Simplifying Thanksgiving

It has been nice to see all the new commenters and subscribers arriving here. I’m sorry I haven’t found time to post very much lately. Having a three-year-old seems to seriously curtail all other activities.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m simplifying my Thanksgiving cooking this year. I’ve cast about for some tips and recipes that streamline the cooking of the big meal, and I wanted to share what I found with you.

Make ahead as much as you can. It never fails that Thanksgiving morning is rushed, and there’s never enough time (or oven space) to do everything. Many traditional dishes can be made a day or two ahead, such as the cranberry sauce, tart dough, the salad components and dressing.

Break out the slow cooker. Also with an eye to making ahead and freeing up precious stove space, I’m going to put my slow cooker to use this year. I could kick myself for not thinking of this sooner. I’ll be using it to make mashed potatoes, but a lot of other side dishes can also be done in the slow cooker, such as stuffing, baked sweet potatoes or roasted root vegetables. Here are even more suggestions.

Simplify your favorites. You may not need to go all out on every single dish. Instead of sweet potato casserole this year, I’m baking the sweet potatoes ahead, then mashing them with some butter and finishing as a gratin. I’m also ditching the broccoli casserole. Instead, I’m roasting the broccoli and finishing it with a quick cheese sauce. For dessert, I decided to make a lemon curd tart in place of pie, since both the dough and the lemon curd can be made ahead; it just needs to be baked a short time after dinner.

Remember to slow down and enjoy your Thanksgiving this year, both the cooking and the eating. It shouldn’t be a stressful time, and it doesn’t have to be a gourmet feast. Here’s another simplifying tip that I’m going to try to implement: Try to eat a little less. Your stomach will be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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