I pit lousy food at holiday dinners (Moved from the Pit)

Jim’s family makes cheese and broccoli casserole for most family dinners - it is incredible. I should probably learn to make that some day.

While I understand St Anger’s POV about being grateful to be invited to someone’s house for dinner, I also have a little of the OP’s attitude in me based loosely on the above. My mother makes a big stinkin’ deal out of wanting and needing to be the one to host holiday dinners. It’s a request she starts in the summer, usually. And she never, ever lets anyone bring anything. “I’m really into cooking!” she says.

Except that her food sucks. And she’s really into the idea of cooking, but tends to put in a half-assed effort and deviate from recipes in ways that are not good. She cuts corners for the sake of convenience and then wonders why things don’t come out as they should. On Christmas, she wanted to be sitting with us and opening gifts and all that so she fixed most of the things an hour or so ahead of time. Like, putting angel hair pasta in a pot of boiling water, but turning off the heat so she would just need to drain it when we were ready to eat. An hour later. I’m surprised it didn’t completely dissolve.

I dunno. Again, I know on some level that I should be grateful to be invited, but I think it would be a lot easier to have that attitude if the main course wasn’t usually a big platter of guilt.

In our family it is mainly because of diminishing population in the immediate branch, my father and both uncles are dead, one remaining aunt is a bitch who argued to get family heirlooms from my grandfathers will and gave them not to her children with my uncle but her children from her previous marriage, and my other aunt and her children and grandchildren live in Florida and really can’t afford to travel as my uncle had been handicapped for the last 15 years and left their resources fairly depleated.

It is much easier for mrAru and I to travel up to my Mom’s, my brother lives with her and is her caretaker, and my brother can’t cook for shit, so mrAru and I do all the shopping and cooking, which suits us all. I have actually been a better cook than my mother for years, ever since I worked as a chef :slight_smile: And they like experimenting with new foods, so we randomize most holidays menus with new stuff we think they would like [like that Pioneer Woman smashed rebaked potato recipe. Try sprinkling it with a dot of black truffle oil on each tater] and we leave the leftovers packaged and frozen so they can have a bunch of evenings without trying to figure out what to make =) win-win for all of us!

Yup. My father-in-law is extremely hit or miss. One year he bought sushi for appetizers at a holiday get-together. The man fishes in Alaska yearly, he worked in the food industry, he should know better… but he bought the sushi platter early since he found one on sale. Then he put it in the freezer for a couple weeks. Then, took it out a few days ahead of time and put it in the fridge. When my husband found out from his dad what had happened, he called everyone and warned them to not eat the sushi. His dad was mad that no one ate it, but since no one said “we think that’s spoiled” he didn’t have a reason to actually get mad directly at anyone. (Yes, he would have made it your fault that you had food safety standards, not to mention preferences for sushi quality. :smack: )

:eek: I don’t think that falls under “preferences” for sushi quality, as much as it does, say, “not wanting to die”.

My mom did give us all food poisoning one year, either from undercooked turkey or bacteria-ridden stuffing or something. It was many years before we would agree to let her cook again and, that first Thanksgiving after the hiatus, I could not bring myself to eat the turkey. I waited until I saw that everyone survived, then had some the next day (after ascertaining that it had been properly stored!)

Every single person in my family who cooks for a family dinner is a good cook. The gravy is homemade. The turkey is done to perfection, as is the ham. The vegetables are cooked properly. The macaroni and cheese is from scratch.

We also get several gluten-free options, due to my sister’s gluten intolerance. I hate that she has that inconvenience, but I enjoy the option of eating a gluten-free holiday meal.

They do use canned cranberry sauce, but as I have never had a cranberry sauce I enjoyed, it doesn’t bother me any.

I’m glad the only person I cook for on a daily basis is my fiancé, though.

I’ll never forget going to my friend’s house for a Thanksgiving meal. She is a sweet person who never had a role model for good cooking, and has a palate trained to like the kind of food you can find on the Kraft recipes site (don’t get me wrong, some of that can be tasty).

She cooked her turkey in a disposable pan, no rack. And she must have poured in some broth or wine or something, the way they sometimes tell you to do to prevent the drippings from burning when you cook with a rack. So basically it was kind of roasted and kind of boiled - for hours and hours.

When they went to remove the turkey from the pan, they put a big spoon in either end of the cavity and lifted . . . and the turkey skeleton came free of all the meat and lifted out, leaving the turkey in the pan. :slight_smile:

My husband and I ate our meal with gracious thanks, but have always laughed about that between ourselves since.

My MIL is getting better with holiday cooking, but it’s still fairly “meh” compared to what I grew up eating and making for the holidays. She’s definitely much more into baking than cooking non-sugary foods, which is most evident when there’s a table full of cookie plates and cold store-bought ham with no “upgrades” on flavor paired with more store-bought sides. It’s decent and most of it’s hot, but man, is it bland.

It’s supposed to taste chocolatey with a happy, rum-coated finish. The trick is to not use the cheapest rum available and to balance it out with the flavors of the sugar and cocoa powder.

