Thanksgiving is four weeks away, which means that if you are hosting Thanksgiving, it is the perfect time to start getting into the planning.
Thanksgiving does not have to be a stressful holiday, you just need to plan ahead. I am hosting Thanksgiving this year for the 1st time in years. It’s not a big gathering, I am thinking about 6-8 people. And while there will be appetizers, the main course and dessert, it won’t be as elaborate as my mom’s Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s could have up to 30 people ages 0-80+, which requires a big menu and a LOT of food. Thanksgiving at my mom’s also included an extra bag of marshmallows since there may or may not have been a small fire during the final prep of the sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping.
I come from a big Italian Family (and after 6 hours of eating the family is even bigger-lol)
For those of you not fortunate enough to go to a hardcore Italian Thanksgiving Dinner, a little taste of the typical day.
12:30 Antipasto Course: This means about 6-8 different kinds of appetizers, cheeses, crackers and a veggie platter. We never bother with salad during Thanksgiving dinner, since we figure it’s not worth wasting the stomach space on salad when there is so much tastiness around.
2:30 Pasta Course: Nothing big, just a few pumpkin ravioli with brown butter-sage sauce, and fresh parmesan for everyone. Really, it’s just a few ravioli, not ravioli dinner quantities of ravioli, and there may or may be some bread to go with the ravioli.
4:00 Dinner: This is where we have the Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, rolls and rye bread, stuffing, gravy, broccoli with garlic and lemon, and the green bean casserole with onion soup, which I think is disgusting, but someone eats.
5:30pm Dessert: We usually have several pies (apple, pumpkin, cherry), cookies, cakes and cannoli.
6:00pm Nuts, fennel and liquer: As a digestive to help the other food you’ve eaten digest.
The funny thing is that when we go to NY for Thanksgiving we usually stay at my Aunt’s house. My aunt also hosts Thanksgiving, but she starts about an hour later, so by the time we get there, people are lingering over dessert. So even though my Aunt is well aware of the eating marathon we just finished at my mom’s house, she always asks if we would like some dessert. Thank god that both the kids can usually be counted on to have some more dessert, while the adults are debating if we will ever be able to eat again. (We usually are)
My Thanksgiving will be simpler. I am skipping the pasta course. I will serve appetizers for lunch, because I am a finger food addict, and since I serve Thanksgiving close to dinner time, I still do need to provide lunch. I also have a double oven, so I can cook the Turkey and still get stuff done while that Turkey hogs the oven. Around 4pm I will serve Thanksgiving dinner, and then have a small variety of desserts. And possibly a pitcher of crantinis which I will start drinking when the appetizer lunch goes out.
I will also not be serving salad. I am not going to waste stomach room on lettuce when there is bourbon pecan sweet potatoes to eat.
So what am I doing this week?
1. Finalizing the guest list;
2. Planning the menu and writing up the shopping list.
3. Ordering my turkey from a near by farm.
4. Working on an initial schedule for prepping and cooking Thanksgiving Dinner.
If you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you NEED a schedule. Trust me. There are too many moving pieces, and you don’t want to sit down to dinner and realize you forgot the rolls to sop up the gravy, or the green beans, or you set fire to the marshmallow topping while prepping, set up the smoke alarm and wake the colicky baby who had finally decided to nap.
Since I am having a small Thanksgiving with mostly out-of-town guests, I do not have to think about the following:
1. Figuring out whether or not to use paper plates or rent plates and silverware from a party place. (No shame in the paper/plastic plates. My mom always uses the really good ones and believe me, there are enough dishes to do as it is;
2. Decide who I will be delegating different parts of the meal to.
A word on delegation. It’s usually a good idea. There is a lot to Thanksgiving with its multiple sides and the fact that the Turkey can take up all your oven space. However, you want to think carefully about who you are delegating to. For example, don’t give the flaky person an important part of the meal to bring. Also, if there is something that you really, really love, make it or buy it yourself so you know that it comes out exactly the way you want it to.
Come back next Thursday and I will tell you my menu, and what I am doing this week to prep for Thanksgiving.