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Thanksgiving Preparation

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom for food52

I don’t know where the time went, next week is Thanksgiving. It dawned on me today so I started prepping. I make the same thing every single year, no change there would be a coup if I did. Part of me didn’t want Thanksgiving to get here even though it’s my favorite holiday, it’s my first without Izzy and Nando and I feel sad. Β That said I have started prepping, write the shopping list, order the turkey, make what I can in advance, bread cubes are drying in oven as I type this. Took a whole chicken out of the freezer to make stock. There is a lot of work and planning that goes into one meal and I do what I can in advance. Is that what you do? I usually have 8-10 here for Thanksgiving. How many do you have over?

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What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you cook/host the meal or go to friends or relatives. Have you started preparing? Would love to know what everyone does, I know that some of you from other countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving. What is on the menu at your house? Traditional or non traditional or a mixture of both. Here is my menu with links to the recipes.

Butter and herb roasted turkey

Dressing

mashed potatoes- yukon gold, sour cream. butter salt and pepper

brussels sprouts- oven roasted

corn – steamed and served with some butter

homemade potato dinner rolls

cranberry sauce- use the recipe on the ocean spray package but sub fresh squeezed orange juice for the water and add some orange zest.

pumpkin and pecan pieΒ – I usually just use the pumpkin pie recipe on the can of LIbby’s pumpkin, may do something different this year from my good friend Johnny at Kitschen Flavors.

I have a pretty strict time line making as much as I can in advance.

Done in advance:

Make chicken stock (need for dressing)

Make cornbread and air dry (2 days before I make the dressing)

Dry bread cubes for dressing (doing that today)

Cranberry sauce made ahead and refrigerated (making it this weekend)

Make compound butter for turkey (Monday)

Make pie dough and refrigerate (Tuesday)

Day before:

Prep the turkey putting the compound butter under the skin, and refrigerate.

Make dressing cover refrigerate.

Make the bread dough, form into rolls, cover and refrigerate until a few hours before baking them.

Make the pies plus an extra for a friend, the apple and pear tart

Thanksgiving Day:

We eat late around 5:30 or 6PM. I’ve heard that most eat early like lunch time. This is actually the easiest day, I have already done a lot of the work. Set the table, get the wine ready, refrigerate the white, let the red breathe/decant.

Turkey goes in at around noon – I get at 18-20 lb turkey and it’s done in 3 ish hours because of the fast cooking method I use in my graniteware pan.

Peel potatoes and cut and let sit in cold salted water until ready to boil. (Usually around 4PM)

Make the corn and brussels sprouts.

Bake the dressing

Bake the rolls right before dinner is served so they are hot.

Whew, it’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Love Thanksgiving!!

Izzy And Nando

Izzy And Nando

 

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95 Comments Post a comment
  1. koolaidmoms #

    We used to do the big Thanksgiving Family Dinner. A small family gathering was 20. But, once we moved half-way across the country from family we have changed what we do. We make appetizers and snack the whole day. We play games, watch parades and movies. We laugh, we take naps and we eat together. So, we celebrate being together by truly being together and enjoying our day together without all the stress.

    November 18, 2015
    • Small gathering of 20, yikes!!! I love what you do now, it sounds just perfect. A very Happy Thanksgiving!!

      November 18, 2015
  2. Sounds like you have a good plan going Suzanne! I’m sure you’ll miss your little guys this year but being around family will make it better…I’m hosting a very small group this year and I plan on giving everyone a task! LOL – Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving! πŸ™‚

    November 18, 2015
    • Giving everyone a task is a great idea, makes it all easier. Thank you and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you Linda.

      November 18, 2015
  3. Happy Thanksgiving Suzanne. I love the pictures of Izzy and Nando.

    November 18, 2015
  4. EVerything sounds so wonderful. That’s quite a group to cook for! There were always just the four of us, and then one daughter married. But even now, other daughter lives in NYC (she was the one who also lived in London) and so she can never get off for Thanksgiving. This year we’re going to our daughter’s in laws house, because their four sons and wives and some kids will all be there! I don’t have to cook at all! Well, I’m helping her out. It will be different, for sure!

