Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: Minus One Day

Turkey Day is tomorrow which means only one thing… PANIC!!! Unless, of course, you’ve done your homework.

The big day doesn’t have to be stressful if you do as much ahead of time as possible. The day before Thanksgiving is perfect for baking pies, making cranberry sauce, even getting your stuffing ready to be baked if you are so inclined. My husband has decided to make a pumpkin and his famous chocolate pie, so I will make the crusts using the same recipe I’ve used for years but with a little alteration I did recently when I made an apple pie that made that crust amazing. Yes, sometimes I surprise myself with just how good I am.

Now with the cranberry sauce, I typically make this a day ahead to allow it to cool and congeal slightly, but in a pinch can be made the morning of if, say, you decide to whittle away today by being lazy. Or, in my case, cleaning dog pee and poop from the carpets again after weeks of having no accidents. Frakking dog. Grrr. Something tells me she won’t be sleeping in the living room tonight. Also I will probably be making the Bacon Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing and Apple Sausage Stuffing today as well, which will give both of these dishes time to soak in all of the flavors. By prepping these ahead of time, all I will have to do is slip them into the oven after taking out the turkey. Of course, a little foresight is required in that these both will cook best if brought up to room temperature ahead of time, so I need to remember to take them out of the refrigerator at least a half-an-hour before, if not an hour.

With the gravy you’ve got options. Personally, I prefer to make the gravy using some of the drippings and the juices from the turkey. However, if you don’t, make it ahead of time and reheat it before serving. Just remember to use less thickener than you normally would as it will thicken significantly during cooling. And nothing says you can’t have two gravies, especially if you like to make giblet gravy and have guests who are opposed to such culinary delectableness. Mmm… giblets.

Lastly, go ahead and set up the dining room table. It may not seem like an important thing to do ahead, but with all the busyness bound to happen tomorrow, why not do as much ahead of time as possible. If you don’t have any decorations, don’t worry. A small vase with a few branches from a tree and some dry leaves from outside are both simple and free and this time of year quite abundant. Besides, with the table already set and ready, it will surely give your guests a true sense of being welcome for dinner. Okay, so I’m blowing smoke out of my ass right now. I just think a set table looks pretty and allows me more time to mingle and less time worrying about where everyone is going to sit.

By spreading out the load you can make the day as stress-free as possible. That is, assuming, that all hell doesn’t break loose.

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