Christmas and New Year's Day in the South Louisiana home is a
"feast extraordinaire" in most cases.
We go "all out" when it comes to
pleasing the pallet with bounties of fresh vegetables, soups,
gumbos, the "Grand Bird", a sweet ham, casseroles,
dressings and desserts! After all are stuffed from the great meal
you sit and want to pass out from exhaustion after preparing it all.
Can it get tougher? Yes... you could get no help, and, it
could be done LATE! Could it get easier? Read on... maybe so!
Most folks invite family and friends over and the number of
people can reach anywhere from 5 to 15 or more. This can be
especially overwhelming if it's your first-go-round too. Planning is
the key, and, it's not that hard to do (the restaurants do it). You
want to make this plan a few days in advance. Let's look at the
List everything that will be served. Break it down as shown below
(I'll give you a form you can print out to do this a little later,
With this list you will assign preparation and cooking times
[don't do this yet, keep reading], then, you'll add one hour to each
item, "that's your slack or "play" time". WHAT!
Play time while I'm killing myself doing all this stuff? Calm down,
relax.... yes... play time... time to enjoy your family even while
you're (seemingly) very busy. It's starting to sound like fun huh?
It will be fun because you will be "in control".
Along with the list you are going to develop, you'll define the
cooking method (stove top, oven, crock pot....)
Once this is all mapped out you'll be able to get things together
and have your meal done on time, and, smile when you ring the dinner
bell. Tired you might be, but unflustered.
Okay, to the listing. I've laid out a simple planning sheet that
you can print out. You'll see the layout and understand better as
you read below. (Click
Here for the Plan) but come back here ... I'm not finished (the
plan will open in a new window).
Print two copies of the plan, or, if you have Excel or any
program you can make a similar plan on, go for it. You can even do
calculations of you want. I'm keeping this simple here for those who
don't have those programs.
First step: Fill in the blanks (with pencil), and for the
start time, add the preparation time, cooking time and one hour from
the time you want everything done. Then subtract that time from the
time you want it to be done. For instance,
if the turkey takes 30 minutes to prepare and 4 hours to cook that's
4-1/2 hours. Add one hour, that's 5-1/2 hours. Now you want the bird
done for 11:00 (adjust for oven
sequence - see below). 5-1/2 hours from 11:00 am is 4:30 am. That's
the time you start with the turkey.
Second step: Now, here's the trick, take the second
copy and list (with pencil) in the order of "Start
Time" what needs to taken care of first, second, etc. Now
you have a nice, clean time layout of
how you are going to go about preparing everything.
Naturally if visitors are going to bring prepared dishes in crock
pots you don't have to worry about those and can leave them off of
your first plan listing.
Oven sequence: There's one more thing that's important.
How much oven time will be needed? You're going to have to
calculate the times you have to deal with the oven and work these
into the start times. For instance, you've got a Turkey, Ham, 2 pies
and a casserole to cook. You naturally can't do all of this at once.
So pick the ones you can do first and reheat if needed... like
pies... do those first, and cook the others last. You'll have to
figure this out for yourself and work them into the plan.
Take your time at the planning... you'll save yourself some
serious frustration in the long run. Plan your work and work your
Enjoy your family, friends and "the food".