Cooking by me always generates a mixed bag of emotion: I like to try new dishes, but it is not fun to do it for only two people. So I save that adventure for when we are having guests. In the last few years, that has included Thanksgiving.

A long time ago, Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kantor said something like, “In the middle of every great idea, there is a moment of perfect failure.” I have learned that while trying new recipes out on guests is a great idea, it also almost guarantees that moment of perfect failure. In my experience of cooking for Thanksgiving, the failure almost always had something to do with how the bird turned out, or didn’t.

The first time, I hadn’t realized there were giblets in the bird’s cavity, so they got cooked right along with the bird. There was the time when we were living in Chicago, and my brother, sister, and families came from Minnesota for Thanksgiving. I didn’t realize how long it took to cook a turkey, so we had cold cuts and cheese sandwiches. No one thought it was as funny as I did.

There was the time when the alcoholic beverage being used for basting the turkey caught fire. As I recall, the bird was still edible.

This year, for the second time, we were doing the holiday in our Arizona home. Last year, my cousin and spouse joined us from Los Alamos, N.M., and her spouse strongly suggested that he do the turkey. Maybe he had heard about my history of cooking turkeys. But it was a good idea, so the burden was off me, at least for that part of the meal, and among my contributions to the meal was the not-very-good stuffing.

Last year’s cook didn’t make it out here this year, so I decided to go it alone in the kitchen. Armed with a few new recipes, I was ready for whatever came. I admit to having a couple of stand-bys, however: I have the secret to make-ahead mashed potatoes, and make-ahead gravy, which are tested and true. I decided I was tired of making what I joke about having become known as my world-famous sweet potatoes, so found a new recipe with a bacon crumble on the top. Yum.

Next I turned to stuffing. I baked two batches of cornbread the week before and put them in the freezer. If I am going to eat stuffing — not my favorite food — I want it with sausage. This time my newfound recipe was for not only sausage included, but walnuts and an apple. That, too, I realized could be a make-ahead dish, and now I was set to start working on the turkey.

Actually, I did start it ahead of time also. According to the guide I found for turkeys, it had to thaw for five days in the refrigerator. Then I could take it out and put it in marinade, where it could sit, according to the recipe, for up to two days in the refrigerator. It was at that point that I rescued the giblets from the cavity for the make-ahead gravy. The turkey recipe was for lemon-pepper turkey, and it had an accompanying recipe for bacon gravy; I was on a bacon roll. I figured almost everyone loves bacon.

The new recipe I did for the green beans worked out very well. I steamed them early in the morning until crisp-tender, and at serving time reheated them for 30 seconds in the microwave. Then I finished them with sesame oil, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds (my first time toasting them myself!).

I think I set a record this year: there was no perfect failure, not even a bunch of smaller ones like I thought last year. Well, at least there was not one that I recognized or that was pointed out by anyone bold enough to do so. One near-miss was when I was trying to mash the newly-roasted sweet potatoes in the food processor, and the machine died on me. I can hardly blame it, because I bought it almost 35 years ago. It had definitely reached old age.

I didn’t even pretend that I would be willing to fix dessert. When guests asked ahead of time what they could bring, I immediately suggested something for dessert. We ended up with an absolutely fabulous pumpkin pie and a chocolate and whipped cream log. Those leftovers did not last long at all.

If there was a glitch in the meal, I think it was in the size of the turkey we chose. A friend came over the next evening and we had a duplicate of the Thursday meal. We sent food home with her, and then I filled the freezer. Tonight we are having Mexican Turkey Slices and rice made out of leftover turkey, of course a new recipe I just had to try.

It does seem that maybe my record has been broken: no non-recoverable disaster. I think I will buy a new food processor as a reward.