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The Sherry Cobbler

The Sherry cobbler is a historic recipe, and when I say historic, I mean it!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m all too well aware that fancy speakeasies and prohibition era cocktail lounges are all the rage right now, but this drink pre-dates even those. While those cocktails were popular in the 1920s or 30s, the Sherry Cobbler most likely came of age sometime in the 1820 or 30s and really took off in the 1840s!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

They say that like champagne was to the 1920s, or the Cosmo to the 1990s, The Sherry Cobbler was a quintessential part of American life and culture in the 1800s. In fact, when Charles Dickens visited the US, it was one of his favorite things about his trip and he talks about it in his 1844 book The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. “Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”

The “reed” mentioned in this passage refers to what we today call a straw. At the time this was written, a drinking straw was a total novelty, and people in bars would often need to be shown how to use one because it was so unfamiliar. The Sherry Cobbler is actually credited with introducing the straw to popular consciousness in America! These weren’t the demonized plastic straws of today though, but a rye or reed straw, a bi-product of the hay industry. Today similar straws are making a comeback as America tries to find alternatives to plastic straws, and in fact the straws you see pictured here are the very same!
I got them from a company called HAY! straws.

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

So- what is a Sherry Cobbler?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s essentially Sherry, shaken with muddled citrus & sugar, and strained and poured over crushed ice. It also happens to be super delicious and refreshing, especially on a hot day. It’s sweet and bright and citrusy in all the best possible ways, and not too boozy, so you can keep ’em comin’!

A few things made the popularity of the Sherry Cobbler possible at this specific time in American history.

Sherry, a fortified wine from Andalusia Spain, had recently started to find it’s way into America as trade increased and tariffs dropped. Nineteenth-century Americans saw sherry as foreign, fancy, and affordable all at once, and it became very popular.

Sugar and citrus were also making their way into American homes as trade increased and prices dropped. Suddenly even in Northern states, people were able to get fresh citrus at certain times of year when it had been extremely rare before. Cheap sugar meant that Americans developed a real sweet tooth though, so I actually scaled back the sugar in my recipe, because I found the original recipe a bit too sweet for modern tastes.

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

Perhaps the most important part of the drink though, was the ice! Before this point, most alcoholic beverages were served warm or hot, because ice was rare and expensive and refrigeration wasn’t yet a thing. At that point, ice had to be harvested by sawing huge blocks out of frozen lakes and storing them in ice houses. In the 1840s though, they began to industrialize the harvesting process, and suddenly ice was affordable and readily available, so it could be used on frivolous things like drinks. To me, the crushed ice in this drink makes it feel a bit like an adult snow-cone! It also means that if you tipped the glass toward your mouth, the ice would spill all over you, hence what I said before about this cocktails singlehandedly popularizing the drinking straw!
I used a canvass ice crushing bag called a Lewis Bag, along with a mallet (I used my CLEAN meat tenderizer) to get my finely crushed snowy ice!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know this is a very summery cocktail to be sharing in October, but there’s a very good reason that I’ve waited until now to share it with you.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a special project with my good friend Stephanie…

 

We’re starting a podcast!!!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I hope this doesn’t break your hearts baking lovers, but food is not the theme of our show. There will be a cocktail featured in each episode though, if that softens the blow at all.

You already know I love history, but I also really love politics. Now, as a food blogger, discussing politics has always been a touchy subject because it’s such a personal thing and I don’t want to alienate anyone who just came here to look at bundt cakes. I’ve touched on a few specific topics over the years, when the issues at hand were incredibly important to me, but for the most part, I’ve left that part of my life out of Brooklyn Homemaker.

