natalie’s thanksgiving survival kit

You have just over a week to prep, and you may have your menu planned, you’ve probably counted your dishes and re-counted your silverware… but do you have all the tools you need?

Here’s my list of Thanksgiving necessities… and tips on how to use them all year round (AKA:  How to justify buying them for yourself right before the holidays). :)

1. A roasting pan.

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You don’t need an expensive roasting pan, but I’ve seen my fair share of heartache with people attempting to maneuver those flimsy aluminum pans around.  I love this All Clad roaster – it comes with a roasting rack and turkey lifters and is only about $150 on Amazon.  You can save money by skimping on the brand name, Cuisinart has one around $75, but I love my All Clad so much that I cried the first time I got it dirty.

  • Justification:  You can use this all year long for roasting, braising, casseroles, or lasagna.  You can even use it as a water bath the day before Thanksgiving and make a beautiful cheesecake

2. The right temperature.

 Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your oven is cooking at the proper temperature first.  Just throw an oven thermometer in and check it while you bake throughout the next couple weeks.

  • Justification: This will help you calibrate your oven (did you know you could do that) to improve ALL of your baking. ALL OF IT. ALL THE TIME. 

3.  A reliable thermometer.

I love my Thermapen, but we all know how you can lose valuable oven heat every time you open that darn door.  So, you could get a roasting thermometer instead. Cooking to the proper temperature is the difference between that tender turkey everyone loves or that dry stuff that gets covered in gravy.

  • Justification: Goodbye overdone steaks and dry birds – from now on everything is cooked to the perfect temperature all the time.  (Did you know that you can use it for bread and cakes too? Did you!?)

4.  Since we’re talking about gravy….

A fat separator always comes in handy.  I have a big one and I use it for stocks and sauces too – pretty much anything I make that might have a bit too much fat in it.  Just dump it in here and let it separate some of that gunk out!

  • Justification: No more oil slicks on your soups or fatty stocks.  Use this thing all year round.  Oh, you can also just use it to measure.  That works too… 

5.  Carving the bird (Different than ‘Flipping the Bird’)

You really don’t need an electric carver, I promise.  With this tutorial on how to carve a turkey and an affordable carving set, you’ll be good to go when your time comes.  Just watch a few YouTube videos to get the hang of it and impress your family with a perfectly-carved bird!  I’m almost convinced that I’m hallucinating the $20 price tag on this set, so hurry and pick one up before I wake up and find out it was actually a dream.

  • Justification: It’s a carving set.  And it’s $20.  And it’s full tang J.A. Henkel… CARVE ALL THE THINGS! 

6.  Side dishes 

These make and take casserole dishes from Pyrex are perfect for taking your signature side dish to the family gathering, or just to store your leftovers in. UPDATE:  Oh my gosh and looky this – Shannon‘s suggested Corningware comes with glass AND PLASTIC covers!  For transport!

  • Justification: Work potlucks, family dinners… How many times have you wished you had more between yourself and mess than a tiny sheet of tin foil? These lids SNAP. ON. Portable. Storable. Love. 

7.  Dessert

A fancy dish is a nice touch to class up any dessert, but I’ve personally never been the type to splurge on those fancy things.  I think that a clear Pyrex pie dish is the perfect balance of affordable and practical… that being said, not everyone agrees with me on stuff like this.  If you insist on a pretty pie plate, this one is just as good and way more affordable than some other options

  • Justification: I don’t justify fancy pie plates.  You don’t need one, but you probably do need a regular pie plate, because the disposable ones are too small for regular-yield pie recipes.

8.  Serving dessert

Every year I forget about the pie/cake server.  Don’t be me.  DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PIE/CAKE SERVER!

  • Justification: Mangled pies and cakes make my heart hurt.  Don’t hurt hearts.  Plus birthdays and stuff… you can use a server, I promise.

Now it’s your turn!  What are your Thanksgiving tips and/or your favorite Thanksgiving tools?

