Back to Basics: Cooking for Thanksgiving Weekend

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Lorie Leigh Lawrence prepares a chicken — stuffed with lemon wedges, fresh garlic, and thyme sprigs — for roasting.
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The Thanksgiving weekend is nearly upon us. Time to get the bird ready.

My brother John, ski instructor to Aspen vacationers, has a term for the town’s upscale restaurant food. He calls it “foo-foo food.” Although he appreciates fine cuisine, he’s just as happy with a burger and fries. When it comes to food, new and different can be interesting as long as we can always fall back on the old favorites. At least we know how to prepare those oldies but goodies. Or do we? In an era when the art of cooking has been put on the back burner, many of us are stuck at the how-to-boil-water stage. Careers, kids, and pets leave little time for culinary creativity. This is why we find such books as Gourmet Cooking for Dummies at the local bookstore. Although I’d prefer “inexperienced” as opposed to “dummies” when referring to non-cookers, folks need to know the basics. As Thanksgiving weekend rapidly approaches, panic attacks are occurring nationwide over the prospect of cooking Thanksgiving dinner and feeding the in-laws in the days afterwards. That won’t be a problem if we have a meal plan and a few easy recipes under our belts.

Meal Plan

( or, how not to wrestle with a turkey):

• Roast Chicken(s)
• Greens Salad
• Whole-grain rolls or bread
• Almost-Instant Dessert


• Freezer Bean Soup,
• defrosted Yesterday’s rolls or bread,
• heated Selection of cheeses and fruit


•Chicken Salad over greens
• Warmed pita bread
• Tea and a plate of packaged cookies


•Orange wedges
• Freezer muffins, bagels with cream cheese spreads and jam
• Granola and vanilla yogurt
• Eggs (only if necessary)

Thanksgiving Week Recipes

You’ll notice these recipes aren’t necessarily what you would consider “traditional Thanksgiving recipes.” It’s all part of keeping things simple.

Garlic Roasted Chicken
Mixed Greens Salad
Leftover Chicken Salad
Navy Bean Soup
Almost Instant Dessert 

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