Don’t worry though, Stephanie and I will NOT be discussing current events on our show. There are plenty of voices out there already doing that. Our podcast will actually be about the politics of the past, specifically political scandals from American History! The show is called Beyond Reproach, because while we believe public servants should be squeaky clean upstanding citizens, history has shown us time and time again that they definitely ain’t. I know this topic may sound dull, but I promise it’s presented in a really fun way. Basically, we’ll be telling each other stories from America’s sordid past as we drink fancy cocktails, talk too much, interrupt each other, put our feet in our mouths, and go off on (sometimes totally unrelated) tangents. If cursing offends you, this probably isn’t the show for you, but I promise it’s hilarious, eye-opening, and educational all at once!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

What does all this have to do with this old-timey cocktail recipe you ask?

Well, for each episode we choose a cocktail that was popular during the era of the first scandal we discuss. In our very first episode, Stephanie tells a story from the late 1800s, so this was the first cocktail we featured.
Not only that, but today also just happens to be the very day that we officially launched the show, and to celebrate I wanted to share my fun new project with all of you! Nothing would make me happier than to have you come over and check us out!
I won’t overwhelm you with all the social media and all that, but please click these links to find us on itunes, and check out our show’s website.

Please do check us out, and if you like us, don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and maybe even give us a rating or review on your favorite pod catcher!!!

Thanks y’all! I hope to see you over at Beyond Reproach!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Sherry Cobbler

  • Servings: makes 1 cocktail
  • Print
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 orange wheels (1 for garnish)
2 lemon wheels (1 for garnish)
2 teaspoons superfine sugar, (or 1/2 oz simple syrup)
3 ounces dry Sherry (amontillado or mazanilla)
mint sprig and raspberries for garnish

Muddle 1 orange wheel, 1 lemon wheel, and sugar or simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker. Add Sherry and plenty of ice, and shake vigorously until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a collins or highball glass filled to the top with crushed ice. Add more crushed ice, packing into the glass and mounding above rim. Garnish with mint, raspberry, an orange wheel, and a lemon wheel. Drink with a straw, and enjoy!

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old-fashioned marble cake #bundtbakers

Are y’all ready for a very special holiday edition of #bundtbakers?

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

My mom recently renovated and moved into a new house, and a while she was unpacking she asked me if I wanted any of her old cookbooks. She was trying to downsize but the only one I asked for was a well worn book from the 1940s called “The Modern Family Cookbook” by Meta Given. She’d actually had it for so long that she couldn’t even remember where’d she’d gotten it, but thinks it was probably her Grandmother’s.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

As soon as I got it home I started pouring over the recipes and wondering about all the funny old fashioned foods that no one eats anymore. It’s just filled with all kinds of things that I honestly can’t wait to try.

As you can probably imagine, I was most interested in the desserts. Surprise!

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

While flipping through the cakes section I came across a recipe that I instantly knew I needed to try. It was actually the caption under the title that really caught my eye.
“Old-Fashioned Marble Cake always has its dark part darkened with molasses and spices, because that’s the way Grandma used to make it.”

I’d never heard of a marble cake darkened with molasses. Have you?

In my mind marble cakes are always a mix of chocolate and vanilla, and to be honest, I’ve never really been a huge fan. I love chocolate and I love vanilla, but I prefer them as separate flavors. I feel like they sort of get lost in each other, and bring each other down rather than elevating one another when marbled together. But molasses and spice? Now that I could get into!

This version just sounded so terribly interesting, not to mention delicious!  I’ve always been fascinated by food history, and I just couldn’t resist the idea of making a recipe for a marble cake that pre-dates the one we all know today.

old fashioned marble cake | before chocolate, marble cake was darkened with molasses and spice | Brooklyn Homemaker

I find the very idea that the marble cake has evolved from one flavor profile to another completely intriguing. This got me to thinking about how and why this could have happened in the first place.

“Old-Fashioned Marble Cake always has its dark part darkened with molasses and spices, because that’s the way Grandma used to make it.” I soon realized that if this recipe was published in 1942, and it was the author’s grandmother’s recipe, then the recipe itself was probably from the late 1800s. Then it dawned on me that at that time in history cocoa and vanilla were rare, exotic, and expensive ingredients that many bakers just didn’t have access to. Molasses and spice were easy enough to find, so I’m sure that’s why they were used first.

