IT’S TIME TO GET READY FOR THANKSGIVING.
November’s here already. Throw away the rotting Jack-o-lantern and petrified candy corn. Pack away the curled witch toes until next Halloween. It’s time to focus on Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite American holiday. What’s not to love? It’s all about the founding fathers, food, football and parades. No required gift giving or obligatory religious services….
Here are my top 10 tips for planning the perfect 2016 Turkey Day.
1. Decide whether to order ready-made dishes or to cook from scratch, or both. Act accordingly. HINT: NEVER EVER BUY A READY-MADE SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE. (Been there, done it numerous times from numerous sources. Always yuck.)
2. Dig out Granny’s old recipes for sweet potato casserole and cranberry relish. You just can’t buy some things.
3. If planning to cook your own bird, check the turkey fryer and turkey roaster to make sure all the cords and parts are still there. If not, get out the wire coat hangers and duct tape. Or go boost the economy; new turkey cookers are on sale everywhere.
4. Take down the huge meat platter stored since last Thanksgiving on the top shelf in the garage. Make sure you have a ladder, buddy, to prevent personal injury.
5. Decide whether or not the family has descended into throw-away plates, glasses and cutlery. Stock up or consolidate, wash and shine appropriately.
6. Two weeks before the big day, begin eating take-out in order to stockpile disposable containers for the guests’ leftovers. TIP: Newk’s and McAlister’s take-away containers are particularly useful.
7. Compile the grocery list. Expect to go shopping at least three times before the big day, plus a last-minute dash to pick up additional cream, celery and ready-made pimento cheese. Make up and freeze semi-completed fixings ahead of time. This includes the puree for the squash casserole, sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pies, and the chicken stock. Did I mention the sweet potato casserole?
8. Go to the liquor store. You know you need more booze after the big election. Hide the scotch, the liqueurs, and the good vodka from the college students. Remember where you hid them when the properly appreciative grownup company arrives (store hints in your electronic device).
9. At all times, remember the bird. Start thawing frozen turkey in the fridge three to four days in advance. Brine it the day before cooking. Begin cooking early enough to serve at the designated mealtime. Allow the bird time to rest after cooking before carving. NOTE TO SELF: Be sure to check on the bird’s cooking progress throughout the day. We don’t want another empty-oven surprise….
10. Above all, be mindful. For the men in SEC Country, the holiday is all about eating and football. For the women in SEC Country, the holiday is all about eating and football … and maybe a little shopping.
For help with your turkey:
Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.