    November 18, 2015
    • Wow, that will be a change Mimi, I have always cooked, one year I went to a friends for Thanksgiving but still made the whole meal the next time at the request of family. So even then I cooked the day after. Sounds like you will have a wonderful time with the daughter in law and family. Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 18, 2015
      • Yes, at least I get to see my daughter and grandbaby next week. But once before, something similar happened, where I didn’t have to cook, but two days later I did the whole thing because I wanted “good” food, if you known what I mean. And you can’t just make turkey, you have to make all of the other stuff, too! So after being in the kitchen all day, with only my husband in the house besides me, I told him to never let me do this again. ever!!! It’s a lot of work!!!

        November 19, 2015
      • It is for sure and at the end of the day you are worn out but it is so rewarding.

        November 19, 2015
  5. Luckily for me, Suzanne, not everyone is as organized and methodical like you, or I would be left with no work for the holiday! πŸ™‚
    Your menu sound perfect. Lucky guests! πŸ™‚

    November 18, 2015
    • I wasn’t always and was a wreck by the end of the day. I learned that if I don’t organize and have a method to my madness it’s like a runaway train. Thanks so much Ronit. Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 18, 2015
  6. Sounds like you’ve perfected your preparations Suzanne! All the food sounds so yummy I can see why you cook the same thing each year! This year will be a little different for Matt and myself. Instead of a big dinner, we are going to the Thanksgiving football game in Detroit. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for food, we’ll have to see!

    November 18, 2015
    • Thank you Heather and I think that sounds great. I am sure what ever you eat will be fantastic. Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 18, 2015
  7. It is a large family (and friends) affair here. A most favorite Holiday for us! There are appetizers, 2-22 lbs. Turkeys, one Ham, 2 standing Rib Roasts, every side you can imagine from sweet potatoes, mashed creamed potatoes, stuffings, salads, green veggies, corn, yeast dinner rolls, desserts, pumpkin and pecan pies, apple crumb pie, double layer carrot cake, ice cream, frozen yogurt and I am sure I forgot something! It is an all day thing starting at noon until ? whenever. I pretty much keep the kitchen apron on! LOL AND I will speak with you before then, my dear friend. Cheryl

    November 18, 2015
    • Somehow I knew that you would have a major production, I also know that you are very organized and manage it like a drill sergeant. Sounds just wonderul Cheryl.

      November 18, 2015
  8. Love the Pilgrims! So cute. Great planning list!

    November 18, 2015
  9. It sounds lovely Suzanne and the pictures of Izzy and Nandy are so cute. You are indeed organized. Years ago we used to celebrate Thanksgiving at school with a little performance by the children and a meal. The parents did most of the work, well , we all did. We would invite people from a nursing home . I would come home exhausted and start cooking for my family and friends. That was a long time ago,
    For the last three Thanksgiving my husband and I went to Europe which we will do again this year. I ‘m going to have the best goose ever in Potsdam near Berlin and then I’m going to my village to celebrate my brother’s birthday with my German family and friends.
    Happy Tanksgiving , have a wonderful day!

    November 18, 2015
    • Oh it sounds like you will have a wonderful Holiday. Have a great time in Europe and that goose sounds great, hope you get some good photo’s. A very Happy Holiday to you and yours.

      November 18, 2015
  10. queensashy #

    You need to celebrate, no matter how sad you feel. It’s so great that your family will be with you, and judging by the scope of preparations, they will have a glorious time. Thanksgiving is the only holiday I do not spend in the kitchen — we always celebrate with our close friends and they cook for me, it is one of a kind feeling having someone cook for you!!! Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

    November 18, 2015
    • Thanks, sounds wonderful. It does sound really nice having someone else do the cooking although I have to confess I enjoy doing it and it’s a tradition now. Have a glorious Holiday and thanks again.

