Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

The perfect pie (pan)

We haven’t hosted a large Thanksgiving in several years, so I can afford to use Thanksgiving as the opportunity to test the kitchen’s readiness for the December holidays. I make a list of what’s missing and, of course, discover what aging piece of equipment is about to give up the ghost. (This year, the toaster oven suddenly lost it while trying to heat a casserole dish full of extra stuffing.)

As usual, I volunteered to bake pies for the Thanksgiving feast we were invited to at our friends’ house. I love to bake piece because I have such great pie pans, especially this one, for fruit pies:

Apple pie

Apple pie in vintage HOLZIT pie plate with deep lip.

It is a medium-size (9-inch) pan with a wide, deep lip that catches any bubbly juices from the pie. That means I don’t have to fit foil-covered cookie trays beneath my pies or spend the next few days trying to chisel baked sugar syrup off racks or oven surfaces.

It’s not easy to find a HOLZIT aluminum pie plate! I inherited one, and I’ve spotted one or two on eBay over the years. There’s also a new $49 Royal Prestige 11-inch stainless steel pie plate with a wide, medium-depth, lip — pricy, but pretty wonderful (and available only through distributors or on eBay).

The Royal Prestige is notable because it’s an 11-inch pie plate — not easy to find in stores.  You can still find 11-inch vintage Pyrex (#211) on Etsy or eBay for about $15.

(The pie plate in the background, containing a pecan pie, is a 9-inch vintage anodized aluminum by Regal. It has a wide, but not deep, lip. You can find them, as I did, on eBay.)

 

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>Thanksgiving?

>You’ll find all the Thanksgiving information here. Happy Turkey Day!

>And now, on to Thanksgiving

>It’s time to toss out the Halloween candy (can we say high-fructose corn syrup?) and move on to a more complex culinary holiday: Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s coming.

It’s tempting to go into denial, but then you’ll find yourself racing around looking for baking pans, roasters, turkeys, and exotic ingredients at the last minute — paying top dollar, and standing in long checkout lines with all the other people who tried that tactic.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed wonderful, storybook Thanksgivings — and had turkey days that ended with me staring miserably at a kitchen full of greasy poultry leftovers and ruined tablecloths.

I like to think I’m getting better at it. Here are five steps I’ve learned to take in order to come to grips with the very real logistic and emotional issues that surround Thanksgiving:

1. Clean out the pantry well in advance. Whether it’s your storage locker, basement, garage, or pantry, get in there and make sure you have a clear path to the stuff for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And that you have the equipment you need: roasters, baking pans, cookie sheets, cookie cutters, pie plates, large serving bowls and platters, a functioning mixer (for whipped cream and mashed potatoes), enough place settings of china and stainless for the number of guests you expect, and a nice tablecloth and napkins. A punchbowl and a large coffee pot will help, too. Make a list of what’s missing (for Step 4).

2. Check the appliances. If your refrigerator is acting up, or your oven seems to be baking unevenly, or if some of your burners don’t work, this is the time to get replacements or call in the repair person — not the week before Thanksgiving. And make sure the dishwasher is on its best behavior, as well.

3. Read up on Thanksgiving cooking. Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of some lifestyle magazine at the checkout counter, either. Do some research and find a Thanksgiving cookbook that suits your style, be it vegetarian, traditional, gourmet, or natural foods. Then read it. I can strongly recommend Cook’s Illustrated Thanksgiving Survival Guide (online) for its thoroughly tested recipes. If you like to cook, but are not used to orchestrating complete meals for a crowd of guests, I’d suggest the ebook Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner. It takes a project management approach to the meal, with checklists and charts — as well as all the recipes you’ll need to prepare a classic Thanksgiving meal.

4. Buy (or borrow) the necessary equipment. Take your list (from Step 1) and look up the items you need on Amazon, getting a sense for prices and creating a wish list. Then head for your local consignment shop or a discount store such as Ross. You should be able to get much of what you need very cheaply at one of those shops; the remainder you can buy online at Amazon, Cooking.com, or similar. It’s fine to borrow these items, but don’t rely on someone to remember to bring them to the Thanksgiving event. Get them in advance.

5. Plan for enjoyment. Think about your favorite Thanksgiving meals from the past and what made them really wonderful. Do you enjoy simple, informal buffets or elegant sit-downs? Traditional recipes, or the latest gourmet trends? A big, energetic group of guests or a small group of quiet, reflective people? Plan a Thanksgiving experience that’s as close to your ideal as possible. Strongly resist taking responsibility for a meal that’s outside your comfort zone! If someone insists you provide an ultra-gourmet experience, a strict vegetarian meal, a feast for 24 with elegant linens and silver, or cater to a guest list full of people who creep you out, don’t do it. Tell whoever is asking for something you don’t want to prepare that they can host Thanksgiving and you’ll bring a dessert or wine!