Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plans for the Holiday?

One of my favorite comedians, Bill Cosby, tells the tale of the worst spanking he ever received from his mom:

"And tired" always followed sick. Worst beating I ever got in my life, my mother said, "I am just sick..." And I said, "And tired." I don't remember anything after that.

Funny, right?! And so true. . .

Well, I am a different kind of "sick and tired" this week. Peanut has had the off-again, on-again cold in her system for the past few weeks, and up until this point, I've been lucky to not catch that bug. . .up until this week. Yep. So, for the last few days, I have been sneezing and coughing and blowing my nose until I look like Rudolph. Yep. It's my own fault, she's so cute that I just kept kissing her, germs and all. Yep.

So now, even though I am nearly over the worst of it, I realize that I have very little to blog about today. Almost no knitting, a tiny bit of crochet (but it's super-secret for-the-holiday-type-of-crochet), and a LOT of just resting. In fact, the most strenuous exercise I've done this week has been pressing buttons on the remote. . .and my shoulder is a little sore from that.

But Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I promised a recipe.

Well, this is not an actual recipe for a dish. It's more of a recipe for The Feast, the few days before, and all the preparation that goes into a traditional turkey dinner. This is a picture of an article I clipped from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, back when I was a young wife, in 1987:

The actual date may change from year to year, but the plan remains, and I pull it out every year to help me remember when to do what so that my Thanksgiving dinner will be perfect (or nearly so) for my family.

As far as pictures of articles go, this one is pretty clear. Still, you can't see that back page, so here are the highlights. These are the things I try to get accomplished on a timeline the week before Turkey-Day (most are directly from the article, some are Pretty Knitty additions):

3-4 days before Thanksgiving:
Make room in the fridge to thaw the turkey. Figure 5 hours for every pound of weight, e.g. a 15 pounder will need 75 hours (3 days plus 3 hours) to defrost in the refrigerator. (This is the best and safest method, don't consider any other.)
Determine cooking time (at 325 degrees F) for your turkey. An unstuffed, thawed turkey takes 15-18 minutes per pound; for a stuffed, thawed turkey, allow 18-24 minutes per pound. **Pretty notes that a turkey cooked in an oven cooking bag takes significantly less time, consult the box for instructions, temperatures and times.
Prepare sauces and relishes that you can cover and refrigerate (cranberry sauce, for example). The flavors will develop and mingle nicely in the fridge while they wait for the holiday.

The day before Thanksgiving:
If using giblets in the gravy or stuffing, simmer them with the neck until well cooked; let cool and refrigerate. (It makes sense to get this done ahead of time.)
Bake cookies, pies and breads. **Pretty loves to make homemade breads and pies from scratch, and she likes to do that before the oven is all turkey-scented!
Added by Pretty
- Put the giant tub of whipped topping in the fridge to thaw (because, while you CAN use it frozen, it's definitely better not frozen).

Thanksgiving Day
Wash the turkey inside and out, dry thoroughly. Do not let sit at room temperature for more than an hour.
Make the stuffing. You can do this later if you are cooking the stuffing in a casserole dish.
Preheat the oven. Stuff and place the turkey in the oven and start timing.
Set the table completely.
Pretty adds - plan what dishes go in which serving bowls and label each with a little slip of paper. . .this will help your family to help you later, trust me!
Cook any recipe that can be done completely or partially ahead (potatoes, casseroles, etc.). These can then be baked or reheated for serving when the turkey comes out.
Prepare any vegetables that need last minute attention.
When the turkey is cooked to 180 degrees, remove it from the oven and let rest for the most hectic 20-minutes of any cook's year.
While the turkey rests, it is vital to delegate responsibilities: bake the biscuits and casseroles, mash the potatoes, finish the vegetables, make the gravy, place everything in serving dishes and have serving utensils ready. Show off the turkey and then carve it.
Take a deep breath, give thanks for it all and eat.

Oh, and I have one little addition to the end of that list. . .

After you have eaten, and the table is semi-cleared, enjoy your family some more. The dishes and the laundry from the day will still be there when everyone goes home, so sit and play games and laugh. . .maybe even knit a little in between turns at Monopoly.

Are you ready for Turkey Day?

Knit in Good Health!

1 comment:

  1. Yay for super secret crochet! Hope your are feeling better!