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Thanksgiving Countdown

So. I’ll skip the witty preamble and just jump right in: Here’s my plan for the week, leading up to the Most Important Day of the Year for food writers & bloggers. The idea is to get done as much as possible beforehand, so the actual day won’t be completely, 100%, tear-my-hair-out insane. Did I mention that I’m doing most of this while Harry’s at school? Not sure how I’ll fit in my actual work-work, but maybe that’s what nights are for.

SATURDAY (yeah, I meant to get this post up a little sooner…)

  • Farmers’ market: turkey, butternut, onions, apples, sage, parsley, thyme, more apples, cider, cheeses, sweet potatoes…
  • Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving perused, chuckled over, dogeared



  • Pie crust, two batches using whole wheat pastry flour and this super-simple, ingenious method
  • Apple pie filling, using Sam Sifton’s recipe
  • Apple pie assembled and frozen—I’m lining the pie plate with plastic wrap, and once it’s fully frozen I’ll pop it out & wrap tightly. On Thanksgiving morning I’ll unwrap, put it back in the pie plate, and bake for about 30 minutes longer than the recipe says
  • Dough for pumpkin rolls, refrigerate
  • Supermarket & Trader Joe’s & craft store (to pick up something for the kids to do)


  • Really basic sweet potato pie: graham cracker crumb crust, sweet potatoes simmered in cider and a bit of pineapple juice and then mashed with butter, topped with mini-marshmallows. For the Thanksgiving feast at Harry’s school the next day
  • Bake pumpkin rolls; freeze when cool
  • Gather linens, candles, serving platters
  • Hit Emily’s Pork Store for pancetta & sopressata
  • Dry-brine the turkey


  • Make cranberry sauce or relish (still deciding which I’d rather do—what’s your preference?)
  • Bake pumpkin pie (I happen to have a can of fat-free sweetened condensed milk, so I’m going to use that—am I nuts?)
  • Make turkey stock
  • Check clean status of wine glasses, bathroom, living room. Stress over sad state of sofa, stained by six years of family living. Shrug.
  • Prep vegetables: still deciding between Pan-Roasted Carrots with Crispy Sage, pan-roasted green beans topped with toasted almonds, or Melissa Clark’s Shredded Butternut Squash with Brown Butter, Sage & Pecans
  • Prep and pre-cook vegetables for stuffing
  • Organize the living room—it’s not big enough for a seated dinner, so we’re doing this as a buffet


  • Bake apple pie (first thing)
  • Assemble cheese/sausage/olives plate, refrigerate, covered, until 1 hour before guests arrive
  • Bake stuffing (until just shy of done—then I’ll reheat/finish while the turkey’s resting)
  • Roast turkey
  • Make gravy
  • Cook vegetables
  • Reheat pumpkin rolls

That’s it, I think. Did I miss anything? How does it compare to your plan?

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Brette Sember

    I started my prep on Sunday, making pie crust and cornbread (for stuffing). Tomorrow is turkey brining day. This year I am making two turkeys: one with gluten-free stuffing and gravy. And I’m making 4 pies: 3 regular, one gluten-free.

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Oy Brette, I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with dietary needs–we’re all allergy/sensitivity free. I just get to deal with supreme pickiness x3. All the kids who’ll be there are pretty notorious.

  2. Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I looooove the Thanksgiving prep as much as the actual meal! And I’m listening to Christmas music while I make tonight’s pies, gouda-walnut biscotti for nibbles, and Chex Mix for Dan. But now I want to make pumpkin rolls too!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Casey, I made the dough for those rolls earlier–soooo sticky. And oops, I accidentally bought a can of sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin. Actually, two cans. Guess we’re having sweet potato pie for dessert 😉

      Christmas music. Huh.

  3. Ellen

    I wish I could get that creative with Thanksgiving! My husband’s family (who we have over every year) has lived for generations on packaged convenience foods and PREFERS them to the real deal. I have some leeway with the turkey seasonings, but then it’s Stove Top stuffing, canned green beans, corn, and cranberry sauce, refrigerator biscuits and a Sara Lee pie. I draw the line at instant mashed potatoes, though – those I make from scratch. I might also make the sweet potato gnocchi you posted a link to earlier this year. Viva la resistance! 🙂

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Ellen, I love how each family has their own traditions, some clung to more steadfastly than others. I know A LOT of people who swear by Stove Top. The only stuff I’d quibble with on your menu are the canned vegetables, but if that’s the family’s perfect Thanksgiving memory, then canned vegs it is. I get it.

  4. KitschenBitsch

    I make all the casseroles and veg sides and transport them to Mom and Daddy’s, where Mom handles the turkey, dressing, starch, bourbon pecan pie, and carrot cake. I’ll be making green bean casserole, squash casserole (full of tragic premade Pepperidge Farm stuffing and cream soup, but WE HAVE TO HAVE IT), carrots, butternut squash-sweet-and-yukon potato gratin, garlic green beans. The kicker? There are only SIX of us. It’s an insane tradition. This is the first year I’ve finished my grocery shopping two days in advance and I hope to have everything prepped to the baking point tomorrow…we’ll see! Surely I forgot something…

    1. Debbie Koenig

      This made me laugh: “full of tragic premade Pepperidge Farm stuffing and cream soup, but WE HAVE TO HAVE IT.” Thank you! I love your menu–such great variety!

  5. KitschenBitsch

    (Oh, yeah. Sweet potato souffle, half with praline topping, half with marshmallows.)

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