Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 101

Thanksgiving morning is the beginning of a non-stop go, go, go kinda day. The day before - Wednesday is a great day. I have the day off from work and have a chance to get some Christmas shopping done. Some stores had a two day special (Tuesday and Wednesday deals) before the "Black Friday." This was nice. No one was in the stores... love that! All the food prep is done on Wednesday and the last minute cleaning of the house. With kids destroying rooms right after you put them together, Wednesday late afternoon and evening is the only time to really set things up for the Thanksgiving celebration. Now, I have found in my older days as I open packed holiday items - such as Thanksgiving display items, I can not remember how they were displayed? I did not decorate fro Thanksgiving last year so I was totally surprised by some of the items I had accumulated. (A good thing and a bad thing). So Thanksgiving 101 tip number one: Photograph your displays. Either pack the pics with the items in the box or keep a notebook and put them in their. Maybe with your checklist.
Thanksgiving morning, up at the crack of dawn making my pies. I made the Pumpkin Pies, my sister-in-law made the Pecan Pie and purchased the Apple Pie from Apple Farms in San Luis Obispo. She also made a Pumpkin Crisp. Which basically is a graham cracker crust with a layer of pumpkin, some roasted walnuts on top and a layer of homemade whip cream on top of that. She uses the Trader Joe's Heavy Cream. Do not use the kind from the supermarket. Once you use the Trader Joe's kind nothing else will do.

And speaking of Trader Joe's - we also buy their Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Orange Sauce in a container. It simply is the yummiest and helps alleviate the task of making the sauce yourself. Too many other things to do... We used the Cheesecloth Method of cooking our turkey this year. We heard this keeps the turkey moist and makes for a crispy coat. Not sure if we were sold on this. David did not like the skin as much. Maybe he should have removed the cheesecloth earlier... But it looked nice and yummy!
We watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Always fun to have on as we bump into each other in the kitchen. Turkey has to be in the oven! Five hours cooking time! Twenty four people will arrive before the feast at 3:00pm.
I saw a Thanksgiving Trivia Quiz on the Internet, and thought how cute to type these up and place randomly on the three tables. This way guests who did not really know each other had a way to break the ice. Plus trivia is always fun.... gets people talking!Thanksgiving 101 tip #2.
Fresh flowers on the table always add a nice touch. We had gone to an event for my son's school over the weekend and took the centerpiece at the end of the night. The flowers were red roses sprinkled with sequined picks. I bought a floral arrangement for $3 from Trader Joe's, simply cut the daisy flowers down to size, pulled out the red roses and inserted the daisies into the green floral sponge and "wallah" a centerpiece! That is Thanksgiving Tip #3.

Thanksgiving Tip #4 is photograph and archive displays and the menu. I always take a pic of the food on the table so I know what we served. I had guests bring appetizers since we used both ovens I did not want someone bringing a side that needed to be baked. They included Crostini with Trader Joe's Pico de Guillo, Baked Brie with a Cranberry Walnut Chutney, Artichoke Dip, and various Cheese Rounds.
Thanksgiving Tip #5 - Invite guests who like to do dishes and have hand lotion available at the kitchen sink and in all the bathrooms! Your hands get so dry from washing dishes. I like Bath and Body Works lotion. Soft on the hands and not greasy. This day I am not kidding we were at the sink doing dishes all day long! We kept saying "Didn't we just wash this?" Andother tip is to cook using good cookware. Good cookwear heats food evenly and cleans easily. Check at my husband's web site for some great cookware! We use All Clad, Le Creuset for the casseroles and Shun knives. I can honestly say every guest who has helped in the kitchen LOVES these products and ends up ordering some for their own kitchen investment. They are pricey - but well worth it!!!! You only need to buy these items once in your lifetime. And they cook your food more even and the dishes clean so easily. It is amazing! Check out his site and create a "Wish List" for yourself this holiday. You will be glad that you did. These are awesome and Tip #6!
All that work for just this? Turkey, Stuffing, Home Made Gravy, Honeybaked Ham, Homemade Ham Glaze, Grilled Polenta, Yams with Marshmallow Topping, Asparagus Spears with Chopped Bacon, and a Corn Souffle!
Tip #7 is quite simple. Have a Christmas Movie ready to watch as no one has energy for touch football after dinner. Plus it is dark outside. I purchased Four Christmases. It just came out on Blue Ray on Tuesday. The girls watched this hilarious (absolutely hilarious - or maybe it was all the carbs and drink that made us think so) but we laughed so loud! The boys played Texas Hold 'Em in the other room.

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