Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving is Next Week?

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  Somehow the last six weeks zoomed by and I don't even feel like I have accomplished all that much.  I was hoping to stay on top of writing, but that didn't happen.  I was hoping to have a holiday job, but that didn't happen.  I was hoping to get my laundry done this week, but that didn't happen.  (Do you see a pattern developing?)  I would like to think I am this organized person that is always on top of things but I it doesn't always happen. 

Anyway, back to Thanksgiving.  Last year I was really on top of it.  It was my time cooking a Thanksgiving meal.  We had invited six or seven international students over to our house and my mom was coming too!  I planned everything six weeks in advance (Check out the checklist I compiled from the "interweb" last year at the bottom of the page.)

A few days before Thanksgiving, last year, we try and reach the students that will be joining us.  We get one - definite yes.  We try again with the remaining students.  No answer.  We try again...and yep, you guessed it, no answer.  Hmmmm, my six weeks of planning for eleven people quickly dropped to dinner for five.  It was disappointing to say the least.  We had so much food and were so excited to have these students over and they couldn't even let us know they weren't coming. 

Well, we did have one student come and I was afraid he would feel a bit uncomfortable being the only student, but it worked out well.  He stayed for almost four hours!  He played with the family, ate, learned a bit about the piano, and overall we had a nice time.  It was his first time ever having turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie...and he LOVED it.  I guess he still talks about it to the international coordinator on campus, but I'm glad it was a positive experience for him.  (We enjoyed it too!)

So, now to this year.  We will not be having students over this year.  Maybe we will try again in a few years.  It will be another small Thanksgiving with just the three of us and my mom.  I'm not sure why I am not freaking out about not having things ready.  I haven't looked at my checklist until I found it this morning.  A quick trip to the grocery store today and I should be ready.  Thanksgiving shouldn't have to be stressful.  It is ONE meal.  I could go all out and make real mashed potatoes and stuffing OR I can let my friends -- "Mr. Schwan's" and "Stovetop" -- do their jobs and make my life even easier.  What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving dinner items?  My dinner would be okay with just turkey, potatoes, and gravy.  Hmmm...I just hope they still have turkeys left at the grocery store.  

   
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The Ultimate Thanksgiving Checklist
6 Weeks Out
Create a guest list and send out invitations. (Create a list of side dishes that you would like to have. If someone offers to bring a dish, accept the offer. If they don’t offer, feel free to ask.)

4 Weeks Out
Plan the menu.
Order your turkey, roast, duck, ham, etc.
Measure your oven to make sure your turkey will fit.
If you are making fresh cranberry sauce purchase and freeze the berries before the store runs out.
Clean out the freezer.

3 Weeks Out
Assess tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, glassware, serving pieces, pots, pans, etc.
o Dishware: dinner plates, dessert plates, coffee cups and saucers.
o Silverware: polished forks, knives, and spoons
o Glassware: water glasses, wine glasses
o Linens: clean napkins, tablecloth
o Cooking and serving items: roasting pan, serving bowls, pots, platters, trivets, bread basket, sauce boat, gravy pitcher, sharp knives, coffeepot, sugar bowl, cream pitcher

2 Weeks Out
Confirm guest list.
Finalize shopping list. Break it down into what can be purchased ahead, such as canned goods, and what perishables should be picked up closer to the day.
Make the first shopping run.
Make foods that you can freeze: rolls, pie crusts, cornbread for stuffing, casseroles, soups, etc.
Do a test run on new recipes.
Monday
Clean out the refrigerator.
If roasting a frozen turkey, allow 24-hours for every five pounds of meat when you defrost. A 15-pound turkey will take approximately three days to thaw.
Review the menu and make a final shopping list.
Tidy up the house
Make place cards and a centerpiece. (A great activity for children!)
Polish the silver and press the linens.

Tuesday
Pick up fresh turkey, if ordered.
Make the final shopping trip to the store. (Pick up any fresh items at this time: produce, flowers, and any other extras.)
Create a Thanksgiving Day cooking schedule.
Lay out serving pieces and utensils.
Make pie crusts and refrigerate (if you haven’t gone the frozen route).

Wednesday
Wash and prep produce.
Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity and make turkey stock for gravy.
If brining your turkey, give it no more than a 24-hour soak.
Assemble stuffing but do not put it in the turkey until just before roasting.
Bake pies.
Make any side dishes that will refrigerate nicely.
Make sure your camera is charged and ready.
Set the table.
Clear out the coat closet for guests.
Clean the bathroom.
Take any items out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost.

Thursday
Stuff and roast turkey.
Mash potatoes.
Make gravy (if you haven’t done so already).
Warm or bake bread and rolls.
Reheat remaining dishes in the freezer and refrigerator.
Prepare remaining dishes for the meal.
Arrange appetizer platters.
Prepare drinks: heat cider, make coffee, chill wine

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