Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 96 Happy Thanksgiving!!

Had a great dinner tonight! I did things a bit differently this year: I prepped ahead.

Seriously: I am the one who normally starts off well in the morning, and as the day wears on, my timing starts to slip. I run out of room in the oven, and start scrambling to figure out how to juggle what needs to go in, what can come out and hold for a bit, what needs to go in at the end, etc.

And in the middle of all this, I am struggling to get things assembled and into the baking pans, pots or whatever. The kitchen slowly deteriorates into a disaster area, despite my attempts to "clean as I go".

By the time I get around to making the gravy (usually one of the very last things), my sink will be piled high, I am juggling 12 things at once and something didn't get started on time.And when I finally sit down to eat, I'm so exhausted I can barely eat.

But not this year.

This year I decided (ironically at the last minute on Wednesday evening!) to prep ahead. I got the troupes into the kitchen to start helping with the cutting and peeling and stirring.

For starters, we have an enclosed porch on the back of our house. It's generally about 5-10 degrees warmer than the outside air, so when it's freezing outside, the porch is generally in the 40's. We put up the table out there as a staging area for the assembled food.

Altogether, we got these things done ahead:

Potatoes (for mashed) peeled/cut/in the pot and covered with water, lid on, and stashed on the back porch.

Turkey thawed, rinsed, and soaking in a brine of water, salt, sage, marjoram, bay leaves, thyme, and pepper. Bag tied, and placed in the covered roaster that it would be cooking in today. Stashed it in the garage (on a table) where it was about 35-40 degrees through the night.

Steamed the green beans, assembled the green bean casserole, covered and stashed on the porch.

Cut/sauted all the stuff for the stuffing: onion, celery, apples, sausage. Mixed it all up and made stuffin' muffins, in the tins, covered with foil, on the porch.

Sweet potatoes in the pan...but undecided on what to add, so I set those aside, unfinished.

Corn in the microwave dish, covered and ready.

Cheesy potatoes: onions sauted, everything mixed and spooned into baking dished, covered in foil, on the porch.

I debated on making a salad. It ended up being only four of us, so given all the other stuff, I decided that I'd skip the salad and save it to make on the weekend. When there is all this other stuff to eat, my family tends to skip the salad, and then I just end up with this big bowl that takes up too much space in the fridge. No salad.

I bought a pie this year, so no baking to worry about.

This morning I got up, drained and rinsed the turkey, replaced it in the roaster with salt, pepper, sage and thyme, a couple onions in the cavities, and away it went. Set the timer and sat back for a couple hours. They I preheated the over and started adding things according to a time schedule I made this morning. Things went in on time, things came out on time, the turkey "rested" as it was supposed to do, and got carved and covered with foil, the gravy was finishing as the croissants came out of the oven, and when we sat down, EVERYTHING WAS HOT!! And I wasn't exhausted!!

Woohoo!!! I think I discovered a secret! Well, maybe not a secret, but definitely something that had been lost on me for a long time: plan ahead!!

By the way, THANKS!!! ALLAN!! The brine suggestion for the turkey was awesome!! Absolutely AWESOME! Everyone said this was the most moist turkey I've ever made, and that the gravy was the best as well!

And on my plate this year: turkey (no gravy), sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, one croissant, stuffing, corn. I skipped the mashed and cheesy potatoes. No pie. I was full but not stuffed, no seconds, and I felt comfortable the rest of the evening.

All in all, a successful Thanksgiving dinner!

I hope you all had a wonderful day as well!

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