Wednesday morning. Your old Aunty was sent an IM this morning (and for anyone outside these here Semi-United States today is the day before what is probably the biggest non-religious family get togethers in the country) from a friend. In a complete panic. He’d just been informed by his partner that they were expected to transport a complete (other than a turkey) Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow to his parents’ home, which is several hours away.
If you face something like this, I’m going to give you the same exact advice that I gave to him:
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You only have so much time between today and tomorrow morning and some of that is sleep time. If you are the sort of person who does NOT ‘go with the flow’ then you have to think through the following:
What makes me the most stressed out?
What can I make either with an axe in my head or half-asleep?
How do I use what time I have to best advantage?
For most of us, it’s the turkey that makes us the most stressed out and he didn’t have to do that, so Job One is done.
For the ‘asleep at the switch’ cooking, I’d choose mashed potatoes and broccoli. Those are two items that you can do some prep today and then finish them up on-site: Cut up the potatoes, put them into cold water in the fridge and cook them ‘on site’ tomorrow. Or, if you feel you have the time, I’d make the mashed potatoes today, refrigerate them, put them into a covered bowl and reheat in the oven tomorrow. If you are feeling fancy when you get ‘on site’ you can always bring along some grated cheddar cheese in a plastic bag and mix the cheese into the potatoes, put big plops on a greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for as long as it takes for the potatoes to cook through and the cheese to melt. The broccoli, I’d chop up, put into a plastic bag and then steam at the last moment just before everything goes out on the table.
For the ‘best use of time’ item, I’d put my time (given that I don’t need to do a turkey) into the dessert; because in the end, that is what people remember. If pie crust is NOT your strong suit, you might want to try one of the recipes out there for apple cake (you’ll need eggs, so check the fridge now; some of the recipes call for a spring form pan, so check for that). Here is one that is really pie: apple cake that is really pie
Here is one that is really cake: apple cake
Something else that I’d put my time into is the cranberry sauce – just opening up a can is boring and that stuff is filled with high fructose corn syrup. If you have frozen or fresh blueberries available to you, here is my take on low sugar cranberry sauce which is extremely tasty and though it’s a surprising color, everyone likes it a LOT. blue-cran sauce
Anything else, like stuffing or rolls or anything like that, I’d jettison like so much excess baggage. You’ve already got mashed potatoes; if you feel the crushing need for rolls or bread, you can run through your local store bakery and pick some up.
What else? Well, I think a nice floral arrangement covers a multitude of sins; something long and low works best and looks different and you can call that in and perhaps get it made in enough time tonight to pick it up on your swing through the store for the aforementioned rolls or whipped cream for the apple cake or a side trip to the florist – just call right away to make sure of operating hours today. Just in case the person you are doing this for does NOT have have linens or placemats (and you do), then whip those out right now and take a look. If they need washing and drying, throw those in now and take care of that. While you are doing other things, you can press them (or pat them down to dry as neatly as possible). If you do NOT own linens or place mats, I have two words for you for later: estate sales. And you deserve a nice table cloth and napkins, anyway, or good placemats and some nifty fabric napkins.
And at that point, just have a Zen moment, with or without a glass of wine. Because Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being with friends and family, right?