Calling all domestically challenged homemakers!
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We have all survived cooking a massive feast for our family and friends. But don’t lie down just yet. Christmas is around the corner and your family is expecting yet another home cooked supper with all the Holiday works.
As someone who normally struggles in the kitchen, holiday cooking is always a bit stressful. Thanksgiving has kicked off this season of kitchen wars in my household, and it is a miracle the place hasn’t burnt down to the ground. The pressure of thawing the turkey on time and making sure not to dry it out in the oven, as well as juggling five different dishes on top of that is intimidating to anyone who generally doesn’t cook. But alas, it is just the start of the cooking season.
This year for Christmas I will have a full house. Dinner for 12 to me sounds brutal. And even though I do not have any cooking tips to give because I have zero qualification to do so, I do have some advice for those who are challenged in the kitchen, like I am. Creating a feast for your entire family is rough enough. You shouldn’t feel added frustrations and stress from small occurrences. Here are some ways to keep sane in the kitchen for those struggling to keep afloat.
First, make sure to have all of your meals planned out. Find all the ingredients needed and place them in their appropriate dish ware. Nothing is more frustrating than aimlessly looking through cabinets trying to find that one dish that will hold all of your mashed potatoes until you realize it is being used for a casserole in the oven instead. Or while looking for that particular spice you need for your roast you rearrange your entire spice cabinet only to find out you never picked up that crucial ingredient from the grocery store in the first place. Get organized before the big cooking day. It will save you from wanting to throw in the dish towel.
Next, make sure you create a timed schedule of when to prepare and cook certain items. Literally get a note card and make a schedule. This tip has come about due to the amount of times I have cooked a dish way too early leaving it to get cold while I am preparing yet another meal item. It may seem easier to just focus on one dish at a time, but your family won’t appreciate cold potatoes. Plus a schedule will save you from that overbearing family member who doubts your ability to cook when they ask what time you will be starting the green beans, or how long the roast has been in the oven. Just hit them with the schedule and let the comments roll off your shoulder.
A tip that I am learning that is crucial for my cooking challenged self is space. I need space.
While I am frantically hoping I don’t burn something as simple as gravy I need a clear head. Having every single family member in the kitchen discussing everything that has happened to them in the last year is irritating. To occupy your family and friends and get them to step out of your new domain where you are trying your best to conquer, set up some hors d’oeuvre’s elsewhere. Mingling revolves around food. Arrange some trays in the living room and watch as the crowd flocks and you are left with an open, quite kitchen space to focus. If hors d’oeuvre’s don’t work, set up some games for them to play. White Elephant or Greed are great Holiday games to keep your family occupied.
Lastly, a great way to stay calm while overcoming your kitchen fears is creating a peaceful holiday ambiance. Softly play some holiday music – Michael Bublé is preferred – and light some Christmas scented candles. Enjoy the tranquility the Holiday spirit can bring while sipping on a glass full of peppermint schnapps, which will lighten anyone’s mood. Setting a good vibe can also enhance your confidence in the kitchen, which is extremely important. And let’s face it, anything that can distract you from the screaming children, snoring grandparents and the probable onset of some innocent family arguments is a win for the season.
Yes, for a master chef all these tips may seem like second nature. But for someone who gets a panic attack when approaching a grill, or has an inherent fear she is poisoning anyone who comes close to what she’s prepared, these tips can help tremendously while cooking through the Holiday season. The key is to stay calm and confident. Good luck to my fellow domestically challenged housewives. Happy Holidays.