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I have already started my cooking for the holidays. Last week, my store had over ripe bananas for 9 cents a pound. I bought all they had and it is now in the freezer; some as banana bread and others in baggies, ready to be baked. The week before, they had canned veggies on sale for 29 cents a can. I bought 12 to 24 cans of each; corn, green beans, sweet potatoes and carrots. The last few weeks I have been saving the stale bits of bread in the freezer for making stuffing, normally I throw out to the birds. Last night I made up a double batch of noodles and they are now in the freezer. This weekend, I will be making pumpkin pies and I already have apple pies made a few weeks ago when I picked the last of them off my trees.
By starting early, it takes the stress out of doing it all the day before. And, I am saving a ton of money by taking advantage of the sales. I never have too many baked goods, as any extras make good Christmas presents for unexpected guests who may drop in. The day before the big meal, all should be done except for the turkey and ham. So, I have time to relax, clean the last minute items to clean, and visit. I only need to remove the items from the freezer the day before and move them to the fridge to thaw, then reheat them the morning of.
Find pans/baking dishes that fit into your oven somewhat like a puzzle, allowing for air flow. Now create your menu to make ALL of these "casseroles" to bake at the same time.
For the holiday dinners, you should plan what you are going to have the week before and cook your desserts the day before the holiday.
By Wendy from Enid, OK
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Let us know what you do to get ready for Thanksgiving. This can include how you prepare food for transporting, cooking the dinner, travel plans, traditions.
As Thanksgiving is the largest cooking holiday in our family, I've learned that preparing early is very helpful. One week prior I buy all the canned goods, clean out the fridge, and start thawing the turkey. The day prior I make most of the side dishes, desserts, and make one final grocery run. Then all I have to do on Thanksgiving is make the turkey.
My family loves a simple supper dish that I make from Thanksgiving leftovers. Dice some of the leftover turkey and mix it in with some leftover stuffing and an egg. Form into patties the size of thick hamburgers. Wrap each with a strip of bacon, secured with a toothpick. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes, until the bacon is cooked. Serve with cranberry sauce and/or leftover turkey gravy if you have some.
Sue - Edmonds, WA
Every Thanksgiving, my son and his cousins make hats for every one. Some of us are Pilgrims, some of us are Indians. It's fun for the kids. By comparing pictures of past Thanksgivings, we
can see how different their imaginations are each year! It also teaches the kids about the first Thanksgiving.
Begin buying canned goods I'll need for Thanksgiving; earlier if possible. This will spread out the cost over several weeks, so that it's not such a big deal. I also buy a turkey about a month ahead of time and put it in the freezer, because the price of turkey skyrocks in the two weeks before Thanksgiving. Plan ahead; it's cheaper. Finally, I stop using meat and fowl except on Sabbath, so that it will be all the more eagerly anticipated when Thanksgiving arrives. I focus on fish and legumes.
Two days ahead:
Brine the turkey, keeping it in the refrigerator. Alton Brown has a good recipe/method for this, but the short version is that you need an acid, a sugar, salt, and a spice blend. I use a half-cup of lemon juice, a full cup of orange or apple juice, salt, and a blend of either savoury (za'atar, oregano, thyme, rosemary) or sweet (such as Pumpkin Pie spice, or cinnamon, allspice, fresh or crystallized ginger) spices. That goes in a covered plastic container, along with water or sometimes light beer to cover (depending on the spice blend) for two days.
I also take two days before Thanksgiving to make all my pie fillings, as well as any casserole, potato dish, or anything else that won't suffer by being made ahead.
One day ahead:
Last-minute shopping. This is when I pick out the freshest possible vegetables for the vegetable dishes, especially the salads. I also make sure all fruits and vegetables that I'll use for Thanksgiving are washed, so that I don't have to slow down for washing while I'm prepping. I make sure I've got all the utensils and vessels I'll need, clear off all possible counter space, and dig out all the canned goods I've bought over the last month or two. I make sure everything I'll need is in the most accessible places, so that when I reach for something, it's right there -- no need to hunt.
First things first: Brush teeth, wash face, dress, and pray. If it's not done now, it surely won't be done later. Then, before anything else, I put the brined turkey in the oven, covered and breast-down, so that the juices will drain into the breast meat and make it juicy (it'll go right-side-up for the final 1/3 of the cooking time). It's messy, so I take a moment now to clean anything I've touched or which has touched the raw turkey.
Then I make breakfast for the family/visitors, and rope somebody else into cleaning up from it, since I'm doing the rest of the work and I've totally earned the opportunity to avoid doing this batch of dishes. ;)
Once the breakfast is done, I put together everything I've already done -- microwave things that need reheating, make gravy from canned chicken broth, whip those baked potatoes into something mashed and yummy, and make the salads. I spend the next hour cleaning up from all this industry. Then there's still time to sit down for half an hour or so, before I need to set the table and start putting out the food. Voila, Thanksgiving!
I want to serve a 14.78 pound roasted turkey at 2pm. What time do I put it in the preheated oven? Also, what temperature is the oven set for?
By Madeline C.