Culinary Triage: Exploding Gravy and Other Holiday Traditions by Deb Lisa Daily

Christmas Day 2007 will forever be referred to as “The Day the Gravy Exploded”, joining the ranks with such other exciting and memorable days as “The Year The Cat Stepped in the Stuffing” and “The One Where We Got Five Feet of Snow on Christmas Eve and Lisa’s Big Christmas Present (a waterbed!) Was Across The Street In The Neighbors Garage.” *

*This was back in the late 70’s when a waterbed was a cool gift. (There was a sort of scavenger hunt involved — sadly, not quite as magical when you have to shovel for 7 1/2 hours to get to the grand prize.)

In my family, the disasters are always more fun than the picture-perfect Christmases. We’ll all be gathered in the kitchen, drinking, and someone will make a crack about how the the turkey was nearly set on fire back in 1974, or how my mother, in her effort to be supportive to her newly-vegetarian sister had the crazy idea of serving a quiche on Christmas Eve, rather than our traditional ham with cherry sauce. We’ve lovingly tortured her on that one for years.

The screw-ups and disasters are always met with laughter and occasionally, a bit of culinary triage. Any mishap is met with a top-notch disaster recovery team of relatives who can smooth the lumps out of gravy, make a turkey with crispy wingtips look like something Martha would envy, or whip out an emergency pie crust in 45 seconds flat. (Old Crisco, don’t ask.)

And while we may giggle about near-disasters behind the stove, the feast that makes it to the table usually looks pretty fabulous and tastes even better. And no one would ever be any wiser.

In our family, what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen.

From the year mom and I whipped our cream into butter, to the year the weird pineapple-avacado-lime jello with pistachio ice cream turned into a scary green soup, to the year the fan belt broke on the car on the way to Christmas dinner at Grandma Vernie’s house. In the middle of the desert. With 7 people in the car.

Christmas Present. Christmas Past. Christmas Imperfect. I love them all.


Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daily

Author: Lisa Daily

Lisa Daily is a real-life TV dating expert on Daytime. She's a syndicated relationships columnist, a popular media guest seen everywhere from MTV to the New York Times, and the author of the bestselling dating advice book, Stop Getting Dumped! : All you need to know to make men fall madly in love with you and marry "The One" in 3 years or less. Visit lisa online at

16 Replies to “Culinary Triage: Exploding Gravy and Other Holiday Traditions by Deb Lisa Daily”

  1. Hi Jenny & Joanne!

    Thanks so much 🙂

    On the exploding gravy: My aunt Jerry likes to mix her flour & cold water mixture with some hot drippings & stock. Usually she shakes them together in a mason jar, which sadly, was not something available in my kitchen.

    So I used a plastic container with a lid. (Usually not a problem, as I generally only mix the flour and water in the container)

    I shook the mixture to get any lumps out of the flour, and the hot stock and drippings created enough pressure that the lid of the container shot off and rained the gravy thickening mixture all over the kitchen.

    Voila: Exploding gravy. :-0

    We could not stop laughing.

    Merry Christmas!


  2. Oh Lisa, that sounds pretty awful (and funny); I can only imagine a giggling family covered in gravy shrapnel. In a related cautionary tale, I have one of those Tupperware quick shake containers and figured since it was so great for making instant pudding, why not use it to blend Jello powder with the hot water before chilling – same result and I swear I’m still finding dried droplets of cherry Jello in the strangest spots in my kitchen.

  3. Gail–
    Oh. My. GAWD. I can not stop laughing at the image of your poor little turkey, locked in the oven while the family is gathered around, watching the family dinner go up in smoke…


    I hear this tragedy never happens to people who use Cool Whip. Or is it Kool Whip?


  4. I just can’t believe you shovelled for seven and a half hours to get to your waterbed…!!!

    Exploding gravy, turkeys locked in ovens–I’m afraid I don’t have that any comparable anecdotes, but damn–the ones above were certainly funny!

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