Thanksgiving dinner, 1 p.m., Thanksgiving Day, 1995, New Jersey.
The Shopping List
Planned items were purchased except as noted in Actual column.
We bought for twenty-five; twenty-one ate.
||turkey, fresh, 22 lbs.
||chestnuts (as many as fit in 2-3 lb. coffee can)
||parsley (for stuffing, garnishes)
||dill (for stuffing)
||celery (for stuffing, optional for crudités)
||mushrooms (stuffing, green beans, green salad)
||yellow onions (for stuffing)
||(had lots of leftovers)|
||candied ginger (for sweet potatoes)
||fresh ginger root|
||carrots (for carrot & turnip, carrot salad, crudités)
||(4" would have been better)|
||green beans (steamed, crudités)
||1/2 green, 1/2 wax (supermarket low on green this year, *sigh*) (just for steamed)|
||fancy lettuce (for green salad & to line carrot salad bowl)
||cucumbers (for green salad)
||tomatoes (for green salad)
||red onion (for green salad)
||radishes (for green salad)
||broccoli (for crudités)
||cauliflower (for crudités)
||peppers, green and/or other colors (for crudités)
yellow (1 each would be enough)
||garlic (for salad dressing)
||fruit (for nibbling)
||2 boxes dates, red & green seedless grapes, bananas|
||fresh pineapple (for sweet potatoes)
|5 large or equiv.
||apples (for apple pie)
||small Granny Smiths|
||pumpkin (for pumpkin pie)
||used canned mix|
||oranges (for cider; any kind will do)
||lemons (for carrot salad, general use)
||got bags of fresh, not frozen|
||raisins (for carrot salad)
|a few oz
||blanched slivered almonds (for green beans)
||nuts, in shell
||tarragon wine vinegar, or other vinegar (for salad dressing)
||olive oil (for salad dressing)
||Dijon mustard (for salad dressing)
||Italian seasoning (for salad dressing)
||cinnamon sticks (for mulled cider)
||whole cloves (for mulled cider)
||ground clove (for pumpkin pie)
||ground ginger (for pumpkin pie)
|1/2 to 1 t.
||ground nutmeg (for mulled cider (and sweet potatoes?))
||mayonaise (for carrot salad)
||butter (margerine or whatever) (for bread and butter, pie crust)
||I Can't Believe It's Not Butter|
||sour cream (for dip)
||lite sour cream|
||eggs (stuffing, pumpkin pie, general use)
||evaporated milk (for pumpkin pie)
||Knorr leek soup mix, enough for 1 quart sour cream dip
||Newman's Own salad dressing
||cheese, e.g., cheddar, swiss, & brie
|sharp or real sharp cheddar cheese|
lite & herb brie
||Pepperidge Farm 4-kind assortment (only ate one box)|
||flour, white (for pie crusts)
||sugar (for cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie)
||didn't need for pie -- used mix|
||got 1 box packets, 1 measured|
||unseasoned bread cubes (or bread for stuffing)
||cornmeal bread stuffing (didn't have unseasoned regular bread)|
||bread, one large rye & one large challah
||got 1 rye-ish, 1 country French (they were out of challah); not much was eaten|
||half sour pickles
||garlic dill pickles (didn't get eaten, but got set out late)|
||"ice cream" without sugar
||orange juice (need 1 c. for sweet potatoes)
||2 gals mulled, 1 mulled spiked; didn't get drunk up but wasn't well advertised|
||Parmalat milk (for coffee)
||soda, assorted (cola, ginger ale, diet, flavored seltzer)
||plastic storage bags (for leftover flour)
- Turkey with chestnut stuffing & gravy
- Turkey, chestnuts, yellow onion, bread cubes, eggs, parsley, dill,
celery, mushrooms. Butter to sauté the 'shrooms in?
- Turkey, chestnuts, yellow onion, cornbread cubes, parsley, dill, mushrooms
(and butter?), apple pie filling. (Cornbread was the only unseasoned bread
cubes in the store. We threw in the remains of the apple pie filling because
we had to do something with it. We left out the celery because
we had too much stuffing. We probably left the eggs out to save on fat
and cholesterol. The stuffing was delicious as always.)
