Thanksgiving is here! When you’re talking Thanksgiving hacks, they’re all about tips and tricks for making food and cleaning up. Check out these ways to make the perfect Turkey, keep the kids busy, get the dishes (a.k.a the aftermath) done fast, and more.
Make Your Tablecloth Stainproof
Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner can be an enormously stressful task—and that’s not even counting clean-up time. Here’s a great preventative measure we’ve picked up over the years that helps with our post-meal cleaning: Spray starch your tablecloth a day or two before T-Day, and let it dry for at least a full day. Drips and spills will be no match for your stain-guarded table!
Make Candles Drip Less
Store your candles in the freezer for 24 hours before you use them and they’ll last longer (and drip less!).
Keep Candleholders Clean
To prevent wax from sticking to a candleholder, rub a thin coat of olive oil on the base of the holder before lighting the candle. If your holder already has some wax buildup, mix olive oil with dish soap to clean it out. Or, put a bit of water in the bottle of the candle holder to keep the candle from sticking after it melts.
Fun Thanksgiving Activity for the Kids
Give hyper kids something to do and decorate your table at the same time this Thanksgiving by sending them out into the yard to find the last remaining yellow, red, and orange leaves. Make sure they’re not visibly dirty, then arrange them along the middle of the table in lieu of a runner. We love this activity because it’s good for kids of any age, and the older ones can help the younger ones.
A Juicer Turkey
The trick to a great turkey is making sure the breast meat doesn’t dry out. Cook your bird with the breast side down for the first hour, to encourage the juices to flow down.
For Crisper Skin
Then, baste your bird with a small amount of white zinfandel or vermouth—it will help crisp the skin, and the alcohol imparts a brown color and glaze to the outside of the meat. Another crispy skin secret? Salt! The night before Thanksgiving, sprinkle your turkey with about a tablespoon of coarse salt and place it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. The salt and the dry air in the refrigerator will draw out moisture—the enemy of crispiness—and you’ll roast up a super-tasty bird.
Quick Turkey Fix
Did the star of your Thanksgiving dinner come out too dry? Don’t panic! You can re-hydrate your meat with an easy braise: Slice up the turkey and stick it in a baking dish. Fill the dish halfway with chicken stock, top with foil, and place it back in the oven for 10 minutes at 350º. The turkey will be juicy and delicious.
If you’ve just made a super-juicy roast chicken or turkey, you can congratulate yourself as a cook. But what to do about all of the juices making a mess of your counter as you carve it? Place your cutting board inside a rimmed baking sheet before you cut, and you’ll not only have an easy clean-up, you’ll have rich drippings you can use in gravy or broth (or to dab behind your ears…).
Prevent Gooey Mashed Potatoes
If your mashed potatoes sometimes end up a little gluey, it may be because you overmixed them. When potatoes are mashed, their cell walls rupture, releasing an excess of starch and resulting in the gluey texture. Potatoes should be mashed with a vertical motion, not stirred, to minimize the damage that occurs by crushing the cells on the side of the bowl.
The Best Pie Crusts
The secret to flaky pie crust? Replace half of the called-for water with vodka! The ethanol in the vodka stops the growth of gluten, which makes the crust tough. Use half vodka for a lighter crust without any difference in taste!
Quick After-Dinner Clean-Up
If your Thanksgiving job is doing the dishes, you’ll love this tip: Just fill pots and pans with hot water, then add an Alka-Seltzer tablet (or a cup of cola). It will lift the stains while you watch football.
These tips are even better on our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. For more Thanksgiving tips from all around the internet, check out our Thanksgiving Tips and Ideas board on Pinteres. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook!