Friday, October 12, 2012


     Well, it's getting to be that time of the year again. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I have now cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the last nine years. Each year it gets a little easier. Cooking Thanksgiving does not have to be a traumatic ordeal. It likely still will be, but I am about to regale you with several handy tips that have proven extremely useful in my Middle Class Kitchen. These tips may save you a few bucks, your sanity and possibly the lives of your guests.

Set the menu in advance
Figure out what all your side dishes and desserts will be and stick to that menu. Make your list of ingredients and stick to it. You will not be needing anything else because of the next step.

Set your guest list in stone
Know who's coming well in advance. You have a vegetarian relative come in from out of town at the last minute? Too bad. They can get a nice salad at Denny's. You're not making special dishes at the last minute.

Hold out for a sale/giveaway on turkeys
This is a yearly tradition. Usually if I wait long enough, I can find a grocery store that will give you a 12-15 pound turkey if you buy $50 in groceries. You know damned well you're going to spend that much on ingredients so just wait. Contrary to popular belief, no store is going to run out of turkeys.

Prepare as much as you can ahead of time
We do a number of dishes that can be done a day or so in advance. Most casseroles will hold up just fine. Rolls can even be done days ahead and frozen.  Get those pies done the night before.

For the love of all that is holy, give the turkey enough time to defrost. Don't be that person soaking a frozen bird in a sink full of hot water. A completely defrosted turkey is important.

Especially if you're deep-frying it
And while you're defrosting, don't forget to take out the baggie of spare parts. I actually managed to forget and leave it in there while the bird cooked. No harm done. I think.

Keep your family out of the kitchen at all costs
I don't care what you do to keep them out of there. They are going to want to help and they must not be allowed to do so. Send them away. Let them watch a parade. If they enjoy watching large college students run into each other on television, have them do that. Just keep them out. They'll want to make slight adjustments or offer advice.

Manage the clock
Figure out how long each dish will take to cook. Make a little chart. Put in the dishes according to the chart so they come out all at once, or close to it. You'll thank me for this tip some day.

Just used canned cranberries
Nobody has ever said how great the home-made cranberry sauce was. Just open the can and dump it out. One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is that cylinder of cranberry sauce with the can ridges still in it.

Keep a couple of bottles of wine handy. Maintaining a nice buzz is critical to making it through the Thanksgiving dinner prep. You say you're starting cooking at 9am? Great! Zinfandel is a great accompaniment to bagels and cream cheese. Plus, if you're half in the bag, you're much less likely to stab an in-law in the head with a carving knife!

Good times!

1 comment:

  1. haha - your sense of humor clearly carries you through the holiday season. Thanks for stopping by our Happy Holidays Link Party - be sure to join us again this week (beginning on Saturday at 7 pm ET) and every week through the holidays.