- Cranberry sauce
- Cranberries, sugar, sugar substitute. Two batches: one with sugar and
one with fake sugar (Equal).
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet potatoes, candied ginger, fresh pineapple, orange juice.
- Sweet potatoes, fresh ginger, fresh pineapple, orange juice. (We used
fresh ginger either to reduce the sugar, because it was cheaper, or both.
The sweet potatoes were plenty sweet with fresh ginger.)
- White potatoes.
- Green beans with mushrooms
- Green beans, mushrooms, blanched slivered almonds.
- Green & wax beans, mushrooms, blanched slivered almonds. (We used
mostly wax because the store had a bad shipment of green beans and we could hardly find any good ones.) Mixed green and wax tasted fine, but all
green would have been prettier. We cooked the beans in two batches and
only put the blanched slivered omelettes (ask Lee about that) in with the green beans, so that
no-fat eaters could avoid the nuts.
- Carrot & turnip
- Carrots, turnip, a little butter, maybe.
- Carrots, turnip.
- Green salad
- Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion, mushrooms?, radishes, dressing (garlic,
tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, Italian seasoning).
- Red leaf & Boston lettuce, cucumber, tomato, scallion, mushrooms,
radishes, dressing (tarragon vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, lemon).
- Carrot salad
- Carrots, mayonaise, lemon, raisins.
- Crudités & dip
- Carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, celery,
Knorr leek soup, sour cream.
- Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green, red & yellow peppers, Knorr
leek soup, sour cream. (Green beans were yucky this year. What a pity.)
- Cheese & crackers
- Cheddar, Swiss (or equivalent: Jarlsberg, Edam, ... Monterey Jack...),
Brie; two boxes crackers, assorted.
- Cheddar, Jarlsberg, Brie (Lite and Herb); two boxes Pepperidge Farm
4-kind assorted crackers.
- Bread & butter
- Two loaves, one large rye, one large challah.
- Due to a poor selection, one rye-like loaf, one country French loaf.
- Pickles, nuts in shell, fruit.
- Pickles, walnuts, grapes, bananas.
- Soda, juice, mulled cider (cider, oranges, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves,
nutmeg), tea, coffee (milk & sugar).
- Apple pie (apples, flour, butter, ground cinnamon), pumpkin pie (canned
pumpkin, evaporated milk, ground cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, flour,
butter), ice cream (real and sugarless).
- Two apple pies, two (?) pumpkin pies, real and sugarless ice cream.
The Dietary Restrictions
Several people can't and/or won't eat sugar. One can't eat fat and many
others like to avoid it (and nearly everyone else ought to).
Tuesday night we made a quick shopping run for apples, sweet potatoes,
string beans, onions, and mushrooms, so that people could get started Wednesday
morning before the Big Shopping Run, which occurred some time on Wednesday.
A few items (soda, cider, maybe a pie) were supplied by people separately
from the Main Event.
Wednesday morning we started peeling and slicing and finalized the shopping
list. Mid-Wednesday (?) we made the Big Shopping Run, then got down to serious
Thursday we did only the work that must be done on Thursday, which is
- Cut crosses on the chestnuts. The cookbook says to cut crosses on the
flat side, but I find they're easier to peel if you cut the crosses on
the rounded side. Boil the chestnuts in plenty of water for twenty minutes.
Drain them and barely cover them with cold
water, which, in cooling, the chestnuts will warm up, until chestnuts and
water are both a bearably warm temperature. Peel the chestnuts with fingers
and/or knife. Take off the husk and the dark brown paper coating the chestnut.
Leaving a nut in the warm water until you peel it makes it much easier
to peel. Trim off rotten bits, if any, and toss bad nuts. Leave nuts as
whole as possible, but don't worry about it too much. You'll end up with
a bowl of fragments, chunks, and a few whole nuts. Your thumbs will hurt
at the end of this process, but chestnut stuffing is well worth it. Your
thumbs'll be fine in a couple of days.
