If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year and you're already feeling the stress, Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs offers a way to help. Deb Martin teaches "The Great Thanksgiving Dinner," a six-hour cooking seminar on Saturday, Nov. 17, that serves as a guided dress rehearsal to the big feast.
Martin wanted to teach the class primarily because she's observed - and experienced - the stress of taking on the lion's share of the Thanksgiving meal cooking.
"I've seen that whoever is in charge is generally not the one enjoying it," she says.
She hopes to turn that around and make the holiday enjoyable and stress-free for both the guests and the host. According to Martin, the key is in the planning and preparation.
Her seminar will include the basic how-to's of making dressing, defrosting the turkey and making gravy, but she'll also discuss the important considerations of what to make ahead of time and when to start each dish so they're all done and still warm when the meal is served.
"You can let others help you, and that can be just as fun," she says about potluck meals. But even potlucks require a bit of planning to make sure there aren't all desserts and one turkey.
"You get to know what dishes are better to assign in terms of what you can store in the fridge or have room to heat up in the oven," she says.
If the right things are done at the right time and in the proper order, Martin estimates the host can trim the active cooking time (excluding bake time) to as little as three or four hours on Thanksgiving Day.
Louie and Tammy Girardot will supply the gingerbread, frosting and candy, and you'll construct your own peaked-roof house or church in CMC's Gingerbread Workshop.
They'll share a few of the creative embellishments they've picked up over the years, such as how to create stained glass windows using melted candy. The workshop is also open to children of participants who sign up for an additional, nominal fee.
"The fun comes with working in a group," says Tammy Girardot. "The ideas keep blooming as people see what everyone else is doing."
Among the more original structures they've built was an outhouse that Louie created out of a small amount of leftover gingerbread.
Participants will walk away with their gingerbread house creation, which can either be eaten or boxed up for the next season, as the gingerbread will harden like a brick over time.
"It's like a treasure in a way," Girardot says, "and the kids can get it out every year."
"The Great Thanksgiving Dinner" meets 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. The cost is $68.
The Gingerbread Workshop meets 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. The cost is $48; children (ages 9 and up) of adult participants are $10 each.
Both classes meet at CMC in Glenwood Springs, 1402 Blake Ave. To register, call 945-7486.