Oh, you’ll survive, to be sure! I know you can make it! But I also know, and you know…that you may be in some discomfort long about Friday, either from:
a) too much eating; or
b) too much cooking!
So here are some quick tips that strive to solve both crises:
1) WHEN YOU EAT.
Lots of people on Thanksgiving Day skip lunch, and sit down to The Big Feast somewhere in the afternoon…3pm? 4pm? In my life, this has been nothing other than a big invitation to stuff myself! The timing makes me approach the Thanksgiving table starving, and, well, nature takes its course. PLUS…the afternoon setting seems “special,” somehow…as if the normal restraints we place on ourselves at dinner don’t apply here! I say: have a light lunch. Do some exercise in the afternoon. Then treat your Thanksgiving dinner as a “normal” meal time…say 7pm or so.
2) HOW YOU EAT.
There is a mentality that comes with you to the Thanksgiving table. You’re in a holiday mood. You remember a lifetime of festive pig-outs and, damnit, it’s time for another one. The very structure of the meal encourages over-consumption: many dishes laid out on the table, side-by-side, all seemingly demanding attention. But I say…lay back, instead of pushing forward! For starters, this ain’t so hard for me: I’m not a lover of very sweet things mixed with savory things. But even if you are…why should you not treat this spread as just just another grand buffet? I am constantly walking up to groaning boards—Thai, Italian, Mexican—with wide varieties of foods on them. I love tasting everything…but I have taught myself to have a little of everything. At Thanksgiving, if the turkey’s good (NOT a given!), I focus on the turkey…surrounded by the satellites of small bites. I eat slowly. I do not have the impetus of an inner voice saying, “Eat! Eat! Eat! It’s a holiday!”
3) AFTER YOU EAT
The Thanksgiving onslaught is as much about Friday/Saturday as it is about Thursday. Good planning can also help get you through the after-days without endless, heavy turkey-cranberry sandwiches. A few years back, I slipped into a new Thanksgiving strategy: planning my leftovers as I plan my meal! Now, when I shop for Thanksgiving…I also shop for the ingredients I need to maximize my spare bits. This all got easier last year, when I began my working relationship with Bob Henry, chile-grower extraordinaire in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Having a few of his chile extractions on hand sure brightens up Black Friday! Last year, I made a video about Thanksgiving leftover recipes and Bob’s extracts. I’m posting it again below, in 2013, for you to view, use and enjoy. By the way…you’ll see that the labels in the video say “2012 harvest.” We have just received the extractions from Bob’s 2013 harvest…a great year! And we are into vintage years for chiles! Don’t miss it!