Maybe it’s just the food nerd in me, but I find all this stuff to be so much fun and I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe and the story behind it with the bundt bakers!

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

I almost went ahead with this recipe back when I first saw it, but ultimately decided that I should wait until the holidays because it sounded so similar in flavor to gingerbread (just without the ginger). I was a little worried that I’d wait all that time and then my cake wouldn’t fit with the bundt bakers theme for December, but I decided I’d cross that river when I came to it.

Lucky for me, Liv of Liv for Cake played right into my hand and chose “naughty or nice” as the theme this month. How perfect is that? Richly spiced cake with dark, earthy molasses juxtaposed against an ethereal light and airy white cake. Naughty AND nice mixed and marbled together into one perfect holiday cake. Please make sure to scroll down past the recipe and check out all the other naught and nice cakes this month!

The original recipe didn’t call for a glaze but just said, “Frost if desired, but no frosting is required.” I thought I may as well go ahead and drive the naughty point home with a nice boozy rum glaze.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

This cake lends itself perfectly to being baked as a bundt. The original recipe said to bake it in a tube pan like an angel food cake, but only because the bundt pan hadn’t yet been invented! They didn’t hit the scene until the 1950s.

I followed the recipe almost exactly, but did decide to add just a touch of vanilla to the white cake part. The original recipe didn’t call for it because it wasn’t readily available or affordable when it was developed, but now that it is available and affordable I saw no reason to leave it out. I’m sure it’d still be great without it, but thought it would really add a nice boost of flavor to the white cake.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

It was sort of a a funny exercise rewriting a 70 year old cake recipe. The first paragraph was just about triple sifting the flour before measuring because flour back then didn’t come pre-sifted. The recipe was also sort of vague and inexact in some places, because most housewives back then already knew how to follow a recipe. It actually said to “bake in a slow oven for about an hour”.

I tried my best to update it and make it easier for the modern baker to follow. If the finished cake was any indication, I think I did a pretty good job.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m so glad to have the opportunity to revive a recipe that’s probably over a century old, and even more glad that it came out so absolutely wonderful! The cake is super light and tender, with a healthy dose of rich earthy molasses and a lovely bit of spice from the cinnamon and clove. When I first read the recipe I worried that the clove might be a bit overpowering, but I worried for nothing and wouldn’t change a thing. It tastes and smells just like the holidays, but if you want it to taste even more like gingerbread, you could easily add two or three teaspoons of ground ginger.

Ginger or no, this recipe is as fun and festive a holiday cake as you could ask for.

The rum glaze really adds another level of holiday cheer too, but if you’d prefer to keep this cake kiddo safe though, feel free to skip the rum and use an equal amount of milk instead.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

Old-Fashioned Marble Cake

Adapted from Meta Given’s 1942 Modern Family Cookbook

Light Part: 
2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Dark Part:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons molasses
3/4 cup buttermilk

Rum Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon dark rum
1 1/2 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Generously butter and flour a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan and tap out excess flour. Refrigerate pan.

Light Part:
Measure flour, baking powder, and salt for the light part into a bowl and whisk together until evenly distributed. Beat egg whites until they reach stiff (but not dry) peaks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually mix in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Transfer to a small bowl and cover while you proceed.

In the same mixer bowl, cream butter and blend thoroughly with remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar. In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) mix buttermilk with vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter, beginning and ending with flour and beating well after each addition. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter being careful not to overmix or deflate the whites. Transfer batter to another bowl and cover while you proceed.

Dark Part: 
Measure flour, soda, salt and spices for the dark part into a bowl and whisk together until evenly distributed. In the mixer bowl, cream butter until soft and smooth; add brown sugar and cream together thoroughly. Add beaten egg yolks and molasses, and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour and beating until smooth after each addition.

