Friday, November 21, 2008

Peeking Out of the Kitchen

I have today all to myself, kids & Beren are off to their respective school/jobs..ahh...as much as I love my family, I really cherish these days alone in the Castle.

Today I'm focusing on more cleaning, decluttering and a bit of cooking. Thanksgiving is going to be different this year; since Mom is not feeling up to cooking I'll be tackling the whole thing myself, with the help of my immediate family, of course. We're going to take a couple of shortcuts, am not going to attempt Mom's stuffing and since I can't make a lump-free gravy for the life of me, it'll be Stovetop and Pepperidge Farm to the rescue. *blush* I'd like to prepare some of the other dishes in advance to make the day go even more smoothly, came across this timeline which was originally posted on Food TV several years ago. I thought it might be helpful to you all as well. Obviously it's too late to do some of these things (three weeks ahead? Sheesh...) but anyway, here you go:

Thanksgiving Countdown Timeline

Thanksgiving preparations can always be stressful. That's why it's important to
plan
as far ahead in advance as possible. With our helpful countdown tips, you're
sure to
have a stress-free celebration.

Three weeks ahead:

* Prepare your guest list: Firm up how many people will be there.
* Find out if there are any special dietary needs for your guests.

Two weeks ahead:

* Decide on your final menu.
* Assign cooking projects to family members who offer to help.
* Order your fresh turkey, or buy your frozen turkey and put it in the freezer.
* Order or pick up alcohol and other beverages.
* Shop for non-perishable goods now, before the rush. You can buy items such as
flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, canned pumpkin, and fresh or frozen
cranberries.

One week ahead:

* Shop for non-perishable vegetables, such as butternut squash, carrots,
potatoes, parsnips and turnips.
* Buy heavy cream now. In the days before Thanksgiving, it can be hard to find.
* If necessary, wash and iron linen or polish silver. Dig out your turkey
roaster and
platter and any serving dishes hidden away in closets or high shelves.

Three days ahead:

* Defrost. If you have a frozen turkey, clear a space in your fridge and put the
bird
in now.
* Clean the house--enlist household members who aren't cooking.
* If you're having a lot of guests, you may want to set up the table and ensure
you
have enough chairs.

Two days ahead:

* Make pumpkin pies or pumpkin cheesecake, rolls, breads, and cornbread for
stuffing. Refrigerate pies; you can always warm things up again before serving.
Don't
make apple pie, however. The crust won't stay flaky and crisp.
* Make things that can sit for two days in the fridge such as soups and
cranberry
sauce.
* Prepare items such as sweet potato or green bean casserole, which can be
stored uncooked in the refrigerator, to bake on the day.

One day ahead:

* Set the table. It's easiest to do it now.
* Do any remaining baking, including that apple pie.
* Buy your salad greens and perishable vegetables. Wash lettuce leaves now, dry
well, and store by packing them in paper towels in a plastic bag in the
refrigerator.
* If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up from the butcher.
* Calculate your cooking time for tomorrow and your cooking sequence. Figure
out what time that turkey needs to go in with our famous Turkey Calculator, the
Turkeylator.
* Figure out what can't be cooked along with the turkey in the oven, either in
terms of temperature or space. Plan to prepare those things before or after the
turkey
is done, or on the stovetop while it's cooking--or, better, make them today.

November 27, Thanksgiving Day:

First off:

* Prepare stuffing for the turkey, plus extra to cook on the side.
* Prepare your vegetables for cooking--clean, peel, and chop. Cover the ready-
to-go vegetables and put them in the refrigerator. Boil potatoes for mashing
later.

Cooking time:

* Stuff the turkey and get it in the oven according to the schedule you
calculated
yesterday with our Turkey Calculator.
* Just before the turkey's done, begin cooking vegetables.

While the cooked turkey is resting:

* Put a foil tent over the turkey. You now have about an hour to do the
remaining
cooking.
* If you have a pan of stuffing on the side to bake, put it in now.
* Warm whatever needs to be warmed, including rolls, soups, and casseroles.
* Mash the potatoes.
* Make the gravy.
* Put all the food on the table or buffet. Don't hesitate to press guests into
service
to put food in bowls, open wine bottles, top up glasses, and dish up the
cranberry
sauce.
* Get a plate and eat! Don't spend the meal running back and forth to the
kitchen
and end up missing out on the Thanksgiving feast you created.


2 comments:

Susan said...

Hey, M ~

I *love* Thanksgiving - gobble, gobble (in all definitions of the word... :-)

I ordered my hormone- and antibiotic-free turkey this year through the food co-op - will be having lots of fruits and vegetables purchased from them as well.

Found a great chocolate cupcake recipe over at Gluten-Free Girl, one of my favorite blogs (although I'm not gluten-intolerant) because of her stunning writing as well as the recipes - yum!

http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/is-this-your-first-gluten-free.html

Mother of Invention said...

It is a lot of work isn't it? I had Thanksgiving this year (In Oct. here) and also Christmas to come! Yikes! I make dressing (stuffing) in the crock pot to save mess and time for cooking turkey. Everyone loves it.

Have a great Thanksgiving!