Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving - 2013 Blueprint

{last year's turkey in progress - named David Hasselhoff for his golden physique}
We're one week from Thanksgiving and I am in major planning mode. We're hosting again this year and while I'm usually the one who does most of the cooking, I am working long days Mon - Wed of next week so Flavio gallantly volunteered to do most of the labor. (He's a great cook but I'm not sure he realizes how much work this actually is? Eek! But I'll be home in the evenings to help, if needed.)

My Thanksgiving planning usually involves a paper system with lots of notes and scheduling which I decided to partially transfer to my blog this year. It will be convenient to look back next year for reference without having to keep a bunch of stained recipes in a binder. But also, I love how Thanksgiving planning is a little snippet of life, something personal to me, and I want to record it here for that reason, too. This is not to say I don't still love paper planning. In the 1960s, my Grandma Mary mailed handwritten family recipes around to her seven children and they are treasured family heirlooms - Is there anything more personal than the handwritten notes someone has recorded about the food they've made? And for my birthday this year, my friend Chris baked his family's pumpkin roll and then sweetly passed the dessert and the recipe on to me. These are the most special gifts. Anyway, I digress. Some old fashioned paper planning and some newfangled digital age blogging for the Thanksgiving Blueprint this year - with most of the instructions to be passed on to my saintly husband.

The following may not be helpful/interesting to anyone but me, but here goes.


Cider-Brined-And-Glazed Turkey (the best recipe - I have made this for years & won't use another)
Apple, Sausage, and Parsnip Stuffing (outrageously good - Flavio hated stuffing until this recipe)
Mashed Potatoes - Flavio's mom is bringing
Yams - Flavio's mom is bringing
Cranberry Sauce - buy pre-made at Trader Joe's
Clinton Beans aka Green Bean Casserole with Gruyere and Criminis
Dinner rolls - my mom is bringing
Double-Dutch Mac and Cheese with Chard
Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream
Apple pie - my mom is bringing
Wine - red, white, sparkling - various guests are bringing
We're thinking it might be fun to do a signature cocktail this year? Maybe a Spiced Dark & Stormy (!)


I hit up three stores for groceries and I try to get all my groceries in my fridge/pantry by Monday.

We do Whole Foods for their free range turkeys.

Trader Joe's for butter, whipping cream, eggs, Italian sausage, cranberry sauce, green beans, macaroni, cheese, Crimini mushrooms, chicken stock, bread, organic pumpkin, spices, and wine.

Then Vons for parsnips, celery, sage, sundries and gladware - if you're hosting, it's a nice touch to have extra gladware to pack leftovers for your guests so they can go home with goodies, and you don't have to worry about trying to get the containers back.


I make a short list of things that need to be done for each dish and when I plan to do them. For example, I like to dry my breadcrumbs for stuffing and make and freeze my pie crusts on Monday, finish all chopping on Tuesday, make pie fillings and bake on Wednesday, etc. I cross the tasks off as I go. These are most of the tasks I'll be leaving to Flavio.


Because we have one smallish, single oven, this dictates when dishes can be put out. I make an oven schedule worked around the turkey roasting time. Since the turkey needs to rest at least 30 minutes, I try to have him out of the oven right before guests arrive. As soon as I pull him out, I pop in two dishes - usually I bake the stuffing and re-heat the mashed potatoes, then warm the mac & cheese, Clinton Beans, and the dinner rolls. It's all kind of hectic - you don't even know what I'd do for a double oven.


Before doing anything else, set your table. It will calm and focus you. Read more on my table-setting reasoning here.


Get your turkey in the oven early and start the day with a breakfast focused on relaxation and light eating, i.e., mimosas and a yogurt parfait. This is so cheesy, but I always spend some time before guests arrive thinking about why I'm grateful, and before we eat, we each say thanks. While I love the gluttony and family time, my favorite part of this holiday is the chance to be thankful for our privileges and blessings. As Thanksgiving is at risk for becoming the kickoff for Christmas shopping, it's important to remember this is a day for appreciation and reflection... and for wearing your stretchiest pants. :)


  1. Such a great blog post (they're all great - btw)!!! Let me know how the spiced dark and stormys (stormies?) turn out!!!


  2. Thank you, Michael! :)

    I def. will let you know about the Spiced Stormies! xo


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