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Old 11-07-2005, 11:38 AM   #1
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My most feared Holiday - Thanksgiving

I hate Thanksgiving, I hate the turkey, I hate the mashed potato, I hate the gravy … Well, of course not I love all of that the day it self, the food, the company, But here is my problem.
I am not a well organized person and when it comes to parties, I can never get it on time. Either everything is still cooking when guests already arrived or everything is getting called because I prepared everything too early. Maybe early is not too bad if only I new how to keep everything warm and not to overcook and still taste good. Mashed potato is horrible if you put on oven to keep warm. Turkey may dry out; okay turkey is not the worst thing. And the gravy is my biggest problem. I can never, and I mean never get any gravy or sauce right. It’s either too lumpy, or too thin, or to dry or doesn’t taste good, or too thick…… HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The day is coming, please help.


Not sure, what forum it belongs to.

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Old 11-07-2005, 12:07 PM   #2
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Charlie, I think everyone is overwhelmed when it comes to a huge feast like Thanksgiving.

Perhaps start by making a list of what you want/your menu...or just the basics:

The Bird
Cranberry sauce (if you want it)
Potato dish
Veggie dish
salad and rolls (if you want it - storebought rolls are okay too)
Stuffing - can be made separately a day ahead
Pies - can be bought and kept in fridge with ice cream
Coffee - if you like

Keep it simple, and stick to the basics. There is always too much food on Thanksgiving. Most important, allow yourself time to relax and sit with family and friends.

P.S. You can always assign guests (who want to bring something), a dish you'd like at the table...salad, rolls, soda/beverages a veggie dish. Ask them what they're bringing, or convey what you would like.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:18 PM   #3
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Charlie, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself. Thanksgiving is quite an undertaking for most of us. I do as Mish suggested making lists, preparing whatever is possible ahead of time. Several side dishes can be prepared except for baking and that done the last few minutes (or however long it takes to cook them) I do ALL of my desserts ahead of time. If someone wants something else, they'd better bring it. I have one sister who is notorious for always wanting to make a new dish when the ovens are full, the burners are full and she comes up with something to try out. I just say "no way" bring it cooked or come early. No last minute stuff. We don't have cooked breakfast on Thanksgiving morning either. cereal, bagels, whatever, or "hurry on down to Hardee's" - but nothing cooked except coffee and plenty of that.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:19 PM   #4
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I agree with Mish!
Delegate. Let your friends and family help!!!
Relax. The food is important but visiting with family and friends is more so.
Also...get as much prep work done a head of time as you can. Chop veggies,
set tables, chill wine, grocery shop. Every step taken is one you don't have to worry about.
Keep things simple. Simple is good.
And most important... HAVE FUN!!!
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:26 PM   #5
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I never care how hot the food is on Thanksgiving. There is always so much that it would be impossible for it to all be hot by the time it hits your plate. Most veggie dishes are great at room temp. Turkey is good at room temp. Stuffing is great at room temp. Heat the gravy just before serving and that will help heat the turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Don't sweat it Charlie. Your guests will just be thrilled to be spending the time with you. No one will care if something is not piping hot
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:41 PM   #6
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Charlie, just think of it as any dinner, main dish, accompaniments, and if you have time, some favorite traditional recipes.

GB, I quietly disagree - "I never care how hot the food is on Thanksgiving."

No one, or I, don't want cold or room temp food. If I was served cold or room temp food when it should be served hot, I would not eat it. Do you want cold turkey and cold mashed potatoes --I don't and neither do your guests. The microwave will help with heating dishes up. Pies/ice cream/salad/rolls, don't need heating. Again, keep it simple.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:45 PM   #7
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The way that my family has always done it, makes it much easier on the person hosting it. The host only does the turkey and maybe a dessert. The rest is doled out to the rest of us to bring. It all makes it so much easier for everyone and we have fun together instead of rushing around trying to cook in one kitchen. Most things can be made ahead of time. For the dressing, my Mammaw makes it the day before and brings it with her and puts in the oven to cook and then the only thing that goes in there is the rolls.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mish
Do you want cold turkey and cold mashed potatoes --I don't and neither do your guests.
LOL I never said cold. That is quite a different story. Room temp or warm food, however is fine on T-day. If my host served me room temp food I would graciously accept it, after all the holiday is about being thankful.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:53 PM   #9
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First Thanksgiving

My mother in law and exhusband's relation were all in the food business. They surely should have known if something is not right when they taste if or more important smell it. To this day, I will always remember the smell because I couldn't figure out back then that something didn't smell good. I was the one who prepared the turkey and brought it to the house because I never had dining room table for so many people. Everyone sat down to eat and they sure did. I asked couple of times if anyone noticed that something didn't smell right? No, no, they all said it was fine. As years progressed, I learned the durn turkey was rancid and they didn't say anything! They all ate it! This really bothered me but knowing how they feel about throwing food out they would rather take the chance of getting sick than throwing away food. I was so stupid that I had never had something rancid before. My mom would have told me to fix something else. She wouldn't have eaten it. I won't ever forget that smell or the memories that go with it.