Drop alternating large spoonfuls of dark and light batter into the pan until all batter is used. Use a dull knife to make a swirled pattern in the batter for a marbled effect.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly with fingertips. Place on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes to cool before inverting to remove cake and cool completely.

To make the glaze whisk the sugar, rum, & milk together in a small bowl until lump free. If too thick, add a drop or two of milk until you reach the desired texture. If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Drizzle glaze over completely cooled cake. Cake should keep, well covered and air tight at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

old fashioned marble cake | this heritage marble cake recipe is darkened with molasses and spice rather than chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

This month is filled with enough naughty and nice to make Santa’s head spin! Even the naughty cakes though, are plenty nice. I wish I could try each and every one!

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BundtBakers

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#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.

Happy holidays y’all!

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits

I have a confession to make…

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m a biscuit snob.

There.
I said it.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Over the past few years there has been a sudden explosion of “Southern” “Soul Food” restaurants in my little corner of North Brooklyn.

It would appear that fried chicken is the new cupcake. No, that’s not right. Gourmet doughnuts are the new cupcake.
Fried chicken is the new… burger?

Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t complainin’. I can’t fry chicken to save my life, and I LOVE fried chicken.
Every time I’ve tried to make it at home it’s come out under or over cooked, usually pretty greasy, and never as crispy as I’d like. There are very few recipes I’ve never been able to master, but I’d like to think I know when enough’s enough. At this point I’ve accepted defeat and decided it’s better to just leave the fried chicken to the professionals.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

The problem though, is that for all of the fried chicken professionals we have running around, I haven’t yet found a place where their biscuits don’t feel like an afterthought. It’s as if they know they have to serve biscuits because, like, they’re a chicken joint, but they don’t actually care about making sure they’re just as good as the chicken.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Instead of light, tender, flaky, delicate, pillowy, buttery little clouds of biscuits, most of the these so called chicken joints serve dense, tough little hockey pucks. Most of the time they serve them with a big ramekin full of honey butter, hoping you’ll slather so much on that you won’t notice there’s anything wrong. It makes me sad, and it doesn’t need to be this way.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know a lot of people are afraid of making biscuits at home. I know it’s easy to screw them up if you don’t know to use a delicate hand. I know a lot of people think of biscuits the way I think of fried chicken. I’m reminded of the words of wise old G. Dubya, “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”

Here’s the thing though. Biscuits are not that hard to get right. I promise you that they’re easier than frying chicken. Whether you’re at home on a Sunday morning, or slinging chicken in a busy hipster soul food restaurant, if you want a tender delicate biscuit the only trick is to treat them tenderly and delicately. It’s really that simple.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

It doesn’t matter how you get the butter into the flour, as long as it doesn’t melt in the process. You always want to keep that butter cold. I used to think a pastry blender was the only method gentle enough for a tender biscuit, but I’ve tried pulsing the butter in with a food processor, cutting it in with two knives, even mashing it in with a fork, and they all worked just fine.

I think the thing that really makes the biggest difference is how you mix the liquid into the flour. You want to gently stir and fold the liquid and dry ingredients together to moisten as much of the flour as possible without over mixing it. If a bit of the flour doesn’t want to mix in, don’t sweat it. To make sure you have super flaky layers you’ll want to fold the dough over on itself a few times, so you can mix that little bit of extra flour back in then.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

To add some extra flavor and interest, I took my old standard biscuit recipe and substituted some pureed roasted butternut squash for a bit of the buttermilk. This is a perfect recipe if you already plan to serve butternut squash at your Thanksgiving dinner. If you don’t, and you don’t want to take the time to roast the squash just for the biscuits, you can use canned squash if you can find it, or canned pumpkin if you can’t.

I also wanted to add the flavor of fresh sage to compliment the squash, but I didn’t really want to have large visible chunks of sage in the dough. I decided that the best way to evenly distribute the sage, and it’s fragrant earthy flavor, all throughout the biscuits would be to pulse the sage together with some brown sugar in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor though, just try to chop the sage as finely as you can.