- Peel and slice the sweet potatoes. Boil them until soft. Don't overfill
the pot with sweet potato or it'll take forever to cook; there has to be
plenty of water. Use two pots if necessary (usually is). Cut most of the
pineapple into chunks; reserve a few slices for the tops. Peel and mince
the fresh ginger. Drain the sweet potatoes (reserve some of this liquid
for moistening stuffing if desired), mash them in their pot, and mix in
the pineapple, ginger, and a little orange juice (not too much) to taste.
Put them in the 2 metal baking pans, garnish with the reserved pineapple slices,
and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired (I think we sprinkled one but not the
other). Bake them: an hour or so at 350°F. When done, remove from oven,
let cool, and store in refrigerator.
- Peel carrots for the carrot-and-turnip and slice into thick coins.
Peel the turnip and cut into pieces a little thinner than the carrots.
There should be about equal amounts of carrot and turnip, but err on the
side of more carrot. Boil them until the turnips are soft; this will take
a long time (an hour?); make sure there's plenty of water or they won't
cook. 'Specially the turnips. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to put the turnips
in a quarter hour before the carrots. When done, drain and mash them (reserve
some of the liquid for moistening stuffing if desired). Put them in a tupperware
and store them in the refrigerator. The people who taught me about carrot-and-turnip
like them whipped into a homogenous paste, with lots of butter, but I and
my family prefer them mashed lumpily. We mash until the biggest lumps are
about pea-sized, which leaves it mostly pretty smooth with occasional lumps.
One of our major carrot-and-turnip lovers is on a no-fat diet, so we leave
out the butter. None of the other carrot-and-turnip lovers mind, or even
notice, the lack of butter, and the rest of the people wouldn't touch carrot-and-turnip
with a ten-foot pole no matter how much butter, so it's not a problem.
(It's a love it or hate it dish.)
- Slice mushrooms for the stuffing and sauté them. Chop parsley
and dill. Mix herbs and 'shrooms with chestnuts. Moisten with boiling water
from sweet potato or carrot-and-turnip. Usually, we'd chop and add celery,
but this year we added the leftover apple pie filling instead. (My second
favorite stuffing: one part each walnuts, apples, raisins, onions and celery,
three or four parts bread cubes, lots of sage.) Store in fridge in a tupperware
until morning. Chop onions into large chunks. They will go under the turkey
when it goes into the oven. (They will come out delicious beyond belief.
One year I read somewhere about resting the turkey on a bed of pearl onions
to keep it out of the juices. I tried this. It does not keep the turkey
out of the juices, because the onions collapse, but it does wonderful things
to the onions. It works equally well with chunks of ordinary onions, and
that's much easier than peeling a zillion tiny pearl onions. This is also
a great way to cook sweet and baking potatoes.)
- Peel and grate carrots for the carrot salad (use larger grating holes
of grater, not shredding holes). Squeeze a lemon for juice. Add lemon juice
and mayonaise to taste. Add a cup of raisins. Store in tupperware in fridge.
- Peel, core and slice apples for apple pie. Mix with cinnamon and with
other spices as desired. (We used to put in bits of butter, but you really
don't need to.) Mix pumpkin pie filling (usually we use plain canned pumpkin
and mix in our own spices and stuff but this year we were pressed for time
so bought canned filling). Make pie crust using the recipe of your choice
(unless you're the wunder-Laurel, in which case you just throw flour and
butter and water together until it feels right). Assemble the pies and
bake them. Store them on a counter.
- Mix soup mix into sour cream for dip and store in tup in fridge. (Soup
mix dip tastes way better if it sits and soaks in for a few hours; overnight
- Boil cranberries for sauce in two pots (one will get sugar, one
sugar substitute). After they've boiled a while, use a potato masher
to pop them. If you miss a few, it's okay, but try to pop most of
them. Add the sweeteners at the correct point and cook until
done. (Okay, so I'm not a cranberry sauce fan and I haven't
memorized how to make it. So sue me.) Store in tups in fridge. We
usually make at least twice as much real-sugar sauce as
fake-sugar. Make sure you remember which is which. [Put just enough
water in each pot to cover the berries. Mix sugar into the
with-sugar pot. Cook till they seem done. Cool. Then mix fake
sugar into the fake-sugar pot. -SLF, 2006]
- Scrub the baking potatoes (can be left until Thursday if sufficient
cooks will be available).