As long as you are preparing a meal for someone who truly cares about you, I wouldn't worry about t he meal itself. If they are friends and you go through effort of inviting them, just be happy you are together. If something doesn't smell right don't eat it. I wish you happy Thanksgiving and knowing that being together is the most important. Count your blessings. I sure do!
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:12 PM   #10
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Worse comes to worst, Charlie, you can always use a jar of gravy. I know that will offend some, but if it makes life easier for you, then I say go for it! Just have it poured into a pan ahead of time so no one sees the jar and heat it up at the end when you have folks setting the table or busy doing other things for you. I'll admit I've done this in the past and no one's ever complained!

Like others have said, write down your menu and then take a look at what you can make in advance and write that, down, too. If you want to post your menu we'd be more than happy to help you put together a time line for it.

Don't worry--you'll be just fine!
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:22 PM   #11
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Okay, thanks for the support, but let me ask you the practical advice. How to keep mashed potato warm, and the recipe for the gravy, I can never get proportion between flour and liquid right? Help me out.
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:35 PM   #12
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Charlie:

Put the hot mashed potatoes in a glass or SS bowl covered with foil or plastic wrap. Put the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. You could also use a crock pot to keep the potatoes warm.

For gravy, figure two tablespoons each of fat and flour for each cup of gravy.

Remember, the gravy will thicken more if you make it and keep it warm. You may have to add some more broth to get the right texture just before serving.

Also keep in mind that the gravy will thicken a bit as it cools. So you may want to make it a little bit thinner and it will thicken by the time the gravy boat is passed around the table.
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:38 PM   #13
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Or if your gravy gets too thick then you can just invite me to dinner. I like it thick enough to pick up with my fingers
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:49 PM   #14
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Too keep my potatoes warm.. I just leave them in the pan that I smashed them in. Pile them all on one side so there's less surface area. Oh and keep the lid on. Also, if I add milk to them I warm it first. They are not perfectly hot but even after a half hour or so they are ok. The hot gravy on top helps too.
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Old 11-07-2005, 02:53 PM   #15
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Here is a recipe for butterball turkey gravy. Not from the butterball turkey site, but the recipe sounds good. Also, if your gravy is lumpy, use a whisk, and if that doesnt work, use a colander/sieve to get the lumps out. I usually put the flour in a fine colander and sprinkle a small amount at a time to the pan drippings. As for your mashed potatoes, you can start to boil your potatoes while the turkey is "resting" after removing from the oven.

http://www.discovergames.com/gravy.html

Hmm, this link seems to be very slow, but just do a google search for turkey gravy, or butterball turkey gravy.
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:05 PM   #16
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I'd use a stick blender to get rid of the lumps.

If you make a roux with the fat and flour, then add the liquid, you won't get lumps.
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Old 11-07-2005, 07:40 PM   #17
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Charlie - here's my two cents' worth: I totally agree with pa baker! It's OK to use jar gravy. You can buy turkey gravy...and if you want, you can add the giblets (cut up) and a bit of broth from your turkey to give it that "home made" touch. The most important thing is to enjoy your guests. If you're relaxed and having a good time, so will they!
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Old 11-08-2005, 09:20 AM   #18
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This may sound odd, but if you can put together a good gravy, you can get away with bloody murder on the bird and potatoes. It's the hardest thing to do, I'm told (Mom taught me how to make gravy when I was 10 years old). If it is hot and tasty (use every cheat known to mankind ... to me the most important things are Wondra flour and rubbed sage) you'll be forgiven anything. And yes, the jar of gravy will work if you add a pinch of sage to it, and maybe a touch of garlic and thyme. As long as it is hot (And yes, the microwave oven is the answer). And yes, listen to everyone. Delegate, delegate, delegate. I've made Thanksgiving dinner for 30 years, and always tell people: I make a 20-pound bird, stuffed with sage/bread stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. If you have a regional specialty or something YOU like, by all means bring it. For example, I love sweet potatoes, but never fix them for company. I've tried home-made cranberry sauce and loved it, but found that most of my guests actually prefer the can. When I've lived in the south, freinds have insisted they have to have corn bread dressing! Great! Bring it! In Hawaii, someone always brought ahi sashimi, and I was thrilled! Don't take on more than you need to, and don't try to live up to someone else's expectation. Thanksgiving is my husband's favorite holiday, and one of mine. (OK, so I like them all). I once was expecting a dozen people for dinner and had something like 25 show up. This year I have no idea. The opposite is happening ... I was expecting a half dozen, and they're cancelling out as their kids take priority. It may just be me and hubby. That works, too! We'll just have the shrimp cocktail I might not bother with if I had the dozen or so!
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Old 11-08-2005, 09:28 AM   #19
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One thing that can really be a problem is having too many dishes. I like to have a traditional meal with the dishes we absolutely love and save the others for another time. My mom seems to think you should have everything anyone ever liked on that day and it ends up with so many things on your plate you don't really get the enjoyment of the basics. She also wants to have every dessert known to man and to me that is a real bummer. I suppose that is the reason I've always enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving more. Whatever someone brings, I insist they take the remainder home leaving us only the basics and that we really enjoy. We actually savor the flavors of the bird and the trimmings.
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Old 11-08-2005, 09:36 AM   #20
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licia:

It's part of my sister's Thanksgiving tradition to have way too many dishes every year then complain about the fact that, "no one ate anything, what am I going to do with all this food?"

It's nice that we can have these traditions for our holidays.
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