Small kitchen, big Thanksgiving – The Denver Post

The funny thing about holidays is that you are the same person on those days as you are all the other days of the year. If you are generally disorganized and a little chaotic in the kitchen, you won’t magically transform into someone who isn’t. Take it from me, someone who is disorganized and a little chaotic.

But that has never stopped me from being enthusiastic about Thanksgiving, a holiday that’s dedicated almost exclusively to cooking and eating, my two favorite things. I’m also a sucker for tradition and routine, and while my lifestyle and schedule don’t leave much room for either, I cherish the one day a year to honor both.

To avoid unnecessary personal meltdowns while cooking this meal, I’ve learned to match my expectations with my reality. This means nothing is getting done more than three days before Thanksgiving, and I refuse to panic about it. Even with that relatively generous timeline, all the real cooking I do for Thanksgiving simply happens the day of, in a very small New York City kitchen with an extremely small refrigerator and an even smaller oven.

It can be done, and if I can do it there, you can do it anywhere. Here’s what I’ll be cooking, and how I’ll pull it off.


3 Days Ahead

PLAN THE MENU

Aside from making sure your preferences on potatoes are represented, the secret to a good Thanksgiving menu is timing. To avoid a traffic jam, there has to be a mix of items made on the stovetop and items made in the oven, a mix of room-temp items and hot items.

When it comes to what makes the cut, I am an unapologetic traditionalist on this day and this day only. I tend to play it pretty fast and loose with the details, and things are always subject to change, but even I appreciate some structure to help stay organized.

Of course I’ll be making turkey and gravy, to be eaten on a bed of stuffing (my favorite part). For the sides, I’ll make creamy potatoes, a sweet orange vegetable and a savory green vegetable. To provide a break from the richness, there’ll be cranberries on the table. For a bright, lemony moment, there’ll be herby salad to nibble on between bites of stuffing and gravy. To finish, I’m not a pumpkin person, so I’ll make an apple dessert to serve with lots of ice cream.

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