Thanksgiving Survival Guide

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19 Nov Thanksgiving Survival Guide

I’m a big advocate of knowing your limits. While I’m very good at producing stellar individual dishes (Cranberry & Apple Cake aside), I’m not as gifted when it comes to co-ordinating large, multi-course meals. Want chicken curry on rice with a veggie? No problem. Drop by anytime for a soup, salad and savory scone. And I’m always happy to whip up a batch of ginger cookies. But ask me to produce a stuffed bird, three sides, sauce and dessert? I channel my inner hypochondriac and start searching for the thermometer. Expect me to serve this to a dozen people while wearing heels? Well, let’s just say I play the “Small House with an Eat-In Kitchen” card as often as I can.

And thanks to my parents, with their large kitchen and even larger dining room, this excuse works every time. All I have to do is show up with a Pumpkin Pie and I’m golden.

But I realize not everyone has this Get-Out-of-Cooking-Thanksgiving-Dinner-Free option. So, to help those who are flying solo with the holiday hosting, I’m acknowledging my limits and handing the reigns over to the pros.

Knowing the challenges of organizing and executing a holiday dinner, the good people at Rouxbe Online Cooking School have created a Step-by-Step Holiday Guide to get you through Thanksgiving (or Christmas for that matter). It includes a full menu with individual recipe videos for each dish. Want to use your own recipes? Their planning checklist is a good start to keep you on track. The section on Turkey Tips will help first-timers purchase, brine and cook the main attraction. They also answer questions that stump seasoned hosts, like should you or shouldn’t you stuff the turkey, and what is the ideal oven temperature?

They even have a video on how to carve the beast. See…

Want to look good on Thanksgiving? Check out their holiday guide. Here’s a sneak peak.

Update: As of noon PST, November 22nd, Rouxbe is increasing their prices. If you sign up for a trial membership before this time, they will honour the $15/month or $99/year pricing even if you take the full two weeks to decide. If you sign up after this, the new prices take effect. (See below for updated prices.)

Already a member? We’ve got you covered. Your current pricing will remain the same as long as you keep your membership active.

While I can’t come to your house and prepare the meal for you (for which you should be grateful), as part of Rouxbe’s affiliate program, I can give you a free, full-access, no-videos-barred, 14-day pass to their site. All you have to do is go to Rouxbe Online Cooking School and redeem the Gift Membership. You can enjoy all Rouxbe has to offer for a full two weeks, no strings attached.

And then? Your Gift Membership will silently morph into a Basic Membership, which means you can access the recipes but not the Cooking School videos. However, if you’d like to purchase a Premium Membership, it’s very reasonably priced, starting at just $29.95 per month for full cooking school access. A full-year membership is $239.95. (If you act before noon PST, November 22, prices are $15/month and $99/year. No pressure. I’m just saying…)

In the meantime, what is your biggest challenge with Thanksgiving? Post your comments and I’ll see if Joe and his team have insider answers.

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  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 13:50h, 19 November Reply

    I’m usually expected to serve all of that to upwards of a dozen people, but I never, EVER wear heels. You’ll find me in my kitchen wearing flip-flops or slippers next Thursday! 😉

    Maybe its because I’ve been doing it for so long, I don’t find the Thanksgiving meal to be too taxing. I cook as much as I possibly can in advance and freeze, and I parcel out responsibility for all of the desserts to my guests. It seems to work.

    My biggest challenge is finding/borrowing enough chairs and an extra table. Though, this year, I’m golden. I’m only serving 10 and I have exactly 10 chairs. Yay!

    That said, I’ll be checking out the Rouxbe guides – they look excellent. Thanks, C!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:04h, 22 November Reply

      @The Diva on a Diet, seating is a challenge for me, too — with or without heels.

      We tend to do communal meals. Even with my small contribution, I try to do as much ahead of time as possible. I can’t imagine cooking the entire feast myself. I admire anyone who does regardless of their footwear.

  • Amy Proulx
    Posted at 15:20h, 19 November Reply

    Ooh! It’s time for Thanksgiving, round two! Since I lived in the USA for 5 years, but now back in the Great White North, I’ve grown to love having double Thanksgiving. Turkey and potatoes, bring it on! (on the weekend, of course!)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:06h, 22 November Reply

      @Amy Proulx, if you have to repeat a holiday, Thanksgiving is a great one to have seconds on. I’m especially happy to partake in the double dose of pumpkin pie. With whipped cream.

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 21:53h, 19 November Reply

    We host Christmas, Thanksgiving and when I’ve been standing too close to the wine, Easter. Small house, eat in kitchen doesn’t work here. Turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, squash, turnip, carrots, cranberries and dessert. We usually cook a 20-25 lb turkey for 6 people and then divvy up the leftovers.

    I hosted my father in law’s retirement party-25 people, a dog, 2 cats and a bagpiper. (bagpipes are very loud in a living room in November…) We had 6 kinds of squares, meatballs, ham, scalloped potatoes (which I found out the morning of the party that you can’t freeze raw potatoes…had to start 2 lasagna pans all over…) salad…We also had 21 people in 30c in June for my daughter’s Christening. I need about 6 years in between to recover.

    My biggest challenge? Food allergies. My father in law and brother in law are severe celiac. Rice bread stuffing is not the same. I usually make cheesecake because I can sub in a rice crispie crust and everything else stays the same. My only trick is to plan it early, cook and freeze.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:10h, 22 November Reply

      @Lisa MacColl, food allergies are a huge issue. It’s very hard to create a traditional meal when you are working around more than one restriction. I feel for you. And these major holidays tend to rely heavily on dairy, wheat and eggs — three of the worst allergy culprits.

      Thanks for the heads up, too. I had no idea you can’t freeze raw potatoes. I’ll file that piece of information away for later!

      • Amy Proulx
        Posted at 08:52h, 27 November Reply

        @Charmian Christie, Another Iowa throwback, we used to make the most marvelous corn bread stuffing, and this was real corn bread, no wheat flour to dilute the golden flavour of the fresh whole-grain cornmeal. With sage, and pork sausage mixed in, it was the epitome of Midwestern cooking.

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