November 18th, 2011
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and we’re all getting ready to cook— or eat— the big meal!
Karen Moy, writer of MARY WORTH, stopped by to share Mary’s love of Thanksgiving and cooking with us:
“And though I ebb in worth, I’ll flow in thanks.” ~JohnTaylor
Mary’s known at Charterstone not only for her good advice, but also her wonderful cooking. To those close to her, this is no surprise. Food is viewed by many as a symbol of love. Being the nurturer that she is, Mary likes preparing and giving it to friends and family alike – and sometimes strangers too. It’s one of the ways that she expresses gratitude for all that is good in her life.
She can often be seen entertaining family and friends throughout the year, and when Thanksgiving arrives, she enjoys creating a memorable feast.
Entertaining during the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some Mary tips that may help ease your Thanksgiving Day plans or are simply food for thought:
Most Thanksgiving recipes will tell you what you can prepare ahead. Here’s a little secret: you can usually add a full day to that amount of time. Do all your Thanksgiving preparations ahead, and you’ll have more time to relax with family and friends on the big day!
Many grocery stores do giveaways for free or heavily discounted frozen Thanksgiving turkeys. These turkeys are usually left over from last year. But even if you want a turkey that hasn’t been frozen for that long, your local soup kitchen will be grateful if you pick up a turkey or two to drop off for the holiday.
If you are cooking a frozen turkey, remember to find out exactly how long it will take to defrost. The rule of thumb is that if you are thawing your turkey in the fridge, you will need a full day for every five pounds of meat. So if you are thawing a 16 lb. bird, you should probably start on Monday.
Do you want an appetizer that is delicious, fast, healthy, and “historically accurate?” Pop a bowl of popcorn for your guests to munch on. You can dress it up for the holiday by adding some herbs and spices while you pop. Paprika, cinnamon, chipotle, and sage are each a great addition to popcorn—or try your own favorites.
Making your own cranberry sauce is easy! Just boil one cup of sugar in one cup of water. Add your cranberries, and let them boil on medium heat. They’ll pop like popcorn—take them off the stove when they are soft and mushy like jam. You can also add orange or lemon zest for a little citrus kick!
A beginning mistake with turkey is to forget to take out the “giblets bag”—a plastic bag inside the turkey that contains the turkey’s neck, heart, and liver. You can use the parts in your gravy if you wish, or throw them out—just remember to take them out before the turkey goes in the over, or your turkey will be basted with melted plastic!
Let your turkey do the end of its “cooking” on the table or prep area, under an aluminum foil “tent.” This will ensure that your turkey isn’t overdone, and will give you time while the turkey is sitting to heat other food in the oven, like roasted carrots, stuffing, or squash.
Is the thought of cooking a whole turkey intimidating for you? If you’re entertaining a smaller group of people, how about cooking turkey breasts that are on sale right now? They are much easier to thaw than a giant full bird. And they take up much less room in the oven. Plus you’ll save on cooking time as well.
For your vegetarian guests you may want to consider serving alternative comfort food dishes such as spaghetti squash and meatless shepherd’s pie or lasagna. Or how about a winter squash risotto? Autumn vegetables are hearty fare and are full of fiber and good nutrients. The holidays can be a healthy as well as enjoyable time.
If you are alone during Thanksgiving, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen. Or making a donation of clothing, goods, or time to a charity organization. There are many ways to show gratitude, and giving creates a good feeling all around.
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