Bird Is the Word
November 21, 2011
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means one of three things for most Americans:
- You are ready for some football!
- You are taking a nap and doing some extra calisthenics to get ready for Black Friday shopping.
- You are busy worrying about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving bird.
I am a college football fan (Go BIG RED!), so there is nothing special in the way of football for me on Thanksgiving. Also, I have made it a personal tradition to be completely done with my Christmas shopping by the time Black Friday rolls around so that I can spend the day sleeping off all the previous day’s tryptophan.
For me, my biggest November dilemma is number three! I love hosting Thanksgiving in our family. We host an all-day food and fellowship extravaganza. Friends and family come to eat, play board games, and get away from all the other holiday craziness (we don’t run on any kind of time schedule).
Cooking for a large group of people can frazzle even the most experienced of holiday cooks if you let it get you worried. So, here a few tricks that I have learned over the years from my mother that I now take advantage of to make Turkey Day run more smoothly.
- Instead of trying to get one large meal on the table with everything cooked to perfection, switch to serving hors d'oeuvres instead. It is easier to keep a stream of hot and cold mini dishes coming and going in shifts throughout the day.
- Ditch the Turkey all together! I know that sounds a bit sacrilegious, but just do it. Try beef instead, it cooks faster, requires far less attention, and is harder to mess up. It can even go in the slow cooker to leave room in the oven for side dishes, and besides that, a beef roast or crown rack makes a beautiful center piece on a Thanksgiving table.
- Potluck It! Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish, this way you can concentrate on the turkey and not worry about the sides. Despite our worries that this would be seen as tacky, people LOVE to contribute and it makes the holidays less stressful for everyone.
- Try out a new theme. Why not play with Thanksgiving dinner? I realize, of course, this is only for the most adventurous at heart, but who says that Thanksgiving has to be about mashed potatoes and preformed cranberry jelly in a can. Why not plan a BBQ blowout party, a fondue festival, or because everyone loves the day after dinner, you could even host a sandwich bar with leftovers (make your turkey a few days ahead when you have more time, shred it, and supply stuffing and sandwich fillings. Add some potato salad and chips instead of the traditional sides, and you have relaxed feast!)
If you must host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year (either because it is important to you or your guests), check out some of the great books we have in the catalog for preparing your holiday get-togethers with less stress. Try How to Cook a Turkey: and all the other trimmings from Taunton Press...it is one of my favorites.
Just remember to toss in a few games, movies, and time for chatting during your day to help everyone relax and unwind. And most of all, don’t forget to sit around with your friends and family counting your blessing together...after all Thanksgiving is the day to reflect and be grateful.