Thanksgiving: Soup Celebration

In serving on a parent committee at my son’s school, I get to work with a fabulous group of ladies. We plan events and programs for our parents, teachers, staff, and students. Our planning sessions together are thorough, so we are all on the same page preparing for the next event.

For the Thanksgiving program performed by our students, our committee handled the details of the luncheon held on the last day of school before the Thanksgiving break. My part of the festivities included making tea and broccoli and cheese soup.

Gallons of Tea

As the queen of tea making, I gladly offer to bring gallons for our events. For this Thanksgiving event, I brought 5 gallons of sweet tea and 1 gallon of unsweetened tea. At the end of the luncheon, there was not a drop of sweet tea left. I know because I went searching. The lemonade was also running low, so we had very thirsty participants. For the next event, I will adjust the amount and bring another 2 gallons of tea to be on the safe side.

Stock pot of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

In preparing for the luncheon, I made 5 batches of soup in rounds. I used two non-stick Dutch oven pots for the first two rounds. As I finished the soup, I poured it into my large stock pot. After making the fourth pot, my stock pot was filled. When I took the soup to school, I brought the filled stock pot and a full Dutch oven.

Though transporting the soup was uneventful, the heating of the soup proved to be difficult. The gas stove heated the pot quickly and burnt the bottom. Once the soup was stirred, the burnt flavor was distributed throughout the soup. Though it still tasted good and most people would not notice it, I tasted the difference.

Along with the broccoli and cheese soup, the committee also provided corn chowder, tortellini, chicken noodle, tomato, vegetable chili, and beef chili. The display was very colorful and flavorful. If we make soup again, I might consider pouring the soup into smaller containers to reheat to prevent burning.

In working with these different events, there always seems to be adjustments that can be tweaked to make our next gathering better. I really enjoy these event planning opportunities. Working with these ladies is fun, beneficial, and rewarding. As you plan your next event, gather with your friends and enjoy the planning process. Happy planning!

Question: What events are you planning? Please add your answer to the comments.

Scheduling: 2011 Thanksgiving Feast

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Emiliano Lobanco)

With the turkey thawing and the grocery shopping complete, my Thanksgiving plans are underway. With today’s activities planned, I can concentrate on timing the baking and cooking for Thursday’s meal.

Our celebration of thankfulness will include our family of five with my husband’s parents. Since my in-laws have graciously offered to provide the corn on the cob, Jello salad, and green salad, my preparations will include the turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread, and beverages. Whew! Though the long list can be overwhelming, I break down the parts into time blocks for easy execution on Thursday morning.

Thursday

 

9:15 a.m. Turkey baking in the oven.
10:00 a.m. Peel the potatoes.

Make the stuffing.

Prepare the sweet potatoes.

Set the table.

Place butter and cranberry sauce into serving dishes.

11:30 a.m. Cook the potatoes.
11:45 a.m. Remove turkey from oven.

Place bread in oven.

12:15 p.m. Remove bread from oven.

Bake the stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Start making the gravy.

12:30 p.m. Mash the potatoes.

Carve the turkey.

12:45 p.m. Remove the stuffing and sweet potatoes from oven.

Prepare the table for our meal.

1:00 p.m. Feast time!

This schedule will keep me focused and organized on Thursday morning while preparing for our Thanksgiving meal. Having a written schedule to refer to allows me to concentrate on other items while following my plan.

Though your plan will look different from mine, just start from meal time and work backwards. By knowing what needs to stay hot, you can adjust your own schedule to fit your preferences. However you celebrate, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast. Happy planning!

Question: How early do you plan to be in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning? Please feel free to add your comment.

Event Planning: 2011 Thanksgiving Feast

Photograph Credit: Flickr (1600 Squirrels')

Turkey week is here! In an effort to stay on top of the details, I have sketched out a plan for the next few days. This plan is tentative and open to changes. But having a schedule keeps me focused and ready to do the next thing. My tentative plan begins today.

Tuesday

  • Remove the turkey from the freezer.
  • Start defrosting turkey in our large stock pot. Hubby really likes the turkey brined. Since he has agreed to do the work, he will be putting together the brine mixture. On Thursday, we are going to try bagging our brined turkey. I will give you the results of this experiment on Facebook.
  • Complete grocery shopping.

