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November 2012

Thanksgiving Preparation: Stage Two

Because of the use of the formal dining room as a school room, we'll be eating our Thanksgiving dinner in what you might term the breakfast area. But it's larger than one of those. It's the center portion of an open plan that extends from kitchen to living room. And we will have three guests, so I want the kitchen to be as neat as possible, so I'm doing more work than usual ahead of time. Here are the items I plan to accomplish today. I will share pictures in this post later on

Make cranberry sauce. And possibly a cranberry ice. I have a lot of cranberries. 

Tear up bread to dry for stuffing (dressing.) I always do that the day before. 

Make pie crusts for three pies. We don't need three pies and one of our guests is bringing a fourth but this is my pie day. I planned ahead for it. I also have to thaw the pumpkin puree I froze last month, and the soup I froze last week for lunch tomorrow. We don't eat Thanksgiving dinner for lunch; we eat it for dinner. Though it will be a bit early this year.

Assemble all my serving dishes and also storage containers for leftovers. And organize the refrigerator which should have been done before now but wasn't. And get the whole house clean, of course.

Create the Plan. It's the same plan as every year, but will be adjusted to finish an hour earlier. The Cincinnati Enquirer has a great Thanksgiving Day cooking plan on the front page of the Style section today; if you want to see it, let me know. Mostly what I do is get up about 8, putter about, (part of the Plan,) make pie filling and bake those. This year I'll first go to the store for fresh flowers. 

Usually I cook the cranberries next, but since those will already be done, I'll turn my attention to appetizers. I bought a lot of crescent roll dough to make something with. Haven't decided what that something is. Then prepare the dressing to bake, and boil the sweet potatoes. Usually I put the turkey in at one and it cooks for 3.5 hours, but I think I'll put it in around noon. Then I normally rest but I don't know when company is arriving tomorrow so that might be cancelled. After the turkey is out, I put in the now-whipped sweet potatoes and dressing, cook the green beans and make the gravy.  Set it all out and then heat the rolls. I've never had to be flexible about this, but this year I will need to be. Stay tuned.


Thanksgiving Preparation: Stage One

I am preparing dinner for only five again, sigh. 

Still I like to go at it as though there are seven to twelve people, instead, as there often has been. It's my thing, you know, that I do each year. Actually, I am preparing enough for seven this year, as there's a slight possibility of guests.

I haven't decided on the turkey question. Going to look into that later today. The boys also enjoy duck on Thanksgiving, but for just five of us that seems a bit much, so I've sort of half-promised the youngest boy a splash-out duck dinner for Christmas, though I have never been one to spend Christmas in the kitchen.

So. Last month I cooked pumpkin and froze it. Yesterday, I bought six bags of cranberries for $1.29 each from the scratch and dent department at Jungle Jim's, and stuck them in the freezer. I might buy more next week. You can keep them frozen for quite awhile and do all sorts of things with them in addition to Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I have emergency roll-out pie crusts in case something absurd goes wrong when I make pie crust on Wednesday. Those are good to have, anyway. You can make a quick quiche with them, or cut them up and stuff them with things for hand pies. 

This weekend I'll make chicken stock for stuffing (dressing, really,) and gravy. My Thanksgiving gravy would make you weep with pleasure. I need to pick up a bottle of sherry for it, because the one I have here is too sweet and also pricey to just be adding to gravy.

I have dinner rolls in the freezer. It's the one thing I never make from scratch for the holiday meal. The store makes them better than I do. I also have soup in the freezer for Thanksgiving lunch. I made two soups recently; split pea and butternut squash, and just stirred the leftovers together before freezing. (I tasted it to make sure it was good that way and not just weird.)

This afternoon I will order sweet potatoes and green beans from GREEN B.E.A.N., to be delivered Tuesday. We have gone over who likes what in the stuffing (the only other adventurous stuffing eater will be in New Jersey, sigh,) and are narrowing down the pie list.

We eat our Thanksgiving dinner around 5 pm, then I make whipped cream and we have pie around 7 or so, with the fire lit and music playing. I get out the tangrams or we play Apples to Apples. 

Yes, I also donate to food banks at this time of year as well as other times of year. But this thing I do, for my family, for myself, it's one of the few solid traditions I've been able to create and hold onto. It's the richest day of the year for me.