The combination of fresh sage and roasted squash really adds wonderful earthy sweetness and depth that, to me at least, just screams fancy pants Thanksgiving dinner. Homemade biscuits are always a welcome addition to any meal, but this recipe is so quintessentially Autumnal that you’re guests are sure to be ooohing and aaahing over them all through dinner.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Flaky Butternut Squash & Sage Biscuits

  • Servings: 12-16 biscuits
  • Print
Roasted squash:
1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

Biscuits:
12 to 15 sage leaves
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup butternut squash puree (or pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream or melted butter

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Rub the cut side of the squash flesh with oil and place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast squash for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. Cool completely, remove the skin, and mash the flesh with a fork, or puree in a food mill or food processor.

Turn oven up to 450.

Combine the sage leaves and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and run until the sage is very finely chopped (you can also just chop the sage very very finely with a knife). Add flour, baking powder, salt, cram of tartar, ground pepper, and cinnamon and pulse to combine. Cut the cold butter into 1 inch chunks, add to flour, and pulse into small pea sized pieces (if you don’t have a food processor use a pastry blender). Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). Mix squash puree and buttermilk together, make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in buttermilk all at once. Gently stir and fold together with a fork until just moistened, and bring together in a ball with your hands. Do not try to mix the liquid into the flour in the food processor or your biscuits will be tough and dense.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently push dough out into a flat disk using your hands (or a rolling pin). Dust lightly with flour, fold in half, and gently roll or press back out. Repeat 5 or 6 times to create layers in your biscuits that will separate when baked. Roll or pat dough out to about 3/4 inch thick and cut into circles using a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter. Remaining dough can be recombined once, but no more or it will get tough. Recombined biscuits will not be as pretty or as flaky as the first batch, but they’re still worth it. Transfer biscuits to parchment lined baking sheets and brush tops with cream or melted butter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Thanksgiving potluck planning

Thanksgiving has always been really special to me.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

I have a tendency to let myself get really overwhelmed by the very idea of Christmas. To me all the planning and running around in the name of gift giving has always felt like a duty to spend money and buy buy buy. I know that’s not what it’s supposed to be about, but that hasn’t stopped me from having mixed feelings about the holiday anyway. Thanksgiving however, is all about food and friends and family, the best parts of Christmas without all the conspicuous consumption.

That’s not to say that Thanksgiving is a day without stress though. I certainly understand that it’s the biggest food holiday of the year (duh, that’s why I love it) and sometimes it can be a daunting process to try prepare a meal of that magnitude. There’s a few things you can do to make things less stressful, like avoiding recipes you haven’t made before, and making (or at least prepping) as much of the menu ahead as possible.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

My favorite way to ease the workload is to share some of the duties with friends or family. Every Thanksgiving I’ve hosted since living on my own has been potluck style. Spreading some of the work out to the other dinner guests means that your meal will have all the variety you’d like without having to spend a week planning and shopping and prepping and cooking. It also means that your guests get to take part of the credit for the fabulous spread on the table.

Even a potluck Thanksgiving requires some advanced planning though, so if you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving meal, or just hoping to work on your Thanksgiving game plan, I thought it might be helpful to share what I do to stay organized.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

First, there’s the turkey.

In my opinion, if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey and gravy will probably have to be your responsibility. Asking someone to bring a pie or a plate of biscuits is one thing, but a fully cooked 20 pound turkey is quite another. If you’re uncomfortable making a turkey, ask someone who isn’t to come over early and help. Grab an extra bottle of wine and get the festivities started early. Who’s gonna stop you?

