You are on your own, in your own place. Mom and Dad are far away and aren't there to cook for you. Sure, you will probably be going to go home for Thanksgiving dinner, but don't you want to cook it yourself prior to the big day?
Well if you are new to the kitchen and you want to cook a pre-Thanksgiving feast (which probably ranks up there right next to a pre-Christmas feast), let me help you out. While I'm no Iron Chef, I have been known to cook a good chicken scampi for the ladies every once in a while.
I am here to coach you through your Thanksgiving feast with a running diary of my trials and tribulations in the kitchen. Since it's my first time cooking for Thanksgiving, my wonderful friend Megan Barry has agreed to be my sous chef before she takes off to Colorado for the winter. (I hope you learn from our many mistakes. This is a 'to be continued' column.)
3:50 - Just got back from grocery shopping at Schartner Farms and with the wonderful Ms.Barry.
3:56 - Meg preheats the oven to 375º; I start to sort the food.
4:03 - Meg starts to work on the candied yams; I start to prep the green bean casserole. The prep time for the recipe, conveniently found on the back of the French's french fried onions container, says five minutes. Awesome. Local food tip – use fresh green beans and yams from Schartner's.
4:17 - Definitely did not take me five minutes to prep the green bean casserole. Apparently I have short-term memory loss and need to look at the recipe ten times while prepping it.
4:18 - Meg and I are start working on the cranberry sauce. Really hopeful that this comes out well because cranberry sauce is my favorite side dish on Thanksgiving.
4:20 - Green bean casserole and candied yams are in the oven, cranberry sauce is cooking on the stove. All is well.
4:24 - Super secret ingredient that is about to not be super-secret anymore in each dish is a little bit of Sam Adams Winter Lager.
4:30 - Oops, just got a text from Mom asking if the covers were on the casserole dishes. I guess that helps.
4:35 - Cranberry sauce is done, though it seems like it came out really soupy. The recipe calls for us to cover and leave at room temperature, so hopefully that will help it thicken.
4:37 - Apparently when you use canned green beans they come cooked, and I forgot to boil the fresh green beans first. I guess we'll just keep that green bean casserole in for 10 extra minutes than the recipe calls for. Apparently we forgot to boil the yams prior to baking as well. Add another 10 minutes to the candied yams, too!
4:42 - Meg discovers that the casserole plate that she used for the candied yams was too small. The yams are layered on top of each other and not soaking into the brown sugar and milk. Time to mix the yams around a bit!
4:45 - Samantha Turner – North Kingstown Patch editor – has arrived to check in on the status of my column. In other words, she's here to reap the benefits of our hard labor. (Editor's note: Guilty as charged.)
4:58 - Yams are done. Meg pulls them out and they are very soft and so good. I pull the green bean casserole out quickly to add a quick top layer of french fried onions on top, then put it back in for another five minutes.
5:03 - Green bean casserole comes out and tastes delicious. The cranberry sauce does thicken after sitting out at room temperature.
5:10 - Plates are passed around and we dig into our culinary creations. Even though we did not boil the yams or green beans first, both still came out great when we left them cooking longer. Nothing like a little pre-Thanksgiving meal to help get rid of the gloom from the pouring rain outside!
There you have it readers: even if you are new to the kitchen or new to cooking Thanksgiving food (like us), it can be done. Learn from our mistakes!
- Make sure the yams are spread out completely in a casserole dish and not layered.
- Cover the casserole dishes when they are in the oven.
- Boil the yams and green beans first before using them in the casserole
- Do something a little different! I never like to follow the recipes to the dot as I like to add a little creative touch to them.
Next week I hope you have an empty stomach because the running diary continues with a turkey and a pumpkin pie!