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Nov 15, 2008

Prepare a Turkey Dinner

Thanksgiving is a time to share your love and thanks for all you've been given in the past year. But this holiday is also focused on food! Are you in charge of the meal this year? Recently married, divorced, or out on your own? Create a delicious Thanksgiving dinner using these tips.

   Decide on your menu, which usually includes turkey and/or ham. Prepare it the night before because you will have to put into the oven early in the morning. Baked at a low heat, it usually takes 7 to 8 hrs to roast, depending on the size. Start to bake it, tent covered with aluminum foil, so it cooks well. About an hour before it is done, remove the foil, and allow the skin to get browned and crisp. Check the packaging on your turkey for more specific directions.
      Serve scalloped corn as a side dish. This is a baked corn dish using cream-style corn, eggs, and crackers. Put it into an 8x8 dish into the stove so the top gets golden brown and the whole dish is crunchy and sweet.
    Remember the creamy mashed potatoes. Use fresh, or boxed, which ever is easier, and consider adding garlic or cheese for a fresh twist. Hard-boiled eggs cut in half and stuffed with a mixture of yolk, mustard, and mayo also belong on the table. Another favorite? Classic cranberry sauce, either canned or homemade.
      You may also want to serve sweet potato casserole, made with yams, marshmallows, and brown sugar. This dish caramelizes in the oven and becomes sweet and tender. Alongside this serve the stuffing, made from a box or from scratch.
  
      Decorate your dinner table to fit the festive holiday spirit. Place a simple tablecloth on the table and use your holiday plates and glasses.

    Are you one of those families with more children than adults? If the kids are fairly young (under 9) and close to the same age, consider designating a "kid's table" just for them. Set out some crayons, coloring books, and snacks. When dinner is ready prepare them their plates and serve them like grown-ups. They'll create some wonderful Thanksgiving Day memories. Beware, however--not every child will want to sit at the kid's table, and the older ones may be offended if you suggest they sit there.
     Before eating, it is proper to say a few words of thanks. Each person should tell what they are thankful for. Go around the table until everyone has spoken.
     Place the food on the table and eat family style. However, buffet-style may be better for those with smaller dining tables.
     Having new guests at the table this year? Be sure to ask what their preferences are--are they allergic to paprika? Leave a few deviled eggs plain. Are they a vegetarian? Consider preparing a few all-veggie dishes. The last thing you want is to make everyone feel awkward when your son's new girlfriend has to sit at the table and not eat. Welcome all guests with open arms and a varied table!
     Do not expect to clean up the table right away. It is very nice for family and friends, to sit around the table, drinking coffee or tea, and just relax. Dishes can wait. Family conversation comes first.
     When cooking the chicken, do not let small children go near the oven to avoid burns.

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