Friday, November 21, 2014

5 Thanksgiving Tips

Some thoughts and tips to consider this weekend before Thanksgiving. In no particular order.

Tip # 1: Table Manners, use them.

What is or isn't acceptable table behavior is always a hot topic for me. 
Take a look at this hilarious video. 
Warning, some words unsuitable for viewing by young children.


Tip #2: While seated at the Thanksgiving table, DO NOT engage others in whether To Stuff or Not, a turkey.
It's just plain rude.
Save this debate for the day before Thanksgiving.
There are always people on both sides of this hot topic 
with firmly held beliefs.

My 2012 Turkey. It was a crunchy shade of nicely browned, not the red in this pic.
I make an herbed butter and shallot mix and shove it under the skin, and more on top of the skin.
No stuffing in the cavity other than sprigs of rosemary.
I make the stuffing separately and drizzle the turkey pan drippings over it just before serving.

Stuffed or Unstuffed will go down as one of the great debates of our time. 
I am on the unstuffed side and my turkey is always moist. 
Could the pound of herbed butter under the skin have anything to do with that? 

How do you do your turkey? 
Anyone brave enough to deep fry?

Tip #3: Store Bought Pumpkin Pies, Don't Buy One

Are never, ever good. 
We buy them because we think it won't be Thanksgiving without one. 
Just say no.

A Market Basket institution for ever. Personal Pies.
Actually for 67 cents they're not bad.

Tip #3A: Awe Your Guests with Pumpkin Flan instead

Everyone is food shopping* this weekend. 
Cross store bought pumpkin pie off your list right now, do it! 
and add a dozen eggs and a quart of 1/2 and 1/2. 

You'll need both for Pumpkin Flan. It is infinitely easier to make than any pie,
And no one will miss the soggy crust and brown goo the store passes off as "pie".

Pumpkin Flan is the easiest dessert you will ever make. But don't tell your guests. 
Many people go gah-gah over flan and think it is extremely difficult to master. 
It isn't even remotely difficult.
 In fact, it is as easy as pie. Easier.
But why ruin it for your family and friends? Let them be in awe of your culinary finesse. 
They will talk about your flan for days.

     *food shopping: New England Speak for anything, food or not, that can be purchased at the local grocery store, 
er, market...ours is creatively named Market Basket. 
Pronounce market as "mahkit" and you will pass for a native until 
they ask you to say Leominster or Gloucester. Or Peabody. Billerica if they have a mean streak.

The famous statue in Gloucester, MA. Wikipedia

Here is my personal recipe for a party size Pumpkin Flan. 
Save yourself a lot of stress and make it the day before.

Linda Pakravan's Party Size Pumpkin Flan

Set oven to 350.

  • Put a big kettle of water on to boil.
  • Caramelize a cup of sugar by placing it in a dry sauce pan on moderate heat till it begins to melt. Continue to cook till nice and golden in color but not too brown.
  • Then pour it into the bottom of a bundt-type pan, tilt pan to coat bottom. Let cool till hardened. Place bundt pan in a roasting pan. Set aside.
  • The hard part is over.

8 eggs plus 1 yolk
1 1/4 cup sugar
24 ounces half and half
1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla or a little more if you like
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon or so pumpkin pie spice

With mixer, beat eggs till frothy, add rest of ingredients in order listed beating well after each addition.

Pour mixture into bundt pan that is in the roasting pan.

Pull out the middle oven rack and place the roasting pan on it. Do not push the rack back in until after next step.

Pour boiling water into the roasting pan till it is at least 3/4 of the way to the level of the flan in the bundt pan. Try not to get any boiling water in the flan. This is called a water bath. It gives the flan a heavenly tender texture.

Bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes, till knife inserted in center comes out clean. Adjust time as necessary.

Cool on wire rack till no longer hot.

Refrigerate till next day.

How easy was that?

Tip #4: If You Are a Guest, Be a Good One

Thanksgiving is about thankfulness which we express by having a comfort food feast 
with our family and friends. This is not the day to voice our caloric intake restrictions. 
If our host is dishing out the pie or dessert, do not make a fuss and ask for a smaller piece. 
Rather, be gracious and accept the plate passed to us. 
There is no law dictating that we must eat the entire slice.

Tip #5: If You Are the Host, Be a Good One

Thanksgiving is about thankfulness which we express by hosting our family and friends 
for a comfort feast. 
This is not the day to let our guests' requests to accommodate their 
caloric intake restrictions irritate us. 
Serve dessert buffet style and let them cut their own slice of pie. 

And have a glass or two of champagne.


Have a great weekend!

Please share you favorite Thanksgiving tips, thoughts, pet peeves, a recipe or story. 
Everyone would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan


  1. Anonymous22.11.14

    Sorry I haven't replied more promptly to this post but I was busy sending the link to the hilarious video on to my friends. Dying laughing!!!

    Yes, we made a fried turkey....twice. The first time we did it on Thanksgiving Day which was a huge mistake. We followed instructions precisely and pulled out a shriveled and dessicated bird from the vat of boiling oil. So we did it again a few weeks later and cut the frying time down by several minutes and what a difference. Still we have never done again. I rather missed the roasting turkey in the house and dealing with the oil is just a huge pain. So much for culinary adventures. Your flan sounds divine. Question: do you leave it in the Bundt pan when you refrigerate overnight? And then tip it out? And turnabout being fair play, I just saw this Bundt pan video this morning and have to share with you,

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Linda!

    1. Oy, I'll never have a career as a food writer....yes, leave it in the pan overnight. Take it out maybe 30 minutes before ready to serve and place a plate on top of the pan and then invert. It should come right out. If it doesn't, set the bottom of the pan in a little hot water and then invert.

      Have a great Thanksgiving, Barbara!

  2. Linda, I'm laughing because one sister bought a pumpkin pie AND a can of Reddi Wip cream :) Oh, well! I hope your Thanksgiving was warm and wonderful. We celebrated with my family, and had an international cuisine holiday - turkey, sushi, tacos, etc. I'm still full!!! xoxo

    1. Loi, it sounds perfect! I shouldn't be such a pie snob...I should add that to my "host" advice. Next year.


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