So from here on out things should be easy right. Yes, well they could have been easy. Most of the vegetables and starches could be cooked on the stove top. The problem being my apparent desire to make things as difficult as possible. Many of the recipes I like to use for my holiday cooking require cooking in the oven before serving. So under normal conditions I would cook the turkey in the oven and while the turkey is cooking I would get all the vegetables and starches ready and when the turkey came out I would put everything else in the oven to cook or be warmed. This year’s challenge of course was the fact that our “oven” would only fit one dish at a time and would take twice as long to cook as it should. No problem, maybe… This was going to take some thought.
The easy answer of course was to come up with a new menu which did not require an oven. Clearly this is not the path I took. What I came up with instead was to use a heater to keep everything warm as it was cycled in and out of the oven throughout the day. Sounds simple enough, but the genius was the heater itself and the fact that it was interplay of things we already had.
Coolers are actually poorly named. They don’t cool anything, what they do is insulate. They keep things cold because you fill the “cooler” with cold things and ice and they slow down the process of the cold items becoming room temperature. If you were to fill them with warm things they would work exactly the same way and that’s exactly what we did. Once the vegetables and starches started being cycled into the oven I prepped the “cooler”. What I had ready was a large 40 qt “cooler”, and I placed a shelf in the bottom of it. This shelf normally lives in my cabinet with trays stacked on it, but it was reassigned for the day. Cooler ready, shelf ready, that was it. Before the first dish was ready to be added to the cooler I boiled water and filled the bottom of the cooler to just below the shelf height and closed the lid for preheating. When a dish was done cooking I would cover it in foil to protect the food from the moisture of all the hot water in the “cooler.”
When it was time to eat I opened the cooler, removed items one at a time carefully uncovering them and they were brought directly out to the table. Everything was perfectly warmed. I can’t believe it worked!
Thanksgiving was a success! To look at the traditionally set table you would have no idea the untraditional methods used getting food to the table.