Photo by Brad West on Unsplash
The day is coming, oh the day is coming. It’s almost Thanksgiving and I don’t know if I’m excited, apathetic, or just ready for it all to be over.
My Thanksgiving is going to be different. I’m taking on the big task of cooking the dinner and all the fixing myself. Why am doing this? The first word that might come to your mind is insanity, which I probably would totally agree with you on that one.
Another thought is self-hate, again, I might be right there with you on that one too.
The real reason is, I do enjoy the day. I enjoy the food, I enjoy the recipes, I enjoy eating, and then I guess I enjoy the people. OK, I do enjoy the people. I’ve enjoyed the last few years where I was able to spend time with my mom, stepdad, and sister. Over the years, the day has always been interesting. I’ve cooked the dinner myself several times. I’ve gone over friends’ places a lot. All in all, there have been completely different experiences that have left me happy and glad to do it.
This year, I’ve decided that I wanted to take on the challenge of doing a meal in my apartment for a small group of people. The last time, I did something like this, it was for more people than could actually fix in my place in Stuttgart, but it didn’t matter. I think everyone generally enjoyed and that’s the meaning of the day, right?
If you’ve never fixed a Thanksgiving dinner, you might be wondering what you should do.
Thankfully, there are so many sites out there that can tell you so many things, you aren’t lost for material, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you more. The first thing you need to do, and I think you probably should’ve started this last week, was gathering up your recipes.
I started a Pinterest board with some of my ideas so far. A lot of these are things I’ve used over the years, which is good because that means, I’ve practiced them. This is one of the biggest things you have to remember for doing a meal like this. Don’t go in cold. If you’ve never cooked a turkey, just get a ham, or better yet just get a turkey breast. They cook easy and make great sandwiches for the next few days.
That brings me to another important thing. Know how many people you are cooking for. I found a few good websites that tell you how big of a turkey you should get. How many people certain things will feed, etc. This is really good, especially if you haven’t practiced a recipe, or if you are someone who will look at the recipe and still not trust it. I know people like that, frankly, some recipes just aren’t good.
Once you’ve gotten recipes together, figured out how many people you are going to cook for. Your next step is when you are going to get things. If you are in the states, as I’ve gone and gathered the first tranche of items, depending on where you are. Finding certain things won’t be an issue. Yes, we are in a supply chain hell right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find certain items. Just plan it out and also be open to trying different brands. You need to know how long items can last in your fridge without going off. Today, I got cheeses for my macaroni and cheese. All cheeses have an expiration date of months away without them being opened. I got the pasta, again pasta isn’t going bad, especially since it’s dried pasta. Are you making your own cranberry sauce? You can buy those cranberries now and let them set in the fridge until early next week, or if you are worried, throw them in the freezer. If you aren’t, then you probably have that can from 2017 in the cupboard, which oddly enough is probably still fine. Go ahead, open it and use it for the meal. I’m sure it’s fine.
What about the vegetables, yes, you can get them now, you are a week out, if you properly store them, you will be good. Remember, store carrots and celery in water. Change the water out every few days, then next week you will be good. That’s not to say, I don’t know how your markets are but are they really running out of these things. I’m going to say no, but why risk it.
Now the only thing which I know you can’t get now, depending, is your turkey. That is if you want a fresh turkey. Have you decided or figured that out? You might want to do that now.
If you are going the frozen route, please take it out early enough to thaw. Even though you can roast it frozen. Why do that to yourself? It’s not going to be a good bird; you’ll probably create turkey breast jerky. Just don’t do it. Think ahead and don’t mess that up.
Not in the States, It’s OK
For all my international friends, I’m thinking you all have already gotten the plans going. If you are like I was during that time. You work on a base somewhere, you’ll have the day off, you’ve already been to commissary, gotten your order in for your turkey or whatever it is you are eating. This is great, you have done it well.
However, don’t forget to use your local non-base markets, for a lot of reasons. The best one is the fact that they are open since it’s an American holiday, so you are out of eggs, low on butter, you can get those things. Another good reason is all the other good things you can pick up like cheeses, bread, or hors d’oeuvres you’ll be having. Did you know that Stanley Tucci does antipasti for his? When I read this, I was so there for it. I’m already thinking about roasting some peppers and sitting out some pâté for my guess.
For those of you who have no base access and don’t have the day off, still celebrate the day, or maybe you are doing a weekend thing. This is fine too. Also remember, it’s OK to not have turkey. If you are like some brits, turkey might not be your thing. Find a duck, get a roast pork or even a cut of beef. For the vegetarians, I’m making a lovely glazed tofu for my second “meat” dish.
My Big Goal for this Thanksgiving
These are just some starting ideas and tips for you to get started.
I have another goal and that’s to document my progress of making the meal this year. I know my follow-through is generally horrible, but we’ll see how this goes.
The plan is for me to write how I’m doing starting the Monday before all the way to the actual day. Most likely it’ll be the day after, but we’ll see. I mean, who’s going to be reading this anyhow? Watch, I’ll get a lot of you asking questions and giving a lot of feedback.
My plan is to document my starting projects for the actual day. Remember, if you are the cook like I’m the only cook for this thing. You should start several days ahead. I’m talking assembling items, knowing what you can put together ahead of time, then just popping things in the oven, letting it cook, and enjoying the first of many beverages. Don’t be the person trying to cook everything and then oh yea, you have a turkey to roast too.
I can’t wait to get all of this going and I’m looking forward to it all. Everyone get going and have fun with this. It’s going to be a blast!