January 1, 1970If it weren’t for time and money, home cooked Thanksgiving meals would be a lot easier. Just about every time I got really serious about cooking for Thanksgiving this year something would happen to divert me. For instance, I planned to order a super duper turkey someone told me about – you know, farm raised, fresh, exclusive – but I forgot to order it.
Or there is the shortening on my pumpkin pie. I used an open can of shortening that had been languishing on the shelf unrefrigerated. One little taste of the piecrust informed me that I had to start over with all my pies, and I’ve used up all my gorgeous mammoth pecan halves.
At one time all this would be a disaster. But now rescue comes in many forms. There are cookbooks for doctoring shelf ingredients to make them seem homemade, plenty of canned goods to accommodate, precooked turkey breasts in the grocery stores and the specialty stores are crammed full of goodies if we can spend the money.
Just in case you are feeling as desperate as I am one day before Thanksgiving, I’ve come up with some tips to get us through the day.
The first thing is to make a time chart of what has to be done – or redone. After determining what is possible to cook from scratch and still enjoy the children, the money part comes in. In addition to bakeries, the two major choices are grocery stores and specialty stores. We are all familiar with grocery store stuffing and gravy mixes, canned pumpkin and chicken stock. And who doesn’t bless Pillsbury for their refrigerator piecrusts that are so easy to roll out that it is easy to chuck the can of shortening away? I’ve gone the way of the grocery store many a time, with varied success.
I do like, at least, to assemble the ingredients and being able to answer the “Who made the pie, gravy, and stuffing” question with a smug “I did,” so pre-baked pies are out for me.
I sidled into the Williams-Sonoma and sniffed around to see what they could offer in the way of easing my burden. They know us Thanksgiving cooks all too well. I left, much poorer, with turkey stock for the Foccacia Stuffing (which will really be a dressing cooked independently of the bird), gravy mix to which only milk needs be added, Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter that turns magically into a pumpkin pie filling with the aid of a few eggs and whipping cream, and a twenty dollar jar of Williams-Sonoma Pecan Pie Filling chock full of mammoth pecans.
I was able to get the two pies and the dressing made and in the oven all at the same time, and it relieved me enough that I am now ready to make my own mashed potatoes, unless, of course, something happens and I run short and have to add some of the dried kind to what I’ve got cooked to stretch mine a little further.
Read tips from "The Dinner Doctor", "Last-Minute Thanksgiving Planning" and other articles at www.nathalie.com.