Get ready to bring everyone together, no matter what their political or world view. Food is the best way to connect. Below is my latest article for Worrall Community Newspapers. Happy Thanksgiving!
Now that Halloween has passed, it’s only fitting that we start to consider how we will indulge on this next food fest of a holiday. I am thankful for the fact that we have many culinary options, other than candy, to express our gratitude, love and enjoyment of a day spent with family and/or friends or even just by ourselves.
It would be great if we could simply go to every neighbor’s house, open up a bag at their doorstep and have them drop in an already prepared turkey, a pot of hot mashed potatoes and some pumpkin pies but that’s not going to happen. Instead we will need to channel our inner Julia Childs or Bobbie Flay to start planning the menu, shopping, prepping, assembling, cooking, baking and even freezing if we are getting a head start now.
But what if we don’t have a Julia or Bobby inside? What if all we have inside is a frustrated little voice telling us to order in from Shoprite for the meal we promised to host? What if instead of making that apple crisp to contribute to a friend’s Thanksgiving we make a last minute phone call to the local bakery because we were too afraid to risk making a pie that wasn’t worthy?
If this sounds familiar, it might be a good idea to start thinking about why we procrastinate when it comes to preparing for what should be a fun holiday. Let’s break it down:
Is it who is coming that is stressing you out? Do you have in-laws and friends who intimidate when it comes to the big hosting show? If this is your situation, it’s important to take a deep breath, take a step back and remember that this holiday is about togetherness and not just about the food. Yes the food is important but it is much more important to be de-stressed. But how?
Don’t be a T-day martyr! Make sure to make your Thanksgiving a potluck. My favorite new tool is signupgenius.com where you can create an invite with all of the items you need/want and your guests can fill in what they will bring. One of the reasons I love this is that there is no back and forth with the guests which can be time consuming and sometimes even awkward. If you want 4 desserts, your guests simply sign up for that. If you need 3 vegetarian stuffings and 1 sausage stuffing, that’s what will be signed up for. Few moments in life are more pleasurable than checking out your sign up genius invite and seeing all the slots filled which means you just need to make the turkey! I used to be a “do-it-all” host but I realized that my guests actually wanted to participate and who was I to deny them?
Planning ahead is key. Start preparing pieces of your dishes ahead of time, even weeks before. For example, a rub for your turkey can be created and kept in an air tight container, cornbread can be made and frozen for the stuffing, mushrooms and onions can be sauteed and frozen in preparation for a green bean casserole. Your actual T-day may simply be a day filled with assembling. Set the table days before and make sure your dishwasher, if you are fortunate enough to have one, is empty at the start of the night, too.
Lastly, use paper products! There is no shame in using Chinet! If you have guests that take issue with paper products, tell them you will use real porcelain plates if they do ALL the dishes!
Again, remember that this is a holiday where we aspire to feel grateful for what we have and to share feelings of good will. Don’t let the fears of a dry turkey consume you. If it happens, you will be forgiven. If not, feel free to invite new guests next year.