Thanksgiving: Counting Down the Days

Eisenhower_carving_a_turkeyIt’s Thursday today, and we’ve got only one week until Thanksgiving.

Are you ready?

Let us walk you through your daily “To Do” Thanksgiving prep list as we count down the days to next Thursday.

Will you be traveling for the holiday or staying in town? Are you making dinner for immediate family or a few friends, or are you tasked with feeding a crowd? Or were you put in charge of bringing one special dish to share?

Planning ahead (and maybe taking a few thoughtful shortcuts) can save a lot of stress and worry as the big feast day looms closer and closer.

Here’s our “Final Countdown” to Thanksgiving – no magical skills required.

Promenade-poster-2015Gather ideas and inspiration!
Friday – six days to go.
  Come down to the Historic East Village this Friday, November 20, for the Holiday Promenade. It’s free, it’s festive, and (not just because we’re freaks for alliteration here) it’s lots of fun. Also: delicious food to sample here at AllSpice, including Triple Ginger Cookies and warm apple cider, made with our Mulling Spice Blend.

At AllSpice, you’ll find over 300 gourmet ingredients – and cheeky, helpful staff –  to inspire delicious ideas for your Thanksgiving cooking.

Dozens of shops and restaurants throughout the East Village are open late during Promenade (we’re open ’til 8 pm), the ice skating rink is opening for the season, and even Santa will be stopping through on his way to the North Pole!

Downtown-Des-Moines-Winter-Market-FruitHunting and gathering, farmers’ market-style.
Saturday – five days to go. Gather some farm-fresh fall produce, and hunt for free-range poultry and meats, along with other locally-sourced goodies, at the Downtown Farmers’ Market – Winter Market Edition.

In the mercifully climate-controlled Capital Square (5th Street, between Walnut and Locust), the indoor Winter Farmers’ Market boasts over 130 vendors of the delicious, the decorative, and the divine: vegetables and fruits, meats, prepared foods, handcrafts and gifts of all types.  Friday, Nov 20 and Saturday, Nov 21, 9am – 1pm.

Allspice_Seasonings_Greetings_boxGifted and Talented.
Sunday – four days to go. Our East Village neighbor, Scenic Route Bakery, is now open on Sundays (8am – 4pm), and they’d be a perfect place to start your day with pastries and Intelligentsia Coffee. Stop by AllSpice on your walk through the neighborhood, and pick up a clever gift for the folks you’ll be seeing over the Thanksgiving weekend. We’ve got all sorts of books, aprons, oil and vinegar cruets, chocolates, gift boxes for the people who love good food a much as you do. We are open Sundays noon – 4.

Get ready to chill.
Monday – three days to go. Fight that urge to panic, when you realize that Thanksgiving is only three days away. You still have plenty of time to make your preparations, and Monday, three days out, is a perfect day for preparing the dishes that will need to chill for awhile.



Cranberry-Pear Chutney takes the quintessential Thanksgiving relish, and transforms it into a whole new taste, with pears, citrus, dates and golden raisins. Allow to cool on the counter before chilling, covered, for up to seven days.

We also love making this “bête noire” flourless chocolate torte to serve on special occasioins (gluten-free! 100% decadent!). Make it a day or two ahead of time, so it has plenty of time to chill before transporting and serving.

The batter will go in that buttered-and-cocoa-dusted springform pan on the right.
The batter will go in that buttered-and-cocoa-dusted springform pan on the right.
A paper doily makes a great stencil for making a lacy-looking cocoa topping.
A paper doily makes a great stencil for making a lacy-looking cocoa topping.

Feed the multitudes.
Tuesday – two days to go. If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving banquet for a big crowd (or if you’re attending a dinner party with a big guest list), make some finger foods for snacking before and after the formal sit-down dinner.

A crunchy, sweet, or salty snack on the buffet will keep your impatient uncle out of the just-carved turkey while you wait for dinner, and it will satisfy that after-dinner craving “for a little something” while you watch the big football game in the evening.

Last year, AllSpicer Eva made a big batch of sweet-and-salty Chex Mix (with our Sweet Caramel Seasoning) for her extended family’s feast:



(Love Chex Mix and all its permutations? You can find a whole bunch of our snack mix recipes at this link.)

Today’s also the day to pick up that fresh turkey, if you’re serving that this year. The USDA says two is the maximum number of days you want to have a fresh turkey before cooking it.

It’s the final countdown.
Wednesday – one day to go. It’s the perfect time to run those last-minute errands, to fill in any gaps in your Thanksgiving preparations. Drop by a bakery for some crusty bread, to go with the fancy cheese and jam you got at the Winter Farmers’ Market last weekend.

Then come see us at AllSpice and grab a bottle or two of good Olive Oil and your favorite seasoning blend (try the Gusto Pizza Co Spice Blend) to make an easy and flavorful dipping oil.

Bird’s the word? If you didn’t buy a fresh turkey, or you forgot to take the bird out of the freezer, keep in mind that it will take 11 – 12 hours to thaw that 20+ lb beast in cold water before you can pop it in the oven.

We’ll be open until 6pm Wednesday for any last-minute ingredients and gifts you might need.  We’ve even got a brining mix for your turkey, once it’s thawed. Moral support and encouragement provided, all day, free of charge.


Gather for the feast!
Thanksgiving day – Join your fellow Americans to cook, taste, and enjoy this day of thankfulness and plenty!  On Thanksgiving Day, the average American diner will consume about 4,500 calories,  eating 46 million turkeys, 847 million pounds of sweet potatoes, and 709 million pounds of cranberries.


Eisenhower turkey photo credit – Life Magazine, Photographer Yale Joel. © Time Inc