Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's see if I can do this twice

National Blog Posting Month starts this Sunday. I signed up last year and did manage to post every single day in November.

This coming November looks to be a little bit busier than last year. Thanksgiving dinner is being held at my house for the first (and, if I go completely mental over it, maybe the last) time. There's a bit to do to get ready -- stuff I kept putting off all summer, knowing that I really needed to do it and also knowing that I need a deadline breathing down my neck before I can kick into high gear. I'm already feeling a slight twitch around the eyelid when I think of all the stress to come. So I probably shouldn't be wasting my time trying to post every day in November.

I just signed up to do it, though. What's that old saw? You want something done, give it to a busy person (*Juvenile snicker* I almost typed "busty person." I crack me up. It's not very difficult to do, as you can see).

So anyway, come! Watch me lose my mind in November. It should be fun. Or informative. Or something.


Just Me said...

Well, good luck with NaBloPoMo and with Thanksgiving dinner.

Rule No. 1: Accept offers of help.

If your sister wants to make the sweet potatoes or Mom wants to bring a favorite dessert or some such thing, pounce on the opportunity. All kitchen help, from stirring food, setting the table, pouring drinks, or washing dishes, is welcomed.

We're all a little bit fussy when company comes. Thanksgiving guests are family first, and they're not going to point out any housekeeping flaws the minute you step out of the room. If you forget to clear that cluttered table by your spot on the couch, nobody's gonna care. Don't sweat the small stuff, right?

(I do, I admit, sweat my refrigerator. My fridge is always in a state of nasty stickiness, and I don't want my father to gag every time he fetches a beer.)

Rule No. 2: Look at every dish you plan to serve and cook what you can in advance. The reason casseroles are popular is because they can be made ahead and hold well. My favorite cookbook, The New Best Recipe, includes make-ahead notes for certain dishes, i.e., "X can be prepared and refrigerated up to three days." This frees up valuable time on the big day.

Take a look at your stuffing, too. A lot of that can be prepared ahead. It won't stop you from the labor-intensive duty of baby-sitting a turkey, but it might spare you a 4:00 a.m. start to the day. As an example, I prepare my stuffing in advance in two parts I call the wet and the dry.

For the dry, I chip the bread (I don't use the bagged pre-cubed), toss it with the seasonings, return it to the bread bags and freeze. The "wet" part mainly consists of celery and onion sauteed in butter and cooked/drained bulk sausage. Once it's all cooked, I mix it together and freeze that as well. It all comes out of the freezer the day before, so all I need to do on T-Day is defrost & reheat it and add the cooked & minced chicken liver before tossing it with the bread cubes to stuff the bird.

Many people swear by a written timeline of what to prepare when so they aren't pulling their hair out in clumps on the big day. The plan can start a week or more in advance, including notes on what serving dishes/utensils you plan to use and any shopping lists.

You could, if you wanted, expand the timeline to include those not-so-everyday household tasks surrounding the comfort of overnight guests like fresh linens and extra towels and hiding any early Christmas gift purchases or projects.

I'm not one for filling up Thanksgiving guests on chips and dips and spoiling their appetites for all my hard T-Day work, but with your first dinner, it can't hurt to have some celery and radishes for folks to gnaw on in case you run behind.

It seems like a daunting task, but I bet you'll pull it all together nicely and everyone will enjoy themselves.

Hotch Potchery said...

That was great Thanksgiving advice!

--V said...

That is some good advice. I think I'm gonna try that with the stuffing.

Mom's coming a day in advance to help. My sister just told me she's bringing her in-laws [insert small heart attack here]. I may just tell her they aren't allowed in the door unless Mrs. S. makes that yummy sweet potato and cranberry casserole of hers.

I hope they enjoy themselves, or at least have the decency to lie to my face and tell me they had a good time.

And the freak-out begins!