Ok, did you realize Thanksgiving is in 6 days?! 6 days! Are you ready? Does hosting a big meal stress you out? I would understand if you say “yes”. All those recipes, grocery shopping, cooking, setting the table and personalities can make for an emotionally charged dinner. But, since I love Thanksgiving and the tradition, I am going to share some secrets with you on how to actually enjoy the day and no longer dread that Thursday in November.
There are a million websites that will tell you what to make for dinner, how to roast the turkey and how to set the table. So, I am not going there. Instead, I am going to share some tricks on how to make the preparation and day go smoothly with a little help from a bunch of great housewares products.
The first two items may not seem relevant when we are talking about cooking a turkey dinner but let me tell you, you will be grateful. Especially if you are a girl with fingernails that are shiny and manicured. And can barely move the next day after spending all the previous day chopping and dicing. Such simple solutions that will start your holiday season off right.Let’s talk manicures and washing dishes. Two things that do not get along very well. I have always been very careful with my nails and even did some hand modeling. Caring for my nails and hands really matters to me. But cooking means you need to do dishes and wash the foods you are cutting which means you are going to get your hands in hot water in most cases. Enter these amazing gloves! They are called True Blues and the reason I like them so much is that they are 100 percent cotton lined and thick enough to not feel the hot water you are using – although you will see the steam coming up from the dishes before you realize how hot the water actually is.
There is also a flexibility with these gloves to be able to grip the glassware, kitchen tools or cookware with out losing it in the slippery water. In fact, I like these gloves so much that I have pairs for cleaning the bathrooms too. You can even wash them in the washing machine without ruining the exterior vinyl shell. Highly recommend them and bonus, they are under $10 a pair! Save your manicure and try these gloves. You won’t be sorry!
My second saving grace for all the cooking, chopping and dicing you will be doing is this WellnessMats Anti-Fatigue kitchen mat. Let’s be realistic, you are going to be standing in your kitchen for hours and maybe days getting ready for your guests to arrive. Between washing dishes and food prep, your back and legs are going to take the brunt of your time in the kitchen. I discovered these mats at a store I was working in that had gorgeous marble floors. Hard, no give floors. That I was standing on for hours at a time. When I stood on this mat, I no longer felt the hard floor. I felt like I was standing on pillows.
Here’s another reason I discovered how much I had to have one of these mats. I attend the International Home and Housewares Show every year. It is an enormous trade show. One day I walked 19,000 steps. Let’s just say my feet, legs and back were not happy with me. I wandered over to the WellnessMats booth and just stood in their booth on their mat. It felt like all the pain just disappeared. So awesome!Now, back to having a WellnessMat in your kitchen. My mat is in front of my sink and where I do most of my food prep. If you want to have a mat that goes the length of your counter, they have modular offerings as well. They come in a variety of colors and patterns too. You may see mats for less expensive than this at stores but let me tell you, they do not have the density that these mats have. As funny as this sounds, you WILL feel the floor when you stand on them. But not with WellnessMats. Should you buy one for your kitchen, you will thank me come Thursday night or Friday morning when the only thing that is bugging you is your stomach as a result of all the food you ate. Your back and legs will thank you.
As I began thinking about this post and what would be most helpful for everyone to have, I decided to reach out to my foodie friends. So many awesome suggestions were sent in. What made me laugh the most though is the number of people who recommended various kinds of alcohol. What ever it takes to enjoy or get through the cooking experience! (Although as I knife rep, I don’t want anyone getting hurt!)
Silicone spatulas and lots of them! With all the burners having pots bubbling away, these spatulas are going to be in high demand. Having enough so you don’t have to wash them going from one pot to the next is a real time saver. A good tip is to find spatulas that have silicone that completely covers the whole thing as it will make cleaning it so easy.
A food thermometer is super important when it comes to making sure your turkey or other meats are cooked to the right and safest temperature. You can choose a standard version or do a remote thermometer for when you are multi tasking and running around the house trying to get ready. You take the remote with you so you can hear it when it beep when it’s time to check the turkey.Remote thermometerAn extra kitchen timer is a small piece of good luck in not over cooking something because you are using the same timer for two things. Inexpensive solution for sure.
Having an appliance to help you chop pounds of onions can take the pain out of your eyes. Items like food processors or the Vidalia Chop Wizard will do the trick and come in large and small sizes.
For making soups, having an immersion blender is a quick way to blend the soup without having to dirty your blender or other bowls. It all happens right in the stockpot your ingredients are in.
For actual cooking of the foods, having multiple slow cookers can be a blessing. They come in all different sizes and capacities too. From vegetables to potatoes to sauces to appetizers, they can be prepared in advance and bonus, not take up your precious and limited cooktop and oven space with cookware. Note that three intriguing suggestions from my foodie friends was to have a second oven, dishwasher and 6 burner cooktop. If you cook a lot and are considering replacing or remodeling your kitchen, these are valuable items to consider. One other way to keep your oven space open is to use a turkey fryer. Always be safe when doing this though as it can be dangerous if you are not keeping a close eye on the oil and flames.
One of the most obvious but yet least taken advantage of kitchen “tool” suggestion is the freezer! Preparing either fully cooked or par-baked dishes that you can freeze will be a time saver for you on the big day. Just pop it into the oven or onto a serving platter once defrosted.
Suggestions for after the meal is over:
Something I think we never consider until our kitchen is a mess is the need for a big stack of clean towels. Such a simple thing to have but often forgotten.I come from a family where we cook for 50 people when 30 are actually coming to dinner. That means we need lots of storage containers, plastic bags, foil and plastic wrap for the clean up stage. The perk is that now we have leftovers that we can share with our guests and for that late night turkey sandwich.
One other idea to share with you. I love to listen to music while I cook and have Nest Candles lit as it helps me get into the cooking zone. So many suggestions for you to consider to make your holiday season cooking as stress free as possible.
Special thanks to my foodie friends for the amusing and booze filled discussion: Sheena, Jay, Marianne, Jenna, Cynthia, Meaghan, Nicole, Heather, Sandi, Kathi, Bethany, Claire, Sharon, Hanady, Tiffany, Ange, Lucy, Valerie, Jade, Patricia
If you have any tips on ways to relax while you are prepping for the holiday cooking season, please share. We would all love to hear them!
Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!