Thanksgiving Dinner

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.

Planned Actual
1 turkey, fresh, 22 lbs.
chestnuts (as many as fit in 2-3 lb. coffee can)
1 bunch parsley (for stuffing, garnishes)
1 bunch dill (for stuffing)
celery (for stuffing, optional for crudités)
2 boxes mushrooms (stuffing, green beans, green salad)
3 yellow onions (for stuffing)
10+ big sweet potatoes
1 dozen baking potatoes 16 (had lots of leftovers)
1 jar candied ginger (for sweet potatoes) 1 fresh ginger root
carrots (for carrot & turnip, carrot salad, crudités) several lbs.
5" diam turnip (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)
2 heads fancy lettuce (for green salad & to line carrot salad bowl) 1
red leaf
2 cucumbers (for green salad)
1/2 doz tomatoes (for green salad)
1 red onion (for green salad) 1 bunch scallions
1 bunch radishes (for green salad)
small head broccoli (for crudités)
small head cauliflower (for crudités)
2 peppers, green and/or other colors (for crudités) 2
yellow (1 each would be enough)
garlic (for salad dressing) (punted)
fruit (for nibbling) 2 boxes dates, red & green seedless grapes, bananas
1 qt fresh pineapple (for sweet potatoes)
5 large or equiv. apples (for apple pie) 2 bags small Granny Smiths
pumpkin (for pumpkin pie) used canned mix
2 oranges (for cider; any kind will do) 3 oranges
some lemons (for carrot salad, general use)
5 bags cranberries got bags of fresh, not frozen
1 cup raisins (for carrot salad) 1 box
a few oz blanched slivered almonds (for green beans) 1 pkg
1 bag nuts, in shell walnuts
1 bottle tarragon wine vinegar, or other vinegar (for salad dressing)
olive oil (for salad dressing) 1 bottle
Dijon mustard (for salad dressing) (punted)
Italian seasoning (for salad dressing) 1 jar
1 doz. cinnamon sticks (for mulled cider) 1 pkg
2 doz. whole cloves (for mulled cider) 1 jar
ground clove (for pumpkin pie) (in mix)
ground ginger (for pumpkin pie) (in mix)
1/2 to 1 t. ground nutmeg (for mulled cider (and sweet potatoes?)) 1 jar
mayonaise (for carrot salad)
1 lb. butter (margerine or whatever) (for bread and butter, pie crust) 1 lb. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
1 quart sour cream (for dip) 1 quart lite sour cream
1 dozen eggs (stuffing, pumpkin pie, general use) (unused?)
evaporated milk (for pumpkin pie)
Knorr leek soup mix, enough for 1 quart sour cream dip 2 pkgs
1 bottle Newman's Own salad dressing
3 pieces cheese, e.g., cheddar, swiss, & brie 1
1 each
sharp or real sharp cheddar cheese
lite & herb brie
2 boxes assorted crackers 2 boxes Pepperidge Farm 4-kind assortment (only ate one box)
3 c. flour, white (for pie crusts)
1 box sugar (for cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie) didn't need for pie -- used mix
1 box Equal got 1 box packets, 1 measured
2 bags unseasoned bread cubes (or bread for stuffing) 2 bags cornmeal bread stuffing (didn't have unseasoned regular bread)
2 loaves bread, one large rye & one large challah got 1 rye-ish, 1 country French (they were out of challah); not much was eaten
1 jar half sour pickles 1 jar garlic dill pickles (didn't get eaten, but got set out late)
1/2 gal. ice cream
"ice cream" without sugar 1 pint?
orange juice (need 1 c. for sweet potatoes)
2 gals. cider 3 gals. 2 gals mulled, 1 mulled spiked; didn't get drunk up but wasn't well advertised
3 boxes Parmalat milk (for coffee)
soda, assorted (cola, ginger ale, diet, flavored seltzer)
1 bag napkins
1 box plastic storage bags (for leftover flour)

The Menu

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).

The Procedure

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 preparation.

Thursday we did only the work that must be done on Thursday, which is plenty.


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:

Starting at a sane but early getting-up hour:

First get nibblements ready so people can graze while you do the rest:


When non-cooks start arriving:

When the peeling and slicing is all done:

When the bird comes out of the oven:

At the last minute:




Don't forget to go for a walk before or after dessert. Isn't it fine weather!

Resource Management

There are only four burners on the stove.

There is only one oven.

There is only one microwave.

Pots and pans are at a premium.

So are serving dishes.

It helps to have help.

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Last modified 26 February, 2006, Sue Felshin