So here I am, the master of Thanksgiving organization, coming to the realization that I am a little behind the proverbial eight ball. If you are in that boat with me, no worries, there is still plenty of time to catch up.
This kind of looks like me, but it’s not.
This week’s challenge, is to make grocery lists, and then break them down by perishable and non- perishable. Non- perishable items, (defined as those with a long shelf life that won’t go bad, such as flour, canned or packaged goods etc.) should be purchased as soon as possible, to get that chore out of the way. Don’t assume you have flour, or baking powder, just because you always do. Check and make sure you have more than enough. This is not the time for quick jaunts to the supermarket in the midst of cooking. Check, right down to the salt and pepper. You will thank me for this later.
If you are at all like me, break those lists down by store. I go to a variety of different places to get what I need. You may be able to do one stop shopping and skip this step. If so, lucky you! I am legit envious. If you have a car, I’m positively green with envy!
Order your turkey. If you have never had a fresh turkey, please give one a try. It costs more, but the flavor and juiciness is beyond comparison to a frozen bird. And they aren’t factory farmed, injected with hormones, and fed GMO grains. It simply tastes better, is better for you and in some strange way, better for the turkey. I am in New York and use DiPaula Turkey Farms, who have pickup locations at various Farmer’s Markets around the city. I go to Union Square. Local butcher shops usually have them as well but they all require pre-ordering.
Did you get your dishes and linens organized last week? I didn’t either. If not, do it this week. We have a large group and actually had to purchase another folding table to accommodate them. But I haven’ t checked for napkins and chairs yet. Don’t wait.
Are your linens clean and ironed? Turn on the TV or Netflix, pull out that ironing board and do it now. Trust me, you don’t want to do it Thursday. Even better, get someone else to do it now. ( If you live in my house, you know who you are!)
Now for the fun part; the cooking!
I rarely freeze food, but a few things actually benefit from their stay in cold storage. Make them this weekend, and they will be your best friends, ready and waiting when you need them, and don’t have time to make them. These items include pie and tart crusts, which I roll and freeze well wrapped in the pans I plan to bake them in. For my pie toppers, I cut the strips, braids and shapes ( leaves and flowers) in advance and freeze them on a baking tray. Once this stuff is frozen, you can stack them, making room for other items. You can and should, bake these while frozen. It cuts down substantially on crust shrinkage and adds little or no extra baking time.
Biscuits also freeze well unbaked, and are great to make in advnce. Freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then toss them into a freezer bag until needed. These also go into the oven frozen.
This is the one I’m serving. I added a few homemade croutons. Cube the bread and freeze it now!
If you make soups, they also freeze well. If you are planning a cream soup, leave the dairy out until the last minute. Freeze the non- dairy soup, thaw it in the refrigerator, and then once it is heated prior to serving, mix in the cream. I do a butternut squash and pumpkin soup without cream, and then add a dollop of creme fraiche to each serving, It’s an elegant touch, and allows you to really taste the seasonal flavors and not cream. It’s less rich before a heavy meal.
Think about decor. Will you be doing flowers, candles or some elaborate thing with pinecones and gourds? Figure it out now. Buy the candles, bleach the pinecones and decide where the flowers are coming from, and what you will put them in. If you are making placecards, you can do them now. I actually print out menus every year. ( I know, it’s a bit much, but it’s only once a year so why not?) Don’t feel pressured by Pinterest. It’s ok to order flowers, or grab them while you’re in Trader Joe’s. If your is anything like mine, you will be standing in a check out line that snakes to the front of the store, allowing you to pick them up while you’re standing there anyways.
I am off to take my own advice, and get this underway, before the pie orders come in and I’m overwhelmed again.
Next up: Cooking and setting up for the big meal. Get your pre-work done, and get some rest while you can.
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