      November 18, 2015
  11. Wow you are really planning and are so well organized! Love the pictures:) sorry hope you are not too sad! The turkey looks yummy!! My 9 kids will be here, mom,dad, 2 daughter in laws, middle child’s friend,-Abigail, daughter’s spanish teacher.haha quite a bunch

    November 18, 2015
  12. You and me both Suzanne, I too have started on my menu, made a list, and today I baked some fresh yeast rolls, I know it should be baked just after the turkey is out, but there’s just too much going on, so I’ll just ziploc it and put it away in the refrigerator for now. Do you think I should freeze them or just store it in the refrigerator? You are quite organized I’ll have to say, good for you, your menu sounds yummy! We have about 11 I believe, including our girls from Brooklyn and their bf’s. It’s nice to be able to do a lot ahead of time isn’t it? I will definitely be baking my 3 pies next week before Thursday. I’ll be doing the cranberry relish before too, and anything else that I can. I absolutely love Thanksgiving, it is an adopted holiday for me, but one that I just love, as there is no commercialism involved :). I love the idea of family and friends and food, although we have no family around here except our girls, but we do invite folks who have no where to go. Happy Thanksgiving Suzanne, it will be hard for you this year without your loving pooches.

    November 18, 2015
    • Hi Loretta, I would freeze the rolls. You sound ultra organized. I know you will have an awesome meal, everything will be wonderful. Yes Thanksgiving is all about family and friends and being thankful for what we have. It’s a great time together!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours also.

      November 18, 2015
  13. Well, I certainly hope my little recipe works out for you. Sounds like you won’t need the extra work. Thanks for the mention, BTW. And I must remember to buy in more butternut squash so I can make more for next week. πŸ™‚

    November 18, 2015
    • I will let you know Johnny, thanks so much, If you make any tweaks let me know.

      November 18, 2015
      • I’ve updated the post with info on how I constructed them. Sent you a reply through your comment, so hopefully you got that. Hope all goes well! I’ve never roasted a whole turkey before. Your method sounds really quick.

        November 19, 2015
      • Hi Johnny; I didn’t see a note that you replied will head over now. If you are going to roast a whole chicken or turkey get a graniteware pan, they are amazing. Very inexpensive and really do the job quickly and well.

        November 19, 2015
  14. What a spectacular feast, Suzanne! I feel like Homer Simpson drooling all over the place. πŸ˜€
    I know it’s terribly sad for you — so I’m completely impressed with your determination to push on through (Or maybe Break on Through, like the Doors… now that back-beat will be in my head for days…) I really do admire you. Mega hugs!

    November 18, 2015
    • Love the Doors, thanks Teagan, What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you going to visit family? Wishing you a great holiday, Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 18, 2015
      • Thank you Suzanne. I never do anything special for holidays — especially not since I moved here. However, every year since 2012 I’ve done National Novel Writing Month (November). I’ve been a horrid slacker with it this time. So hopefully come Thanksgiving I’ll be able to be thankful that I’ve done a lot of words! “Hopefully” being a key word. Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Have a thriving Thursday! Hugs

        November 19, 2015
      • You have an open invitation to come here . I hope your day is spent doing what you love to do, and that you get a lot of writing done, enjoy time with your fur babies and eat something wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving Teagan.

        November 19, 2015
  15. Back again Suzanne πŸ™‚ I was just making my list, and I wasn’t quite keen on my turkey recipe.. so I hopped on over to yours, and it looks simple enough, yet so flavorful. I will definitely be trying it. I used to have the pan you talked about, but gave it away when we downsized. Now I have a regular roasting pan without a lid though, so I’ll have to use tin foil I guess. Thanks πŸ™‚

    November 18, 2015
    • Yes before I got my huge granite ware pan I used my big roaster and covered it well with foil it works just fine. I love cooking he turkey like that. Very moist and cooks quickly and the compound butter makes it so flavorful.

