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ADHD Cook's Planning Guide for Thanksgiving Week

By Laurie Triplette, ldtriplette@aol.com
The Martha Stewart crowd has been planning Thanksgiving dinner for months. My not quite-that-obsessive-compulsive friends have only mapped out what to do for every day since Nov. 1.
I admire these people, even though they scare me a tad.
We on the ADD/ADHD spectrum (me and most of my blood relatives) don’t believe in over-planning as Turkey Day draws near. We don’t really understand the concept. However, we maintain some standards, mostly because we’ve learned the hard way that a frozen 20-pound turkey won’t thaw on Thanksgiving morning, and that the stores will be out of celery and lemons and prefab pumpkin pies by Wednesday.
Here’s my tried-and-true Thanksgiving week schedule for the organizationally challenged who intend to prepare a holiday meal and actually serve it on Thursday.
BEFORE MONDAY: Housekeeping activities are required.
1. Get the leg repaired on the dining room chair broken last Thanksgiving. (Note to self: call Craftsman Kennedy.)
2. Take tablecloths to the cleaners for washing and ironing. (Note to self: pick up tablecloths at Rainbow.)
3. Buy the bird. Turkey, roasting hen, a brace of game birds, I don’t care, but get it. FYI, the frozen ducks have been sold out since Halloween, so it’s too late to make your own turducken.
SATURDAY: Start feeling guilty and stressed about the looming holiday.
1. Empty your fridge and freezer of non-necessities.
2. Prevent offspring from filling fridge and freezer with beer and booze mixers intended for the Egg Bowl.
3. There’s still time to spare, so watch a few ball games. Don’t worry. Be happy.
SUNDAY: This is a day of prayer. Use it well.
1. Make your grocery list. This requires anticipating which dishes you intend to serve. Don’t over-think the matter. There’s always the last-resort aisle where cream-of-whatever soup can be combined with assorted canned vegetables and oddities such as itty-bitty marshmallows or crushed cornflakes. Green bean casserole or candied sweet potatoes, anybody?
2. Count your dishes, cutlery and glasses. Figure out whether you have enough for the invited guests, or whether you need to borrow from the neighbors or use plastic. It’s too late to call Magnolia Rental.
MONDAY: There’s still time for spontaneity.
1. Put frozen bird in a pan in the fridge to start thawing. The larger the bird, the more days of thawing it will require.
2. Hit the grocery store for those items sure to be in demand. Thanksgiving-themed paper napkins. Sister Schubert frozen rolls. Durkees. Buttermilk. Celery. Plump, fresh sweet potatoes and ears of corn. Decent lemons and onions. Sage. Reddi-wip. Packaged or canned chicken broth. Cornmeal (or packaged dressing mix).…
TUESDAY: This is the day to get serious.
1. Make up your cranberry salad. The congealed and cooked types are acidic enough to remain fresh for days in the fridge. Of course, there’s always the can of jellied cranberry sauce that’s been in the pantry since 2007.
2. If planning casseroles of sweet potatoes or squash, go ahead and cook the tubers and veggies. Be sure to refrigerate them once cooked.
3. Make ahead as many of the desserts as possible. Remember, sampling them is okay as long as you plan to slice and serve from the kitchen. The guests will never know what’s missing … sort of like Julia Child’s 5-second rule for the turkey on the floor.
WEDNESDAY: Okay, the countdown is beginning.
1. Focus on the bird. Start brining the bird or at least apply the seasoning rub to absorb overnight. Keep the bird on ice or refrigerated. For more bird information, click here.
2. Boil the turkey neck and giblets in water or in chicken broth. The giblets and stock will be used for the gravy tomorrow. Remove cooked turkey meat from the neck bone once cooked. Refrigerate the cooked giblets and stock. Discard the bone.
3. Make the skillet cornbread for homemade dressing. It needs to sit out overnight to get stale.
4. Finish preparing the intended desserts. NOTE: It’s too late to start a coconut cake worth tasting.
5. Brew a huge stockpot of tea. Decide whether your crowd will drink it sweet or unsweet. If both, divide into separate marked pitchers while still warm enough for the sugar to dissolve.
6. Make up a pitcher of Bloody Mary mix and place in fridge.
7. Set up the children’s table.
8. Set alarm clock for 6 a.m. and prep the percolator for early-morning coffee.
THURSDAY: T-Day has arrived. Procrastinators, now’s the time.
1. Arise no later than 6 a.m. Plug in coffee pot.
2. Start cooking that bird.
3. Finish prepping the casseroles, dressing and veggies that are to be steamed or roasted. Figure out when they need to start cooking, then stick to the clock.
4. As soon as another person awakens, make up a couple of Bloody Mary cocktails and toast the day. Top them off with coffee.
5. Check on the bird at intervals; maybe even baste it a bit.
6. As the guests arrive, make THEM set the table. Serve more Bloody Marys. Open a bottle of wine.
7. Send the children outside to gather twigs and leaves for a make-do table centerpiece.
8. Remove Bird from heat and allow it to rest 30 minutes before carving.
9. While Bird is resting, pop the rolls into the oven and finish making the gravy.
10. Make the guests hold hands while saying grace; carve the bird and begin.
And don’t forget — enjoy your time with family, friends and amazing food. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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