As a clerk in the kitchen shop at Forden’s in San Luis Obispo, Jackie Donatelli fields questions on a range of topics. This time of year, they skew toward subjects like pie crusts and turkey brine.
Some customers, however, wonder how they’ll pull off their holiday baking and cooking without hiring a fulltime sous chef. Her answer is simple: plan ahead.
“We try to plan months in advance for events, so it makes sense to do that at home too,” she said.
She recommends taking an inventory of everything you’ll need for holiday entertaining now, so you won’t be one of the people frantically trying to buy a fat separator on Thanksgiving Day.
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Donatelli breaks the inventory into categories. First, consider all of the gear and gadgets that you likely only use a few times each year, yet greatly expedite kitchen tasks. This includes a dough blender, pie weights, turkey baster, brining bag, large cutting board, and, of course, fat separator. Make sure knives are good and sharp. Also, try to choose the size of your bird well in advance so that you can be sure your pan, kettle, or grill is large enough.
Naturally, you need to evaluate your cookware to see if it is up to the task. But Donatelli also recommends purchasing small appliances that can take some of the burden off of an overworked oven or stovetop. Do some research ahead of time to find dishes that can be prepared in a slow-cooker, electric roasting oven, deep-fryer, or on the grill.
Serving pieces are often an afterthought. Donatelli advises to play “matchmaker” with dishes — deciding in advance which item goes in which serv ing dish. This is also the time to evaluate whether your serving dishes work with the color scheme of your serving table. Don’t forget extra serving spoons and forks, which always seem to be in short supply.
If finding space for more kitchenware and gadgets seems unthinkable, Do natelli recommends purchasing pieces that do more than one job.
Some serving pieces, such as Le Creuset stoneware, go right from oven to table and come in attractive designs and colors, such as this season’s trendiest shades of olive green and deep purple. Armetale metal dishes, trays and platters can go in the oven and freezer and even on the grill. Stoneware bread baskets can sit in an oven or warmer, keeping bread toasty until it’s time to serve.
On the small appliance side of the showroom, Forden’s now carries the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker — a slow cooker that also braises meat and cooks rice.
Forden’s is currently taking special orders for kitchenware and gifts. Items will arrive in two to four weeks. The last day to order Le Creuset for Christmas is Dec. 1.
In addition to kitchen items, Forden’s carries fireplaces, barbecues and gift items. The store is located at 857 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo, (805) 543-1090.