A blog for Christmas…through the red FRENCH door

 In Reflection through food

Christmas Day is upon us. I know we all are hustling around doing the last minute shopping, planning our menu and wrapping presents. At this point most of us are feeling like we need an extra hand or maybe even wish we could clone ourselves.

I laugh as I remember the first Thanksgiving dinner Neil and I hosted. Believe it or not, but I was in waayyyy over my head. I was 20 at the time, and I only thought I had planned. Needless to say…I was a wreck. I had 1 small oven, w/many dishes needing to be baked at once, potatoes waiting to be peeled, hot rolls raising, a dessert needing finished, plus the stuffing mirepoix hadn’t even been cooked. And let’s not forget the septic tank that decided it could not hold 1 more gal of sewage. We were farmer/ranchers at that time, living miles from a handy sewer person, and here we were hosting a dinner party for our families and we couldn’t even flush the toilets let alone wash dishes. But we made it through. The meal was late but we found a pumper to rescue us and our sewage problem. We ate turkey, Watergate salad, cornbread stuffing, rich and creamy mashed potatoes, several side dishes and plenty of Neil’s mom’s Apple pie. I was exhausted, didn’t see much conversation but I was proud as punch I had pulled it off. AND I learned to plan, to prep in advance and to delegate. Here are a few things I wish I had known 40 years ago.

1. Plan a menu that allows you to do some of the dishes and sauces ahead of time. If for instance you are making a corn bread stuffing, bake the cornbread several days in advance. It will be just as good for the base of the stuffing and possibly be a little better. Most veggie casseroles can be made a day in advance as well. Cakes can be baked and frozen in advance and are easily iced the morning of.

2. If using your China, set out and dust a day or 2 before, even setting the table early is a great way to get ahead and relieve last minute pressure. Choose serving bowls early and make sure you have the right pots and roasters to do your cooking in before the last minute. Decorate with your table scape days ahead or at least have your decor purchased before the day before.

3. Of course your wine can be purchased as early as weeks ahead.

4. Peel your potatoes the day before and cover w/water. Set them in refrig. until time to dice and cook.

5. You can always assemble your crudités platter ahead along with the dip. Dip is always better when done ahead and flavors are allowed to meld together.

6. Throw away the pride and delegate. You don’t have to be Wonder Woman. Haha

7. Don’t forget to enjoy. Keeping things tidy and organized after your guests have arrived is not the most important thing. You joining in on the stories, laughing, and making memories is. The dishes will always be there when the day is done.

Hope this helps. Merry Christmas.

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