at Costco. Stroke of brilliance!

I ignored the sharp intake of breath that accompanied this pronouncement, snarking that premature criticism is the unkindest cut of all. Silence ensued but it wasn’t the good kind of silence, no sirree.

Oh, I agreed that turkey would be the centerpiece of our repast but rather than fight the crowds to purchase an actual bird with wings, legs and giblets and such, I took the road less traveled and bought a curious, frozen obloid sphere called a “turkey roll” which boasted “contains actual white and dark meat!”

Admit it, this is appetizing.

As an exciting bonus for pennywise connoisseurs like moi, the turkey roll included a “fully prepared gravy packet” at no extra charge.

“Best of both worlds!” Free gravy packet included!

My choice of said turkey roll proffered multiple benefits: it was 3 pounds of solid meat so no waste, it cost very little, it defrosted quickly and it easily fit on my barbecue grill. Plus, let’s not forget the free gravy package. In an inflationary time this was a total winning situation, no?

Beyond the turkey roll and stuffing, everything else came from a can, box or microwave-proof container: parmesan creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, corn something or other, green bean casserole with those crunchy fried onion chips on top, cranberry sauce, Hawaiian sweet rolls and the aforementioned free gravy.

I calculated that the turkey roll, which presents as meat pieces cleverly compressed and jammed into what looks like a tiny fisherman’s net, would require about 1 ½ hours on the grill. Ever the gourmand, I seasoned the netted assemblage of bird parts with an Herbs de Provence crust of my own devising.

Note clever and attractive netting that holds everything together!

As it happened, Southern California’s infamous Santa Ana winds were strongly blowing on Thanksgiving Day and that made grilling a challenge because the gusts of wind kept extinguishing the grill flame. I had hoped to light the BBQ and forget it whilst quaffing an adult beverage and cheering the dismal Detroit Lions on to their 9th straight loss.

Instead, I was required to keep a watchful eye on the grill the entire time it was cooking. The entire time. No football and no Westminster Dog Show which was probably for the best because I would have been disquieted to see the Scottish Deerhound “Claire” win for a second straight year. Sorry, digressed again.

In the last half hour before dinner time I began a steady rotation of Costco products from refrigerator, to an unwrapping station on the counter, to the microwave, to a serving bowl, and then into the oven to maintain proper temperature.

Next, I removed the turkey roll from the grill, tented it with foil for a brief rest and then took it to the carving board. We each felt a tang of nostalgia for the days when turkey meant an actual flocked creature and not a nicely browned but stringed and pitiful Bag ‘o Poultry.

I noted that the Tolerant Daughter had begun a search on her iPhone for “McRib near me.”

“Here’s some advice: don’t ever do this again.”

So let’s cut to the chase – how’d I do? Well, let’s just say that, like the turkey roll, it was a mixed bag.

As might be imagined, the highlight of the meal was the AJF’s stuffing which was delicious. I was told it didn’t even require any of the free gravy that was readily available.

Personally, I thought the turkey roll had a good consistency and several of the pieces of dark meat were surprisingly palatable. Yet, for reasons unclear, both the AJF and Tolerant Daughter simultaneously announced a keen and immediate interest in a vegetarian lifestyle.

The Hawaiian sweet rolls, made in Torrance California, were a huge hit. The mashed potatoes were unanimously deemed “interesting” and the ladies suggested they were best served sans the free gravy. I sensed a trend emerging with respect to that plastic package and the anonymous, brown liquid goodness contained therein.

Sadly, the parmesan creamed spinach was inedible; a more horrific gustatory experience is unimaginable. We all agreed that the recipe consisted of a minimal amount of spinach sauced with copious salt and garlic and accented with a cheese sporting the distinctive fragrance and taste of old gym socks. It made us long for kale. I’m a big enough man to admit it was a mistake to bring this to the table.

Artist’s concept. The real thing looked nothing like this. It was vile.

The crunchy things on top of the green bean casserole were super crunchy as were the green beans themselves, an issue I attribute to incorrect information about microwave cooking times. This was not my fault.

It’s best we don’t discuss the corn thing just now, or ever. To misquote the great Marcus Aurelius, “Depositatum De Latrina” which Google translates loosely as “toss it down the crapper.”

It was organic. Let’s just leave it at that, ok?

