Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving III

Survive the Process

You want philosophy? Read my maugerings beginning with Time's Just No Thing and et seq. here and here. Besides wasting your time (possibly pleasurably), these will fortify your comprehension of the ancient new Hassidic-Zen concept that there is time to do what is important to you. Maybe not what you want to do, but what you must do and what is important to you. If that is cooking a feast, so what's the problem? Otherwise you have to choose among the myriad invitations pressed upon you by a breathless public, or wheedle your spouse into watching the game at the brew pub -- she'll love the wide screen and full theatre sound system.

Practically speaking, to those who remain ...

To build your feast without causing your day runner to scream tilt! or your temper to fray way past anybody's enjoyment, you need not to mourn but to organize.
First, observe that a feast need not be many complex dishes. An agglomeration of simple dishes will do the job, provided each is very good or better. By that I mean making from scratch whenever possible.
The big handle on cooking is the difference between preparation and cooking. Cooking is passive for the cook. Prep is active. What can be done ahead? All the cutting? How many steps can you do in the days before the event? What can you start while the first dish cooks? Without getting too far ahead of yourself?
A quarter hour spent planning your menu will go a long long way to de-frazzling the chef.
Here's the plan of battle I drew up for one year:
Tuesday, AM: Shop
Tuesday, PM: Make lime sherbet, cranberry sauce
Tuesday, Eve: Start knot rolls
Wednesday, AM: Finish knot rolls, make pie crust, roast nuts
Wednesday, PM: Assemble rice ring and stuffing up to baking, make pumpkin pie filling
Wednesday, Eve: Turkey into oven for overnight baking.
Thursday, AM: Breakfast, soup, salad and relish for lunch
Thursday, PM: Vegetables, warm stuffing. rice ring and so forth, make gravy, relish tray etc.
This works if you happen to have the days off before Thursday.
Without that luxury you have to do something more like this:

Saturday: Shop
Sunday: Sherbet, cranberry sauce, nuts and pie pastry.
Monday, Eve: Make pie filling,
Tuesday Eve: make rice ring and stuffing.
Wednesday Eve: Start knot rolls overnight. Turkey.
Thursday, AM: Breakfast, bake rolls, make soup, salad for lunch.
Thursday, PM: Vegetables, pies, warm it up, gravy and serve.
The point of the feast is to be mindful of the good in our lives. Good food is surely one of these. It's preparation, if fun, will make it so.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice to know about your plans on Thanksgiving...and for some more resources and suggestions please do visit my Thanksgiving Blog sometime....have a great Thanksgiving celebrations!!!!