And they know exactly what they want too. Turkey and all its trimmings. This upcoming Thanksgiving feast is the one meal I truly enjoy putting on the table for these very reasons:
1. The main course is ready to go with minimal effort. You can even pre-order and pick up your turkey at the local supermarket or restaurant if you wish.
2. Most of the sides are predictable: cranberry sauce, two kinds of potatoes, one with marshmallows, two kinds of greens, one with bacon, stuffing, two kinds of pies, one definitely pumpkin, and plenty of ice cream for first and second helpings.
3. Leftovers can go home with guests or will feed you for the next few days.
4. No need for cooking supper if the meal is served mid day.
5. Everyone will complain on how much they ate as they scavenge in the back of the refrigerator all afternoon.
A traditional meal is quite easy to prepare, and I make every effort to simplify every year.
Since a lot of people anticipate to taste their childhood meal at this time, stick to brands they recognize and have come to love. If you know that one person connects Thanksgiving to a special dish, be sure to include that dish, even if it is not eaten by anyone else.
1. Purchase a Butterball Turkey, pre-infused with extra juices. Follow roasting instructions on the package. If you opt for a heritage turkey, talk to the providers about how to treat and cook the bird.
2. Purchase or bake your pies ahead of time unless you truly love to fuss with the extra baking. Your oven will be busy for hours; so, anything you need to bake will need to be done ahead of time.
3. If you have vegetarians, try to include a special dish for them, even if they are the only ones eating that item.
Feel like decorating? Go outdoors and pick up leaves and branches to make natural dried arrangements. Add your family heirloom china pieces, even for children's settings. Eating together is a special time for an extended family. No need to save those pieces for future occasions.
I will send home dried, sweet cranberries for everyone, with a printed recipe for homemade granola that will use up those cranberries. Here is the recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman, NYTimes.
6C rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 C or 1C maple syrup or honey
1 C dried cranberries or other dried fruit
Heat oven to 125F.
Combine oats, nuts/seeds, cinnamon, salt, maple or honey, oil.
Spread on a rimmed cookie sheet.
Bake for 15' and stir.
Continue baking and stirring every 15' until the mixture is golden brown.Appr. 35' or so.
Remove from oven and stir in the dried fruit.
Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Shelf life is about two weeks.