(Or early, if you’re an American friend!)
I think I’ve recovered. I got the farmhouse ready last week and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for BOTH sides of the family, which was 12 adults and a baby. It seemed a little crazy to me, and it was definitely cozy, but we had a great time and I’m glad to know that we can FIT people in this way! My parents, brother, and grandparents came, and the Mr.’s dad, brothers & their wives, and our nephew joined us as well. Sadly, my mother-in-law is in England attending to the funeral of her mother. I missed her, and I’m thinking about doing a smaller version all over again when she returns (smaller! Did you hear that?).
I sent Cora to the groomer’s while I was cooking, partially to get her out of the way and partially because she was covered in mud from digging a hole or two earlier in the week. She likes to visit the horse in the field next to our yard… what can I say? Here she is looking both adorable and slightly absurd, waiting for our guests to arrive:
By the way, she weighs 50lb now!
Alright, this was the second Thanksgiving dinner I’ve done, and I feel like I’m starting to learn what I like and what I don’t, and what works best for me. Here are my Important Things to Remember. This year’s dinner went amazingly smoothly, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. Next year.
- Leanne Ely’s FREE Thanksgiving Menu Planner was helpful. I didn’t use all her recipes because I like our family traditions, but her turkey instructions were perfect. The turkey was moist and delicious, and I definitely preferred it to the in-a-bag turkey that I did last year. I did ours unstuffed, and I like that she offered options for seasoning the inside of the turkey in an “unstuffing” sort of way. I even followed her timeline on the FlyLady website, which really helped take any stress out of the day.
- Cola ham is delicious. I’ll follow up with the recipe that I used, because most of the others I see online use WAY too much Cola. We actually used Dr. Pepper – this was my husband’s choice, because he wanted to be able to tell people we were eating “Dr. Pepper Ham.” I admit, it has a ring to it. My Dad says it’s the best ham he’s ever had.
- Mashing the potatoes when I had time during the day and keeping them hot in a crock pot was a truly inspired plan. Leanne warns that some people’s crock pots may be too hot for this. Ours turned out perfectly, but that may have just been a stroke of luck.
- I used both crock pots and I can see a use for a third. Warning to my husband – I sense an obsession coming on.
- There MUST be a still-unpacked kitchen box somewhere! I thought we were done with them, but we need to go on a search. I’m missing my gravy boat, serving platters… and who knows what else?
- A cinnamon candle is always a good idea. I didn’t bake the pumpkin pies, but my house smelled like I did.
- Buy a smoked ham. Mine was a standard 2kg or so.
- Bring it home and wonder what to do with it. Find THIS recipe!
- Send husband to get a single-serve bottle of Dr. Pepper.
- Pour half the Dr. Pepper in a glass, over ice. Start sipping.
- In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1tsp. dried mustard. Stir in just enough Dr. Pepper to mix into a paste, and heat only until the sugar dissolves. Splash in more pop as needed and “oooooh” over the way it bubbles up when it hits the heat.
- Cut some diamond-pattern into the top of the ham. I don’t know why we do this, but it was pretty.
- Use a pastry brush to coat the ham with the sugar/mustard/pop mixture. Give up, wash your hands, and give it a good rub.
- Pour 1/4-1/2 cup more Dr. Pepper into the bottom of your crock pot.
- Put ham in crock pot and cover. Turn on Low. Cook for 6 or so hours. This is a pre-cooked ham, it just needs to heat.
- Sip more Dr. Pepper, play around on the internet, eat some lunch. Realize you still have a TURKEY DINNER to cook and get off the couch!