Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Now, I don't profess to be a great chef. Believe me, I'm NOT one. But I have cooked a turkey and hosted TG dinner twice, and this is what I have learned in the process:

1. Don't leave your bucket full of turkey brine teetering on the edge of your counter.

2. Don't blame your young child when the turkey brine spills onto the floor, leaving an inch of salt water in your kitchen.

3. Buy extra salt.

4. Don't waste time making homemade pie crusts when Marie Calendar's always turn out great and never fail you. If you are THAT much of a food snob, make homemade pie crusts way ahead of time and freeze them. The last thing you want to be doing the day before Thanksgiving is rolling out dough and getting all stressed out and upset that it isn't turning out. I have made homemade pie crust in the past and I've had my fill of it. Now I focus on making really good homemade filling. Bottom line: if you are going to do something store-bought to save time, buy the crust, NEVER buy the filling (this does not apply to canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling, though) for pumpkin pie or canned apple for Swedish apple pie, which requires canned filling and tastes out of this world).

5. Put sausage and nuts in your stuffing. Throw in some diced apples AFTER the stuffing is cooked.

6. Don't complain to your three-year-old that your husband decided to invite "the Chinese" for dinner without telling you about it.

7. If you ignore #6, don't be surprised if your son yells "the Chinese are here!" when it's time for dinner and then afterwards gathers your guests together for a rousing game of "factory worker."

8. If you are worried about dinner conversation lagging, place a Trivial Pursuit question card at each place setting. Tribond and Worst Case Scenario cards are also enjoyable.

9. If you are having a kids table, don't bother with a tablecloth. Instead, cover the table with butcher paper and set out some crayons. If the kids are old enough, have them write or draw what they are thankful for.

10. Buy some beef stick, cheese, and crackers to set out for appetizers. DO NOT try to make fancy appetizers while you are also preparing dinner.

11. INSIST on total creative control over the three most important elements of the meal: the turkey, the potatoes, and the stuffing

12. If you don't like yams/sweet potatoes, don't serve them. Who cares about tradition? If your mother-in-law complains loudly that they are missing, send your husband to the store for some, and have her cook them.

13. Stuff your turkey with apples, onions, and lemons.

14. Brine your turkey. It's not hard and it makes you feel awesome.

15. Don't wear tight pants if you are in a post-partum state. Celebrate the fitting of the pants LATER.

16. Wear a cute apron.

17. Enforce a blanket moratorium on cheddar cheese, especially on the potatoes (see #11).

18. Delegate gravy.

19. Don't invite anyone you don't like because you feel obligated. That's what soup kitchens are for.

20. Don't put out Christmas decorations. Give Thanksgiving its due respect: put out those Native Americans and Pigmentally-Challenged Protestant Immigrants.

21. Have a plan for after dinner. Refuse to sit around and watch football.

22. Let other people clean up.

Happy Turkey Day!


  1. Wonderful. And since you are one of my favorite chefs, I will take all of your advice, ponder it, and go to my Aunt Martha's for Thanksgiving and let her do all the work. Just kidding if for some reason my Aunt Martha is reading this. She knows I'll work for her.

  2. Priceless advice. I hope I never have to use it.

  3. Great tips, I was thinking about brining my turkey, so I think #'s 1 and 2 will really come in handy.

  4. Brine turkey is very good! make the brine with a bottle of champagne, delicious.

    Love the advice, I am using the trivial pursuit card idea next time I have people over for dinner.

  5. We will never forget the Thanksgiving we had at your place in Tucson. I've been thinking about you guys. We would love to have you guys over for dinner some evening. Let me know what works best for you for your family.

  6. Jodi,
    I have been wanting to get in touch with you. My email address is Write me and we can exchange phone numbers. We'd really love to see you!

  7. Good post.

    What is brining the turkey? Is that like soaking your fresh produce in bleach water so the sewage fertilizer doesn't kill you?

    Sweet potatoes/yams who needs 'em.


  8. What's a good plan for after dinner? I need an idea.

  9. Sooo...what time is dinner? I'll bring extra diet coke.

  10. This is excellent advice. I will particularly take note of the stuffing suggestions. This advice would make a great hostess picture book.

  11. I remember hearing about your brining mishap. We can laugh about it now right? It does make a difference though. SO important!

    Thanks for the great advice. We are actually going to be in NYC for Thanksgiving and plan to order pizza!

  12. Like I said, who cares about tradition? A New York pizza sounds like a great way to celebrate bounty and give thanks.

  13. 1. Hostess makes darn good apple pies too...individual size, even. Just microwave and smack in some ice cream.

    2. Turkeys are best deep-friend, or marinated in beer.

    3. If you get pulled over for speeding, you might not want to complain about the ticket ruining your holiday, at least not directly to the guy who was forced to work on Thanksgiving.

  14. Great tips! And I will take them to heart, since you are the best party planner I know.