      November 18, 2015
  16. I am a complete mess when it comes to planning for the big day, I need this in a big way πŸ™‚

    November 18, 2015
    • After years of being a mess I have got it down now. Have learned a lot over the years. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 18, 2015
  17. Love your pilgrims! They are adorable and I know will be missed. It’s so hard to get used to living without them. 😒

    Reading your post about Thanksgiving prep is like reading my own draft… great minds think alike! Growing up we always had a big crowd. Delicious aromas coming from the kitchen while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was on the tv in the family room; a little pre-dinner game of touch football got us all out of the house (and out of my mom’s hair!); then, the main event. Great memories! Now with a family of our own, I still love having lots of people around- family and friends, those who can’t make it for dinner come for dessert and “parlor games.” We can be a pretty competitive bunch! So fun, but it really is just about being together. 😊

    November 18, 2015
    • I feel like I am in very good company. I have the Macy’s parade on while I am cooking, the day is very busy and I love it. The smells and tastes of Thanksgiving are wonderful. Yes, I already miss not having Izzy and Nando here. I always made a plate for them with turkey and mashed potatoes and vegetables. They loved it so much, Izzy loved cranberry, it was so funny. I miss my sweet babies so much.

      November 18, 2015
  18. I feel bad that your fur babies wont be with you. I will have 8 at my table, and then go to my sisters where we will have 17. Like you, I am a list person. Recipes are out and my grocery and to do list is out.

    November 18, 2015
    • Julie without writing everything out I am lost. I have the stickies app on my computer and I have those post it notes on my screen. Two for Thanksgiving and I am already making my list for Christmas baking. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Julei, I am strill dreaming about that chili of yours.

      November 18, 2015
  19. Wow ! That’s a fabulous menu ! You’ve already got quite some prep done Suzanne ! This is my first thanksgiving , and I’m absolutely clueless as to what to prepare , still planning 😁 That’s such an adorable pic of of Izzy and Nando ☺️

    November 19, 2015
    • Hi Freda, I stick to the basics, every time I get fancy or try somehting I get a thumbs down. Thanks you so much and let us know what you end up making and Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 19, 2015
  20. Sandhya #

    Suzanne, I am a list maker and feel lost if I am not organized. We have been getting together with our friends for years . I make the appetizers and the salad every year. This year we have a bigger group of about 25 people. My friend who hosts it is a gourmet cook, so the meal is always scrumptious.
    I love your menu and make ahead prep list! You are super organized. I can imagine how much you miss Izzy and Nando. I admire your strength.Hugs! Happy thanksgiving!

    November 19, 2015
    • Oh wow I bet the food is amazing, all of it!! Thank you, I do the same thing every year but still have to write it all down it helps me keep on track. I miss my sweet little pugs so much it’s especially hard around the holidays.

      November 19, 2015
      • Sandhya #

        Yes holidays are bitter sweet. As for writing down what you make, it is such a great idea. I am not very good at sticking to a set recipe but one year when my friend requested to bring the same salad I made a year ago, I started writing it down πŸ™‚

        November 20, 2015
      • It’s essential for me and helps me stay on track, it’s so easy to stray. I have found my blog invaluable for keeping track of my recipes and refer back when I need to, even though I have been making the same thing for years I will sometimes forget something when I am rushing to do everything,

        November 20, 2015
  21. Uhm can I be invited to this feast because it seriously looks amazing. And your dogsssssssssss omg 😦 there were many good memories clearly.. very cute picture.

    November 19, 2015
  22. pictures*

    November 19, 2015
  23. skd #

    The chicken looks deliciously tempting. Izzy and Nando are so adorable.

    November 19, 2015
  24. Thank you so much!! Happy Thanksgiving.

    November 19, 2015
  25. Suzanne, I just adore that pic of the pugs. How precious and what a sweet memory. I know you must miss them so much, and I am thinking of you. I am wildly impressed with all you’re organizing and getting done right now. My MIL always hosts so I just handle some sides and desserts. And of course I make my cranberry sauce. This year I’m bringing mustard-maple brussels sprouts with candied pecans, a cornbread dressing, blackberry pie, bourbon caramel pumpkin tart and maybe an apple pie. We’ll see what happens with the time! xo

    November 19, 2015
    • Wow Em, everything sounds so good, and those pies, OMG!!! That’s a lot, your contribution is huge. So nice that you go to MIL’s for the holiday. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you!!

