Less Stress, More Dressing: Elevating Your Thanksgiving Meal


By Stephanie Michalak, Chef/Culinary Manager

As a child of divorced parents, I sat in the back of multiple cars visiting the homes of my grandparents, step-grandparents, and aunt’s homes over the years. Every year I politely ate over-cooked, dry turkey and cloyingly sweet, canned cranberry logs in the hopes of stealing all the black olives. Once I hit my late-teens, I was working in kitchens and typically had to work holidays. In comparison, my sister was excitedly focused on planning out her shopping tactics for the following day’s door busters. Fortunately, when I started graduate school I worked in two establishments that somehow did not schedule me. So after a few missed years, I finally planned to head back to Connecticut from New York to spend the day babysitting my mother’s turkey while it was in the smoker.

My mother and I had emailed about the courses for the menu earlier in the month and she was going to purchase everything so that she could prepare most of it the day before. My sister was bringing a side dish and I was bringing the rolls; which I had made the day before. My plan was to spend some quiet time researching German Weissbier during the 1960s for my food culture course. However, the night before I left New York, I received a text message from my mother saying: I poached the shrimp, thawed the turkey, and blanched the green beans. Sorry I couldn’t get to everything else. Luckily, by that time I had been cooking professionally for roughly six years, so it was relatively easy to mentally sort out how I was going to knock out five courses in five hours with no help. Honestly, my research felt more stress inducing than Thanksgiving.

However, I know this is not the norm for most individuals. For those that don’t start counting down to whichever December holiday they celebrate the day after Halloween, Thanksgiving is typically that marker. The daylight is getting shorter and the temperature is dropping; all while trying to sort out how to juggle work, family, chores, and hobbies with a tighter budget. Thanksgiving itself is a hurtle either between planning, cooking, and hosting, or traveling far and wide to a relative’s home. This is the time of the year people expect to fluctuate in weight and hope that they don’t put on that 5, 10, or 15 pounds again this year.

These are only a few reasons why I’m teaching a healthy thanksgiving cooking class. The two-hour class will absolutely cover properly cooking turkey and making sides that are brighter, healthier, and bolder. Not to mention you’ll get to enjoy a meal filled with these items after all your hard work in the kitchen. It was also address how to organize and prepare a Thanksgiving meal that’ll leave you less stressed from planning and cooking. (I unfortunately can’t do much about any stress induced by relatives.)  Hopefully this class will provide you with some tools to be to take on the last bit of 2017 with a little more energy and zeal.


Tickets are still available for Chef Stephanie’s “Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes and Planning” class in the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen. Click here for more details.

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