It seems as though Thanksgiving rolls in sooner every year. (Seriously. December starts next week? When did that happen?)
Despite the helplines that spring up every Turkey Day, the innumerable meal planning Web sites, the plethora of Thanksgiving-themed articles and blog posts about simple desserts and side dishes…the day is still stressful. From the holiday dinners I've seen, the food is a convenient outlet for all the other stressors — noisy kids underfoot (actually, that was me), overwhelming numbers of relatives, the conversations that spiral inevitably toward the political arguments that everyone swore they wouldn't get into.
But even though food preparations bear the unfortunate brunt of holiday stress, they're also the light at the end of the tunnel. If nothing else, the guests will finally gather around the table with a plate full of mellowing turkey (or tofurkey), stuffing, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts in front of them, with dessert to look forward to. And when everyone is full and satisfied, well, hopefully the friction from the meal preparations will be patched over.
And then, sure enough, comes the good part. After all that worrying about having enough food and not overcooking the turkey and remembering all the side dishes, you've got days worth of leftovers ready and waiting for you. (In my family, that's a lie. Usually our Thanksgiving leftovers last until lunch the next day. Still, that's one less meal to worry about.)
But herein lies the turkey problem. With all that leftover turkey, how do you keep from getting bored with the lack of variety?
Classic solutions: turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey salad, turkey sandwiches.
Rebecca Holmes smiled. "There's an eggplant casserole, a Mark Bittman recipe. I add turkey to that," she said.
She also enjoys turkey salad with crusty bread.
Johanna Nichols responded immediately. "Turkey divan," she said. Her recipe is from an Eating Well magazine chicken divan recipe.
John Hamilton, chef and co-owner of Costello's Market in Middlebury, listed all of the classics — "The Gobbler" sandwich, soup, pot pie, and turkey tetrazzini. But his favorite?
"Probably none of them," he said. "I just like the turkey."
I can't help you with the stress of preparing your turkey, but once it's done, well, the possibilities are endless.