Don’t let Thanksgiving gobble money, time

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Preparing a Thanksgiving feast shouldn’t cost a wing and a drumstick. There are things anyone charged with preparing and hosting Thanksgiving dinner can do to save both money and time. “It’s a time certainly to be with family and friends, and when some of us experience challenges with the economy, it takes away from that,” said John Stevens, owner/operator of the Grocery Outlet in Auburn. Local Grocery Outlets say they have the inventory to allow shoppers to create a Thanksgiving meal for only $3 per person. Some examples Stevens cites are 99-cent jars of turkey gravy and boxes of Stove Top, and Country Crock ready-to-serve stuffing or cinnamon apples for $1.69. “We have Thanksgiving at our house, and if we don’t carry it at Grocery Outlet, we go without,” Stevens said, noting that the meal is always complete. Pamela Dobson, store manager at Auburn’s Save Mart, said there are a few things customers can do to get the most for their money. “Check the weekly ads when they come out Wednesday so you can see the specials, and plan accordingly,” she said. “Make sure you check your ad before you start shopping, and circle what you want to buy.” The store is giving away free turkeys, up to 15 pounds, to any customer spending $99 on groceries between now and Thanksgiving. Does the thought of that golden, delicious bird make your mouth water? Best eat something before heading out to the store, as Dobson also advises against shopping hungry, which might result in more impulse buys. Making a list is also a big help, she said. Dobson is off the hook for Thanksgiving, but plans on hosting 27 family members and friends for Christmas. Her plan is to take care of the prime rib, and let everybody else take care of the rest of the table. “My sister brings the pies, somebody brings the potatoes, and it’s so much easier for everybody. Get the whole family involved,” she said. Cathy Bianchi, owner of Cathy’s Cakes and Catering in Auburn, is also a firm believer in spreading the kitchen duties. “Instead of the host being in charge of everything, let (guests) showcase what they do best,” she said. Bianchi said many people overestimate the amount of food their guests want. “One thing I’ve learned, cooking for other people is, say you have 15 guests. You do not need 15 servings of each type of food,” she said. “Everybody’s not going to take what you’d consider a full-sized portion. They’ll take a little bit of this, a little bit of that.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at __________ Green beans with caramelized onions and toasted almonds 5 lbs. green beans, trimmed 1 quart 1-percent milk 1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 yellow onions, julienned 2 cups white wine 1 small sprig rosemary 1/2 cup almonds, slivered or crushed and toasted large pot of water salt and pepper to taste To prepare the green beans, place a large pot of water over high heat, cover and bring to a rapid boil. Place green beans in pot. Once boiling, sprinkle a fair amount of salt in the water to “season” the green beans as they blanch. Cover the pot with the green beans so that the water returns to a boil quickly. Once the green beans are tender, about 2 minutes, remove green beans from water and immediately place in ice water to stop cooking process and preserve the color. Once cool, remove from the ice water and set aside. For the onion-milk mix, place olive oil and onions in a medium thick bottom sauce pot over low heat. Add water, cover tightly and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. As long as the fire is low and the pan is well covered, you do not need to check. After 30 minutes, remove cover, turn heat to medium and stir frequently, caramelize the onions slowly until amber brown. Add rosemary and white wine, turn the fire to high and reduce the white wine by half by simmering. Add milk (reserve 1/4 cup) and bring to a simmer, but do not boil. Place the reserved milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix well. Once the onion-milk mix comes to a simmer, add cornstarch mix, turn heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes stirring constantly. Add green beans to the white gravy and heat through. Season with salt and pepper place in serving dish and sprinkle with toasted almonds. ––Courtesy, GOT MILK?