On the brighter side, the wine selection – a lovely Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay – was quite popular and both wife and adult child kept drinking it as if seeking to maximize the effect of the alcohol in the shortest time.

Overall, it’s fair to say that neither the spouse nor daughter was whelmed by the dinner set before them. I think jealousy of my culinary skills played a big part in their poor attitudes. You know females: they scent–mark their kitchens and begrudge any male who threatens their supremacy in that venue.

At least Max liked everything slipped to him and it seemed that he was getting quite a few surreptitious offerings from the women. There were plenty of leftovers; in fact, it was almost a Biblical loaves and fishes moment where the ending food inventory may have exceeded the initial quantity.

Tolerant Daughter must have been on a diet as she gracefully declined to take home her fair share of leftovers.

For dessert I boldly skipped the traditional pumpkin pie and purchased from Costco a tiramisu cake which I served with a nice French Roast coffee. I know, I know…nothing tops off a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner like an oblong of tiramisu. Joke if you will but the girls gobbled that cake as if they hadn’t just been presented with bounteous delectations. Huh.

Molto autentico! (Costco photo)

The foulest cut of all was when the AJF reminded me that it would make her life far easier if I also took full charge of doing the dishes and cleaning up after dinner while the ladies recused themselves for a post-prandial girl-talk session. Hoist meet petard.

All in all it wasn’t a complete disaster. Later, I sat with Max on the Recliner of Sloth sipping an inexpensive domestic brandy and basking in the feeling of a task well done. I’ve already begun pondering what would be affordable and easy for the Christmas feast.

Max yawned, mumbled something vaguely supportive and then mentioned he wouldn’t mind snacking on another piece of that turkey roll – but he’d take a pass on the free gravy.

Turkey Roll coma.

77 replies

  1. Sounds like a worthy dinner…worthy of something anyway. I hope Max liked the spinach and corn delicacies. My husband decided to cut the turkey without an electric knife and everyone complained. They like seeing his hijinks with the mini chain saw. This was terrific, happy late thanksgiving! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was worthy of scorn if you ask the other attendees, except Max who likes any food. Actually there were a lot of laughs that day. I have never mastered the art of the electric knife so I yield to your husband’s superior skillset.


  2. Let me just say that every Thanksgiving I give thanks that I have been vegetarian as long as I have. Husband has bought Bag o’ Poultry of which you speak. Watching him remove giblets from one end and free gravy packet from the other was gross. I am a ‘from scratch cook’ so that organic (must be great!) canned corn and spinach dish would also listed under the ‘gross’ column. Pretty pricey dessert. You only bought one? At least next year, they will have this fun memory to chuckle about at the dinner table. You’re not cooking next year, are you?! 😱😨

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s looking unlikely that I’ll be given an invitation for a repeat performance. I may have been banned from doing any more cooking in the Holy of Holies. I retain bbq privileges. The tiramisy was about $16 but it was almost 3 pounds, so…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, Murphy and I are most thankful we didn’t partake of your Thanksgiving dinner. Seriously Tom, what the hell were you thinking?! I’m surprised the AJF and the Tolerant Daughter didn’t run out for McDonald’s!

    I hope Max is okay after sampling your gourmet meal. I bet he’s really loving his doggy chow now!

    You made me laugh out loud Tom, and that’s a good thing!

    Belated Happy Thanksgiving. I hope the AJF is still talking to you and the Tolerant Daughter has a good therapist who can help her get past the trauma of this dinner!


    Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t my proudest moment, Ginger. Sometimes what sounds good in my head fails to deliver in reality. Max is not critical at all. He likes everything except the sketchy gravy. Tolerant D just shrugged and said hey, it’s a free meal. She’s used to me.


  4. It’s definitely stuffing. Your preparation get an E for effort, although I don’t know how hard it actually would have been to put canned green beans with some Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and make it the proper way. You also get an A+ for using all of the vocabulary words assigned to you. I had to Google petard and was thankful that you had not misspelled retard. It’s a good thing you did not bring non-family guests, for they surely would never have returned. The turkey roll made me wonder if it came from one turkey or if, like hot dogs, it was a thousand turkeys whipped into one knitted roll. But you did live on an island full of Spam and you continue to eat their rolls. I’m glad that the wine and Brandy brought happy endings. Is this the plan for Christmas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I may get some resistance to the notion of cooking for Xmas. Right now my star hasn’t risen very high and it may take to re-establish a reputation. I, too, am glad there were no witnesses to the events beyond the AJF and TD. As to the composition and/or construction of turkey rolls I am afraid to pursue that question for fear it turns out to be Soylent Green.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is true. All it cost was my self respect and, who are we kidding, there wasn’t much of that to start. Problem is that I will still be expected to do do the scut work of cleaning and scrubbing but never be able to ascend to the glory of cooking, not ever again. [small violin plays]


