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MARGARET PROUSE: Time for some advance preparation

Cranberry sauce is an easy dish to make in advance of Thanksgiving dinner.
Cranberry sauce is an easy dish to make in advance of Thanksgiving dinner. - 123RF Stock Photo

There are plenty of things that can be made in advance of a special dinner

NORTH WILTSHIRE, P.E.I. —

If you are serving Thanksgiving dinner to a crowd next weekend, having part of the meal prepared in advance could make you feel a little more thankful.

Cranberry sauce, essential for a turkey dinner, can be made now and kept in the refrigerator until Thanksgiving. 

If you have been buying canned sauce, you might be surprised to learn how easy it is to make.


Whole Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Wattie, Helen and Elinor Donaldson: “Nellie Lyle Pattinson's Canadian Cook Book.” Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1969.

500 g/1 L (1 lb/4 cups) cranberries
500 mL (2 cups) sugar
125 mL (½ cup) boiling water

  • Pick over and wash cranberries.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and boiling water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for 2 minutes to make a syrup.
  • Add prepared cranberries and cook gently until berries are clear.
  • Cool slightly, spoon into a container and refrigerate.

If you like to pass a basket of homemade rolls, hot out of the oven, around the Thanksgiving table, these Brown 'n' Serve Rolls can make your life a little easier. Make them this week and freeze until needed.


Brown 'n' Serve Rolls

Adapted from Truman, Karrie: “Seriously Good Freezer Meals.” Robert Rose, Toronto, 2018.

1 large egg
lukewarm water
60 mL (¼ cup) granulated sugar
7 mL (1½ tsp) active dry yeast
125 mL (½ cup) melted butter, slightly cooled
3 mL (¾ tsp) salt
1 to 1.125 L (4 to 4½ cups) bread flour
Additional 60 mL (¼ cup) melted butter

  • In a large measuring cup, whisk egg. Add enough lukewarm water to total 375 mL (1½ cups) liquid; whisk until combined.
  • Pour egg mixture into bowl of a sand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add sugar and yeast; beat on Low for 1 minute, until sugar has dissolved. Add 125 mL (½ cup) melted butter, salt, and 1 L (4 cups) flour. 
  • Once they are combined, increase speed to High and knead for 6 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and comes away cleanly from sides of bowl. You may need to gradually add up to 125 mL (½ cup) more flour. 
  • The dough should be sticky when you remove it from the bowl.
  • Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover bowl with greased plastic wrap. Let dough rise for about 60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and cover again; let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size again.
  • Punch down dough again. Cut into thirds and then cut each piece into 3 equal pieces. Cut each of those pieces in half to make 18 pieces of dough.
  • With lightly floured hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball. Place dough balls in two greased 23 cm (9 inch) metal or foil pans (9 rolls in each.) Brush lightly with additional melted butter. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  • If baking now, preheat oven to 200 C (400 F). Remove plastic wrap and place rolls in preheated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
  • To make it a freezer meal, preheat oven to 200 C (400 F.) Remove plastic wrap and place rolls in preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or just until beginning to turn light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. 
  • Place pans in freezer and freeze for about 1 hour, until rolls are firm. Remove from freezer ad cover each pan with plastic wrap, gently pressing down to remove air. Cover with foil, label and freeze.
  • To cook from frozen, preheat oven to 200 C (400 F.) Remove pan from freezer and remove foil and plastic wrap. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Makes 18 rolls.   

What other parts of Thanksgiving dinner can you cook ahead and freeze? Some vegetable side dishes such as mashed squash, baked or unbaked pie shells, whole apple pies or homemade chicken stock to use in gravy.

Other than that, the best advice I can offer for making Thanksgiving dinner preparation easier is to make it a potluck meal!

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.

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