- Wash veggies for the green salad (can be left until Thursday if sufficient
cooks will be available).
If you run out of room in the fridge, put the soda and cider outdoors.
This is November, after all. Still no room? Exile the carrot-and-turnip;
it's just veggies so it'll keep. Still no room? Exile the sweet potatoes.
Next the cranberry sauce. Desperate? Put salad veggies on the counter.
Crack of dawn or earlier:
- Stuff the turkey and start it baking. This happens magically
while I'm asleep so I can't describe it. [Put a bed of chunks of
onion in the turkey pan. Unwap the turkey and remove the giblets;
put the giblets back in the fridge. There is some recent
controversy over whether or not to wash the bird. Rub bird with
garlic, inside and out. Stuff both openings, fastening the big one
with a skewer and sewing both shut with strong thread (e.g., doubled
ordinary sewing thread). Helps to thread the needles the previous
evening when one is less bleary. Put the turkey in the pan and the
pan in the oven to bake. Put any leftover stuffing back in the
fridge. At least, that's what I vaguely recall from last year.
Starting at a sane but early getting-up hour:
First get nibblements ready so people can graze while you do the rest:
- Slice veggies for crudités and arrange nicely on a large platter.
Remix dip, decant into nice bowl, garnish with parsley, bits of vegetables,
or whatever, and set in center of platter.
- On a large platter, arrange cheeses in the center with a cutting knife.
Cut a third to a half of each cheese into slices; leave the rest uncut.
Arrange the crackers around the cheeses attractively (like toppled circles
of dominos is always good). If short on platters, use a cheese board or
small cutting board for the cheeses; set it next to an ordinary plate with
crackers arranged nicely. If not enough room for all the cheese, leave
some in the kitchen but put more out as soon as half of a type of cheese
is eaten. Ditto crackers. Otherwise people will think it's running low
and avoid it lest they shortchange others.
- Set out nuts in bowl with nutcracker, pickles in bowl, fruit in bowl(s)
(wash fruit as necessary).
- Now is a fine time to boil the giblets and all. You can use the broth
to moisten the extra stuffing, which will be nice since it doesn't have
any meat in it.
- Put baking potatoes in at least an hour before the turkey is done.
- Set the cider mulling. Slice up two or three oranges and throw
them in. Also cinnamon sticks, a small handful of whole cloves, and
some ground nutmeg. Bring it all to a simmer and keep it there for
at least half an hour. Skim before serving; a sieve works well;
return the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges to the pot after
rinsing. Spike a third of the cider at some point. [Eventually we
stopped spiking any cider because no one drank it. Now we just mull
one gallon, unspiked. -SLF, 2006]
- Line a nice bowl (pref. glass or crystal) with a few outer lettuce
leaves; put carrot salad in. Garnish with a sprig of parsley. Back into
the fridge if it's too early, otherwise right onto the table if there's
room, otherwise find it counter space somewhere (hah!).
- Put the carrot-and-turnip in a casserole and nuke it to reheat it.
(No room in the oven.)
- Tear lettuce, chop veggies for the green salad. (Score cucumbers lengthwise
with a fork before slicing for a nice decorative look.) Make salad dressing.
- Sauté the mushrooms to go with the green beans. Use no butter,
for the sake of the no-fat folk.
When non-cooks start arriving:
- Now that there's someone to guard them from pets, set the nuts and
cheese & crackers and dried fruit in the living room and the crudités
and pickles and fresh fruit on the dining room table. If the peeling and
slicing isn't done yet (see above and below), confine it to one end of the table.
When the peeling and slicing is all done:
- Clear and wipe the table, sweep the floor, and send the peelings to
the compost heap.
- Set out plates and utensils and glasses and cold drinks and napkins.
If late enough, set out some salads to get them out of the way.
