23 November 2013

The Countdown

There are two things people ask when looking at our Thanksgiving plans.  Why? and How?
The why is a complicated answer, and mayhaps I'll get to it soon.  But the how is much more straightforward, and I have to write it out anyway, so no reason not to go ahead and do that here.  Also, it will help me next year as it's always easier to edit than it is to write from scratch.

The two keys to the how, I've found, are clear plans and lots of help.  As my helpers have gotten more able, our feast has gotten more complex.  We surely love the week of Thanksgiving - even Paul, who doesn't generally love things he deems to be less than necessary, has learned to love it.

So, the countdown involves times, days, and names of doers.  

Usually, this countdown is on notebook paper or notecards, but this year, I shall be official.

Frauline Maria says to start at the very beginning, and when teaching something, that is exactly what to do.  However, when planning something, you must start at the end.  What is the goal? And then work backwards.

So, the goal is to have the dishes on the table between 1 and 1:30 pm on Thursday.  Some are super last minute (the gravy) and others can be made up to three days in advance (certain pies, for example).

So, we are presented with a two fold logic problem - when should each step be taken and who should take the steps.

Lots of factors go into both of these decisions - basically, who can do it most efficiently and joyfully and when does it have to be done?  Soup can be made in advance; fruit salad suffers from each minute in advance it's made.  Pies in advance, Gravy last minute, potatoes somewhere in between those two realities.


  •  Gather, type, print all recipes that will be needed for the week.  
  •  From recipes, generate grocery lists for Kroger and Sam's.  (This takes way longer than you'd think.  I need eggs for 7 separate recipes.  It all has to be tallied and married, as they say about liquor bottles.)  
  • Sam's Trip

Sunday - All Rest and Give Thanks!  

Forsters minus Paul:   

  • Do some school work.  
  • Kroger Trip
  • Plan serving pieces and cooking vessels 
  • Mise en place for Tuesday

Tuesday morning
ALEF, Both Boys: 
  •  Asparagus Soup w/ herbed goat cheese  - 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Prepare Herb Butter for Turkey - 30 minutes
  •  Chop Celery and Onion for Dressing - 15 minutes
  • Prepare Brine for Turkey - 30 minutes
  • Placecards - 10 minutes
  • Foodcards - 20 minutes
  • Both cornbread recipes for Dressing -  1 hour

Tuesday afternoon

All:  Thankful Lists

Tuesday evening

ALEF - Mise en Place for Wednesday
PWF - Wash up

Wednesday morning

  • Unload Dishwasher

ALEF, Both Boys:
  • Corn Pudding - 1 hour
  • Caramel Apple cheesecake - 1 hour
  • Cranberry Sauce - 30 minutes
  • Pecan Pie - 1 hour

Wednesday afternoon

ALEF, Both Boys:
  • Pumpkin Pie - 1 hour
  • Prep for Green Bean Dish - All pieces except Vinaigrette - 30 minutes
  • Poppy Seed Dressing for Winter Fruit Salad - 30 minutes
  • Sherry Vinaigrette for Green Bean Dish - 30 minutes

Wednesday evening

  • Peel and Chop Sweet Potatoes - 45 minutes
  • Peel White Potatoes - 15 minutes
  • Wash Up - 1 hour
  • Make Sweet Potato Casserole - 30 minutes
  • Make Scalloped White Potatoes - 30 minutes
  • Spatchcock Turkey - 20 minutes
  • Place Turkey in Brine - 2 minutes   ;)


  • 6:00 am - alef - Take stock and edit to-do list 
  • 7:00am - alef - Turkey out of brine, pat dry
  • 7:30 am - pwf - get grill going
  • 8:00 am - Turkey on grill - alef
  • 8:00 am - 10:30 am - Kids to watch a movie/assist as called upon
  • 8:00 am - 10:30 am - pwf to swarm about the house projecting and straightening
  • 8:00 am - 10:30 am - alef to cook cook, feed EG
  • 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - abf to set table, tear romaine
  • 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - boys to clean front yard, play in room, straighten room
  • 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - pwf to be washing dishes, playing with boys, being awesome
  • 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - alef to get each dish finalized, go through menu with check marks, ending with green beans and winter fruit salad, except gravy, feed EG
  • 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm - all greet guests, visit, enjoy cocktails and appetizers, check on remaining things, etc. 
  • 12:30 pm - alef to cut up winter fruit, combine spinach and cream, make gravy
  • 1:00 pm - soup served
  • 1:20 pm - All served  (put pies in to warm)

Rest and relax, basque in the glory of a feast.

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