Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming holiday to the novice and the experienced hostess alike. There are so many separate dishes to cook...new recipes to try...food allergies to work around...linens to purchase or iron...a centerpiece...gravy...and a heart full of gratitude to cultivate. While not meant to be an exhaustive guide to Thanksgiving, here are some quick tips I've learned through the years.
- Plain white plates work for every occasion. Add a few seasonally appropriate plates and platters, and presto!...instant Thanksgiving look!
- Grocery shop TWO days ahead of time with a thorough list, but don't be surprised if you have to run back for one or two things. It happens to all of us.
- If you're having guests, ask them to bring something to contribute. I like to ask guests to bring an appetizer and/or something that meets their dietary restrictions.
- The simplest centerpiece is a pile of pumpkins down the center of your table...all sizes and shapes...mixed colors or a single color. We just pull the pumpkins from all corners of the house, and even from outside, and use them afresh as our centerpiece.
- After grocery shopping TWO days ahead, make everything that can stay cold...cranberry sauce, pies, etc. And also, cube and dry your bread for stuffing.
- Need a great, classic stuffing recipe? Click here for the one I love. I substitute focaccia bread for the white bread and decrease the onions just a bit.
- ONE day ahead of time: clean your house, set the table, and make everything else you can cook ahead of time.
- The morning of: get your turkey started, and then find all your serving pieces and their utensils and set them at the ready on the counter.
- My favorite way to roast a turkey:
1. Rinse the bird and clean everything out of its cavities.
2. Stuff the main cavity with one onion (quartered), several cloves of garlic (peeled), and some fresh herbs.
3. In a small bowl blend softened butter with chopped, fresh herbs (sage, flat leaf parsley, thyme), and freshly cracked pepper...no quantities specified...use your best judgement!
4. With your hand, loosen the skin on the turkey breast and smoosh (yes, that's a word...I'm sure of it!) the butter-herb mixture on the meat of the breast underneath the skin.
5. Brush turkey with olive oil, and sprinkle with a smoked salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. Roast on a roasting rack at 325 degrees, basting every 30 mins., until thermometer registers 170 degrees.
- Give yourself some grace to not make everything from scratch. I do this with gravy. It's very low on my priority list for homemade musts.
- Green beans can be blanched, blotted dried, wrapped in paper towels and place in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerated until the final 10 mins. before dinner. Then finish them off on the stove by sauteing in melted butter. (We like them with bacon and onion OR with dried cranberries and slice almonds.)
- Pair turkey with Gewurztraminer. Remember to have a sparkling apple or pear juice on hand for non-drinkers.
- Don't forget the butter dish and the salt and pepper on the table.
- Extend an invitation to people who have no place to go or might be alone...young married couples, military servicemen and servicewomen, the elderly, the newcomers to the area, the widow, the bachelor.
- In our family, the women cook and the men clean up. What a blessing that is!
- Count your blessings! Lots of food to cook means the Lord has blessed you abundantly with wealth and food for your table. Lots of people to cook for means the Lord has blessed you with friends and family. Be thankful!
These photos are from one or two Thanksgivings ago. I hope you enjoyed them! It seems like I have a dreadfully difficult time blogging in November. We actually all gathered last Saturday to celebrate Thanksgiving, because we were ALL able to be together that day. Table surrounded by our dear family and full of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. This Thursday, the three of us are hosting friends for a simpler, more non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. I'd like to promise I'll share those pictures soon, but my track record on November blogging is very poor indeed. But you'll see them eventually!