I am finding as I spend more years with Acid Lamp and his family for special occasion dinners that I am thankful for my family of cooks who not only enjoy cooking, but are good at it. I picked up on a lot of it, and though it makes me pickier with what I like for myself when I’m making it*, it also makes for me not having to put a ton of effort into wow-ing guests who try my contributions to the meal. This year, I cooked a special meal for Giftmas Eve and managed to get almost everything done within a couple of hours, making the vast majority of it from scratch. It turned out pretty well for my first solo attempt at the traditional Nashiitashii family meal, and made the next day’s meal seem a little more sub-par than usual. This was, however, vastly improved by the good company that we shared and more alcoholic beverages than usual; I have a feeling that maybe next year if we’re not traveling for Giftmas, I may make an impromptu “taking over Giftmas” move so we can have more than one good festive meal that week. I’ll even make ham, even though it’s not part of my family’s holiday repertoire outside of Easter.

*You don’t really have much of a choice when someone else is cooking, do you?

This is again going to sound like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I’d take store-prepared foods over badly prepared ones anyday.

I am taking over Christmas next year, too. Not because of the food, but because of having too many places to go for my kids to even enjoy their holiday.

I did mention “food safety standards” too. :wink:

I’m a vegetarian, but after the complaints from my husband about the dried-out, awful turkeys for Thanksgiving, I started buying turkey breasts and roasting them for him during the fall and winter so that he’d have some nice juicy turkey. Then I took over Thanksgiving for a while and kicked ass at roasting turkey for the whole group. :smiley:

Oh yes, I’m ungrateful here I’m sure, but… if you don’t trust me to get the traditional Thanksgiving pies and bring some over when I hadn’t asked for any (because I asked your sister who goes to a nice bakery to get them, rather than the grocery store/frozen food section), then please follow my announcement that the extra pies are leaving with you or in you. But no. I got stuck with the grocery store pies, and the good pie was eaten/taken. Even half of the pumpkin cheesecake that I baked from scratch was taken home by my father-in-law. What the hell are two people supposed to do with 3+ pies?

Well, it used to be worse-- it used to be badly prepared stuff based on store-bought items. I’m thankful that the food and company is getting better, but it’s still not anything close to what I grew up with or can make on my own. It’s not like I complain about it to their faces, refuse to eat the food, or make it obvious that I’m not impressed with their 3x/year attempt at cooking.

My mom and brother came over, he had not yet visited my house.

I made:

Chicken Marsala
Rice Aglio della Cipolla
Garlic Rolls
Green Beans Almondine (fresh beans)
Custard Pie
Pumpkin Pie (both with homemade crusts and hand-whipped cream)

French Roast Coffee

w/ Pinot Grigio and Newcastle


I feel your pain. For my husbnd’s extended family gathering on Saturday, we had re-heated ham from Thursday (super-cheap ham to begin with, then reheated in a crock pot for a loooooong time), mashed potatoes (homemade, at least), canned green beans (seasoned with skin from the aforementioned ham), canned peas (cooked to mush), gravy from a packet (not even faux-chicken gravy - just “sawmill” gravy), and Aunt Suzy’s Famous Mac ‘n’ Cheese (it’s actually pretty tasty!). I ate a lot of cheese, crackers, and fruit before we sat down to eat.

Yesterday, however, we went to my dad’s house, and his girlfriend is a great cook. Pork loin roasted with prunes and whole-grain mustard, wrapped in bacon; garlic mashed potatoes; made from scratch gravy; orange-ginger baby carrots:, corn; and steamed broccoli (it was just a tad overdone). Night and day from Saturday’s meal!

Let’s see at my parents I had; shrimp cocktail, prime rib, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, and cheese tortellini with broccoli & garlic. For dessert we had peanut butter cream pie and tapicoa pudding. Everthing was pretty good. For some bizarre reason Mom was expecting there to be left over shrimp :dubious:. We did have left over prime rib which she insisted on me taking some home. I’m not really a fan of reheated beef (having already eaten the rarest part at the original meal), but she kept insisting. My dog really enjoyed his Christmas dinner.:wink:

The best of both worlds!! And I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought you’d be saying it right to them. Even my 5-year-old, who is known for his blunt speaking style, made sure to only whisper to me in a different room from my mom that the spaghetti was mushy.

Amen… what a bunch food snobs.

Our Christmas lunch consisted of a Turkey that didn’t get cooked because the dial was turned 180 degrees where the cook thought it was pointing. So we busted out frozen chicken breasts and baked them. We then reheated the remains of a leftover ham we had from two or three days prior.

Guess what? It all tasted awesome because I was with family and friends, and I couldn’t care less about the food when I’m blessed enough to have us all together.

For dinner we went to my sister-in-law’s house and had lasagna. It was good too.

The twins were a very few months old. The drive took from the western suburbs of Chicago to the northern stretches of Racine, WI. A quick calculation placed hamburgers in the maws of our fat-assed nieces and nephews and with little to drive against up.

Our oven has been out of commission for years and my step-children that live nearby disowned us years ago. So we get takeout food from Nashville’s best Indian restaurant. It was a little spicey-hot this year, but oh so good!

Two of our grandchildren stopped by in the afternoon. Who could ask for anything more?

MODERATOR INTERVENTION: I’m going to assume that you two didn’t realize that this thread is no longer in the Pit, so this is a stern “cut it out” but not an Official Warning. Both of you, those comments are NOT appropriate for Cafe Society, and you will cool it IMMEDIATELY. The topic here is lousy food at holiday dinners. It is NOT about other posters. You can dislike their attitude, but you cannot insult them as people. Got it?

The first one can taste like that, but once you eat a half dozen or so you get it. Think jello shots made with cake.