It's easy to forget that there are other meals to be had on Thanksgiving Day when all your energy and attention is focused on the big meal. • Early risers, Macy's parade watchers and Turkey Trotters need sustenance before the bird and trimmings are ready. Kids (and their parents) get crabby when stomachs yowl. Cooks require something solid to take the edge off of all that stress. And then there is the need for football munchies. Game times are 12:30 p.m. (Green Bay at Detroit), 4:15 p.m. (Oakland at Dallas) and 8:20 p.m. (New York Giants at Denver). • For the menu planner in the house, the problem is twofold. The refrigerator and stove are mostly occupied, and early, big meals will spoil appetites for the main event. So, what to do?
Keep it simple and plan ahead. If you're headed to the store today for your shopping, jot down a few ideas for the day's other meals. I know it feels like overfunctioning now but you'll be glad on Thursday when those hungry eyes follow you about and all you have to offer is turkey stock. That will never do.
To keep the hordes out of the kitchen, load up a cooler with drinks and store on the porch or even outside. Finger foods are most appropriate for daylong noshing; just make sure you've got some ready or they'll be rummaging in the Sacred Staging Space. That's nothing but irritating.
The following ideas for quick meals on Thanksgiving Day don't have anything to do with turkey and stuffing. They were devised to include some complex carbohydrates, rather than just salty snacks, so that blood sugar doesn't dip too low. You know how that will turn out.
Consider these snacking ideas:
• Granola, fruit and yogurt to make a healthful parfait. Hard-boil some eggs, too.
• Burritos are good for breakfast (scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, salsa and cheese) and lunch (refried beans, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream).
• An overnight breakfast casserole. Make it sweet or savory using the accompanying recipes.
• Bagels and herb-flavored cream cheese with vegetable sticks. Buy smoked salmon, if tastes and budgets allow, and serve with sliced red onion.
• An antipasto platter with cheese, cold cuts, marinated vegetables, dried fruits and crackers.
• Tabouli salad with hummus and baba ghanouj with pita chip dippers.
• Whatever you can heat up in the microwave: soup, chili, leftovers. Put out condiments to dress them up: sour cream, croutons, shredded cheese. Buy muffins today and put them in the freezer so they'll be fresh on Thursday.
• Make a quiche the night before (or buy a prepared one) and serve at room temperature.
• Sandwiches (no turkey allowed). Egg or tuna salad (made a day before or bought at the deli) can be eaten on bread or with crackers. Or serve on a bed of lettuce if you're saving your carbs for mashed potatoes.
• Remove a round of Brie or Camembert from its paper wrapping and return it to the wooden container. Microwave for 1 or 2 minutes until cheese is gooey. Serve with apple slices and crackers or baguettes.
• Load up celery sticks alternately with peanut butter and cream cheese. Put out a tray and watch them fly.
And just for good measure, make everyone take a lap or two around the block. It'll get them out of your hair.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8586.