      November 19, 2015
  26. Wow you do it all Suzanne!! You may think I do it too and I always get asked do you do all the cooking…NO…my family likes doing stuff, everyone signs up to bring stuff and we all do it together. We used to have it on Thanksgiving around 1:00, then it went to 11am, really, then as of the last 2 years this year being the 3rd, its Weds night at 5…I have so many that have multiple places to go that we never had time to visit is was get in and eat and leave.
    So Weds night seems to work, I will be making Corn Pudding Casserole and cranberry sauce, I use to always bring Brussels sprouts and I still might depends on how much I can get done ahead of time, I have to work now through Weds so we will see.
    This will be with my Mom’s side I think about 30 of us, my Mom said something about what are we going to do on Thanksgiving the actual day, I said we have it the night before can that not count…LOL
    She I don’t care, we can have a hamburger I am fine with that LOL
    So I am sure I will come up with a meal they only live 2 short streets away from me, so I fix it all at my house then bring it over.
    My Mom just got a cold and last night she coughed so hard she through out her back…ugh!!
    So I know I will be doing it all, but sometimes I really don’t care because they do so much for me and they do lover my cooking for them πŸ™‚
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving, Cheers my friend!!! πŸ™‚

    November 19, 2015
    • Oh my I could not do it all for that many for sure. I always have less than 10 people. Sounds wonderful Amy have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

      November 19, 2015
  27. So much work for one day!!!! I hope keeping busy is helping keep your mind off your lovely furry babies xxxx

    November 19, 2015
  28. You are right. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week. This year is going to be a kind of vacation for me: I’m not hosting and we got two Thanksgiving invitations and planning on going to both. Can it get any better? πŸ˜‰
    I can only imagine … first holiday without your babies… it’s not going to be easy but always try to remember the happy times. Some people say that it works …
    A big kiss, Suzanne!

    November 19, 2015
  29. I just can’t believe it, when it dawned on me I quickly started my ordering and shopping and prepping. How nice for you, it’s a real vacation. I know it’s going to be wonderful.
    Thanks Francesca, I miss my sweet babies so much and I am hoping that on Thanksgiving I will be so busy the day will just fly by. Happy Holiday!!

    November 19, 2015
  30. Barbara #

    It’s just the two of us, and until I retired last year, I worked in another state and came home on weekends. For Thanksgiving, it was the night before, so as soon as I came in the door, I would start making the pies. Everything else would be made in the morning, and I tried to keep the menu down to just a few things.

    In the evening, we always went to the local junior league hockey game (OHLβ€”Ontario Hockey League; Erie Otters). It’s a holiday tradition in Erie. This year, we’ll just stay home and watch a movie.

    We’ve lost a lot of dogs to cancer over the years, as we used to adopt ex-racing greyhounds, and it makes the holidays difficult, but the pictures, like yours, remind us of the good times.

    November 19, 2015
    • Hi Barbara, I used to do everything on Thanksgiving day it’s a lot of work, I love hearing about the holiday traditions of you all. Going to the hockey game sounds like so much fun. Staying home and watching a move sounds really good too.
      I have also lost dogs before Izzy and Nando, some to cancer and it’s never something I can easily get over or accept. Losing my sweet little pugs has been very hard on me. I know you understand. Happy Thanksgiving Barbara, you already celebrated right?

      November 19, 2015
      • Barbara #

        Nope, I’m in the US, but close enough to Canada that we have a team in one of their leagues.

        November 19, 2015
      • Ah… Happy Thanksgiving!!!

