Friday, November 18, 2011

Tools, Tips, and Techniques: Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving this year?  Here are a few tips to help make your day a success.

Make lists for everything - for shopping, for what to do the day before, and for what to do the day of Thanksgiving.  This will relieve the stress of having to remember everything.  Include even the little things like take the butter out of the refrigerator half an hour before dinner, etc.  Tape or clip the lists somewhere they are visible and easy to refer to.

If your turkey is frozen, make sure you leave plenty of time to defrost it.  Allow at least one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.  For cold-water thawing, allow at least 30 minutes per pound. And don't forget to remove the giblets before cooking!

Now is the time to get out your Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins.  Check that they are clean, ironed, and that you have enough of everything.  Take inventory of other table decorations, candles, etc.

Clean out your refrigerator a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  Eat up or throw out all those leftovers to make room for the new ones!

Set the table the day before thanksgiving, and decide what serving dishes you will be using.  Label serving dishes with post-it notes, so you know what will go in each one.  Put out serving utensils also, allowing a few extra if your guests are bringing dishes.

Recipes often suggest placing your pie or tart on a cookie sheet while baking in case it bubbles over.  This does avoid a big mess in your oven, but unfortunately you end up with a very messy pie dish that is stuck to your cookie sheet and needs to be cleaned up before presenting to your guests.  This Thanksgiving try placing the cookie sheet on the shelf below your pie dish.  It will still catch the drips, but your pie dish will be a whole easier to clean up.

Short of room in your oven or on your stove top?  Put your slow-cooker to good use.  Cook your mashed potatoes, stuffing, or vegetables ahead of time, then keep them warm in your slow-cooker.  You can transfer it to a serving dish at the last minute, or leave it in the slow-cooker insert if you are serving buffet style.

If you have made dishes in advance that need reheating, use a post-it to label the dish with the instructions.  This saves hunting for the recipe at the last minute, which undoubtedly you won't be able to find.  It also means that if things are getting a little crazy at the last minute, anyone offering to help can prep your dish with minimal supervision.

And most importantly:  Remember that the day is not about perfection.  It's about sharing a feast with family and good friends, and appreciating everything we have.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Any other good tips?  Please share :)

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