I thought I would do something a little different this week and keep you updated on my preparations for Thanksgiving. Sort of a day (or four) in my life as I prepare the big dinner for my family. That way, as we count down to Thanksgiving, you can see how I get it done and maybe get some tips.
Now I do have a small family: my son, my daughter, her husband, and their adorable 7-year-old son, my husband, and myself. We won’t count the two ginormous dogs that will be making their presence known at every opportunity.
Still, I make almost everything myself. This year is the first one that I have caved and bought a ready-made vegetable tray and a pumpkin pie. My daughter lives in Michigan so she isn’t able to offer a lot of support until the actual day.
I’ve been a little frustrated this year. My husband has been having some stomach issues and has decided on a keto diet for him. I’m happy to accommodate because I have Celiac and have to eat gluten-free so I know how hard it can be.
I’m not frustrated by him in particular, but I have requests for 3 kinds of potatoes: mashed, a recipe from Chrissy Tiegen that we made last Christmas, and “grandma’s orange potatoes “ which are just mashed sweet potatoes. Note: we used the recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings. The link is what I found online. It calls for Prince Edward potatoes. We used plain white ones.
So here it is:
- Deviled eggs – in my opinion, these are an Easter thing, but I’ve been outnumbered
- A veggie tray with dip
- Brined and roasted turkey
- Cornbread dressing – I forgot to grow sage this year, so store-bought it is. The sage, not the dressing. And absolutely no sugar in the cornbread!
- 3 kinds of potatoes mentioned above
- Southern-style green beans. These involve bacon, good chicken broth (not that water in a can), and cooking for at least an hour or two.
- Cranberry sauce from a can. I’ve done numerous recipes in the past: the one with fresh berries and oranges, and a wonderfully different one with wasabi, but no. They want the can
- Keto pumpkin pie
- Pumpkin cheesecake muffin things
- New York-style cheesecake with berry topping
- Pumpkin pie from Costco
It’s All About the Prep Work
I think I wrote a post about it before, but I think that starting a little holiday notebook is a fantastic idea. I mentioned that I had done one for vacation and it makes sense to do one for each annual event. You’re not starting from scratch every time, plus you have an idea of what worked and what didn’t.
Early last week I made chicken soup, and as I was chopping the vegetables for it, I thought, why not chop extra for the dressing? I was doing carrots, celery, and onion, so I chopped extra of the celery and onion. Since the celery was looking a little sad, it made good sense to use the rest before it went bad.
And while I was cooking, I threw some butter in a pan and sautéed them too. Once they were cool, I put them in a container and stuck them in the freezer. They’re in the fridge now, thawing out and waiting to go into the dressing.
Since I have a couple of new recipes this year, I did a test run to make sure they were OK. My gluten-free dinner rolls did not turn out as expected, despite tweaks to the recipe. However, since they were on the crumbly side, I now have extra bread for my dressing.
This Week’s Schedule
So I have my little notebook for Thanksgiving complete with stickers and watercolor touches. Totally unnecessary but fun. Adding too much watercolor will prevent your pens from being able to write over it, as I’m sure you know. (Insert rolling eyes here. I may be the only person with a Thanksgiving notebook, let alone one who watercolors in it.)
Prep work was due to start Tuesday, but since I have some time and energy, I’ll start tonight, Today was the dreaded trip to Costco. I’m an introvert by nature and Costco before a holiday – well, I tried to be on my best behavior. And I took my anxiety medication when I got home, which I should have done before.
So here we go:
- Wash a load of towels
- Freshen quilts for the bed
- Make berry sauce for the cheesecake
- Make cornbread
- Possibly boil eggs
- Make desserts: keto pumpkin cheesecake muffins, cheesecake, keto pumpkin pie.
- Make a dip for the veggie tray, unless the one that came with it is gluten-free.
- Bake potatoes. I read that you could bake potatoes instead of boiling them, then scoop them out and make mashed potatoes ahead of time and just reheat. I tried it and it worked beautifully. Last year we used the Instant Pot for the potatoes and made them the day of and that was easy too, but a bit messier. I may do that for the sweet potatoes though.
- Make the Chrissy Tiegen potatoes.
- Make the brine for the turkey so it has time to cool.
- Make the mashed potatoes from the baked ones. I have found that a mixture of Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes works best. One year I had gluey potatoes because I had only used one kind and had beat them too much.
- Touch up the house and change the sheets. My mother was from the south (both parents were) and I was taught that the best room always goes to guests. That includes my daughter and her family. They get the master suite, which makes it easier on them with their son, but I have always done that, regardless. My husband and I take what most would call the guest room. So, the sheets in the master get changed. The guest room is cleaned and sheets changed after we use it, so it’s ready to go.
- Heres a quick idea of how I clean: first and foremost – let your cleaners do what they were designed to do – clean. Spray them on and wait at least 5 minutes or more to let them work. Spraying and wiping right away defeats the purpose and makes more work for you.
- Also, I am a clean-as-you-go person. Keep wipes or spray cleaner and paper towels in all of your bathrooms. It takes a few seconds to spray down the sink or even the toilet and then wipe it down a few minutes later. Then you’re always in a state of clean. Those deep cleaning days won’t take any time at all this way! (P.S. – I had to take a bathroom break while writing this, and noticed the toilet needed a little attention. The cleaner is doing its thing while I’m writing! 🙂)
- Mopping the floors and maybe some dusting will get done today too. I loathe mopping, but when I found out I can empty my good sized kitchen and mop it in less than 30 minutes, I don’t mind it so much.
Thursday – Thanksgiving
- The turkey will be pulled out of the brine, rinsed, dried, and put in the roaster. The brine means no extra seasoning, but I do add a few pats of butter under the skin and rub it down with olive oil before it goes in the oven. We always use a digital thermometer to make sure it’s done.
- At some point early in the day, the dishwasher will be unloaded. I usually do it before or after breakfast. That way we can load as we go. Sometimes I need to run it before the meal and then empty it before dinner.
- As we approach dinner time – usually around 3:00 or 4:00 – my daughter will make the deviled eggs. She may decide to fancy up our veggie tray too.
- A few hours later, I’ll start the green beans. I like them to cook an hour or two.
- I’ll start the dressing before the turkey comes out. Just mix the cornbread, bread, sage, eggs, and lots of good broth. If I don’t have homemade, I use Better Than Bullion with water. Better than anything in a can! I put the dressing in the oven about an hour before the turkey is done.
- Everything else will just need warming up.
- After the turkey has come out of the oven, and it is turned off, I will put the pumpkin pie in the oven just to warm it up for after dinner. I usually wait a bit, so it’s not going into a hot oven.
I just want to mention clean up quickly. Big meals like Thanksgiving end up in big messes. It’s enough to make you want to turn out the lights and wait until tomorrow to clean it up.
Here’s what I do instead:
- I try to have the dishwasher as empty as possible before we eat.
- Everyone in my family knows to put their dishes in the dishwasher when they are done.
- I have learned (because I have timed it more than once) that cleaning up my kitchen on Thanksgiving day takes about 20-30 minutes tops. Even by myself. That makes it easier to just jump in and do it.
- And finally, you must read this post from Yvonne at Stone Gable. She is a multi-talented lady, but her ideas about cleaning up after a big party are genius! I especially like the dishpan rule.
I had intended for this to be one of several posts this week so I could give you an update each day.
But since I just kept writing, I think it would be easier in the long run if you follow me on Instagram. That way I can take quick photos, share what I’m doing, and you can join in on the fun!
I hope to see you there.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!