Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Timeline for the Big Day

I wrote this out a few years ago, cause I like having a time line to follow.  I still do this.   Last year we had a whole buncha people in for T-Day, but I actually did what I said I would and followed my own timeline.  The only caveat here is this:  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE TURKEY IN THE FRIDGE TO THAW EARLY.

Did you know it's almost Thanksgiving? Yup, it snuck up on me too.   I know it happens every year at this time and for some reason, I always get surprised.   Christmas does that to me as well.  It sneaks up on little padded feet and goes WHOOO HOOOO I'M HERE!  just before the big day.   Scares the bejeesus out of me. 

At any rate, before I totally lose my train of thought or it gets derailed permanently, I wanted to share a few hints.    Just stuff I've learned over the years.

1.  Make a list, of dishes you're preparing, how long they take to make and portion out your time accordingly.  This year I'm not hosting, I'm going to go and join a community potluck, but if I was home here's how my list would look.   And since I'm a one man band in my kitchen as well as a master juggler, my list is a little different.   If you have help, exploit them.  Otherwise...

Monday:  Put turkey in fridge to defrost.  Panic when you realize you may not have a big enough turkey, oh wait, that's me.  Sorry.   I like to make an extra turkey breast so I can make sure I have enough white meat for everyone.  Make a list of all the dishes you're preparing and check the pantry to make sure you have it all.   Make a last minute grocery list.   Go to the store. 

Boozy Cranberry Sauce
Tuesday:  Pull out all the serving dishes and make sure they're clean (especially if you only use them once a year and someone else did the dishes, you don't get any surprises this way.  Make Boozy Cranberry Sauce .

Wild Rice Stuffing
Wednesday:  If you have room in your fridge, and you're making the potatoes, yams, or other baked veggies, make them the day before.   You can always reheat yams or sweet potato casseroles or mashed potatoes.  If you're baking pies, do them the day before.   You can also make my Vegetarian Stuffing the day before, it tastes so good the next day, in fact it tastes better the next day.

Or if you insist on making the stuffing on Thursday, chop the celery, onions, carrots and put them in baggies.   Toast the bread cubes for the stuffing, it'll keep overnight just fine.   
You can also set the table if you have room to do so, I don't so, I wait til the last minute.

Thursday:  Check the list you made and assign a time value to everything you do.  Like this;
Depending on when you plan to serve the meal, you may want to modify this list.   I usually plan on 20 minutes a pound for the turkey, with a fudge factor of 30 - 45 minutes.     A twenty pound turkey takes about 4-5 hours, 
7 am   Take Turkey out of fridge
7:30    Take prepared veggies for stuffing out of fridge.
8 am    Have a cup of coffee, go over lists 
8:30    Peel and cook potatoes, mash them, stick them in a crock pot or the fridge so you can reheat them later on.  I use my crockpots, a lot. 
9:00  Make stuffing while potatoes are cooking. 
Put the turkey in the oven at any time, so it will be ready and have time to rest before carving and eating time.   You know when you've got the meal planned for.
If you're like me and didn't have fridge space, this is when you go into hyper mode and get the rest of the veggies prepared.  

12 noon   Set table, clean up disaster area, AKA kitchen.

2 pm  Nap or lay down for 20 minutes, breathe, read a book, relax.  Trust me on this, take at least that amount of time for yourself.  It really helps.

3 pm  Shower and change, put a large apron on, to protect your clothing.   Check Turkey temp and PANIC cause the temp is too low, then realize you didn't put the thermometer in far enough.  Push it a little further in, until it is in the thickest part of the joint between the thigh and drumstick.   If the turkey is browning too fast, put an aluminum tent over it.  Helps it to cook just a tad faster as well.  Watch that little pop up timer too.   And don't panic if the turkey is done before you're quite ready.  Just tent it with some aluminum foil, and put it back into the oven, after you've turned the oven off.  The bird will stay warm.

4:30 pm.  Take turkey out of oven, make the gravy, brown the stuffing, let that poor bird rest for at least 20 minutes while you get all the last minute stuff together.    Carve, serve and pour yourself a large glass of wine cause you made it, and the food's all done on time and your guests are hungry and ready to eat.  

5:00  Sit down and eat and enjoy yourself and don't forget that pat on the back, you survived another Thanksgiving countdown.   And don't forget the wine.   Go ahead, pour yourself another glass, you deserve it.
Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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