Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving dinner table

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your turkey be juicy and your day be stress free.  Here are some Thanksgiving dinner tips in case anyone needs some last minute advice.  Have a great day!

Happy Thanksgiving

tday2Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a great day with food, family, football, or whatever makes you happy.  We normally travel this week or have my in-laws come visit, but we had a more low key holiday this year because I started a new job on Monday and do not get Friday off from work.  It was just the two of us so we went to a movie (Catching Fire) and then out to dinner.  I became a pescetarian about six months ago so it was my first Thanksgiving without turkey.  I was tempted to get the turkey, but I had the sea bass instead.  We thought about having cocktails and putting up the Christmas tree, but our motivation waned after the big dinner so we will do the tree over the weekend.

Now…who is ready for some holiday shopping?

10 Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

The countdown is on for cooking one of the biggest meals of the year!  Here are some tips to be prepared.

Thanksgiving tips

1. How to carve a turkey (with pictures).  Make sure to sharpen your knives before you start and have an extra large cutting board ready for the job.

2. The key to a flaky pie crust to is chill your dough…twice.  Chill it after it is first made and then again after it has been rolled out and put in the pie plate.  You want the butter in the dough to be cold when it goes in the oven.  Also use a recipe that combines both shortening and butter because they play different, but both important parts in pie dough.

3. If using a frozen turkey, make sure to put it in the refrigerator with plenty of time to thaw (for days, not hours).  If the turkey is not completely thawed by Thursday morning, run it under cold water and remove any ice chunks.

4. Remember there are 2 places in the turkey that “parts” are hidden and need to be removed.  Get to know your turkey well to make sure you get both of these removed.

5. Place your turkey in the oven with the thighs in the back and the breasts in the front because the thighs needs to cook to a higher temperature.  If your breasts are done before the thighs, cover the breasts with aluminum foil to prevent them from drying out.

6. Do you grocery shopping late at night, around 10 or 11pm early in the week.  You will have the store to yourself.

7. Brine your turkey to keep it extra moist.  Use a new clean 5 gallon bucket if you have the space.  It can be covered and kept in the garage overnight if it gets cold enough.

8. Have a plan.  Make sure you have all of your recipes picked out, go to the store with a grocery list and have a schedule of when each item will be worked on or put in the oven.

9. Ask your guests for help!  To lessen the last minute chaos of getting all the food to the table at the appropriate temperature, ask a few guests (but not too many) to help out and let them know in advance what their jobs will be (carving the turkey, stirring the gravy, etc).

10.  Have a turkey or pie baking crisis?  There are quite a few resources you can call with questions.

Regardless of the food, Thanksgiving is about family so try not to stress…too much.  I know this is easier said than done!

Our Obsession with All Things Pumpkin

pumpkin babyWhat is it about this orange squash that captivates us this time of year?  Everything has pumpkin and people are going crazy over it.  Some of the biggest news of the fall has been that Starbucks released their pumpkin spice latte early.  Pumpkin has even made its way into beer with cutesy names like “punkin ale”.  Pinterest is covered with pins of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin milkshakes…pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin!  Everything has pumpkin!

I admit, I do like pumpkin pie and I get excited about the pumpkin roll at Wegmans, but I strongly believe there should not be any pumpkin consumption or decorating with pumpkins until October 1st.  Pumpkins do not belong in September.

pumpkin collage

I bet most people have never even tasted pure pumpkin, I know I have not. “Pumpkin spice” does not have anything to do with pumpkin (it is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice or cloves).

jack o lanternPumpkins in our culture are not new.  Charlie Brown had the Great Pumpkin and Cinderella’s coach turned into a pumpkin at midnight.  One of my dad’s nicknames for me when I was little was “pumpkin”.  Carving pumpkins for Halloween and eating pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving have been traditions in many homes for years, but how did we become so obsessed with pumpkin or pumpkin spice in everything we eat?  Is it similar to the Girl Scout cookie phenomenon, where we love things we can only get once a year?

I do not know where this all started, but once the calendar flips to October, you better believe there are going to be a few pumpkins on my porch and the smell of pumpkin coming from my kitchen.

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