With Thanksgiving fast approaching, its time to dust off the old spatula and start brainstorming ideas. While I’d love to make a yearly Thanksgiving party a tradition in my apartment, this year I am just too discouraged. Discouraged by my recent abandonment of exercising what little culinary muscles I have in my body. Last year’s feast feels like a dream.

Thanksgiving 2009, Girl with a Knife

I had spent the entire week at Anthropologie, picking out fancy plates and glasses. And when I wasn’t busy shopping, I was fine tuning my menu. How many family friends would actually show up? I was playing around with the idea of an intimate meal versus a full blown party. In the end, my nerves got the best of me and we finalized it – my parents and 2 family friends.

Thursday morning, I was armed with a strategy. I had an hour by hour schedule of things that needed to go into the oven first, and things that could be prepared stovetop towards the end. Around mid afternoon I flipped out because my parents had wanted to bring another guest. “IMPOSSIBLE!” I yelled “… because I’d be one fancy place setting short! And the table would look terrible!” So much for being a gracious host, that was a super ugly side of me. (I ended up apologizing and set a table with nothing matching at all.)

I was completely stuffed by the time my guests arrived and we all sat down to dinner. That’s what happens when you are so nervous about how everything will taste that you end up sneaking bites before, after, and moment-before-serving dishes.

Polishing off nearly half a bottle of Prosecco on my own, after having washed every last dish in the sink, I gave myself a pat on the back. Job well done, and it was actually fun. I felt like Iron Chef without the whimsical chairman sound effects. And I wanted to look forward to doing it again.

I served wild rice in little bowls made from hollowed out squash.

The 8lb turkey is a baby compared to the rest of the kids at the grocery store. I was also on a baking binge since that stuff can be prepared the night before. There was cornbread and biscuits.

The sides are every bit as important! I made mushroom stuffing, brussel sprouts, and mashed potatoes with bits of garlic kale mixed in and topped with crunchy shallots. The rest of the kale was served on the side.

And desserts!! Pumpkin crumb cake (served with maple cream) and pumpkin cheesecake. (I now officially have grown sick of pumpkin.)

I wanted to write this to give myself some visual inspiration. Do I think I can do it again this year? I’d really like to! But I am already weeks behind on planning a menu. And months behind on honing my cooking skills. Tough call…