7 thoughts on “natalie’s thanksgiving survival kit

  1. today, i’m going to guest blog in the comments. here goes:
    1. AGREE: although i’ll say i *would* love this All-Clad roasting pan if i had it, and i would also cry when it got dirty. I actually have a Martha Stewart one from her Macy’s collection, purchased a few years ago, and it’s done the deed pretty well. a b**ch to scrub clean, but that’s all of them. omg water bath! YES YOU ARE RIGHT!
    2. i’m afraid to get this. b/c all this is going to do is make me paranoid/sad/whiny about how i need a better stove.
    3. YES totally: un-thermom’ed meat is unsafe meat. Thermom your meat. I use my eyes for cakes and bread, because EYES are the windows to my soul, and my soul would know better when my baked goods are finished.
    4. i just need to get one of these. adding to the SLT list.
    5. I agree, we don’t need an electric carver. But since we have a Mr. Table? ELECTRIC CARVER ALL THE TIME.
    6. These are wonderous: i would also add to the mix my love of the Corningware French White sets with the lids in all the sizes? I positively LIVE by those.
    7. I am a lover of both: i love the standard clear pyrex b/c it makes a less showy, more retro pie and normal size pie, AND you can see the bottom of the crust. I also enjoy my Emile Henry ruffled pie plate, because obvious: it’s a ruffly pie plate. and the Emile is ah-mazing at baking things evenly. so i’m a High/Low on this.
    8. ALL THE SERVERS! and it’s good to have them in several sizes, too. I “collect” them when i’m at antique stores and thrift stores b/c they always make for nice little convo pieces. Plus, the older ones (like everything old) tend to be more petite and better for things like pumpkin pie, when maybe you want a sliver versus the entire huge slab.
    okay! so that counts as a post, right? GREAT because i am procrastinating today.

    • 1. Soak in soapy hot water, wash like normal, whatever doesn’t come out use THIS MAGICAL POWDER. Works best with paper towels and just the tiniest bit of water. You’re welcome!
      2. But you can prove to your hubby WITH SCIENCE that you need a new stove! SCIENCE, SHANNON!
      3. I’ve never thermom’ed my baked goods, but these books keep telling me to try it… I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE BOOKS. Maybe with my next read loaf, but who wants a hole in their loaf of bread? STOP POKING HOLES IN MY JUSTIFICATIONS! I’M TRYING TO GET YOU A THERMOMETER!
      4. Get it. It’s cheap! Remember to leave the stopper in when you fill it, though. I’ve foiled myself on many occasion by forgetting that single piece of advice.
      5. LOL – we would get SUCH a surge of electric carver purchases when I worked retail… I’d be like “UMMM… What if we DON’T use a chainsaw?” but nobody wanted to listen to me… Nobody.
      6. I’ve seen the corningware. I want the “lightweight” ones. I’m adding Corningware up there. I think I only left them off because the lids don’t attach and I break things a lot (like falling lids)…
      7. I would covet EH all day at the store, but even with my discount I just couldn’t justify it… plus I make pie once a year sooooo….
      8. Of course you do. OF. COURSE. YOU DO. You’re amazing.

      This is kinda like our very first co-post… remember the cookies, Shannon? REMEMBER THE COOKIES????

    • She does. Now you must stock up for next year’s Canada Thanksgiving. Or tell 2.0 that you’re celebrating American Thanksgiving too… I’m seeing no downfalls in this plan whatsoever.

  2. I feel like you’re forgetting something: glass filled with beverage of your choice (adult or otherwise) to help you get through the cooking that day! But seriously, all of these items (except for maybe the fluted pie dish, only because I’m not a pie baker) are useful throughout the year and definitely worth keeping in the kitchen. And oven-safe thermometers (roasting and otherwise) are an absolute must-have all of the time. I’ve been wavering on getting a Thermapen because you can’t stick it in and leave it there, but our current roasting thermometer does not react kindly to being reinserted and the temperatures are never accurate.

    • OMG Elizabeth, I almost actually put that on there, along with plates, flatware, napkins, and glasses for everyone… but I was worried it might be a bit too “duh” BUT YOU’RE TOTALLY RIGHT!!! :)

      The good thing about the Thermapen (even though you can’t leave it in) is that it reads the temperature in 3 seconds so you don’t waste too much time. :)

  3. I just bought a roasting pan! It was on sale on Bloomingdales.com and I had a gift card. I can’t wait to use it. Unfortunately I won’t be hosting Thanksgiving until next year but it’s certain to make an appearance then. Until then, perhaps I’ll finally teach myself how not to burn or undercook a roast chicken. Love all your other must-have gadgets! I need some of those baking dishes that come with lids. Great post :)

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