Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Hi world — sorry for the clear lack of posts these last few days.  I’ve written a couple, but just never posted them for some reason or another.  I have this great wordpress app on my blackberry, but it is hard to put links and photos in and so I keep holding posts for media and forgetting about them.  Perhaps I should just accept that I am more successful as a low-tech blogger?  I typically can type out a pretty fantastic post about nothing during my morning commute and send it out to you before I go in the tunnel at Union Station.  [i hate you, red line, and your never-ending delays.]

Something big is happening this week — Thanksgiving!  I’m cooking this year for the second time, but it is much more pressure because my husband’s parents and brother are coming to eat with us.  Usually when it is just me and H, I blame any messed up parts on him.  That’s going to be harder when people are watching!  But, I don’t plan on having any mess-ups because I’ve been working hard to plan out what we are eating and get as much advanced prep work done as possible so I can actually hang out with our family while they are here.

The Menu

Turkey. I’m combining my mom’s classic recipe with this one by Giada and hoping for a delicious turkey.  Last year, H said my turkey was one of the moistest turkeys he had ever eaten, so that is a good start.  :)

Dressing.  We do NOT eat stuffing in this family.  We are from the South.  With a capital “S.”  And we eat dressing. [H would disagree with this whole-heartedly and he nearly always calls it stuffing, but lucky for me he is the one person that I know never reads my blog.  So, I can totally make family rules here.]

Cranberry Sauce.  This is a new one for me — I prefer the jellied version from the can, and I even like to keep it in sliced rounds to showcase the beautiful can-shape.  But H wants to make fresh, so we are going to make our own.  And there is definitely a can of jellied cranberry sauce in the cabinet just for me.  Because I don’t like lumpy bits.  But I might save it for the leftovers so I don’t have to share.

Sweet Potato and Honey Rolls.  This recipe is awesome.  I made them about three weeks ago and froze them in ziploc bags.  So now, all I have to do is take them out of the freezer, brush them with egg wash, and bake them for 20 minutes.  I did a test run last week and they are literally delish.  I think I’ll stir up some honey butter to go with them.

Green beans.  I mean, you can’t get anymore Thanksgiving than cooking down green beans.  I love them plain with butter and salt/pepper, cooked for about an hour or so and super soft.

Sweet Potato Casserole.  This is H’s grandmother’s recipe and we made it last year.  It was my first time ever eating sweet potato casserole and I have to admit, it is kind of delicious.  I spent the first 24 years of my life avoiding sweet potatoes.  Also onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  What a terrible mistake. I’m working hard to make up for lost time now.  Oh, and this casserole has coconut and pecans on top instead of mini-marshmallows.  That’s right, awesome.

Smitten Kitchen’s Mom’s Apple Cake.  It is dynamite.  I made a test run for my work Thanksgiving dinner and even though I had some trouble with the first product, I know the final results will be fantastic.  The cake is completely delicious, but I put too much batter in the wrong-sized pan and had to overcook the bottom to get the center done.  But, since I am never one to give up, I just sawed the bottom of the cake off and took it to work midget-style.  And everyone loved it.  I think I’m going to change it up and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan this time, because it will be easier to slice and cook faster.  But, I’m still working this out — if I don’t make it in a big beautiful pan, we won’t have a big beautiful dessert!  Is that bad?  I could put it in a bundt to make it cuter, but then it won’t have the apples on the top.  Or I could just go buy the tube pan she recommends using, but do we really need another pan?  I can’t decide.

Berry Spice Pie.  That’s right, berry pie.  No pumpkin pie (which I was totally going to make and have all the ingredients for, but H doesn’t want), and no pecan pie (which I don’t really like and wastes requires about $10 worth of pecans).  We are going berries.  Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cinnamon and nutmeg cooked up in a homemade crust.  Delicious. I’m using Barefoot Contessa’s food processor pie crust recipe and I watched this youtube video to learn how to make perfect crust-edges.  Apparently, the secret is tucking the crust hangovers up under to give about a 1/2 inch tall edge all around before shaping with your thumb.  I’ll try to post a photo for you when I get the pie made.

The Prep

The key to having a safe, trouble [and fire] -free Thanksgiving is to plan ahead.  I know that our kitchen is tiny, so I’m trying to limit the number of things that have to be done in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day.  That way we can spend time together outside of the kitchen while we wait for our turkey to cook.

Before our Thanksgiving guests arrive late on Wednesday night, I will do the following:

1.  Bake cornbread and chop the veggies for dressing.  On Wednesday night, I’ll stir up the dressing and stick it in the fridge so I can pop it in the oven Thursday when the turkey comes out.  If you are also doing this ahead of time, don’t forget to pour a little extra chicken stock over the dressing on Thursday morning to make sure your liquid has not been too absorbed.  Dry dressing is not okay.

2.  Make cranberry sauce.

3.  Make the pie crust, and then the pie.  I”m doing this on two separate days so I won’t be too tired after working all day.

4.  I’m also going to cook and mash the sweet potatoes before Wednesday, so we can just pull a baggie out of the fridge to start the casserole.  Thus, we’ll only be stirring with no added cooking for that entire dish.

5.  Baking the apple cake.  It gets better over time, because the apples and the cake mellow together.  So, I’m going to get it done Tuesday night so it has all Wed. and Thurs. to marry the flavors.

6.  Finally, on Wednesday night I’m going to prep my turkey.  Except for buttering the skin, I’m going to stuff the bird and put the butter under the skin and everything.  I’ll take the turkey out of the fridge at 8:00 am and let it sit on the counter until 8:45, when I’ll stick it in the oven and jump-start the morning of cooking.

But, most importantly, I’m going to stay flexible and not worry.  If I don’t get around to baking pies this week, then I’ll bake it on Thursday.  If I don’t prep the turkey early, I’ll just wake up a little earlier and do it on the day of.  Because I already know how to make every single thing I’m making, last-minute change-ups are no big deal.  And, if things go terribly wrong, we’ll have a frozen pizza in the freezer and we have a pretty fantastic Chinese restaurant down the block.

Best of luck to you as you plan your own holiday meal.  If you have any cool tricks or suggestions, you know I would love to hear them.

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5 Comments

  1. I am totally with you on the dressing thing. I don’t understand stuffing.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jen! Stuffing is boring and weird. Dressing is delicious. I usually make double what is needed and eat leftovers for about a week. :)

      Reply
  2. You are like amazing. I just go to my aunt and uncle’s and make them feed me. I finally starting bringing something (sweet potato casserole) just last year. :)

    Reply
    • Haha. Well, thanks! I don’t feel amazing — I feel a little intimidated — but I’m also kind of excited. I love Thanksgiving, and I think that the more things I ruin the better the stories will be for the next twenty years. That’s true, isn’t it? I’m banking on that. So, when I’m all old and awesome they can all say “Remember the first time MB burned up that turkey and ruined Thanksgiving and we had to order Chinese takeout?”

      Reply
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