Whether you’re reading this on Thanksgiving Day, or after a day of shopping on “Black Friday” or sometime next year, the message will still make sense.See, giving thanks is a year-round activity. And when we do it consistently, something inside us changes. The way we interact with others seems easier; the way we see the world changes for the better.
A couple months ago I met Kimberly Lou Pesce (www.californiabeachbodies.com) a personal trainer who revolutionized the way I look at exercise. When I was straining and huffing and puffing, she would remind me to smile and say “thank you.” I would be climbing this steep trail mumbling, “Thank you, legs. Thank you, feet. Thank you, ankles.” And you know what? I felt better. Less tired. More invigorated. It’s amazing what happens when we smile and say, “thanks.”
So here are some thoughts to help cultivate your giving thanks
…Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. – Cicero
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. – Marcel Proust
Whatever we think about and thank about we bring about. – Dr John Demartini
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. – Buddha
I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What you can you do right now to begin to turn your life around? The very first thing is to start making a list of things to be grateful for. – Dr. Joe Vitale
Be in an attitude of gratitude. – Lee Brower
Yep, practicing an “attitude of gratitude” may just be the way we can change the world.Read More
Since Thanksgiving dinner is all about timing, here is a suggested timeline for your turkey day tomorrow
In the morning
Eat breakfast and review the schedule for the day.
Calculate the cooking time for the bird (see below).
Remove the turkey up to one hour before it needs to go in the oven. Make sure it is cleaned out, seasoned and ready to go.
Peel the potatoes, cube and keep in cold water (prevents discoloration).
At the appropriate time, truss the bird and place it on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Add 1 or 2 cups of chicken stock to the pan.
1 to 2 hours before dinner
Cook the potatoes.
Serve drinks and appetizers to guests.
30 to 45 minutes before dinner
Remove the turkey from the oven (see below).
Finish any other side dishes.
Mash the potatoes.
Make the gravy.
Carve the turkey and serve dinner.
Note: These times are based on roasting the bird at 400 degrees for the first 45 minutes, and then 325 degrees until done. The times equate to 13 to 15 minutes per pound.
10 to 12 lb. 2 ½ to 4 hours
12 to 14 lb. 2 ¾ to 3 ¼ hours
14 to 16 lb. 3 to 3 ¾ hours
16 to 18 lb. 3 ¼ to 4 hours
18 to 20 lb. 3 ½ to 4 ¼ hours
20+ lb. 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours
To test the turkey for doneness: The turkey is done when an instant read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the breast registers 165 degrees. Since the turkey will continue to cook once it’s removed from the oven (known as “carry over cooking”), it can be 5 or 10 degrees shy of the mark. When removed from the oven, cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. This allows the natural juices to redistribute around the bird and will make it easier to carve.Read More
The key to a less stressful Thanksgiving is timing. Being efficient in the kitchen gives the cook more time to appreciate the guests! To help with that efficiency, use today and tomorrow to get a jump start on appetizers and sides dishes that can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated overnight.
Easy, Old-School Appetizers
Assemble one or two of these Wednesday night and set them out when the first guest arrives. If the bar area is already set up (do that Wednesday, too) then guests may have a drink and a nibble while you effortlessly finish the dinner.
• Relish tray (variety of olives, pickles, peppers, Italian jardinière)
• Raw veggie tray
• Sour cream & onion dip (use the never-fail Lipton Onion Soup Mix recipe on the box)
• Cheese and salami tray
• Variety of crackers
• Prosciutto-wrapped bread sticks
• Marinated mozzarella balls wrapped with strips of roasted red pepper
Make Ahead Dishes
Nearly any dish may be prepared to a point; if a recipe for a baked item calls for a topping such as cheese, buttered bread crumbs or fried onions, wait until you’re ready to bake the dish to top it. Remove a pre-made from the fridge about 15 minutes before placing it in the oven so the cooking time called for in the recipe is more accurate; the colder the ingredients, the longer it will take to bake.
Here are a few Thanksgiving favorites that can be assembled on Wednesday and finished or reheated on Thanksgiving:
• Cranberry Sauce
• Green Bean Casserole
Also, pies keep exceptionally well in the fridge; bring pumpkin, pecan and fruit pies to room temperature before serving.