While we’re on the subject, there’s a lot you can do with your bird, and I’ve tried several methods. You can brine it, give it a spice rub, coat it in butter, blanket it in bacon, or even deep fry the beast. I used to brine my turkeys but soon realized that it’s a lot of work for a little pay off. The whole point is to ensure moist breast meat, but I’ve found an easier way. Last year I rubbed the whole bird in citrus herb butter and roasted it (and heres the important part) BREAST SIDE DOWN! If you roast your bird breast side down for the first several hours, all the juices and fat and flavor from the dark meats runs down through the breast instead of the other way around. About an hour or two before its done you flip it breast side up for even browning, and you’ll have a beautiful, moist, and truly tasty turkey.

When it comes to choosing the size of your turkey, I generally try to give myself at least 1 1/2 pounds per person. Smaller birds, say twelve pounds or less, have a higher bone to meat ratio so you may need to go with something more like 2 pounds per person. Of course, if you get more than you need you’ll be more likely to have leftovers for sandwiches and soup the next day.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

With your turkey plans out of the way, it’s time to figure out who’s going to make what.

Rather than dictate, I think it’s best to let people choose what they’d like to make. Some people have real attachments to certain dishes or have specialties they love to make, and letting them decide makes it more fun for everyone involved. If you want, go ahead and reach out to the best cooks first so they get first dibs on whatever they like. Feel free to encourage people to make a few dishes if they feel up to it. Just make sure you ask if anyone will need to use your kitchen to finish or reheat their food!

This requires a bit of organization and communication, but it’s important that you let everyone know what dishes are already chosen so you don’t end up with four green bean casseroles and fifteen pies. Rather than choosing what specific dishes you want people to make, I think it’s better to give general suggestions. Instead of saying, “we need candied yams”, say “we need a vegetable dish”, or even “we need a yam dish”. If you want to, you can try to steer people in a certain direction, but it’s best not to dictate to them if you want them to enjoy the process.

This can be a bit tricky, but I also think it’s important to try to encourage your guests to consider other guests’ dietary restrictions. That doesn’t mean that no one gets to eat meat just because one guest is a vegetarian, but if a dish is easy to make meat-free then it shouldn’t be too much to ask to avoid bacon and chicken stock. If someone says they want to make sausage dressing, then fine, your vegetarian guests don’t eat that. If they say they want to make mushroom dressing though, urge them to try it with vegetable stock instead of chicken or turkey.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

When it comes to choosing what dishes you need for the full experience, I think it’s best to break it down into categories.

In addition to turkey and gravy, you’ll probably want:

  • Dressing (or stuffing, if that’s what you’re in to)
  • Cranberry sauce (canned is fine, but homemade is better and actually pretty easy)
  • Some starchy sides like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or corn pudding
  • A few vegetable dishes. This category has the greatest room for creativity and diversity, and could even be broken down into subcategories by color. A few popular dishes on thanksgiving are green bean casserole, brussels sprouts, braised greens, glazed carrots, roasted winter squash, roasted root vegetables, or maybe even a nice salad with fall flavors like pears and candied pecans.
  • Some type of bread like biscuits, rolls, or cornbread
  • Don’t forget that you’ll need something to drink. You’ll want juice or milk for the kiddies, but when it comes to the grown up juice you can go traditional with wine and beer, or get creative with punches or cocktails. I think a spiked hot apple cider or a punch with ginger beer, cranberry juice and bourbon would be great!
  • Of course, you can’t forget dessert! I always have apple pie and either sweet potato or pumpkin pie. You could also do pecan pie, pecan praline bundt cake, harvest bundt cake, apple kuchen bars, or even pumpkin cheesecake!

The only thing left to consider is the supplies you’ll need to cook and serve all this food! Make sure you have enough plates, silverware, glassware, & napkins. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to use (sturdy) disposables to save on dishes. You’ll also need serving platters & bowls, serving spoons and ladles. Get your carving & chef knives sharpened ahead of time and make sure you have a roasting pan large enough for your turkey.

Thanksgiving potluck planning | Brooklyn Homemaker

Of course, this is just how I like to do things, but I really do hope these tips are helpful!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving y’all!