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 A Thanksgiving gift from Fran
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Luann
Permanent Resident

USA
2666 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  09:38:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit Luann's Homepage Send Luann a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This year we lost stalwart forum member and spam zapper extraordinaire, master knitter Fran Marrs. The originator of the 10-minute rule, she'd been there, knit that, yet answered every knitter's question as if for the first time. Despite numerous health problems, she lived every day to the fullest, and raised a trio of strong daughters who have continued her legacy of making powerful contributions to their communities.

Lest we remember her for her patience, generosity, and giving spirit alone, I offer this story that she first posted 7 years ago today.

The original topic thread is locked, but I invite you to read the comments so you can see Fran's responses.

Originally posted on 11/22/2003

This is the Thanksgiving day memory I am sharing with my children this year. I thought you might enjoy it, too.

One year I was planning a Thanksgiving dinner for my sister’s family (2adults and 10 children), my mother, and my 3 seven year olds. I had just bought the 24 lb turkey and was calculating thawing time when she called and said they could not make it for dinner. I popped the turkey back into the freezer and recalculated my time for a capon for my mother and 3 girls. On Thanksgiving, as we sat down for our dinner, the doorbell rang and in walked my sister and her family saying “surprise, we made it after all”. I looked at my little capon, heated up some hot dogs and said: “We are having our dinner at 6 pm this year. Here have some lunch.”

Now our traditional family dinner is entirely homemade, no shortcuts, with only fresh fruits and veggies, etc. Our only concession was using canned pumpkin, which was allowed only once in a while, and one can of jellied cranberry sauce for the few who would not eat fresh cranberries. I knew that was impossible this year, I had to take shortcuts and convince them I had done it without taking any. My sister and her husband are very critical of me. They love finding my mistakes. The impossible task was dealing with frozen turkey. I looked into my freezer and found a smaller 14 lb. turkey, so I pulled that out instead of the big one. I popped 2 potatoes into the microwave and when they were finished put the turkey in there to thaw and put the potatoes aside. I made pies and put them into the oven and while they were baking mixed bread and put it aside to rise. Then I began to cheat on my menu. I boiled some cranberries with sugar until they popped, dumped in a can of jellied cranberries and placed it into a mold in the refrigerator to cool. I opened cans of yams (instead of fresh), took the liquid, added brown sugar and seasoning and thickened it on the stove top, added the yams and put them into a casserole dish and set that aside. I made that famous green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and canned fried onions and set that aside. I made stuffing and put it into a pan instead of in the turkey, but topped it with a lid so it would not brown on top and look like it came from the inside of the bird. I was not about to peel potatoes for that crowd and even though my brother-in-law swore he could always tell instant potatoes from fresh, I was determined to fool him. I know a few tricks, too. I knew instant potatoes lost that instant taste if they were allowed to sit for about 20 minutes after mixing but that made them too cold, so I added a few more convincers. I made instant potatoes and set them aside, after a half an hour, I added a generous dollop of sour cream, then took those 2 baked potatoes, peeled them and smashed them lightly with a fork and mixed them in with the instant potatoes for instant lumps. I made gravy from powdered mixes and served that. Meanwhile, I had prepared the turkey and was cooking it in the microwave. I baked the bread and dinner rolls and added it to the finished food with the pies. I planned on putting the turkey in the oven for the last 30 minutes to brown while I heated up the vegetable dishes. I topped the yams with marshmallows and put that along with the green beans, potatoes, and stuffing into the oven to reheat. While that was going on I prepared platters of olives, pickles, celery sticks, etc. along with broccoli and cauliflower and dumped ranch dressing into a serving bowl on the platter. I HAD DONE IT. Now it was time for the taste test. I asked for help to carry everything into the dining room and as everyone was sitting at the table, went back into the kitchen to get the turkey. HORRORS. I had forgotten to put it into the oven for browning. There I was alone in the kitchen with this perfectly cooked bird with white wrinkled skin.......yuck. Feeling desperate but ready to face the music, I stuffed the bird with the prepared dressing and put it on its platter surrounded with parsley and small tomatoes. It looked so pathetic,I though of covering it with gravy. Then I got inspired. I grabbed a pastry brush, reached into the cupboard and PAINTED the turkey with Kitchen bouquet sauce. Then I took a deep breath and carried it into the dining room. My brother-in-law just stared at that turkey and I waited for what he was going to say next. After an embarrassingly long pause, he looked up and said: “ that is the most perfect turkey I have ever seen, it is browned so evenly with no burned spots. It is absolutely beautiful.” Then we sat down to eat and I waited for my criticism. After all this was my sister ad her family, I knew there would be one. Finally, my brother-in-law said that I had outdone myself this year, everything was perfect. Then he looked at his wife and told her that he still preferred her mashed potatoes to mine because hers were smooth. He had found a lump in mine. As my mother helped me to clear up and do dishes, she asked how I had managed that in so little time and we laughed the night away as I told her each secret of the “made from scratch” dinner.

fran

Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4387 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  09:52:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been looking forward to this, Luann -- thank you! I'm inspired to use a few tricks myself this year!

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5190 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  10:01:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for posting this, Luann! This was one of my favorite stories from Fran. I love how resourceful she was, and at the same time how sharp her sense of humor was.

