Thanksgiving here was really great this year. Really, this has been the first time in years that I can honestly say it was a fun gathering and not very stressful at all. I was super organized and focused, and when guests began arriving at noon, all was ready. The last guests arrived just as we were ready to nosh at 1:00.
I have a very small house--I call it my dollhouse--and so food service here, by necessity, must be buffet-style. I set out my two biggest tables for all the food. Here's table #1:
At the left-most is my stack of plates, then one of our 2 turkeys, macaroni & cheese, white bean & potato mash in the slow cooker, dressing in front of that, pureed sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli peeking out from under foil.
Here's a better picture of that stuffing:
On to table #2:
At the top are 2 of the 3 types of cranberry jelly available. The one on the left is a sugar-free cranberry-banana compote for the insulin-challenged, and on the right is a brandied cranberry jelly that was TO DIE FOR. In front of those, a big salad--lettuces, bacon and sliced NY state macintosh apples topped with a dusting of grated blue cheese and a mustard-white balsamic vinaigrette. I used Michael Chiarello's method of freezing the blue cheese so that I could grate it finely--even Mr.W ate it and said it was good! There's also a basket of assorted rolls & biscuits and a green footed bowl packed with sweet cream butter, followed by a basket filled with flatware rolls & napkins.
I set drink service in the kitchen, which worked out really well. I didn't have enough matching glasses or mugs for everyone, so I did my best to arrange an assortment in a haphazard way. Planned disarray, if you will.
Unfortunately I was in full-on eating-frenzy by the time dessert rolled around, so there are no photos of all that--we enjoyed all the pies, and my mother also brough a sinfully delicious chocolate cake. My pumpkin-sour cream parfait was delicious but went begging.
There was only 1 casualty of the day: a slice cut from the very tip of my right thumb. Fortunately I had rubber gloves on hand and avoided contaminating the food with my bloody digit. It's healed over now, and I have a delightful dent left as a Thanksgiving war-wound.
Everyone seemed to have a great time--our last guests left after 8pm! That's 8 hours of Thanksgiving revelry!
Since Thanksgiving we've had a steady stream of family returning for leftovers. Here are Mr.W with my brother having a lunchtime nosh today:
- brandied cranberry sauce
- I made gravy to feed an army and poured most of it down the drain.
- I panicked at the last minute and made an extra pre-meal snack of dulce de leche cream cheese dip with sliced apples--hardly anyone touched it, even though it was delicious. They were waiting for the big meal.
1. DO prep as much as possible the day before. Having the dressing and mashed potatoes already made saved me a TON of time this year. I wasn't the crazy person that I've been in previous years.
2. DO take advantage of guest's offers to bring something. My sister-in-law's help with various side dishes really saved the day.
3. DO make turkey stock from boiled turkey necks while the birds are roasting--water, salt, onion & turkey necks. That way you have stock ready for making your gravy without the bother of dealing with pan juices--and no attempted coup by your hungry crowd!
4. DO serve a fruited ice water as a beverage. With all those flavors going on, it's refreshing to have a light beverage.
5. DO put out various bottles of booze for folks to spike their own apple cider. My family loved adding a splash of vanilla vodka to their cider for a special treat.
6. DO NOT panic when there aren't enough matching dishes. No one cares--as long as they have something to drink out of, they're happy--and a unique glass means they're more likely to find it again later.
7. Figuring 1 pound of turkey per person is enough. I more than doubled it and had an entire untouched bird leftover. That's okay, though, because we love turkey leftovers--but it was unnecessary.
8. DO make sure there's some seating at a table for everyone. There's nothing worse than balancing a plate on your lap and trying to cut your meat. I borrowed a 6-foot folding table and a small card table and they worked out perfectly.
9. DO take the time to plan what music you'll play during your meal. It sets just the right mood.
10. DO NOT let the small stuff bother you. I had a bit of a kitchen cupboard crash (too many things stacked precariously in a deep cupboard) and just closed the door and went back to my guests. It was all still there when I was ready to deal with it.
So let's hear how your Thanksgiving (or other special holiday meal) went!