Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Cooking

I love to eat.  I love to cook. I love the holidays because you can cook your entire repertoire of recipes if you have a big family.  We have a smallish family but I still cook almost every dessert in my bag of tricks.  For an average Thanksgiving I will cook about five pies and a cake for six people.  Then I will wonder why everybody was so hyper as my kids drive off leaving a trail of crumbs behind them. 

I’ve cooked probably 80 holiday meals in the last forty or so years, if you add up all the Thanksgivings, Christmases and Easters then subtract the times we ate at Beaven’s parents' house.  For some reason I’ve always been the holiday hostess but I’m not complaining because I absolutely love it.  It satisfies both my love of control and food.  By cooking the meal I get both wishes.

Here is the way I plan a big sit-down meal:
  • Start at the finish:  get out all the serving and warming dishes first.  Put post-it notes to say what will go inside them.  Then work backwards: 
  • This is where  everyone will sit
  • This is where the food will sit while we eat 
  • This is what I will keep it warm in,
  • This is what I will cook it in…do I have enough burners or room in the oven?  
  •  what do I need to buy?
  • Do I have time to sell this house and buy a nicer and bigger one?

The turkey is the bossiest food you can invite to the dinner.  It takes up the entire oven.  Plan on this and cook around it.  Remember that you can also cover the turkey in foil and hold it an hour.  This gives you just enough time to cook the dressing and roasted vegetables.

Put the rolls into the oven about the time you start calling everyone to the table.  It will take 10 minutes to get everyone seated.  Say the blessing and by the time you say “amen” the rolls will be ready. 

You will forget something and find it in the refrigerator the next morning.  Get over it.

Other tips:
  • Those big turkey roasting pans can be used to keep the dressing warm if the turkey is hogging the oven 
  • Mashed potatoes will stay perfect in a slow cooker set on low. 
  • Put the gravy in a coffee carafe. It keeps it warm and you can even pour from it.
  • Buy a new can of baking powder and sage every November.  You probably haven’t  used any since last year at this time and it’s out of date.
If the weather is cold  you can use the outside BBQ grill as an alternative refrigerator.  Remember to keep the lid on it or critters will eat your stuff.

PS- be very careful what you put down the garbage disposer.  It’s not designed for potato peels or celery strings-- that sucker will stop up in a heartbeat and all the plumbers are out at their deer lease.

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