Everything you will read in a newsletter will start out with “It’s that time of year again.” Well, it definitely is that time of year, again! Whether you live in the northern states and can tell it’s fall due to the changing of the leaves, or you live in the southern states and every store you go to seems to have completely forgotten about summer already and is pushing you to buy as many holiday products as you can fit in your car. Whatever the case may be, you are probably already thinking about that Thanksgiving celebration. Here are a couple of things to help you make your month as easy as possible:
1. Save yourself a headache and start to integrate your Thanksgiving shopping into your weekly shopping. Get a list of as many non-perishable items (canned products, spices, baking supplies) and pick them up throughout the month. You will notice that you have more opportunity to plan your dishes and organize your kitchen accordingly.
2. Plan your dishes ahead of time. There are a few things on your dinner menu that can either be made a day in advance or prepped a day in advance to save you more time. Some items, such as pies, can be prepped the day before and held in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake.
3. Organize the layout of your house so that everyone can be in multiple places and not crowded around your kitchen. So many people want to help you prep or cook and, like most people, you don’t have an industrial size kitchen that can hold a staff of 50. The best thing to do is section off different parts of the house to keep everyone busy with hors d’oeuvres, games or even staging areas for dishes. This will help for those guests of yours that have the “must help” attitude.
4. Turkey not done or turkey too done. Simple fixes from a lot of top chefs will start out by telling you to not use the thermometer that comes with the turkey. Throw that thing away and make sure you get a thermometer that is meant for poultry. The ones that come with the turkey will tend to go off or “pop” too late and make your turkey overdone and dry. Remember that turkey is like steak and it will continue to cook even after you remove it from the oven.
If you happen to overcook or undercook your turkey do not fret! Overcooked turkey is simple if you cut and pour some chicken broth over it to “juice” it up. Undercooked turkey just takes a little bit of time in the microwave and no one will know the difference.
5. This last tip is all about making the clean-up much easier. For some reason everyone wants to help in the beginning and help you make a mess but they always disappear once they have full stomachs. The way to make things go a little smoother is to have a transition period in between courses. Serve some tea or coffee in between the main dish and dessert. You will get some helpers following you into the kitchen and it will also give you some time to clear dishes, load the dishwasher and make room for the dessert.
Above all, planning will always make things easier but having fun is always the key ingredient to a happy Thanksgiving!