Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you are spending time with your family, getting work done, and not going nuts when hookworms invade South Beach. I know this Thanksgiving my mom is going to make mostly traditional Indian food: spinach puree, puris (deep-fried puffs of dough), baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon, and cucumbers in yogurt. We've decided on apple crumble for the dessert since it's low-sugar and something my sister can whip up easily.
Our Thanksgivings weren't always this sane, however. One year, when my older sister was still living at home, we tried an American meal. One with a soy turkey, apple dumplings, and proper stuffing. My sister is a fantastic cook, but she had to work with these sort of ingredients.
I remember the Tofurky well because it had a strange sickly grey color with a bland taste and chewy texture. These were in the days before the food companies decided to market more vegetarian products. It took about four hours to cook, and we ate about 1/3 of it. The dumplings had a sweet taste, but they took as long to boil. We enjoyed the meal that day, but we haven't made it since. My mom and sister make the best Indian food, so we have stuck with that with the occasional American dessert.
The moral: Only cook what you know to cook when you have many guests or customers. Only professionals can afford to experiment, and guests prefer a simple meal done well than a complicated mess. Know your ingredients, your kitchen equipment, and your company. I may not have always practiced what I preached, but I try to be more mindful of it when I don't own the kitchen. And since I'm cooking lunch tomorrow before I go to a violin lesson, I will be as mindful of it as possible.