Well, I’m pretty late posting my Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving helps.But just in case someone needs a last-minute mashed potato preparation or pumpkin pie tip, let me share with you a brief story.This took place before the days of Martha Stewart’s TV show or Internet search capabilities.One time, shortly after I was married, The Belgian Wonder and I visited his family in Europe. My mother-in-law took me along to drop by the home of her friend Jacqueline who was preparing, as a gift to my in-laws, a meal for our large extended family reunion. The two of them chatted about the menu in French. I wasn’t following, as my French at that time was limited to “bonjour” and “merci.” So I didn’t learn much about the preparation of boulettes (too bad…they were delicious).I did, however, learn a handy potato tip.Jacqueline lifted the cover on a clean white bucket to reveal a mound of peeled potatoes covered in water.”What’s this?” I asked my mother-in-law in English. The meal wasn’t until the next day, but the potatoes were already peeled.”The potatoes,” my mother-in-law replied.”I see that, but…” I hesitated, not wanting to seem like I was doubting her friend’s kitchen know-how, “I thought potatoes go brown if you don’t cook them right after peeling.””I thought so, too,” my mother-in-law admitted, “but Jacqueline says that as long as they’re completely covered with water, they’re fine!”Tip #1Get Some Dirty Work Out of the Way: Submerge Peeled PotatoesSo that’s what’s working for me this Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Instead of peeling potatoes tomorrow at the last minute while the turkey is being carved, I can peel them tonight, cover them in water and top with a lid, all ready to go. No need to be distracted from friends and appetizers because I have to stand over the sink peeling potatoes. No dripping water across the kitchen floor while frantically hurling the peelings into the trash–I’m so leisurely tonight, I can actually compost them if I want.Tomorrow I’ll just drain them, replace with fresh water, and turn the burner on to boil them. Then, all we have to do at the last minute is mash.Which leads me to my next tip.Tip #2Don’t Mash the Potatoes–Blend!Instead of mashing by hand, smashing for several wrist-wrenching minutes, simply plug in the hand blender and whirr away. So fast. So simple. Such smooth, lump-free potatoes.And if you really feel crazy and daring (maybe not on Thanksgiving, but some other time), you can also cook sweet potatoes or carrots and blend them together with the potatoes.Tip #3Ann’s All-Time Favorite Pumpkin PieI know it’s probably too late for those of you who have already made your pies, but I have a favorite recipe.It’s from the back of a can of pumpkin.I’ve experimented with several recipes from the backs of pumpkin cans, and I’ve also tried out some recipes online. Most of them have been, well, “meh.”My all-time favorite?Stokely’s.
PUMPKIN PIE (STOKELY’S BACK-OF-CAN)1 can (16 oz) pumpkin1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk2 eggs, slightly beaten3/4 C brown sugar1 T flour1/2 t salt1/2 t ground cinnamon1/4 t ground ginger1/4 t ground nutmeg1/4 t ground cloves1 9-inch unbaked homemade pie crust.Preheat oven to 450. Blend all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake 20 mins.Reduce temperature to 350. Bake 35 minutes more or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on rack.
I cover the crust-edges with strips of aluminum foil formed into curves and balanced along the rim of the pie pan. They stay there almost the entire baking time. For the last 10-15 minutes I take off the foil and let the crust get a little brown. Otherwise it almost burns.Tip #4Visit Works For Me WednesdayVisit Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer for more last-minute Thanksgiving tips (and other useful solutions to life’s little problems).p.s. For those who saw my Thanksgiving Preview, I chose not to use the white tablecloth. Instead, I opted for two very long coordinating cloths on our two long tables. They’re golden. I thought you should know, as I felt sort of hypocritical folding up the white one and tucking it back into the storage cabinet. My mom assures me that we will, however, have pea salad; and for that, I’m truly grateful.