We had a very nice, very relaxed Thanksgiving gathering last Thursday at our house. It was small — just our local family, but we had lots of good food and a really good time together.

After hosting any event, I like to do a little “post-mortem.” Y’know . . . to help me take stock of what went well (or didn’t), and jot down some notes for the next time I host such an event.

This year’s post-mortem highlights?

We cooked the turkey the day before Thanksgiving! I’ve been wanting to try this strategy for years, but Tom is the “turkey master” here at our house, and he has been resistant to changing up his long-standing and time-tested turkey recipe/method. This year, though, he followed his usual, beloved turkey “procedure” on Wednesday — and then we tried Ina Garten’s suggestions for her make-ahead turkey re: storing and re-heating the next day.  It turned out fabulously! Tasty. Easy. Stress-free. (Plus, all that turkey-mess was cleaned up and put away before our guests arrived.)

My pies (I made standard pumpkin pie from the New York Times recipe and Smitten Kitchen’s cranberry pie with thick pecan crumble) were outstanding this year (if I do say so myself). For the first time in my pumpkin pie making life, I managed a crack-free, perfect-custard pumpkin pie — and it was noticeably more delicious than usual. I have set a new standard for myself.

Brian brought Brussels sprouts and cooked them up at our house. Delish! And . . . so much fun to have him in the kitchen, and to watch him take joy in his preparation.

On the downside, I didn’t take many photos. And that’s a shame. I love having photos of my family — and Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity for refreshing my photo collection. It’s quite unlike me to “forget” to take photos, but there you have it. I did. (Pretty much what you see above is . . . it.)

In summary? Make everything ahead — even the turkey. Repeat the pies. Encourage Brian in the kitchen. And don’t forget to take photos.

How about you? Do you do “post-mortems” after gatherings and events? And if you celebrate Thanksgiving, how was your day?


(Another highlight: We cheered our little turkey-trotter from afar. Erin ran her first 10K in the San Jose Turkey Trot, and Keith kept us up-to-date on her progress. They both earned their turkey dinner.)