We’ve made another trip around the sun, & now in the aftermath of the first American holiday, we have more on the horizon for the next little while. For a bajillion years the holiday tables always surprise me a little, no matter how many times they come around. I’m also SO SURPRISED when the weather turns cold, too. Every year of my life :)

Even though I prepare for the cooking mayhem with hands & a plan, I always eventually say to myself, “Holy shit, better get cracking’!”

Granted, I can only speak for my own holiday tables. I especially hope to hear & learn how you all get ready for your own special holiday tables everywhere in the world. PLEASE, give me a window into your plans :)

My tips! TIPS!! Not “hacks,” because these have been taught or internalized or witnessed, & have maybe come as an epiphany at some point. It doesn’t matter how long it took to figure them out :)

* Cranberry Sauce~ Ohhh, I know how people hate or love it, or prefer the jellied kind in a can. I get that!! It’s fucking delicious! We only ever had canned, jellied cranberry sauce in my family until I was in my mid~20s. By my late 20s, I’d learned how to cook the basics....including Fresh Cranberry Sauce! TIP: The recipe is 12 oz of whole cranberries, 1 cup of sugar & 1 cup of water. Replace the 1 cup of water with orange juice. Trust me on that :) There will be takers who didn’t like it before, and no leftovers

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*Gravy~ Gravy is not hard. Full stop. If you’ve cooked a bird, all you need for delicious homemade gravy is right there in the pan you cooked it in & it’s super easy. It just takes a bit of attention & whisking. Remove the bird from the roasting pan & let it rest on a separate platter, covered in foil & a kitchen towel. TIP: Put the roasting pan with the juices, front to back, over 2 burners. Put those burners on just above “low.” Depending on the amount of juices, add a cup or so of water. As it heats up again, scrape the bottom of the pan of its delicious goody bits & stir. Meanwhile, put 1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour in a cup. Add COLD water to the flour to the top of the cup. Whisk it until the flour is pretty much dissolved. Then add it to the stove top roasting pan of juices & whisk it in. When it comes to a simmer again, WHISK & WATCH IT THICKEN PERFECTLY!!! Fuckin’ gravy! and salt to taste somewhere in the middle of the whisking :)

*Stuffing/Dressing~ Whatever you call it, our family recipe has laid waste to so many people that all I can do is strut around! Once you eat it, it’s all you’ll ever want :) My sisters make it, too, & we 3 make stuffing/dressing together every year on the night before Thanksgiving... it’s a shit~show of laughter & deliciousness. TIP: The New York stuffing has the sausage...if anyone wants the recipe, ask in the comments. It’s not just ours; it’s an NYC thing. My grandmother learned it from her mother, and we’ve been making it for decades.

*Cake~Mix Cookies: Holy shit, HOW did I not know until now that you can make the quickest, prettiest & super delicious cookies by tweaking a cake mix??? HOW??? I made Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake Mix cookies with walnuts, coconut & chocolate chips. TIP: The prep took 10 minutes & you can mix it with a fork, holy shit :) Mr. 4th ate them all, so I did a second full batch the next day & I wasn’t even mad!!!

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