The countdown to Thanksgiving has arrived and like many of my readers I am scurrying to get things accomplished. We usually have my parents here for about 5-7 days during Thanksgiving week and I love every minute of it. In order to enjoy this time and spoil them like crazy there’s lots to be done. Let me include a few of my countdown requirements along with a simple recipe for the big week.
- Lists, I hate to say it but these keep me grounded. My team at work tell me they’ve never seen anyone with more ‘to do’ lists. But, it works!
- Decide ahead of time what food item is going into which dish. Label them so helpers know what you’re addressing when they offer to assist.
- Centerpiece for the table: This can come from a florist, but let’s be serious I would guess over 80% of the homes do not order a fresh floral bouquet!
Find items in your home that fit the season and then gather pinecones, nuts, twigs and pines to make it into a centerpiece. A small pumpkin can be cleaned out and filled with all kinds of interesting gatherings. It’s quite easy to cut a few springs of cedar in the Ozarks and arrange a few mums from a discount store within the interior of the pumpkin. Add a couple of candles and the ambience is set. This can all be figured out days in advance.
- Layout a time table for when oven or stovetop dishes need to be prepared.
- The day before guests arrive double check the guest room. I always include things like: Chapsticks, Kleenex, slippers, extra blankets, a radio/alarm clock, a personal vaporizer, and spare sheets. There are even old towels in the closet in case a pet accompanies and they want to cover the bed where the pet lies. Something small is nice to set beside the bed to welcome the guest. This could be anything from a flower to a jar of homemade goodies.
There are also bathrobes and sweatshirts so they don’t have to take up valuable suitcase space with such bulky items.
- Little extras that I prepare in advance are: frozen cinnamon rolls, pie crusts, cookies and 1-2 additional sweets. I gather items from the ‘big’ pantry in the basement and get them upstairs where they’re handy. Beverages, make sure there’s lots to drink. Make teas and specialty teas, acquire juice and egg nog. At my house it means lots and I mean lots of coffee. Decaf and regular along with pods. If you don’t have an adequate ice maker, you might need to purchase a bag of ice. (My pet peeve.)
- Have paper plates for the ‘snackers’ who seem to eat all day. (This would be teenagers at my house.) Make sure there’s ample silverware in case everything is in the dishwasher. You can even go to a thrift store and purchase emergency pieces.
- Create a beverage station. Often this is on top of the washer and dryer. This year I’m thinking of setting up a location with my travel refrigerator just for beverages.
- Sweeteners: Know your guests, these days it seems like everyone is using something ‘different’ to sweeten their teas and coffee.
- Soda Pop & Alcohol: We have stopped drinking much soda at my home, but we still try to carry ‘some’ for guests who must have pop. Usually at the holiday dinner it’s most appropriate to serve water or tea and water. Bringing soda cans to a nicely set table is in poor taste. ‘Sometimes’ but not always we serve wine at Thanksgiving. Make sure you have sparkling wine or a nice fruit juice for those who don’t partake.
- Coffee/Hot Tea: For this cook; nothing compliments the closure to a good meal like quality java. If you don’t eat until after 5pm in the evening consider serving decaf and then be ready with regular too. I usually make one of each if I don’t know my guests likes and dislikes. Specialty creamer and regular cream is also a nice touch. I have coffee made and in carafes before we even sit down for the main meal.
- Relish trays and appetizers: Go easy here. If you’re not eating until 5pm and the guests arrive at 2-3pm, you better have some light appetizers ready. I usually tell my houseguests that we’ll have coffee and fruit early, followed by a nice breakfast around 9am, with the meal at like 1:30pm.
- If you’re the guests know when it’s time to head for home. If dinner was at
1:30pm, I would expect most folks to head out around dark, unless they’re houseguests. After all, you want to be invited back again! On the other hand if it’s just your close family present you may want them to stay as long as they like!
- Keep the bedrooms ready for children & adults to take naps.
- Clean the bathrooms a few hours before guests arrive.
- If senior adults are present remove scatter rugs or anything that could make someone accidently trip. (Remove them for me too, and I’m not quite a senior adult!)
- Make sure the woodpile is stacked and ready, or the gas fireplace has plenty of fuel. If the weather is looking questionable be ready with extra stocked water, milk, bread, potatoes, etc.
Oh my goodness, I’d better stop giving you all these tips, or you’re never going to entertain again! I’ll just say this: I’m cooking every day I’m off this week in preparation of the big day. Right now it’s just family for dinner, but I’m looking forward to the day with much anticipation. My mother, Betty, almost always makes this coffeecake for breakfast. It’s been in my family for like, forever, and it appears in my first cookbook, ‘Simply Yours’.
The good news is this week I should know when the new book will be here!
Enjoy the beautiful weather and each other friends. Simply yours, The Covered Dish.
Jam Dandy Coffeecake
1 1 /2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup jam or jelly
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional
Beat first 6 ingredients together by hand until smooth. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan. Dot the top with the jam or jelly. Now sprinkle on the brown sugar and nuts. Bake in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake (not the jam/jelly) comes out clean. Around 20-25 minutes.
I enjoy this with 2-3 strips of bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit and coffee. I also like it with just a bit of yogurt, fruit and granola. ddu