I have always loved working in the kitchen with my mom and my grandma on Thanksgiving morning. Even though both my brother and I have severe food allergies, my mom has always worked on giving us a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve never felt like I was missing out, and that makes me so grateful.
I was excited this year, because this was the first year that I was able to cook my very own Thanksgiving dinner for my husband and I. I cooked for us the entire day before Thanksgiving, and was very pleased with how the entire dinner came out (it being my first time and everything)! This year was basically a test run for me, since I wasn’t hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family, but just for Nolan and I. Being a newlywed, along with a busy work schedule, I wanted some practice before I took on the huge responsibility of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for extended family (which I definitely suggest for my fellow young adults).
So here is my advice after undertaking this huge, delicious meal.
- Plan, plan, plan. The day before I cooked, I took out my Thanksgiving cookbook, along with Pinterest on my iPad, and wrote out everything I was planning on making. I also wrote out the cooking times for each dish (padding in an extra 5-10 minutes for each dish). I then organized the list according to the time it would take to cook, what needed to come out hot or could be refrigerated and then served later, and the oven temperatures for each dish. By doing this, you can make the day run as smoothy as possible.
- Give some time to wrestle that turkey. This being my first time cooking this large bird, I wish I would have given myself more time to wrestle this thing. The highlight of the day was definitely not talking to my mom on speaker phone with my entire arm up the turkey. You have to pull out the neck and the bag of giblets before you cook the turkey – but it’s a little tricky to do that when there is not a bag of giblets. So 50 minutes later, I finally realize that my turkey just never got that bag of insides. Needless to say, just give yourself a chance to clean, prep, and season your turkey before you throw it in the oven (I suggest cooking the turkey breast-down so it’s extra moist and yummy)!
- Check those ingredients. With food allergies, we have to make sure that we are extra careful to read labels and avoid cross-contamination. Make sure to have a clean sink and kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. Even though you may have eaten the same things every year, make sure you check the labels again and again. Ingredients can change, and you really can never be too careful.
- Relax and enjoy yourself. Before I started cooking, I told myself I was going to enjoy cooking, and not be staring at the timer for the next six hours. The little hiccup with the turkey got me a bit flustered, but I threw on some good music, took a deep breath, and made myself enjoy the moment. Think of things you are thankful for, enjoy cooking, and make special holiday memories.
Even though food allergies can be difficult to deal with, we can take ownership and make great holiday memories. The food should not be the focus – but the family and friends we are surrounded by.