Wednesday

  • Feed bread starter for sourdough bread on Thursday.
  • Make 3 pies. I will definitely be making 2 pecan pies. The other option has not yet been decided. Usually that pie choice is made by whoever is helping bake the pies in the kitchen.
  • Mix bread ingredients with starter for rising throughout the night.

When spreading out the Thanksgiving meal preparations throughout the week, the tasks can be completed between meals, play, and sleep while using time wisely. Planning the meal does not have to be difficult. By working through the details and assigning tasks for each day, I find the execution ends up being the easy part. 🙂 Happy planning!

Question: Are you experimenting with a recipe this Thanksgiving? Let me know that I’m not the only one.

Thanksgiving: Gobble Gobble Turkey Cups

Photograph Credit: Sips Etc.

Tricia and Kirstin over at Sips Etc. share detailed instructions for making these adorable turkey cups. Besides being quick and easy, this craft can be done with your children while using time wisely.

When my children help create an inviting space for our guests, they enjoy showing and using these items that “they made.” I enjoy watching their enthusiasm while spending time with them.

If you are looking for a project to keep little ones out of the kitchen, then consider making a craft with them while the turkey is baking in the oven. Then they can use their craft at the dinner table.

As you prepare for Thanksgiving Day, remember to enjoy your family and friends.

Thanksgiving: Turkey Brine Recipe

Photograph Credit: Fickr (Paul Townsend)

Though our family chooses to make a turkey each Thanksgiving, I know some families prefer to serve a ham or chicken. The recipe I am sharing today works great for a turkey, and I would definitely try it for a chicken as well. For the ham, I would bag it like I plan to do with our turkey next week.

For those seeking a different baking option for the bird this year, try brining. I received the below recipe from a friend, who could easily run his own restaurant. When I need help tweaking a recipe, I contact him for a solution. His recipes are always a huge hit.

With his permission to share, here is my all-time favorite recipe for that tender, moist, and delicious turkey:

Turkey Brine

 Tuesday

If preparing the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, then begin defrosting the turkey on Tuesday or 2 days prior to meal time. Though there are a number of ways to defrost the turkey, I prefer to soak it.

1. Place turkey in a large pot, tub, or tote.

2. Add enough cold water to cover it.

3. Replace the water, if needed.

4. Check the turkey to see if it is soft.

5. Put in refrigerator if the turkey is fully defrosted.

Wednesday

1. Place the defrosted turkey in the large pot, tub, or tote.

2. Fill the container by gallons with enough warm to lukewarm water to cover the turkey. Paul uses a milk jug to add the water by gallons.

3. Add these ingredients:

½ cup pickling or kosher salt per gallon

½ cup brown sugar per gallon

5 bay leaves

2-3 Tablespoons of peppercorns

6 crushed cloves of garlic (With about 20 cloves per garlic, just break apart the whole and use 6 of them)

5-7 oranges, squeezed and tossed into the mixture

Other spices that can be added are basil, poultry seasoning, and thyme

4. Allow the brine to seep the flavored water into the bird for 12-24 hours prior to baking.

Thursday

Preparing the bird

1. Remove the turkey from the sticky, slippery brine mixture.

2. Drain the mixture from the bird.

3. Be sure the giblets and other guts have been removed.

4. Place bird on roasting pan.

5. Insert meat thermometer.

6. Preheat oven to desired temperature (I follow the recommendations attached to the turkey packaging.)

7. Measure out foil to “tent” your bird to prevent burning the outside, but do not “tent” it at the beginning of the baking time. I find getting the tent ready while the pan is cool saves so much time working around a hot turkey and hot pan.

Baking the bird

1. Put the turkey in the oven.

2. Check it between ½ and ¾ of the baking time.

3. Tent the bird when the outside is golden brown.

4. Carefully, remove the turkey when the meat thermometer indicates bird is thoroughly cooked.

5. Allow bird to cool before carving.

Though this option takes a little time each day for three days, the results are definitely worth it. In using time wisely and working around your other responsibilities, this option will give you a fantastic turkey to share with your friends and family. Just remember to start early in your preparations. Happy planning!

Question: When will you begin your Thanksgiving preparations? Please add your answer to the comments.