The day before Thanksgiving is a busy day in my kitchen. I’m not complaining, because I really enjoy all the prep work! I put on my fancy apron, select a fun CD to listen (and sing) to, and off I go.
Growing up my family of eight would spend Thanksgiving (and all other holidays) at my dad’s parent’s house, which was about half an hour away … over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we went. When we were old enough to realize that my grandmother woke at 2am in order to prepare everything and have it ready to serve at noon, precisely at noon, it was a shock. So much work. So early in the morning. And we ate it so fast. Almost as soon as the dishes were put on the table *poof* it was time to clean up and back into the kitchen she would go (with all us girls following her, of course). That lovely woman spent so many hours (and so many early morning hours) preparing feasts for her family. She loved feeding us, and was extremely thankful that she was able to.
I feel the same way about feeding my family — putting delicious meals on the table for them to eat pleases me and I think of it as a showing of love. But I am not a wake at 2am kind of gal. I’m usually going to bed at 1am, so that just doesn’t work for me! That’s why I came up with the plan to do all the prep the day before. Since I need onions for three dishes, I prepare them all at the same time — some finely chopped, some sliced, others in big chunks. Same for the celery and carrots and everything else that needs to be cleaned and cut before cooking. As I’m doing all this chopping, I have the cranberry sauce cooking away on the stove.
Here’s a photo of my veggies all prepped and ready for Turkey Day:
See that bag that says “stuffing”? That’s my favorite. In it I put finely chopped onion and celery and garlic, and the half stick of butter, as well as a few teaspoons of poultry seasoning. All I need tomorrow is the saute pan! When it’s time I just open the baggie, dump it all in the pan, and cook them. When they’re tender I’ll transfer them to the baking dish, add bread crumbs and chicken stock, then cover and bake. Not one cutting board or knife needed!
And that bag on the right will be used first thing in the morning. It goes into the roasting pan with the turkey. Lots of onion, celery, garlic and carrots. Just as when I make a roast chicken, these in the pan help to flavor not only the bird, but the gravy as well.
An hour before serving time I’ll make a vegetable mix using those two bags on the left. I separate the veggies because I start with the onion and carrots, which take a bit longer to get tender, then add the broccoli, asparagus and green beans. Normally at Thanksgiving I serve just a simple green veggie, usually green beans, but this year I had the urge to get as many veggies on the table as possible.
Oh, did I forget something? Yes, that little bag of plain carrot sticks. Have I mentioned my super picky children? One of them will not eat cooked veggies … ever … at all … EVER. She instead will eat these, either as is, or in a fruit & vegetable smoothie with her meal.
Other items I get ready the day before Thanksgiving include the desserts. Always apple pie (my favorite) and pumpkin pie (my husband’s favorite). And my daughter makes a chocolate dessert of some sort (her favorite). And we can’t forget about breakfast for tomorrow …. I’ve prepared Baked French Toast. Yum! I’m so looking forward to a big pot of coffee and this delicious French toast! And I won’t have to worry about being up all night doing the busy work — it’s all done!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And happy Thursday to all of you non-USA readers! I’m thankful for all of you!