If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you might be aware that I adore Thanksgiving. Any holiday dedicated to a week’s worth of cooking that is devoured in about 20 minutes makes my heart go pitter-pat with delight. I mean, come on, I have an entire Category on this blog dedicated to Thanksgiving. There is just something about the marathon aspect of Thanksgiving, the countdown to the big meal, the planning, the recipe sorting, the shopping, the secondary shopping, and the “oh, crap I forgot to get (insert item here)” shopping and then an entire day of being she-who-rules-the-kitchen.
I probably inherited this love affair from my grandmother–she loved holidays and all the planning and cooking. She would set her table a week in advance, changing it around until it met her exacting standards. Of course it helps to have a formal dining room (which she did and I do not) but even if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out the dishes, the platters, and the serving pieces ahead of time to have them all lined up and at the ready. Table linens can be pressed and hung in the closet.
As for the meal, I start sorting recipes about a month ahead of time. Oh, there are the givens that I have to serve to my he-man household: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie. But in between those, I have a little leverage to try out some new sides that will then star at Christmas dinner–having run the gauntlet through the Thanksgiving tasting panel. I’ve even been known to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner at the end of the October as a training run. You know, you can’t be too prepared for these things.
This year I am keeping things simple. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it all, but instead of cramming it all into Wednesday and Thursday, I’ve already gotten started. Tomorrow I’ll bake the rolls and tuck them in the freezer. I’ve made some cookies, at least the dough, which I will bake off closer to the day so the kiddos who don’t like pumpkin pie have something to nibble. Same with the pie crusts. Those can be mixed ahead and thrown in the freezer. The cranberry relish (one bag of fresh cranberries and two oranges run through a grinder, and 1 cup of sugar to taste) will be made this weekend. It does well in the fridge and if I hide it far enough in the back, the large mice disguised as the DH and older hero-in-training won’t find it. I’ll grocery shop from one list early Monday morning and avoid the crowds.
I make it all sound so simple, and after 20 years of doing it, you would think it would be, but honestly it will still be chaos. Another thing I inherited from my grandmother–I envision it happening so effortlessly and so beautifully. You know, like a Hallmark card or a Rockwell painting.
And while on Thanksgiving the house will fill with that wonderful turkey aroma, the halls will be echoing with the less than loving refrain of “get out of my kitchen now” and before dinner we will all give thanks for the blessings in our lives. And that I didn’t kill anyone in process.