And I am very, very glad that the people I cook for rarely have the audacity to complain about my food. That brother-in-law had a lot of nerve.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
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Luann
Permanent Resident

USA
2666 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  10:26:08 AM  Show Profile  Visit Luann's Homepage Send Luann a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To say nothing of the audacity of a family of 12 showing up unannounced for dinner!

Knit and let knit!
http://www.luannocracy.blogspot.com
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5190 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  10:49:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I know! I don't think I would have been charitable enough to feed them so well.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
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Jaknit
Seriously Hooked

639 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  11:20:31 AM  Show Profile Send Jaknit a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Luann, for reposting such a priceless Thanksgiving story for us. We are truly fortunate to have this wonderful memory of Fran with us during this season to remind us of the really important values in life.

Jan
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KnittingKittens
Chatty Knitter

USA
173 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  11:38:28 AM  Show Profile Send KnittingKittens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a great story! I laughed so hard as I was reading it. If it was me, I would have been nipping from a bottle! How ever did she keep them all out of the kitchen? My family is "helpful" and eager to assist so much so that a big simmering pot of sauce with meatballs has on many occassions been stirred inbto oblivion and become meat sauce.
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eldergirl
Permanent Resident

USA
1802 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  1:55:55 PM  Show Profile Send eldergirl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you Luann! For some reason I had not seen this, and it is *so* worth it!

Here I am in Rennes with my son and my grandkids, and we will do something with Thanksgiving, but I don't know what!

Fran was a marvel.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Anna
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dschmidt
Permanent Resident

3962 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  2:45:24 PM  Show Profile Send dschmidt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Luann, it is a story that totally captures Fran.

Donna in VA

The Honor Roll? It's easier here than in school. Scroll up to "Want to Make Betty Happy?" and be an Honor Roll member.
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knitnhygienist
New Pal

2 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  4:16:55 PM  Show Profile Send knitnhygienist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is a really wonderful story. I'm sorry that I did not meet Fran, my loss. I'm going to remember the Kitchen bouquet trick!
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One Stitch at a Time
Chatty Knitter

295 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  7:04:46 PM  Show Profile Send One Stitch at a Time a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you Luann for sharing such a great Fran story. Her words continue to inspire us...
I'll enjoy thinking of this story on Thanksgiving when I begin to feel frazzled....

Nanci
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Ceil
Permanent Resident

USA
1790 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  7:40:35 PM  Show Profile  Visit Ceil's Homepage Send Ceil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a great story. Fran lives on!

Ceil
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
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spanishknitter
New Pal

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  10:22:46 PM  Show Profile Send spanishknitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Ana

Ana
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Punctuatedknitter
Seriously Hooked

819 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2010 :  11:26:52 PM  Show Profile Send Punctuatedknitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow. I had better save this in my recipe folder. Fran taught me to calculate bust darts--I had no idea she could teach me to fake from-scratch dinner!

And as an aside--3 seven-year-olds to take care of, job, and all this! I never stop admiring.
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hillstreetmama
Permanent Resident

USA
3448 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2010 :  04:45:31 AM  Show Profile Send hillstreetmama a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great story! (I had FIVE kids, and I NEVER would just show up unannounced. That took some nerve!) I probably would have just told them I hadn't planned for them, and let them brainstorm with me as to how to feed the group. I just don't think I'd have been that gracious.

Jan
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Mean Mama
Permanent Resident

USA
1138 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2010 :  08:13:39 AM  Show Profile Send Mean Mama a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Luann

To say nothing of the audacity of a family of 12 showing up unannounced for dinner!



i must admire her ability to stay calm and gracious. That might just have been the Year of the First Traditional Spaghetti Thanksgiving Dinner at my house . . . how she got the bird defrosted and cooked boggles the mind!

-- Mean Mama

“Qui vit sans folie,
N’est pas si sage qu’il le croit.”
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La galloise
Chatty Knitter

France
162 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2010 :  10:29:25 AM  Show Profile Send La galloise a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a lovely story.
Fran was obviously far more gracious than I would have been........
Mary
ps. happily we don't have to cope with Thanksgiving and Christmas
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Cecioboe
Seriously Hooked

USA
824 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2010 :  4:32:36 PM  Show Profile Send Cecioboe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a wonderful story, what a wonderful woman. Thank you for sharing.

Ceci

Aw, gee, c'mon and see: http://knittinreed.blogspot.com

Cecioboe on Ravelry
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2totangle
Permanent Resident

1212 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2010 :  2:54:57 PM  Show Profile Send 2totangle a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I loved this story so much! I so appreciate your re-posting this, Luann. I need periodic reminders of Fran's ability to handle situations with grace and good humor.

Wishing all of you a happy Thanksgiving with well-behaved relatives and friends.

Suzanne

Flickr pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/2totangle/
Ravelry project page: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/2totangle
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Cheerleader9
Permanent Resident

USA
1563 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2010 :  7:41:21 PM  Show Profile Send Cheerleader9 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've read this several times and smile each time. Dear Fran was an amazing woman and I count her as one of life's blessing.

Barb in AZ
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheerleader9
http://www.ravelry.com/people/Cheerleader9
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Shalee
Permanent Resident

USA
2046 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2010 :  7:47:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shalee's Homepage Send Shalee a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've always remembered her story of that Thanksgiving AND the one when her grandson brought her the Tater Tots. Her life was one of giving and loving. I truly miss her posts.

Sharon in NW PA
I always wanted my own library but I didn't realize it would be all knitting books!
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