        November 19, 2015
  31. Happy thanksgiving.. U planned it perfectly.. Looks grt

    November 19, 2015
  32. Great plan, Suzanne and lucky are your guests! I am not cooking (usually, my sister does every year). The plan for this year is, my husband and I are flying down to Orange County to visit with my son. We are invited to a very good Armenian family friend’s who are good cooks too. We haven’t visited these friends for 7 years. Very excited! πŸ™‚

    November 20, 2015
    • Sounds wonderful Fae, have a fantastic time and how nice that you will see your good friends, I am sure the food will be amazing. Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.

      November 20, 2015
  33. I make a lot of the side dishes and the pie the day before. Only thing I actually need to cook on Thanksgiving is the turkey and stuffing!

    November 21, 2015
    • Yes, I make as much as I can days and the day before. No matter how much I get done there is still the hectic scramble the day of. Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

      November 21, 2015
  34. Happy Thanksgiving Suzanne. … cute pictures of Nando and Izzy…. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    November 22, 2015
  35. HI Suzanne– great Thanksgiving countdown!! I’m with you about doing all your can ahead. This year we are meeting up with all our 4 kids (& their families) in San Francisco. We’ll have 22 of us at AA & J’s house– and we’re all chipping in on the meal. Plus we’ve had google doc spread sheets up for a month with everyone’s coming and going schedule, activities, day by day planner and Thanksgiving meal menu suggestions!! It will be a fun week. I’m heading up tomorrow!! Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving–and find a lot of joy in the people at your table. xox

    November 23, 2015
  36. You certainly have things planned out well, Suzanne, and I bet your Thanksgiving meal will be wonderful. Of course, we don’t have Thanksgiving over here, but the roast turkey dinner is one of our main meals on Christmas Day – although many people have other meats in preference. We stick to turkey and prepare it much as you have done for lovely succulent meat. The pumpkin and pecan pie sound yummy too. I hope you have a fantastic day tomorrow and enjoy that gorgeous meal with your lovely family.

    November 25, 2015
    • Thanks Millie, I have to have it all organized everything I do is on a large scale and each dish takes so make to make if I don’t organize and make certain things in advance there would be no way to get it all done in one day. As a family we always had fish on Christmas Eve and Christmas was an Italian feast. Have a great weekend!

      November 25, 2015
  37. It was very fun to see how you organize your meal and get it all done, Suzanne! Wow, a lot of work, but I’m sure so worth it. I am very fortunate that on Thanksgiving we go to my aunt and uncle’s house. I just have to bring 2 chocolate pies. They live in the desert and have some land so they cook the turkeys in an underground pit. It is so good! They even make enough to send us home with left overs. My holidays are Christmas Eve and Easter. I always love hosting it, and start way before just like you. I will be making my posole soup and freezing it in the next couple weeks for Christmas Eve as we do Mexican food that night. Thank you for sharing your food traditions!

    November 30, 2015
    • Oh wow, Mexican food sounds so good and I love posole!! Sounds like a great Thanksgiving and how cool how they cook the turkey, must be incredible!! Thank you so much!

      November 30, 2015
  38. I have gotten so behind on my blog reading Suzanne, I had a feeling that there had been some bad news about Izzy and Nando over the past few months. I am sending you ALL of the love and hugs I can muster. I’d be completely lost without my Loki. Fur babies are really the best companions you could ever wish or pray for xoxo

    December 12, 2015
    • It is a sad holiday for me, not having my sweet pugs has been very hard for me and the holidays have lost their joy. Thank you so much Laura.

      December 12, 2015
      • I am so sorry to hear that Suzanne. I always feel the same in terms of losing my grandparents. I thought of them today when I was doing Christmas present shopping. Even though the sadness has mellowed over the years, it’ll never be the same. At least there are many, many wonderful memories left with you that can never be taken away. Lots of love xo

        December 21, 2015
      • Thanks Laura around holiday time we think of the happy times with loved ones and I know that is the case with you thinking of your dear Grandparents. I am sorry for your loss it doesn’t matter how long ago it was they are still missed. Happy Holidays!!

        December 21, 2015

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