Thursday, November 20, 2008

7 Days

...til T-day. My head count is {so far} 14 adults. Sometimes I feel like passing out at the thought, but other times I'm fine. Anyone else want to RSVP? Did I mention 6 children too? Well, two of them are babies & one is a little toddler. There is one thing that is keeping me from hyperventilating: my plan. My very detailed, {hopefully} well-thought out, plan. If you've never hosted Thanksgiving before or have done it many times, I believe a plan is the key to reducing your stress, making sure all your desired dishes will actually be able to be completed, and getting the meal to the table in a timely manner. How I assemble my plan is this: first, compile all the recipes & have each one photocopied or printed out. I then write out a detailed timeline, starting several days before the event. In this case, much of the work will be done on Thanksgiving day, but I try to do whatever possible before hand, such as pre-measuring ingredients, chopping herbs & vegetables, making the cranberry sauce, etc. Today, I will be making & freezing pie crusts, already rolled out & in the pie pan. Timeline snapshot:

1:00 pm

Remove ham from oven & let rest. Tent ham loosely w/foil. Turn up temperature to 375° F

Put turkey breasts in oven for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Add broth to bottom of pan.

1: 15 pm

Stir stuffing.

Start water boiling for macaroni.

1:30 pm

Check turkey pan if needs more broth.

Add noodles to pot. Set timer.

1:45 pm

Start potatoes in water to boil. Reduce heat to medium simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Stir stuffing

Turn on lower oven to 350° F.

Assemble macaroni & cheese.

I remind myself of every little thing, when to turn the oven up or down & to what temperature, when to stir, when to glaze, when to check if something is done. I think I'll remember to do all those commonsense things, but on the day of, I'll be glad I wrote it all out for myself. You will now be able to see whether or not what you've actually planned can be executed. Oven space is the trickiest part of the whole deal. This year, I will be able to use my two (!) ovens to make everything run a bit more smoothly, but believe me, it *can* be done with only one. Next I go through each recipe and transfer all the ingredients to a grocery list.

I count butter in sticks and make little tick marks for the eggs and just write down everything else. Hopefully nothing will get forgotten! I print out a copy of my menu & write down the type of serving dish I'll need for each recipe, then I can see what needs to be borrowed.

The night before, I like to write the recipe names on post-its and attach it to the proper serving dish so I don't forget which one is for which recipe. And that, my friends, just about sums up my planning technique. I did manage to send out invitations. I found sets of invitations complete with little sticker seals at Woodman's on clearance for 25-cents each. The kids made the thumbprint turkeys & helped with the assembly. See:

I really want to have a Mary heart on, what could easily be for me, a Martha day. The people around my table are more important than a perfectly executed meal. I keep reminding myself & others around me of this truth. Every time someone says, "I know you might be busy, but....", I say that I am not too busy for the people I love. I don't want to be so caught up in stirring the stuffing & glazing the ham that I don't get to enjoy my guests. If someone offers to help, I will reply with a resounding "YES!" and put them to work. On Thanksgiving Day, I plan to be ready with a hug, a smile & some kind words for everyone who walks through my door. Oh...and maybe a little taste of whatever has been cooking.


Andrea said...

Sounds fantastic, Becki! Thanks for sharing the planning and everything. As a not so experienced cook, I have trouble with getting things to be done at the same time. I LOVE the invitations! Very cute. I'm a big fan of the thumbprint turkeys myself.

Peaceful Chaoz said...

Sounds great! Will be praying for a peaceful household on that day! Its neat that you are preparing your mary heart before hand!! :0)