The Turkey Day Gantt Chart

Okay, the subject is misleading. I didn’t actually create a Gantt chart in order to make the Feast happen today. But Sandra and I came pretty close.

A few days ago we asked ourselves what we wanted to eat, and answered the question in writing with lots of detail. Right down to the candied walnuts, the fudge, and the little trimmings. Then we looked at which of those items could be (or HAD to be) prepared in advance of The Big Day, and put together a schedule.

Then we looked at our counter-depth fridge (counter-depth = less room inside) and came up with a plan for eating what was already there, so there’d be room for pies, martinelli’s, and other advance purchase or advance preparation items.

Cut to the chase…

Today’s schedule was TIGHT. Between 8:00am and 9:00am we had to cook breakfast (Raisin-bread french toast with bacon). At 9:00am we had to get going on the turkey, which meant prepping and stuffing the bird, loading it into the roasting pan, and starting the nigh-on-four-hours timer. By the time we finished that, there was a load of dishes to be run, and the bread machine had to be loaded up and set on “bread dough” mode so we could have dinner rolls. From there I prepped the mashed potatos, the whipped cream (two kinds: plain sweet, and cinnamon), and the sweet potatos.

That took until roughly 11:30. I got a break then. Nice. Just in time to unload and reload the dishwasher.

By the time the bird came out of the oven, there were loads of little, order-dependent things that had to be done. The extra stuffing and the sweet potatos had to go into the oven. The bread dough had to be laid out like dinner rolls. The lettuce needed to be rendered into a salad. The mashed potatos needed to be reheated… all this while a 10 pound turkey carcass was dominating the counter. THAT had to be plattered and covered, and then the drippings turned into gravy.

Right about the time the gravy was done the rolls went into the oven. The rolls were the last thing to cook, and when they came back OUT of the oven the spread looked pretty impressive.

In order to make room for it, I was already doing dishes. Sandra had to retake the picture I haven’t posted yet because I was standing on a counter in the background putting the turkey roasting pan back on top of the cupboards where it can languish for another year or so.

Looking back on the whole operation it was loads of fun. It may have been tightly scheduled, but it really wasn’t all that HECTIC, because we knew what needed to start when. There was no guesswork, there were no holes through which one meal item or another could fall through (unless you count the gap in the middle of the makeshift table for the kids through which Sandra cleverly poured Gleek’s glass of Tang).

Then we ate.

Then I got right on the leftovers project, and started loading up the fridge again. Our planning paid off nicely. Not only did everything fit, there’s room for us to put in some more milk when we run out during the middle of the day on Friday.

I like Thanksgiving. The food is great, having family around is wonderful, and there’s this massively complicated PROJECT I can bring my mad cooxxorz skillz to bear on.


7 thoughts on “The Turkey Day Gantt Chart”

  1. Good GRAVY man. How do you know you’re going to run out of milk in the middle of the day on Friday?

    And … wow. Sometimes I feel like a lesser being that I am not doing all of the things that you do, and then I read an entry like this and I realize we are not even the same species, and I needn’t concern myself.


    1. There are now six children and four adults under this roof… and as of the writing above, there was a gallon and a quarter of milk left.

      I just got up from a nap, polished off two pieces of pumpkin pie and one piece of apple pie, and then washed it down with the remains of the penultimate jug, leaving only one gallon in the house. It’s a safe bet the last drops from that jug won’t see dawn on Saturday.

      In a month me-and-mine go through 22 gallons of milk and 16 dozen eggs. I may not be able to tell you how long the 5lb loaf of cheddar will last, but gaging consumption of our high-volume staples is pretty easy.


    2. Oh, and the gravy WAS good. 2 cups of water sat under the turkey in the roasting pan along with three boullion cubes. Four hours or so later, the drippings got dumped into a pot, I added a quarter cup of flour, two teaspoons of corn starch, a half teaspoon of McCormick Poultry Seasoning, some freshly ground pepper, and about a cup of milk. I hit the whole mess with a motorized whisk to de-clump the flour and corn-starch (when I’m in less of a hurry I’ll pre-mix those with the milk), and then boiled it.

      That was the home-made gravy.

      There was also a package of “gravy mix” which I tasted and deemed unworthy of solo flight. It came with the turkey. I mixed that up with 2 cups of hot water, the last of the broth I made from the turkey neck, and a half can of Swanson chicken broth. That got boiled at the same time as the home-made stuff.

      Linda (Sandra’s sister) asked “why are there two gravies?”
      Sandra responded “use the lighter-colored one. That’s the one HOWARD made.”

      The factory gravy wasn’t BAD, mind you. It just didn’t taste enough like the meat from which it was supposedly distilled. And it’ll work just fine when we run out of good stuff to drizzle thickly over leftover potatos, stuffing, and turkey.


    1. Happy Thanksgiving Howard.

      a 10 pound turkey for 6 people? Seems like you planned to have minimal leftovers this year, eh?

      The price between a 10 pound and 20 pound turkey here locally this year was $1. I splurged and went for the bigger one with more leftovers. Safeway had a really odd deal this year, turkeys below 12 pounds, $4.99. Above 12 pounds, $5.99… A 20 pound turkey for 2 people should last a good week, right?

      I didn’t get to deep-fry it like I wanted to, but I did get to experiment with aluminum foil, bacon and multiple temperatures throughout the cook time. We started at 10AM and finally finished cooking at 6PM, one of the problems with a big turkey, I guess. No less than 7 bags of turkey. And one bag of stuffing. They’re irregularly sized bags though, I could probably condense them to 3 bags if I really stuffed them.

      Now I just need to bag up odds and ends like Gravy, and Olives. 🙂

  2. Gantt Chart

    … long as you didn’t make a forward and backward pass through the chart to determine the Critical Path, I think you didn’t over do it.

    My parents (who drove in from upstate NY) were here for dinner. I did everything except the dressing. Worked out pretty well. Didn’t have to throw any PMP certification at it.

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