Well now that we're officially in November, I think it's downright appropriate to be talking about Thanksgiving. Have you ever watched that show Doomsday Preppers? Okay I love those people. If you haven't, it's a show about people who spend their lives preparing for the apocalypse. They stuff their basements with bullets and flour and bibles and talk about the end of days. And how they'll make it because they have enough bullets and you won't. What's kind of tragic (for them) though is that more likely than not they won't ever be warding off marauding zombies and lava from the
volcano. I'm not saying they're wasting
their time, because who knows. I just
feel bad for them that all their preparations are boring and ugly. They have ten years worth of freeze dried
bananas, I have thirty pounds of silver polish.
I love people who are both extreme and off beat. I'm lucky because my version of apocalyptic prepping leads to something that
undoubtedly happens. I've often thought
I could help these people by sharing the joys of holiday planning with them,
but knocking on the wrong RV door in the woods can be dangerous, so I keep my
thoughts to myself.
Because I went to vocational beauty school, I am an expert in psychology. In my unprofessional opinion, prepping for doomsday and prepping for a holiday are pretty similar. Linked by one key facet of either: No matter what, you can't ever do everything. Each little project could conjure ten more little projects, and so on. If you're looking for help on how many bullets to budget per day in the event of a solar storm, I can't help you. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the tornado of Thanksgiving tasks and purchases--I can.
Thanksgiving can be an abyss down which time and money easily fall. Buh-jett-ing isn't my strong suit, so this isn't really about that. This is just an incomplete list of things I think are worth the effort/time/money and those that are not. I decided not to cover more obvious territory like mixers, food processors, and Le Creusets. Instead, opting to make my worth it list of items that are ubiquitous enough to be easily forgotten. I don't like it when bloggers take a This Is Right, That Is Not approach. So take this with a grain of salt, I'm a lot more interested in your worth it/not worth it lists.
Worth the Time?
1 & 2. Setting up auxiliary storage and cooling. So worth it.
Thanksgiving pushes any kitchen to its limits and often exceeds them. With a packed pantry, the dining room table may be a tempting spot to store the spillover. I have done this and it has always been a mistake. It will just rob you of another 15 minutes when you really don't have them to spare. A spare folding table or set of shelves can be a lifesaver in keeping your counter space free for cooking. Keep the chaos off the counters. Similarly, poorly engineered refrigerator Tetris can end very badly as your stock comes rolling off diet coke cans and you cry on the floor in a sticky mess(I speak from experience). Clean your cooler, set it reasonably close to the kitchen, and move beverages and anything else you can in there. This also diverts foot traffic out of the core of the kitchen.
What's not worth the time, in my opinion? Brining. Brining your turkey takes a lot of work, a lot of salt and sugar, a lot of time, and way too much refrigerator space. And it will ruin your gravy if you use drippings. I made that mistake once and my gravy tasted like soy sauce. I will admit that brining does give the meat wonderful moisture. But so does dunking the carved meat into stock while you arrange your platter. I do, however, endorse a dry brine.
Worth the expense?
1. Bounty. Even if you hate paper towels and their environmental impact, they are so worth it for the long haul that is Thanksgiving. Cross contamination is bad, easy clean up is good. Plant a tree or two in the spring for repentance.
2. Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. For roasting vegetables, wrapping your sheet trays in foil and not having to scrub caramelized honey and polymerized oil off of them is a huge timesaver.
3. Sheet Trays. I don't know what the normal amount of sheet trays for a residential kitchen to have is, but it's probably not enough. If you don't have an armada of these, you may not realize just how convenient they are. They are about $5 (restaurant supply) a piece where I live and padding your Batterie with a few more may be very beneficial.
4. A Big Ass Bowl (BAB, or BABs). We have our jeans and button downs to remind us what it's like to squeeze 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag, must we punish ourselves with insufficient bowlage too? My BABs are in constant use. Tossing vegetables with seasoning, multiple batches of pumpkin pie filling, tossing a salad, seasoning bread cubes are just a few of the Thanksgiving tasks that demand a BAB. Spillover be damned.
5. Electric Knife. I avoided buying one of these until last year. I thought it was kind of stupid. I thought I was good enough with my knife to not need one. Oh how wrong I was. I was downright gleeful using it for the first time last Thanksgiving. It made carving the turkey so much faster and so much cleaner. With no skill, you can have beautiful slices with skin still attached. I got this one and love it. I enjoy it so much that I use it whenever I roast a chicken.
Not worth the expense
1. Expensive wine. I have another post on Thanksgiving wine, but the gist is don't feel the need to go overboard with it. If wine is a hobby of yours, the expense may be justified. Otherwise, don't lose your head and feel a special occasion demands an expensive wine. Plentiful and inexpensive are my keywords with holiday wine buying, which is my sister's department. It's a long day with conflicting, strong flavors. Not the best way to highlight precious wine.
2. Tabletop. If you are expecting more guests than you have place settings, do not go to great expense to set your table. Set a mismatched table of complementary patterns and colors with plates from Goodwill or borrowed from a friend/guest. Flowers are worth the one time expense, plates you bought because you needed and you don't even like that much--are not. Remember, you can always donate the plates right back. Goodwill earns on them twice, and you'll return them cleaner than they were on the shelf. Obviously, I love all things tabletop. But I do not like having to buy things at the last minute and say it'll do.
3. All-Clad Roaster. This thing makes me so mad. Did you know that All-Clad cookware being all clad is not a safe assumption? A long time ago, I had a wonderful All-Clad roaster. It was a workhorse and went from oven to burner seamlessly. A family member with good intentions cleaned it for me with Soft Scrub (with bleach) and it was never the same. So I replaced it with a new one. Well, things have changed at All-Clad since my original roaster. It is not tri-clad and it buckled when I was using it on the burner. It does fine in the oven, but you're paying about $100 more than a nondescript roaster that works just as well because it's "All-Clad". And it's made in
China, unlike real All-Clad that is made in Pennsylvania. It's pretty though. Le Creuset has a stainless line now that is
made in Portugal
and multi-clad. I'm considering another
trip down to the LC outlet as I have a 50% off stainless coupon. But I'm not to
be trusted within those walls.
|The six boxes on the left are mine. The major damage was done by my friend|
4. Disposable Roaster. For the love of God--please--no. Roasting your turkey in one of these would be like the Queen sailing transatlantic on a pool noodle. They are flimsy and they are tempting fate. Dropping your turkey on the floor or burning yourself with molten turkey fat is not a nice way to spend a holiday.
What's worth it to you? What's not? Where do you draw the line?
For all Thanksgiving posts, click here
For all Thanksgiving posts, click here