I really believe the first thing to do is – give up any idea of your dinner and weekend being perfect. After that, when things go wrong, just take photos to add to your scrapbook and the tales to be told at future thanksgiving dinners.
This is just some ideas of how to get through without getting too overwhelmed. Remember – it is your celebration. Whatever works for you is the best thing to do!!
The easiest thing to do is find a good buffet Thanksgiving dinner and go out!! We have done this!!
Always nice to have the house decorated –
Here is my wreath for the Thanksgiving season.
This goose is at the right height for my grandson.
If you decide you wish to stay home and you are having guests or family over the weekend. This is for the main dinner to be on Saturday afternoon or evening. Remember you can decide to spread the work out over two days – have the turkey dinner with stuffing on Saturday, and make the fantans on Sunday to go with heated left-over turkey and stuffing.
I will give the timetables to do ONE dinner on Saturday.
People have probably been traveling all day and will be happy with some soup and sandwiches. This is a good time to pull out homemade soup from the freezer – or open a few cans so everyone gets something they like. Lay out the fixings for sandwiches and let everyone make their own. Paper plates are great (get the non waxed ones so they can go in the compost) and you have less dishes.
Place your bread out to start drying. If your bread is moist it will not soak up the good things you are putting in and will be a soggy mess.
We use the big silver bowl to make the stuffing – but before we got it – we used the roasting pan.
Depending on your guests and schedule – make the stuffing. Do NOT add the chicken broth yet and make sure the stuffing is stored safely covered in the fridge.
Also make the pumpkin pie. One pie gives 6 good slices. If one of the guests offers to bring something – I ask them to bring a cooked pumpkin pie for those who prefer it. Mine is a lighter tasting gelatin pie.
Both these tasks can be done whenever you have (or make) time.
Check that your turkey is thawing on schedule (if using a frozen one) and calculate the cooking time. Remember fresh turkeys may cook faster. Turkeys should NEVER be underdone. Make sure you check the bird is done – use a meat thermometer!!
Tonight is a good night for something completely different from turkey. Lasagna is one of my favorites and you can make it weeks ahead and freeze it. Ordering in pizza is also great – often your guests will offer to take care of one meal while they are staying.
This is where you decide how much to do!
Consider how much help you have and how tired you feel.
Let’s say you decide to spread the work over two days like I do. This means we have turkey dinner on the Saturday. Then on the Sunday you heat up left-over turkey and stuffing, make proper gravy and the fantans. Eat the pie, if you have any left, or offer an easy choice like assorted ice cream.
My schedule is set in hours and minutes before you plan to serve dinner. For example, if you wish to eat at 4 p.m., and I list something to be done 4 hours before dinner – it means start at noon. Hope this makes sense!
Remember you calculated how long it will take to cook your turkey? Now add 1/2 hour – you need some time to make the gravy and mash the potatoes etc. This is your start time.
I usually cook a 15 pound turkey. At 20 minutes a pound that means I need 5 hours at the most. My fresh turkeys usually cook faster so I plan things so I can adjust to the actual cooking time.
I miss having a warming oven. It made things so much easier. You finished off a dish, placed it in the warming oven while you finished off the next thing and everything arrived at the table nice and hot. These days – just do the best you can to have everything ready at the same time, cover things or leave them on low heat.
3 hours before D time –
Start now if mixing fantans by hand.
2 1/2 hours before D time –
If using a bread maker.
They should take about 1 and 1/2 hours rise once and be ready to shape.
Shuck and scrub the corn – then place in a pot with water – ready to go on stove.
Scrub and chop potatoes. Place in pot with water – ready to go on stove.
1 hour before D time
Shape fantans and place somewhere warm to finish rising. This should take about 30 minutes.
45 minutes before D time
Start potatoes on high heat – turn down once they boil.
30 minutes before D time
Start corn on cob on high heat – turn down once they boil.
Take turkey out of oven, turn heat up to ??F. Once the oven is right temperature, place fantans in oven. Set timer for ?? minutes.
Place butter and cream for mashed potatoes to heat on low heat.
If you wish to present the turkey whole at the table – just cover it with foil and let it sit on platter. If you wish to present it with stuffing already removed – take the stuffing out now and place in serving dish.
Drain potatoes and mash with the heated cream and butter.
Drain the corn.
Fantans should be done.
Everything into serving bowls and onto the table asap!!