When I was in my early 20s and living in my first apartment I made my very first Thanksgiving dinner. I wasn’t allowed to bring anything substantial to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration (“Sure, you can bring some rolls. Bring the ones from Costco, they are so good.”) so I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday before Thanksgiving and inviting my friends over. There are certain dishes (cornbread stuffing) that I have made every year since that very first year.
Cooking this dinner has always been a several day event for me and I LOVE IT! But, it has changed since I’ve had kids. For three years I was either pregnant (food and I were not friends during my pregnancies) or I had infants. I just didn’t feel on top of things those three years. And when I feel a level of incompetence it starts to snowball for me.
Last year at this time I was finally in a better place. Our move had provided a nice big kitchen space and I had company coming to stay with me for the holiday. I got on top of things and made a list of all the dishes I planned to make for the big dinner and then I listed EVERY ingredient (and supplies such as cheesecloth and parchment paper) that I needed to make that dish. In the past, I made lists just of what I needed to buy but then I would run out of, say, butter … because everything for Thanksgiving dinner takes butter! This way, I could calculate how much of everything I needed. But here is the best part. I STILL HAVE THIS LIST. I now have a single location from which I can make this year’s grocery list. I don’t need to pull out every recipe and sort through it all again. All Done!
As I’ve been reading blogs on the web, I’ve noticed a few helpful links that I thought I would pass on to you:
- There is quite a bit of prep work that I can do even now, a week ahead of time. For instance, I can make pie crust. My go to pie crust is the one from Closet Cooking but Amy, over at MomAdvice, has put up a nice tutorial.
- Thanksgiving is over for Canadians but one of my favorite blogs, Simple Bites, has a great list of how to prepare for Christmas (less than 6 weeks away). She has several make ahead meal ideas on it to get her through her busy time. Since I am having company for Thanksgiving, there are several of these I am planning borrowing, namely, her onion soup base.
- I recently met Jyll Everman at a cooking demonstration at a friend’s house. Jyll is a local chef/caterer but you may know her nationally as a finalist from season 7 of Food Network Star. She has a podcast giving advice on all aspects of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.