Nov 18, 2008

Stretching Thanksgiving Dinner


It's hard to believe it's

a: Wednesday again (time for Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer)

and

b: just a WEEK before Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. I love all the planning and cooking and setting a beautiful table. It's fun to really go all out for the big day. Use the china! Use the good flatware. Use real glasses. No sense in saving the "nice things" for a special occasion. The family all around the table together? That IS a special occasion! There's no group of people I'd rather host, and no better reason to gather than to give thanks to the Lord for His enumerable blessings in our lives.

My mom and my grandmothers and great-grandmother always put together wonderful Thanksgiving feasts over the years. A lot of work? Indeed, but a labor of love always. Along the way, some shortcuts were discovered. (That is why you came here, isn't it?) Here are two of my favorites.

It should be known that my dad LOVES Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, dressing, the trimmings. He not only loves it on Thanksgiving Day, but long afterward. But instead of eating turkey dinner every meal for three or four days, my mom figured out how to keep us from getting tired of it AND make her life easier in the busy days that follow Thanksgiving.

Our family tradition for the dressing is a yummy bread and celery variety that my dad's grandmother made. Mom learned how to make it, and it has been a favorite part of the meal for as long as I can remember. Because of its consistency, it is easy to form into patties about the size of a hamburger patty. Instead of a large pan for cooking, the patties are put on cookie sheets and baked. Because they are smaller this way, they cook more evenly. And the best part? They FREEZE easily! Mom will stack two or four patties together, put them in an empty bread bag or container, and freeze them. Then on a busy day when dinner time is looming, she only has to take out as many as are needed for one meal and reheat them.

The second idea is along those same lines. Ya know that amazing gravy made from the giblets? Mom freezes it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, she pops them out of the trays and stores them in Ziploc bags. Then when she needs them, she simply gets out a few frozen "gravy cubes" and thaws them in the microwave. One cube is usually enough for one person, but certainly more can be used if desired.

Turkey meat doesn't freeze well, so a small, fresh (and maybe already cooked) turkey breast from the grocer's deli section will be just the right amount to put with the dressing. Toss a salad or add a vegetable or two, and voila! A wonderful Thanksgiving dinner - again - without all the prep and clean up! This way ALL the food prepared for the big family meal gets eaten, and none is thrown away. It also prevents the I-am-so-sick-of-turkey-and-dressing-I-can't-see-straight feeling that inevitably comes with standing at the refrigerator for the three days following Thanksgiving.

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of love and joy and blessings.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! You made my mouth start watering! And, we'll ALL enjoy it with you next week!!!
Love ya,
Dad

Paula (SweetPea) said...

I absolutely love the idea of freezing gravy or broth in an ice cub tray. I recently placed a bunch of beef broth in a container to freeze. I've not used it but would be more apt to use it in the smaller size. Thanks for the idea.

Mom2fur said...

My mom makes her dressing with celery and bread, too. She cuts up the celery and a little onion, then cooks those until soft in melted butter. Then it all gets mixed in with bread pieces and some spices. I miss her stuffing...she lives in Ohio and it's never turkey season when I visit.
Stuffing patties...wow! I may just have to make up some stuffing (which is never exactly like mom's) just to make some of those for the freezer. What an awesome idea!