So tonight, take a close look at the recipes you plan to prepare and mark those that you can make ahead, or at the very least, prepare components of them ahead of time. A few less tasks for Thanksgiving Day means more relaxed you is on the way!Read More
Does it feel like the last three weeks have flown by? No matter how stressed and hurried you may feel, there are strategies to help you make the most of these last few days. First and foremost, it is essential to prioritize and decide what must be done and what would be nice to do. Write the “must do’s” into your schedule, and come up with compromises and contingencies for the “nice to do’s.” For example, if it would be nice to make a homemade pie this year, a compromise might be to purchase a pie, or at least purchase a pre-made pie shell.
One thing that worries nearly every hostess is whether the house is “ready for company.” To make sure it is, pick the top three rooms (for example, dining room, family room and guest bath) and spend a set amount of time in each room over the next three days, one room per day. Even just 15 minutes can make a huge difference!
Here’s a suggested timeline and to-do list for the last few days until Thanksgiving.
• Review all recipes to determine whether any ingredients are missing; add those to the shopping list.
• If the turkey is frozen, read the label to determine how to defrost it and how long it will take. Placing a frozen bird in the fridge to defrost can take several days.
• Iron table linens.
• Make a to-do list for the remainder of the week.
• Finish shopping for remaining items and perishables. While at the store, make a mental note of the hours it’s open on Thanksgiving, just in case.
• Make place cards.
• Set the table. (If it’s not possible to set the table ahead of time, locate the dishes and silverware you will be using and stack them on a sideboard or countertop and cover with a towel until it’s time to set the table. Having everything ready to go will make it much easier!)
• Select a serving dish and a serving utensil for each dish on the menu and set aside.
• Assemble dishes that can be made ahead and finished tomorrow.
• Make appetizers and refrigerate until ready to use.
• Set up the bar area for tomorrow.
• If you are brining the turkey, get it started today.
• Calculate the cooking time for your turkey, and set a schedule for tomorrow.
• Get a good night’s sleep!
Earlier this month, Holiday Hints gave you some guidance on decorating your Thanksgiving table. With those plans in mind, here are a few tips to make the table settings delicious backdrops to your feast.
- Charger plates are great for adding color and formality to a table, but a solid color napkin will also do the trick. Simply open the napkin and place it under the plate, either as a square or turned one quarter turn into a diamond shape.
- If you haven’t thought of place cards yet, try this quick and easy idea: Using a computer, print the names of each guest in a fun font, centered, on a piece of pretty paper or lightweight cardstock. Depending on the size of the font, double space (at least) between names; you can get about 8 names per sheet using a 20 to 24 point font. Using a paper cutter or a ruler and a steady hand, cut the paper into one-inch strips, so a name is centered on each strip. If desired, re-cut the long edges with decorative scissors. Roll up a napkin and wrap the paper strip around the napkin, securing with a bit of double-sided tape. Voila! It’s both a place card and a napkin ring. Place the napkin in the middle of the dinner plate.
- Mixing silverware patterns is fine, especially if you are setting an eclectic mood. For example, if you don’t have enough small forks to serve both the salad course and the dessert course, use one set of forks for the salad and another for the dessert, rather than having to wash forks in between courses!
- Remember, the wine and water glasses are set to the upper right of the dinner plate above the knife (“water on the right”) and the bread and butter plate go to the upper left, above the forks (“dinner roll on the left”). I recently heard an even more clever way to remember this: Make an “okay” sign with both hands. The right hand forms the shape of a “d” for “drink” and the left hand forms the shape of a “b” for “bread.”
- What if your table is longer than any tablecloth you already own, and your spending plan does not include new table linens? Create a bohemian look by layering smaller table cloths, overlapping them until they cover the entire table. Keep the tones similar—all pastels or all earth tones or all jewel tones, for example—and play with patterns. If different patterns have a color in common, use that color in the centerpiece and the place cards to bring unity to the table. Accent with metallic accessories and it can be a very chic look!
- If at all possible, set your table the night before Thanksgiving (or sooner) to get one major task out of the way before the big day.Tomorrow, the countdown begins.Read More