Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentNovember 22, 2013 


Corn Pudding can be used to fill out your holiday menu.


Best Thanksgiving countdown

With five days until Thanksgiving, Good Housekeeping offers a checklist to help us get ready. We’ve excerpted some of the tips here.


• If you haven’t already, compile a list and shop for all nonperishables. Look for sales in your local circulars and stock up on pantry staples – paper goods, candies, beverages, inexpensive toys to entertain kids, batteries for the camera.

• Take inventory of your carving tools. If needed, buy new ones.

• Assess your cooking equipment, china, cutlery and serving dishes. Plan to buy or borrow what you’ll need.


• This weekend, make as many dishes as you can that will freeze or refrigerate well. Some that freeze particularly well are cranberry sauce, casseroles, cheese sauces and pie crusts.

• Iron linens that need it and lay them out, if possible, so they don’t rewrinkle.


• If you have a frozen turkey, move it from the freezer to the fridge to thaw. Thaw frozen make-aheads, like that pie crust you made last week.

• Set out your serving dishes and utensils and label them with Post-it notes (e.g., “Brussels sprouts here”).

• Enlist the spouse or kids to make placecards, wash platters and polish silver. That way, they’ll be free to run errands or take out the trash the night before or the morning of the big day. (Once silver is clean, wrap it in tissue and place it in airtight plastic bags to keep it tarnish-free.)

• Sharpen knives.

• Prep any ingredients that will last for two to three days, like chopped onions or fried bacon for the stuffing.

• Continue to make dishes than can be frozen or stored until Thanksgiving Day.


• Shop for all fruits, veggies and other perishables.

• Prepare make-ahead gravy that will save you time on the big day.

• Make or buy extra ice.

• Chill white wine.


• Place and label the trivets with what will go where.

• Defrost any frozen pies in the refrigerator.

• Roast or steam the vegetables. Let them cool and then store them in plastic bags in the fridge.

• Gather helpline info in case of a cooking emergency on the big day. Print out the list at and have it handy just in case.


• Morning:

Make the stuffing.

Cook the potatoes.

Fill a spray bottle with cold water for zapping stains when they happen.

Stuff the turkey; get it roasting.

Make any veggies you haven’t prepared yet.

Whip the cream for dessert; chill.

• Afternoon:

Finish the gravy by adding the drippings.

Take out the cranberry sauce to reach room temperature.

Reheat the potatoes in the microwave right before serving them.

Transfer your turkey to a platter.

Remember to warm the pies after dinner.

You can see the entire list at

Readers’ best

Anita Harris of Cary wrote in with a recipe for Corn Pudding that can be used to fill out your holiday menu. (We’ve made a similar recipe at home for years. Ours turns out like a sweet bread.)

You will need:

1 can creamed corn

1 can kernel corn, drained

4-6 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 cup light sour cream

1 box corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)

Step by step:

1 Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2 Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

3 Pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. (Can also make individual “tartlets” by spraying muffin tins and filling 18 to 20 muffin cups.)

4 Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until set in the middle. If a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, it’s done. If using muffin cups, check after 40 minutes.

Best for cleanup

Here’s a tried-and-true trick I learned from my sister-in-law to help clean baked-on messes off casserole dishes.

Fill the dish with water, drop a fabric softener sheet or two in the pan and let it soak overnight. The food will easily come off in the morning and allow you to return your dish to its sparkling best.

Seeking your best holiday ideas

Do you have a time-saving tip to get you through the holidays? Is there a special decorating tip, cleaning ritual or go-to home and garden stocking stuffer for that someone special in your life? If so, we want to hear about it. If we share your tip in Top Drawer, we’ll enter your name in a quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Send your tips to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “holiday best” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


Money pit. While the turkey roasts, watch how others make money by turning a rundown property into a showpiece. At least that’s the plan when Tarek and Christina snag a sight-unseen, 4-bedroom home at auction for $280,000. They soon find out that the home is a major money pit with no master bedroom, an outdated kitchen and a backyard that needs a complete makeover. Construction bids start at $80,000. Will they be able to recoup their investment? Find out on “Flip or Flop” at 2p.m. Thursday.

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