      • You know what to do next. Just put all the dishes on the floor for Max to lick, then put them back in the cupboard. Bet you won’t be asked to help again. Anyway, self-respect is overrated.

        (By the way, you can have Thanksgiving dinner delivered. It’s what my brother’s family did.)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 that’s a noble undertaking, so kudos to you! Hope it translates to something extra under the Christmas (hopefully not an extra packet of gravy, or an old gym sock)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my. Flaked-and-formed turkey. Microwaved green beans. Packaged everything else. Did my grandmother teach you to cook?This reminds me of the time she invited us over for a chicken dinner, which even as kids we thought tasted odd. And what was up with the potatoes? Then we found the KFC buckets in the trash.

    Well, the wine was good, and the dessert. And you provided a memorable experience for your family. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • At the end of the day a good laugh was had by all. Once only though; I’ll never get an encore to holiday meal making. The looks of horror on the ladies’ faces as my spread was revealed was worth the later humiliation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Several points here.
    For a start, cooking, like ironing and cleaning, is what women were made for.
    Interfering in their work just causes you problems. Let them do what they were made for, they may moan but at heart they are really, really happy just to serve you. Believe me!.
    Thanksgiving: In the free world we give thanks daily. Only giving thanks once a year explains the mess US society is in.
    Facts: Detroit Lions, whoever they are, do not play ‘football.’ They play ‘throwball,’ a children’s version of rugby.
    Food: I would have thought that you would long ago have realised that if it is not ‘turkey’ then whatever it is may be cheap but it is not ‘turkey.’ Clearly the ‘turkey roll’ is not ‘turkey,’ even I knew that and I have purchased all sorts of lies over the years thinking them financially advantageous. Like items marked ‘For Two’ and there is not enough for ‘one.’
    I suppose the good side of all this is that had he been available Elvis Presley would have enjoyed this meal and called it ‘Very American.’ Then asked for a peanut butter sandwich with mustard.

    I did laugh all the way through. This was the funniest thing I have read for a while. Such courage, such bravery, such ‘stiff-upper lip,’ the girls did you proud there! I expect packets of Gravy granules to appear under the tree later…

    Well done you!

    Max? Max? Where are you? Are you OK???

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your first clue should have been the description…”boneless” turkey. That right there should have sent up red flags to beat the band. “A” for almost but I guess it’s the thought that counts. I think the only acceptable boneless holiday meal is ham but as a vegetarian what do I know?

    Just one question though, what do you have against turkeys with bones and Scottish Deerhounds for that matter? And tiramisu…at Thanksgiving? I’m all in favour of untraditional but…puleez. It’s pumpkin or nothing, sir. I think Max would agree with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait…Max a trooper? Max had nothing to do with it. He didn’t buy a turkey roll or micro ‘n serve side dishes. max didn’t subject himself to the slings and arrows of snarky outspoken women. Max just sat around begging table scraps. Come to think of it he was the smarter male in the house that day. You’re right though – I have been banned from la cucina but is it permanent? Only time will tell.

      Liked by 1 person

        • If you saw all the things that Max has eaten or attempted to eat, you’d realize you are damning with very faint praise. Even moreso when you realize he only ate it once which is not always the case after he gobbles something that doesn’t agree with him and it comes back up…and down again. I do accept your kind sympathy for me which I fully deserve. [small violin plays again]

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I unfollowed you and followed you again. I am hoping this will mean I will start getting notifications from WordPress when you post. I didn’t get a notice for this post. I’m glad I checked because this was so funny I had a hard time stopping laughing.

    Bruce once again cheered on the Lions and when was not the least bit surprised when they snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.