When the bird comes out of the oven:
- Make gravy from the drippings. This happens magically while I'm
busy with other things so I can't describe it. [I suspect it may be
as simple as skimming off most of the fat and pouring the remaining
drippings into a gravy boat. -SLF, 2006]
- Put the sweet potato pans in the oven to warm.
- Put the pan of extra stuffing (whatever didn't fit in the bird) in
the oven to cook. If the bird is going to come out too late for the extra
stuffing to cook decently, nuke the stuffing sufficiently before putting it in
- Put in any baking potatoes that didn't fit in with the bird.
At the last minute:
- Strain the mulled cider. (Running a sieve around the surface works
pretty well. Rinse the whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and orange slices
and put them back in.) Spike the smaller pot if you haven't already. (Actually,
you can mull the cider in one pot until this point but we've never found
that more convenient. Plus I'm beginning to lean toward just putting out a
bottle and letting people do their own spiking. The unspiked is much more
popular.) [We eventually gave up entirely on spiking. -SLF, 2006]
- Set out the bread and butter on a board with a bread knife and a little
plate with butter and a butter knife.
- Steam the green beans. Add the sautéed mushrooms. Sprinkle with
blanched, slivered almonds and mix. (If you put the blanched slivereds in a separate
dish, no one will notice them. But if you sprinkle them on, it's bad for
the no-fat people. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.)
- Set out the green salad with dressings next to it.
- Set out the carrot salad, carrot-and-turnip, sweet potatoes, baked
potatoes, and extra stuffing. Set out the cranberry sauces, marked for
which is which.
- Decant the stuffing from the bird into a dish by the bird. Carve. Set
the gravy next to the bird.
- Announce the mulled cider thoroughly, so it get doesn't get forgotten
about. (It could be set out in the dining room, only there's no room.)
Make sure it has ladles and people can find cider mugs.
- After everyone has had plenty of time for seconds and thirds and grazing,
set coffee and tea water going.
- Set out the dessert plates, a few bowls for pie-eschewing ice cream
eaters, forks and spoons (may have to wash some dishes), tea cups, milk
and sugar for tea and coffee, pies, and serving utensils.
- When the coffee and tea water are ready, announce dessert (or just
wait 'til people twig) and set out the ice cream.
- Leave the bird and the stuffing from the bird out as long as possible
but put it away before it spoils. Put any remaining sliced meat in one
container. Using your hands and a knife, strip off the carcass whatever
meat comes off reasonably easily and pack it in another container. Pack
the carcass in whatever's handy, container or bag or pot.
- The rest of the food can stay out longer. Like well after dessert.
The longer it stays out, the fewer leftovers there'll be.
- Eventually, pack up all the leftovers and put them away. Do the dishes
and clean up.
- Oh, if only I lived in the same house with that bird carcass! I would
make turkey stew:
- After you've stripped the carcass of the meat that comes off easily,
put the carcass in a vat and cover it with water.
- Rip the carcass into two or three chunks if necessary, so that the
water will cover it.
- Simmer for half an hour.
- Remove the carcass to a platter and let cool until touchable.
- Strip off remaining meat and reserve. Strip off gristle and skin and
discard. Skim off most of fat and either save for eventual matzo balls,
- (You may continue either now or in a day or two, as desired.)
- Return bones to vat and simmer at least another hour.
- Remove bones and discard.
- (You may continue either now or in a day or two, as desired.)
- As available, add: chopped up leftover potatoes, up to two cups each
leftover sweet potato and carrot-and-turnip (better only one cup, but if
you bake your sweet potatoes under the bird, then add all you like, chopped
up; likewise if you make glazed carrots
instead of or in addition to carrot-and-turnip,
add all you like), leftover green beans, chopped up, with 'shrooms but not
blanched slivereds, leftover onions that the bird rested on, leftover parsley
and crudités veggies, chopped up (add broc and caul scant quarter
hour before serving), meat which was stripped off the carcass after the
first simmer, and some meat which was stripped off beforehand, chopped
into bite-size bits as necessary. Add herbs: sage (lots), rosemary, marjoram,
thyme. Some black pepper, too. If the pot isn't full yet, add barley (rinsed);
add more water for the barley if necessary.
