As discussed in my last post, the holiday countdown to Thanksgiving is in full swing. I’ve got three words for Thanksgiving. Bring. It. On! From roasting the bird to company’s coming impressive but easy recipes to cooking crisis avoided tips to holiday home decor suggestions to beat the holiday band, my There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays 2015 series is updated, refreshed and ready with helpful Thanksgiving ideas, tips and problem solvers.
Hopefully these handy holiday ideas will keep the traditional or new traditional all things house that make a holiday home Thanksgiving express moving right along.
Angst and alarm over the holiday dinner is not on the menu. This is the most wonderful time of the year, not the most dreaded. I try to be as well planned and prepped for our holiday gatherings as I can. I put the culinary drama on the back burner and let the cooking, baking, holiday decorating, online Black Friday shopping and there’s no place like home for the holidays good times roll.
Size does matter when it comes to all things Thanksgiving. How much food is needed per person is the question on the mind of every holiday host and hostess. The good people at Pop Sugar have got it down to a serving size science with their Thanksgiving cheat sheet.
Dressing? Stuffing? What you call this quintessential Thanksgiving side dish seems to depend on both regional and cooking (in the bird or separately) location and tradition. Our Southern family is team dressing, and our Chicago and Canada family is team stuffing. The one thing we all agree on is that the base ingredient must be buttermilk cornbread. A bread based dish can and will easily dry out when baked, and dry dressing or stuffing is a holiday side dish deal breaker. Stock or broth, and the amount added to the crumble cornbread, is the key to moist dressing. You want the dressing consistency to be soupy but not soggy. The rule of you can add to but not take away from applies here. Add ½ cup of stock or broth at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
A frazzled host/hostess does not make a pretty holiday picture. Don’t try to be a holiday hero, spread the holiday love and the holiday duties around. Taking guests up on their gracious what can I do-what can I bring offers makes it a shared event and helps to eliminate holiday hosting burnout. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did!
Turkey and gravy are the peanut butter and jelly of holiday cuisine. It’s a traditional pairing of flavor deliciousness that takes culinary center stage on the holiday dinner table. Cooking the perfect gravy can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Adding a pinch of salt to the flour before adding any liquid will help to eliminate lumpy gravy. Gravy too thin? Mix together two (2) teaspoons cornstarch and two (2) teaspoons chicken broth or water. Stir or whisk into the warm gravy and simmer until the gravy thickens. If the gravy separates, add a pinch or two of baking soda to emulsify the fat. Oh no, the gravy has a burnt flavor! Remember the peanut butter reference? Simply add a teaspoon of peanut butter to cover up the burnt flavor.
A good carving set is essential to proper and easy turkey carving. If the dreaded happens on the big day and your carving knife is duller than first period math, I’ve got a helpful solution for you. To sharpen your knife, use the unglazed porcelain on the bottom of a coffee mug. Hold the knife at a 30 degree angle and run it across the area a few times on each side.
Our Thanksgiving day cocktail hour leans more towards the slow sip rule of thumb. Tipsy Turkey Times is almost a guaranteed oh, s*!%. Look at drunkity drunk drunk add family member or friend’s name here. My formula for a safe cocktail hour is simple- one (1) cocktail per person for the pre-dinner cocktail hour. The sippers don’t mind, the tea teetotalers really don’t mind, and the booze hounds will get over it. A time and a place as they say. I like to consult the Serious Eats Booze-o-Matic Party Time Drink Calculator as a reference for our holiday set ’em up, Joe cocktail parties.
We consult our dear friend, our trusted expert wine aficionado go-to, for wine pairing guidance when serving turkey. For white wine drinkers, he suggests dry Chardonnay, white Zinfandel or Riesling. A good Pinot Noir will please the palette of the red wine drinker.
I always get a big chuckle out of the “Party, party” episode of Frasier. Martin’s ice logic holds true.
Martin: Hey, great party huh? Just as long as we’ve got enough ice. You got four bags, right?
Daphne: No, I got two.
Martin: Two?! I told you to get four bags!
Daphne: Oh, here we go.
Martin: You never under-budget on the ice. You never know, you might get a lot more rocks drinkers than you expected. Or ice chewers.
Ice can be a hot commodity at a holiday celebration. Ice cubes measure about ten (10) cubes per pound and the rule of thumb is one (1) pound of ice cubes per person. Cheers!