Empty Nest Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Cooking for Fewer People!

When we were raising our kids, dinner as a family was a huge part of our culture.  And Sunday dinners were and remain – sacrosanct.  When I was working and raising my kids, I really didn’t have time during the week to be a creative cook. It was – get dinner on the table as fast as I could.  The weekends were more leisurely, and I could explore a multitude of cookbooks and magazines for something new or a new twist on an old favorite.  The meal always ended with a chocolate dessert.  It still does.

This year, for Thanksgiving, we had 16 family and friends – who not only stayed for Thanksgiving dinner, but actually stayed for four days and nights!  Yep…four days and four nights of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners!   I knew if I didn’t have a plan, I would be spending a fortune on meals out- and probably resenting the full house instead of rejoicing that all my children and grandchildren were under our roof for the holidays.

So here’s some tips:

  1. Plan the menus for each day
  2. Shop in advance and make a detailed shopping list
  3. Shop at the big box stores (Costco, Walmart) – they will usually give you a one day pass if you’re not a member
  4. Shop wisely- use coupons and store deals
  5. Buy in bulk for those things that have a long shelf life
  6. Cook in big batches and plan for leftovers
  7. The cook doesn’t do dishes
  8. Always serve dessert
  9. Use your slow cooker(s)
  10. Invite your grandchildren to cook with you (my next installment)


Best Brisket Ever


  • One huge pan lined with foil
  • One whole brisket, untrimmed, about 12-15 lbs
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground garlic salt
  • 2 envelops onion soup mix
  • 32oz canned chicken soup

Set oven at 350’

Place brisket in foil-lined pan

Rub brisket with one tablespoon each of salt, pepper, and garlic salt

Add fresh garlic to taste – at least one tablespoon

Sprinkle the brisket with packages of onion soup mix and rub in

Pour chicken soup over the brisket

Cover pan tightly with foil

Place in oven on middle rack and cook at least 5 hours

You’ll need to check the brisket after 4 hours by opening the foil and sticking the brisket with a long fork.  If the meat “gives” easily it is done, if not, close foil and place back in over.  Check every hour for tenderness

After the brisket is done cooking and is tender, let sit in juices for 15 minutes.  Then cut the brisket across the grain and place the pieces back into the pan with the juices.  Cover with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before serving.