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Old 11-05-2014, 01:08 PM   #1
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Thanksgiving Planning 2014 | Who's in?

Queue the shark music......

It's coming... it's unavoidable. Soon the holiday cooking frenzy will be in full swing and while it's loads of fun; it's also a little stressful. This year I figure some advance planning might help.

Thanksgiving has always been a big deal at my house - we are the designated "party house" for my circle of friends and family. Thanksgiving dinner is at my table and a large bunch of folks are coming over.

I would love to have a Norman Rockwell day but no matter how good my intentions are, I always fall short. Something goes wrong, burns, breaks, is forgotten or miscalculated. Some years we have equipment failures, one year we ordered a fresh bird and when it arrived late the evening before, it was spoiled, another year we ran out of sage... you get the idea... it's never perfect and I soooo want it to be perfect. Maybe better planning will help. Who's in?

Week 1: Clean out the kitchen and check the gear.
  • Clean the freezer and fridge - finish up those 6 jars of pickles that each have 2 pickles left in them. Make some ROOM!
  • Make sure that we have the proper cooking gear for the event. Large roasting pan, gravy boats, a cork screw that actually works, table cloth large enough, round up folding chairs, etc.
  • Survey the larders. Make sure that the spice bottles are full, that we have all the basic stuff needed to cook, oils, flours, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, leavening agents, etc
Week 2: Menu and invitations, BIRD
  • Figure out what's being served and who is responsible for providing the item. This year I am handing off parts of the meal to friends and careful thought is required to get meal timing perfect (some luck will also be needed). I do my best thinking on the couch with my feet up and a pad of paper...
  • Send out the agenda invitations with instructions for "collaborators" - this is meal by committee. Invitations are going via e-mail - nothing fancy.
  • Buy the frozen bird! Sales are in full swing now.
Week 3: Table, serveware, tidy, 1st round of prep, decorate and MAKE A LIST
  • The weekend before thanksgiving put on comfy grungy clothes, turn up the tunes and get the house together. Set up tables, add table cloths, get out dishes to be used and pre-stage them on the table. ALso get out the serving dishes you need and add them to the table. Just stack em - no table setting yet.
  • Make the grocery list - yes, THE GROCERY LIST - you know the one!
  • Depending on the menu (who's bringing what) make cooked cranberry sauce, pie crusts, chutneys and freeze.
Week 4: Be cool - you have this covered!
Monday:
  • send out an e-mailed reminder to invitees that includes an arrival time and any other instructions they need.
  • Take Bird out of freezer!
Tuesday:
  • Strap on your tennis shoes, take that list and go to the store. Don't forget the bags. Heaven forbid you should have to lug this home in those cheesy disposable plastic bags that hold two items each.
  • Take out for dinner this night
Wednesday:
  • Baking day
  • Chill the drinks - at my house this will be in the laundry sink (bagged ice) just off the kitchen but you might use a a cooler.
  • Unwrap, wash and brine the bird
  • Boil the "parts" and chill down after
  • Set the table - make it sparkle
  • Go out to dinner or have pizza delivered.
T-Day!
  • It's here - wooooo hooo! Sleep in!!
  • Chop the giblets, make the dressing, dress the bird and get it in the oven.
  • Prep other menu items (remember my buddies are bringing most of this so I am on the hook for very little).
  • Plate the butter to be set on the table so it softens. I forget this every dang year and we have chilled butter for the rolls. It will not happen again!!
  • Make gravy and sides.
  • Use cork screw
  • Welcome Guests and stop working!
  • Delegate the rest of the work - put them to work, they want to help. Really!
  • Have fun!
Here's my menu:
  • Popcorn and gingered-cranberry champagne (seltzer version for non-drinkers) (before dinner). We make this in the fire place and I delegate this job to company - it keeps them busy.
  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Gravy
  • Cranberries
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with apples and chestnuts (my house is a no marshmallow zone)
  • Steamed green and yellow beans with toasted almonds
  • Wedge salad "platter" that included radishes, pickles, olives, pickled asparagus etc. a twist on a crudity tray.
  • Parker House rolls - yes, I know this is overkill but they are sooo good.
  • Butter
  • Drinks Wine, tea, water, etc
  • Pies pumpkin, pecan, apple
  • Ice cream Homemade (by a friend) in two flavors, bourbon butter pecan and cranberry

Notes:
  1. No soup on this menu and almost no appetizers - it just takes up valuable stomach room that is better used for turkey and fixins and I don't have 14 soup plates.......
  2. Wine for 14 is costly. Several folks are asked to bring bottles BUT invites include expectations about the flavor.
  3. These items are prepared by others: Pies, ice cream, rolls, wedge salad, wine, Sweet potatoes. Green beans are prepped by someone else and arrive ready to be microwaved IN A SERVING DISH
  4. I appoint two guests (close friends) to be busboys. They are responsible for clearing and stacking dishes as the meal progresses.
  5. One person is made responsible for keeping glasses full, refilling water pitchers, etc
  6. This is a big meal - there is too much food BUT everyone gets to go home with leftovers. They are packed on disposable plastic plates and after the meal everyone can come to the kitchen and pack their own

Do you have plans?

