Note: One type of modern technology that comes in handy, particularly when cooking on Thanksgiving itself, is the alarm clock feature on your cell phone!
If I'm a cookin' for Thanksgiving, my (extremely rough) schedule resembles:
- Sunday--the bulk of the shopping is done today; the only Thanksgiving cooking to be done this evening is making the cranberry sauce. Even if I'm not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I'm making the sauce tonight to take to the host!
- Monday--if having homemade rolls, make them today, and refrigerate them until the big day. (Storebrought bread for that day already be refrigerated [if yeast bread] or frozen if some other type of bread.)
- Tuesday--purchase or make desserts today. The great thing about desserts (besides the yum factor) is that they can be stored away from the other foods--in a cake pan or something, as most pies don't require refrigeration for a couple of days--so they don't take up refrigerator space, which will be at a premium this week! If cooking a turkey carcass, you should have bought it by now, so that you can begin to defrost it in the fridge.
- Wednesday--prep day! This is the day to either bake most of your side dishes (except for mashed potatoes and greens), or cut up vegetables for dishes to put together quickly for tomorrow. For instance, roasting and cutting up pumpkin if making, say, a pumpkin soup (and cleaning out the seeds beforehand to have roasted pumpkin seeds--umm, umm, good!), making macaroni and cheese, which can then be cooled and reheated on Thursday. If cooking turkey, the deceased critter should be in the process of thawing out by now. Any non-turkey entree should be in the process of being prepared today (thawing out overnight in the fridge, if necessary, etc.).
- Thanksgiving Thursday! Begin cooking at around 10:30 am--preheating the oven, preparing the main event, setting out the desserts and decorations, etc. If cooking greens, they should be in the pot on top of the stove while the entree is in the oven. After the turkey or other entree comes out of the oven, the other baked items should be put in the oven. Also, cut potatoes should be put in boiling water during this time, so that they can be ready to be mashed in 20 to 30 minutes, as fresh mashed potatoes are best made soon before eating. Begin to make the gravy around this time, as well. (This is where your cell phone's alarm clock feature comes in extra handy--to allow you to nap during the time the entree is resting and the sides are baking!)