Respect The Bird (And The Cook) - New Horizons in the Kitchen Blog at - 258353

New Horizons in the Kitchen

RESPECT THE BIRD (and the cook) 
Nov. 24, 2011 2:27 pm 
Updated: Mar. 19, 2013 6:53 am

Thanksgiving should be spent with family and friends reminiscing about all the things we’re grateful for.  And part of the enjoyment of Thanksgiving is shared over a special meal, which sometimes is a gut-wrenching meal for the hostess.  OK, I finally said it! 

I truly do love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as much as the next person.  May sound crazy, but I like preparing it myself, rather than going the pot luck route (does that make me a control freak?).  But I’m finding that the older I get, perhaps the less I enjoy parking my butt in the kitchen all day.  Yes, people peridocally pop in and out, usually the guys are getting a “cold one” out of the fridge while watching the football games.  And if you have a small kitchen, how many people can be in there without getting in your way?  It can be total chaos in the kitchen when everything needs to come together right before the meal is placed on the beautifully-decorated table with your best china and silverware.

That lovely bird that started roasting at the crack of dawn and is now resting after coming out of the oven needs to be carved.  Those gorgeous pan drippings need to be expertly transformed into rich, luscious gravy.  Those perfectly-cooked potatoes need to be mashed.  The rest of the side dishes need to be plated.  The freshly baked rolls need to come out of the oven and put into baskets. Somebody needs to open the bottles of wine.  Don’t forget there will be dessert, so be sure to start the coffee brewing.  And then there’s the clean-up after dinner.  Whew!

A game plan is essential, so my approach this year was to see if I could simplify Thanksgiving dinner by doing as many dishes as possible in advance but not at the sacrifice of a fantastic meal.  I started on the Sunday before the big meal and did a little each day.  Here was my Thanksgiving menu:

Butternut Squash Bisque<

Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breast<

Home Cooked Pole Beans<

Addictive Mashed Potatoes<

Patti’s Triple Cranberry Sauce<

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy<

Sweet Potato Rolls<

Pumpkin Honey Butter<

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie<

The bisque, cranberry sauce, gravy and pie were prepared early in the week and put into the freezer (now there’s something “I’m” thankful for, a full-size freezer in the garage).  The sweet potato rolls and pumpkin honey butter were prepared on Tuesday.  The pole beans and the mashed potatoes were cooked the day before this annual feast and refrigerated.  The boneless turkey breast was butterflied and pounded out on Wednesday and stuffed the next morning.  I  used the microwave to reheat the bisque, gravy, and the pole beans, and the mashed potatoes went into the slow cooker to warm up and stay warm until meal time. 

I boldly tried a couple new recipes which did not turn out exactly as I would have liked, but they weren't total failures, either.  One is not a candidate for warming up, and the other was totally off on the cooking time, but that can be modified in the future. I'll be doing reviews on them if you're interested.

The house is now quiet, all dishes have come out of the dishwasher and are put away.  So how did things go?  They went perfectly, the weather even cooperated and was gorgeous (sunny and mid-70’s), the meal was wonderful and enjoyed by everybody, and the cook had a totally stress-free and enjoyable Thanksgiving!  I am thankful and respectful for that.  Can only say that this is the path I’ll follow in the future. 

Sure, you always can go out for Thanksgiving dinner, but I think you miss some quality time with friends and family by doing that.  And yes, you can purchase the “Turkey Dinner” with all the side dishes to be reheated at home, and I totally appreciate that there are times when that’s the only option.  I’m just recently retired, so I completely understand demands on leisure time.  It wasn’t so long ago that I dreaded spending all day cooking and then cleaning up on Thanksgiving, my work-free (?)  holiday.

I now know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for a less stressful Thanksgiving meal if you plan ahead, set your menu and a time table.  We all know that there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with sharing a totally homemade meal, particularly if it’s a good one, with your friends and family, so give it a shot.

The non-commercial Thanksgiving holiday is all about sharing and being grateful for so many things in your life.  Perhaps it’s something big that’s being appreciated this year, or maybe something as small as just being able to splurge on a small bouquet of fresh flowers for the table.  

I truly believe that being grateful and thankful can change your attitude and make you a happier person.  So I hope you enjoyed your Respect the Bird day as much as I did.  And I hope each of you and your guests also respected the cook for that tasty, homemade meal that was shared today.  

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position), and I'm not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews.  The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Pat Bernitt, AKA lutzflcat.

