And most likely, never again -- today marks the first time ever I have served a holiday meal exactly on time. I was aiming for dinner on the table at 1PM, and it was. I'm trying to decide whether or not it was a small miracle or just the fact that the kids are getting older and therefore don't need as much attention and don't get in the way, in fact they can actually help now. Or maybe it's just that I've done this enough now that I've got it down? I don't think so, since the last such meal I made was, true to my usual form, finally ready to eat an entire hour later than I had originally planned.
Well, I do know what the difference was this time: I made a list yesterday, and a schedule for today. I've made lists before, but never in this much detail. In the interest of future happy holidays, here they are, transcribed from my notebook for legibility.
pies - bake!
- pumpkin: scrape, bake, cool, puree
- graham cracker crust
- assemble, bake
- slice apples
- regular pie crust
- assemble, bake
rolls - make dough & refrigerate
- dry bread
- saute vegetables
- assemble, refrigerate
prep green beans
clean & prep turky; prep vegetables for the pan
I actually did almost all of that yesterday, along with two doctor appointments (DD's well visit, DS1's allergist), and buying a new camera online at Circuit City (they had a deal with 1 GB SD card that beat Amazon, amazingly) and picking it up on the way. (The "order online, pick up at store" process was quite smooth.) The only thing I didn't get to do was the turkey, but that was OK because everything else was in such good shape... eventually.
Yesterday was in reality a series of minor disasters: it took a tremendous amount of effort to scrape out those pumpkins, and much longer than I expected. The cranberry sauce cooked over, big time, in the microwave. Huge mess! And the pumpkin pie cooked over also, which caused billows of smoke to pour out of the oven when I cranked up the heat for the apple pie. Of course the smoke detector went off and the ADT people called to make sure the house wasn't burning down:
ADT: Is everything OK there?
Me: Yes, I had a pie cook over in the oven.
ADT: (making a note)Thanksgiving pie, all right. So I don't need to dispatch anyone there?
Me: No, please don't, this is embarrassing enough.
We opened every window and ran all the ceiling fans plus a box fan and it still took about two hours to really clear all the smoke. The kids thought it was funny. Of course.
Fortunately, the pies themselves were not affected in the least. We tucked in to both of them last night after dinner. The kids were shocked, but I said, "I made these to get eaten, I'm not saving them for anything." No one complained, of course, especially not with the accompanying whipped cream (wasn't on the list, but I made it anyway.) DS1 declared the pumpkin "divinely delicious" which, I freely admit, made my day.
So even though we had a few difficulties, yesterday was a successful prep day.
Here was today's schedule:
- in at 10
- flip at 11:35
- test at 11:55
cauliflower - 12:00
green beans - 12:40
- roll out 11:45
- let rise till 12:40
- bake 15 min @ 400
stuffing - in at 12:30
The turkey was 11.5 pounds; I roast it at 400 degrees on a sturdy V-rack, upside down, for the first 85 minutes, then flip to brown the skin on the breast and finish cooking. Before I put it in the oven, I slather butter all over it; in the pan and in the bird's cavity I put rough-chopped onion, celery, and carrots. It's an extremely easy prep but it turns out a great looking and great tasting bird, plus the most amazingly delicious pan scrapings for gravy, which I left off the list, but I still had time to make anyway.
The cauliflower goes in the microwave for about 12 minutes (I did 15 minutes today and that was a little too long, it was a bit watery). Then it goes into the food processor with butter and sour cream, for our "mashed". I just don't do mashed potatoes anymore -- these are delicious, even the kids eat them, albeit in tiny quantities.
For today, because there was gravy, I didn't do anything special to the green beans, just steamed them in the microwave for 15 minutes. Perfect.
This is the first year I ever attempted rolls. In fact, it's the first time I've ever made dinner rolls, period. I used a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book for refrigerator rolls, and it worked beautifully. I made crescent rolls, and DD helped me roll them up. Most of them unwound, but no one cared, they were still delicious. I think they unrolled because I put too much butter on them, but who can blame me? I think the phrase "too much butter" describes an impossible state when it comes to rolls.
DH helped with clean up along the way and set the table (and also kept me well plied with mimosas for a good part of the morning), and of course he carved the bird and then disassembled it for the soup pot (which is now merrily simmering).
After dinner, I played Monopoly with the kids (DS1's Lord of the Rings edition) for nearly two hours. And then we had pie, and I had a nap while the kids watched the rest of the Harry Potter movie they had only seen half of last night (Goblet of Fire).
All in all, it was the kind of family day Thanksgiving is supposed to be, perfect for counting my many blessings.