That's my dog, Kiddo, enjoying her Thanksgiving treat. It's a deer leg she found in a ditch. She hides it under the house when she's not gnawing on it.

This year was the first when members of my generation prepared the majority of the food my family ate. All through the holiday we kept chatting about how everyone felt about the change. I think it was harder for my mother, who's a brilliant cook, and easier for my aunt, who enjoyed being able to focus on preparing a couple of exquisite dishes.

As for ability to get food on the table for a group of people has been improving incrementally over the past decade. Years ago, I'd plan overambitious menus and then end up serving meals piecemeal or hours late. Often my guests would have to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to stop hungrier ones from ordering takeout.

Lately I've learned to prepare dishes in advance and stage the final preparations so everything's ready at the right time, but I'm still so slow. I spent about two and a half days cooking for this Thanksgiving, which is a lot, but when it came to the final hours, I had everything done and ready to go, just waiting on the turkey.

My two and a half days of cooking added up to...

  • pickled carrots
  • creamed spinach
  • roasted onions with gruyere croutons
  • mashed potatoes
  • sweet cranberry relish
  • savory shallot and thyme cranberry relish
  • butterscotch pudding
  • chocolate mousse
  • and two cocktails (I found this one, bizarrely titled Does a bear?, surprisingly wonderful and refreshing).

I didn't handle the turkey, stuffing, or gravy because I'm a vegetarian. We also had herb-roasted green beans, two different yam preparations, brussels sprouts, and three different kinds of pie.

Thanksgiving is the holiday my family puts the most effort into celebrating - for example: of the twelve people at our table, only two actually live in the state of Kentucky; the rest traveled from California and Florida to attend.

My hit of the night turned out to be the butterscotch pudding. In the lead-up to the holiday I kept telling all my relatives, "I'm making butterscotch pudding!" and they smiled and nodded and said, "Butterscotch pudding, that's nice. We'll get some pies."

Once they actually tried my butterscotch pudding, however, nobody cared about pies. Or, for that matter, my chocolate mousse. The point is: it turned out really well.

This is the recipe I used. I used to live down the street from the Sweet Melissa bakery & I was absolutely obsessed with the butterscotch pudding there. I think the bakery version is better, but nobody else at the table knew that.

Anyway, I had a wonderful holiday & hope the same for you.