Nov. 24, 2011 5:35 pm
lutzflcat.....great job. I am still cooking and I can see I will be out of steam before mine gets on the table for our belated Thanksgiving tomorrow. I am grateful that I can still do this, but I frequently wonder who will take over when I can no longer do this :)
Nov. 25, 2011 3:58 am
Great blog! I did indeed respect the cook (my sister) who did our entire meal except for dessert; which I do. She started on Tuesday evening and put on a fabulous meal! Your menu sounded really good. I want to try the butternut squash bisque.
Nov. 25, 2011 5:32 am
I also tried preparing many dishes ahead this year and it was much less stressful!
Nov. 25, 2011 5:34 am
Your bisque and sweet rolls sound good to me! I saved the recipes. I know how hectic it can be in the kitchen. I prepared and cooked everything too. My husband did come up to me to say "everything was good". Out of all the days of cooking meals Thanksgiving and Christmas are the ONLY days he would say that. Loved your blog!
Nov. 25, 2011 7:15 am
I rarely read blogs anymore, but since you mentioned it at the Bizz, I decided to check it out. I think your day sounds great, but I have to disagree that going out for the meal isn't fulfilling. Many years, the four of us in our immediate family have gone away for Thanksgiving and eat out at a special place for the Thanksgiving meal. We love it and feel like it's just as special. And I have the added bonus of being fed rather than feeding everyone else.
Nov. 25, 2011 7:16 am
*Buzz. I have to add, I often cook too and enjoy that as's just the fact that we are all together that makes Thanksgiving special to me.
Nov. 25, 2011 12:52 pm
For the first time in many years, I prepared nothing for Thanksgiving. My daughter has taken up the mantle and I must say she did an outstanding job of it. She felt she needed to assert herself so she was very firm in declining help from me or her aunts and it worked beautifully. Her cousin is hosting Christmas and has already announced she will be assigning dishes for each of us to prepare They have very different styles, but the meal is always a success and we always have a good time and that is what counts.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:18 pm
mauigirl, I hope your day turned out successful. I appreciate your concerns about who will pick up the tradition after you.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:21 pm
Mother Ann, lucky you for having a sister do the meal which you obviously appreciated. The butternut squash bisque is one of my favorites from this site, and it freezes really well. I've yet to serve it to anybody who has not ooooh'd and awwww'd. Thanks for commenting.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:22 pm
bellydancer, both of us have seen the light! Advance preparation really allows more time for you to spend with your guests.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:27 pm
luv2cook, at least your husband appreciated the effort. And that means something after all of the work in putting that meal on the table. I actually think I was starting to get a total mental block about this exhausting meal, and that's why I decided to try doing it differently this year. Everything done is advance results in more time to spend with your family and friends. This was my first attempt at the rolls, and we all enjoyed them (pretty color too!). I've made the butternut squash bisque probably five times, and my freezer is rarely without it. That's how much we enjoy it. It's rich, so I usually serve a small portion for an appetizer serving. Thanks for stopping by.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:33 pm
ElCay, no offense intended on the comment about going out to eat. It sounds as if you have hit upon something that works well for you and is very satisfying. I think if there are small children involved (kids or grandchildren), that's going to put some stress on somebody trying to watch after them in the restaurant. When they're at home, there are multiple ways to entertain them throughout the day. And I agree with you, what's most important is the time spent together. Thanks for your comments.
Nov. 25, 2011 1:38 pm
BigShotsMom, it sounds as if congratulations are in order for your daughter. I know you're proud of her, and I'll bet you told her what a great job she did. It's scary enough cooking a turkey for the first time, not to mention cooking the ENTIRE meal with no help! Thanks for the response to my blog.
Nov. 29, 2011 8:53 am
Nice job, Sister Sister!
Mar. 19, 2013 6:53 am
Just a thought, but do you have peacocks? I'm asking because we have five and wondered if anyone else in the U.S. had peacocks besides us.
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About Me
Retired from a high-stress sales career which involved lots of travel. I now have the time to relax, turn off the alarm clock and sleep in, read a book, magazine or the newspaper (every day, not just Sunday) and, most importantly, take in everything that the Florida lifestyle offers, and that's a lot! And, finally, I have the luxury to really pursue a lifetime passion, cooking.
My favorite things to cook
Enjoy all kinds of food and cuisines, and I literally can't think of one food that I would refuse to eat. And that even includes liver (don't like cooking it, but sure like eating it). I love good food, but you won't find me making a recipe that has 40 ingredients. I just don't have the attention span for that.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My husband's grandmother was from Bavaria, and his mother learned to cook many of her old-country recipes which she then passed on to me. Our traditional Christmas dinner is sauerbraten (which marinates for at least five days) with gravy, homemade egg noodles sauteed in butter, potato balls (which float to the top of the boiling water if prepared correctly), sweet and sour red cabbage, and freshly cooked apples (gotta have something healthy). It's an exhausting meal that literally takes all day to prepare, but it's worth the effort. Yeah, I know it's also a carbohydrate nightmare, but what the heck, we only have it once a year.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering the Christmas sauerbraten meal was a victory. Also, making homemade goetta, a breakfast meat from Cincinnati. My version is made with all pork, equal portions of boston butt and loin. Today's goetta in Cincy has beef in it, as does the recipe on this site, but I'm sticking with ALL pork. It is totally unhealthy for you, but it's a treat, and I don't make it often.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a number over the years like the potato balls mentioned above just disintegrating into a puddle of potato shreds. There's no recipe, it's just a matter of "feeling right" when you're mixing. Not long ago, I made a peach pie and got so caught up in trying to make the pie crust work that I forgot to add the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, etc.) to the peaches that were sitting in a bowl on the counter. Cooked it anyway, it was ghastly, and then threw it away. My ongoing tragedy is making pie crust. There must a black cloud hanging over my head when I'm making pie crust because I ALWAYS have problems. But I'm not giving up, one day this tragedy will turn into a triumph and be listed above!
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