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Old 11-05-2014, 01:20 PM   #2
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Your plan is similar to mine (many years ago and before computers, email, etc.), but it's now just Glenn and me so things are very much simplified.

In fact, yesterday, his daughter who lives about 17 miles from us called and invited us to her home for the big meal. Sounds good to us and, of course, we'll contribute in whatever manner she wishes.

That doesn't mean that we'll be without our own special Thanksgiving dinner. I've never been able to bear the thought of not having leftovers to pick and munch on after the day is over.

So...I'll prepare our own Thanksgiving meal on a very small scale, probably on Friday so we can sail through the weekend. Most all of the goodies but in quite smaller portions.

The one thing I won't do without is setting the table with the good china, glassware, silver, etc. That's one of my favorite pleasures of any holiday.
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Old 11-05-2014, 01:34 PM   #3
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We're heading to my cousin's. She uses the PerfectPotluck app, everyone signs up for what they're bringing. I'm bringing bread stuffing and some wine. I may whip up some gravy too. My cousin always puts out a bunch of disposable containers so folks all get to take home leftovers. Most of the lot are vegetarians and/or gluten free, so it's usually an interesting assortment of dishes.
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Old 11-05-2014, 03:21 PM   #4
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I've already done my major shopping for November. A turkey, as much as I'd like it doesn't have room in my fridge.

I expect that the Management here will have something going, or my friend Bobbie. If not, I may just make a pan of stuffing using anything but white bread, and turkey (neck) gravy, and be happy with that.
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Old 11-05-2014, 03:22 PM   #5
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It's too early for me. Besides, if you do everything pretty much the same, planning isn't as much of an issue. I'll probably buy my stock-making turkey this weekend and carve it up to make stock and some turkey meals for later in the year. That's as far as I've gotten.
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:43 PM   #6
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Last year my grandson cooked the dinner upstairs at my daughter's house. This year he and his girlfriend are doing the whole dinner in their own new home downstairs. They completely remodeled the whole apartment and were insistent that it be finished in time for Thanksgiving. And so it will be a house a housewarming as well as a holiday meal. They want to do the whole meal themselves. Last year it was almost a disaster. They took the bird out long before it was done and there was blood on the tray. I made them put it back in until it was finished. I will be arriving early so I can just sit there and answer any questions they might have. And there will be. But no answers unless they ask. I have never been called Mrs. Butinski.

These two kids did such a good job last year, I doubt they will need very much of my assistance. I do have a surprise for them though. I will be bringing my Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Cookie crust. At Christmas it is the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with an Oreo Cookie crust.

My days of cooking a big family meal are over. And I am grateful. It is time for the next generations to take over.
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:31 PM   #7
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I'll probably roast a beer can chicken or stuff a pork chop. Sides will be Brussels sprouts, mashed turnip and cabbage salad. For dessert I'm thinking about a baked apple or a pumpkin square from the bakery.

It's just me and I'm determined not to load up the refrigerator with all sorts of things I should not eat.

I keep telling myself it's just one meal, just one day.

We'll see!
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:55 PM   #8
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I am going to do a Turkey Breast Roulade with my own bread stuffing, roasted Asparagus, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie. It's just the two of us.
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Old 11-05-2014, 08:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I am going to do a Turkey Breast Roulade with my own bread stuffing, roasted Asparagus, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie. It's just the two of us.
I did that one year. Boned a whole turkey and made a turkey roll with stuffing rolled up in it. It turned out pretty good as I remember.

I wonder if that will go over well with my family.
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Old 11-05-2014, 08:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post
Last year my grandson cooked the dinner upstairs at my daughter's house. This year he and his girlfriend are doing the whole dinner in their own new home downstairs. They completely remodeled the whole apartment and were insistent that it be finished in time for Thanksgiving. And so it will be a house a housewarming as well as a holiday meal. They want to do the whole meal themselves. Last year it was almost a disaster. They took the bird out long before it was done and there was blood on the tray. I made them put it back in until it was finished. I will be arriving early so I can just sit there and answer any questions they might have. And there will be. But no answers unless they ask. I have never been called Mrs. Butinski.

These two kids did such a good job last year, I doubt they will need very much of my assistance. I do have a surprise for them though. I will be bringing my Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Cookie crust. At Christmas it is the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with an Oreo Cookie crust.

My days of cooking a big family meal are over. And I am grateful. It is time for the next generations to take over.
Oooooooh, pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap cookie crust??? I'm salivating!!! I always thought gingersnaps would be the perfect crust for cheesecake.
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