- Simmer an hour to let all the flavors mix and the rosemary soften,
two hours if you added barley, more if desired. Stir a couple of times
an hour until the barley is cooked, once an hour or so thereafter until
- The result is a thick, delicious, nutritious stew. If there's too much,
freeze some. Tired of turkey already? (More fool you.) Thaw it out a month
from now and you'll love it. If you prefer soup to stew (more fool you),
use more water and put in less leftovers and barley.
Don't forget to go for a walk before or after dessert. Isn't it fine
There are only four burners on the stove.
- Do the chestnuts first on Wednesday, to get them out of the way.
- Then get the sweet potatoes (one or two pots) and carrot-and-turnip
boiling. Leave the fourth burner for short term tasks (sautéing
stuffing contents or making dinner (what??)).
- Late Wednesday, do the cranberry sauce (two pots).
- The stove top will be empty early Thursday. This is a good time to
boil the giblets, so you can use the broth to moisten the extra stuffing.
- Put two pots of cider on to mull around noon.
- Just before serving, make the gravy. If there's room, steam the beans;
if not, steam them in the microwave (but you'll have to juggle them with
the carrot-and-turnip and/or extra stuffing).
- Before dessert, set tea water and coffee going.
There is only one oven.
- If you can get the pies ready soon enough, bake them while the sweet
potatoes are boiling. If not, bake them late, after the sweet potatoes,
while the cranberries are boiling, and don't forget to take them out!
- On Thursday, the bird gets the oven for the morning. Festoon it with
baking potatoes when it's time for them to go in.
- Once the bird comes out, pop in the sweet potatoes. Put in the extra
stuffing (pre-nuked if necessary). Slip in any baking potatoes that didn't
fit in with the bird.
There is only one microwave.
- On Thursday, nuke the extra stuffing if the turkey will be coming out
of the oven too late to completely cook the stuffing in the oven.
- Nuke the carrot-and-turnip to reheat it. This will take a while.
- Nuke the beans to steam them, if there's no room on the stove.
Pots and pans are at a premium.
- Wash boiling pots immediately after emptying so that boiling scum doesn't
- Use the biggest pot for the sweet potatoes, carrot-and-turnip (if can't
use smaller pot), cranberry sauce (with sugar), and cider (unspiked). If you've
been paying attention, you'll note that the procedure calls for these to be
cooked serially, so that the pot will be available.
- Use the next largest pot for carrot-and-turnip (if it fits), cranberry
sauce (fake sugar), and cider (spiked). These are also cooked serially.
- Use frying pans for stuffing (Wednesday), mushrooms for green beans
(Thursday), and gravy (Thursday). The green bean shrooms can go in a small
pan to leave the big pan for the gravy.
- The turkey goes in the turkey pan, of course.
So are serving dishes.
- A big platter for the crudités, another for the turkey.
- Another big platter for cheese and crackers, or a wooden cutting board
and regular plate if no other large platter.
- A platter or large plate for the carved turkey slices.
- A huge bowl for the green salad.
- A large bowl for the carrot salad. Another for the fruit.
- A medium bowl for the nuts. Bowls for the cranberry sauces. A bowl for
the bird stuffing, when decanted. And the dip. And the dates.
- A small bowl for the made salad dressing.
- Casseroles for the carrot-and-turnip and extra stuffing.
- Baking pans for the sweet potatoes.
- Pie tins for the pies.
It helps to have help.
- You must have at least two cooks, one of whom must get up before dawn
on Thursday to stuff the stuffing in the bird and the bird in the oven.
- Try to round up at least a couple of other people for a few hours each
for some serious peeling and slicing. If you can find people who specialize
in green salad, cranberry sauce, carrot salad, salad dressing, or what-have-you,
it'll take a lot of the pressure off.
- Try to round up volunteers for a cleaning crew for Wednesday to clean
the house while you're cooking.
- Somebody is going to have to do some fairly serious dishwashing on
Thursday, between dinner and dessert; there isn't time to run the dishwasher
and it's too noisy anyway. Wednesday, you can pretty much wash as you go.
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Last modified 26 February, 2006, Sue