Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Getting a headstart on Thanksgiving cooking

I had a yikes! moment yesterday, somewhere between trips to finalize the adoption of the new cat. As: Yikes! I only have Sunday to get some of the Thanksgiving cooking done!

It's going to be a small-scale affair--I and the folks next door will all go over the river and down I-75 to my father's house, so it's just a turkey dinner for 7 to prepare. But there still are the Traditions to include. I got together with my sister-in-law and set the menu, plus we did some general meal planning for the rest of the time we'll be down there. The main meal will be:
Roast turkey (brined and roasted according to Cook's Illustrated methods)
Cornbread dressing
Gravy (Cook's Illustrated's "Make Ahead Gravy")
Squash Cheese Casserole (family tradition)
Orange Cranberry Relish (ditto)
Green Beans
Whole-Wheat Rolls (store-bought--no time to do 'em myself this year)
Citrus Salad

We'll have dessert at another meal, either that evening or Friday. Individual molten chocolate cakes, plus a couple of mini-pies from Whole Foods to allow the one pumpkin pie eater to have that and to have a little variety. Not as much as when my older brother comes and makes 6 or 7 pies and cakes, but a little.

Some of the menu is old hat, but some things are new. The gravy is a new recipe, but a standard technique except for the make-ahead idea. No problems there, and I've got the flavored stock cooling in the fridge to let the fat separate before doing the last step. The squash casserole is a standard, and I've now got the yellow squash precooked and mashed--the rest of the prep will happen Wednesday. (But I discovered my pricey new steamer inset is a flop--had to give up and boil the squash after the slices covered the widely spaced steamer holes and it wouldn't steam.) Sister-in-law and younger niece brought the cranberry relish ingredients over and used my KitchenAid grinder to make it--it's a mix of cranberries, apple, orange, lemon, sugar, and raspberry jam, with the rinds of the fruits included. Grind it all together and stir, and it's done.

I'm going to try to make the dressing that I grew up on--Southern Cornbread Dressing. When my mother was alive, the dressing was her task if it was on the menu. I was more interested in working on the turkey variation of the year, so I don't even remember helping with the dressing. This might be interesting....

I've made a pan of cornbread, adding in the sauteed onion and celery for the dressing as a time-saving step. (I do remember Mother doing that.) I also remember that Mother added stock or milk until the mixture "looked right"...but as I don't know what "right" looks like, I'll be following her somewhat sketchy recipe and hoping for the best. But I don't want to lose the dressing of my childhood, so it's certainly time to try to figure out how to make it come out.

After working in the kitchen all day, I now have a four lists going. Things to do before I go. Shopping list for Atlanta, items to be hauled to south Georgia because they are more easily obtainable up here. Things to take with me, from the cooked food to a few preferred kitchen utensils to the recipes I need. And a start on a shopping list for there, not that we won't be adding to it tremendously once we're there.

I work tomorrow, then am off until after Thanksgiving weekend. Tuesday morning will be full of errands and shopping, then I'll hit the road. The folks next door will leave after school is out Tuesday afternoon.
Tags: cooking, family
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