    Max came out the clear winner from your Thanksgiving dinner. 😂


  10. You had me roaring with laughter as just one horror after another made its appearance… will have made a family legend!
    I was surprised that you were volunteered to wash up though…poor recompense for the entertainment…
    And then I had a thought…you are a wily devil…..could it be that you deliberately set out to reinforce the female sense of superiority? With the hope of being treated with kindness and tolerance thereafter?
    If so you succeeded in spades! Well, in the first bit, anyway.
    And, most importantly, Max was pleased.

    As to the renowned thriftiness of the Scots…we are a first and foremost prideful and obdurate race and demand that if something says it is turkey, then it must be turkey, not some godless abomination with a packet of gravy stuffed up its jacksy. Once that is established we will consider the price.

    You could consider offering to make a Yorkshire pie for Christmas….all the work is done beforehand, leaving ample time for sampling adult beverages while making sure that the brussels spouts are really dead.
    You skin and bone out a pheasant, a chicken a duck and a goose, lay one within the other and place in a pie mould lined with huff paste – flour, water and suet – with a layer of veal sausagemeat on the bottom and filling in the gaps. Cover with more paste and bake slowly. To be served cold on the day – pastry removed.unless you have an emergency dentist close by..
    For New Year I shall reveal to you the way to make a boar’s head….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good response! They are so pitiful it is almost worth watching them just for the opportunity to jeer and hoot. But your Cardinals are looking strong so be polite to those losers, er, non-winners in the Motor City.


  11. Ah! Quite the feast and it clearly wore out poor little Max who must obviously have been overseeing all preparations. No football?! You’ll have to do something about that part next time. Call the weather guessers ahead of time and demand no winds. You have football to watch by golly! A for effort! Happy Thanksgiving a few days on… hoping all leftovers are long gone by now 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ha! Love this!
    HEY! If I didn’t have to set the table beautifully-Thanksgivingly, do all of the cooking, AND clean up, some of that might taste good to me! Ha! Just teasing! 😀 😛 Ooh! Hawaiian Sweet rolls are always tasty! 🙂
    I bet Max did all of THE important things…look cute, be entertaining, supervise, and remind everyone to take The After Turkeyness Nap! 😀
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Max ate turkey roll, fell into a turkey coma and slept under the table. That, and making us smile, was his contribution and it was enough. Funny you focused on the rolls because along with the AJF’s great stuffing that was the most popular item. Well, and the wine of course. Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday and that Sir Coop got more than his fair share of the goodies going around.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, Tom, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Don’t know whether you’re aware that we Australians aren’t always enamoured with all things American especially their processed “food”. I’m also a from scratch cook and we had a half leg of ham for Christmas no Spam in sight! It sounds to me that you’ve not only let down the blokes with this meal, but also brought disgrace on your nation. I can’t even be sure Max is still alive in that last photo and hasn’t been poisoned by the poor excuse of a “turkey”.
    Self-righteousness is a wonderful thing.
    Meanwhile, my daughter is living off McDonalds and working there part-time. I call her a McChick. I’m not really happy about her current diet but have little say and am grateful for the free apple pies she brings home when she’s on closing. Please don’t tell anyone thought. I have my reputation to uphold!
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve already overcome the shame of that day and the horror of that culinary episode. I have a thick skin, like a rhinoceros. I like “McChick” – the opportunities for jokes at her expense are many and I’ll bet you and Geoff miss few. And, hey, I too can be bought off with an apple pie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Teenagers are easy fodder for jokes.
        Speaking about easy fodder, I fell victim to a criminal mastermind last night. I made one of my best cakes even last night…a mango coconut cake with raspberries. Only Geoff and I were eating it, so I assembled it on our bowls,. Now, I’m usually pretty careful because Rosie is a dastardly food thief. However, I must’ve been tired and it was hot. Pots and pans everywhere. I was off my game. Rosie has this thing where instead of joining us in the loungeroom, she exits out the back with great stealth and we forget she’s there. Inevitably something drops with a clang from the bench and we do a quick head count and realize the folly of our ways..usually with abject horror. She got half the cake and let’s face it, who wants the rest? I’ll be making a fresh cake tonight.
        Meanwhile, Rosie is off to the confessional and I hope they throw the book at her.
        Best wishes,


  14. This is hilarious, made better by the fact I believed every word of it, especially Max asking for more turkey roll! I thought you weren’t creating posts, ’cause I wasn’t getting any emails saying you had one. Guess I lost the follow. Trying again, here, and then catching up!

    Liked by 1 person

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