Planning A Stress-free Holiday Season

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - November 02, 2011
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Panya Bakery’s Annie and Alice Yeung can help with your holiday feast. Jo McGarry photo

I used to resist contemplating the holidays until at least the middle of November, but in recent years I’ve decided that I might as well give in and start celebrating the season in much the same way as the retail stores. I think it might actually serve to reduce the stress because I find I am anticipating the holidays with an unusually high level of optimism.

Last year I almost forgot about Halloween. If Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker hadn’t been sitting at the breakfast table, I think I might have missed the day completely. We kind of missed Thanksgiving, too, last year, and had dinner the Saturday after (although, to be honest, that was more because of my husband’s travel schedule than my lack of organization).

This year I’ve decided to be different. I am reclaiming the holidays and intend to enjoy these precious upcoming weeks with family and friends, determined not to be stressed or late for anything. I pulled out the pumpkincarving tools and the ghost and ghoul cookie cutters two weeks ago and carved three pumpkins, made two dozen shortbread sugar cookies and a batch of miniature cupcakes. And I’m changing my strategy on Thanksgiving, too, because two little boys, a traveling husband, a hectic work schedule and a number of volunteer projects can encourage even the most passionate home cook to look for help. So while I’ll still be roasting the turkey, making the stuffing and opening wine to add to my cranberry Zin sauce, this year I’ll also be sourcing some ready-made options to add to the table.

You don’t have to look far to find ready-made meals they’re everywhere from Chinese restaurants to Zippy’s. Many of them offering a la carte options including turkeys and hams. And each meal brings with it a little of the personality of the hotel or restaurant.

Pick up dinner for four from The Kahala, for example, and it comes beautifully boxed and “served” to the trunk of your car by chefs from the hotel at a Kahalastyle “drive thru.”

At Panya Bakery, there’s local flavor fusion to the holiday dishes. With an appetizer platter that comes with gyoza, spring rolls, salt and pepper shrimp and chicken wings, a Panya Thanksgiving reflects the Yeung sisters’ Chinese background, Japanese pastry skills and Hawaii roots. Their popular mochi rice stuffing may be one of the reasons people start ordering their meals in September.

“People are afraid they will be too late and we will run out,” says Panya co-owner Annie Yeung. The mochi stuffing is made with lup cheong, dried shrimp and shiitake mushrooms, and it can be ordered a la carte in 2-pound portions.

“People love the stuffing,” says Annie, “and they like the homemade flavors of the gravy, too.”

With everything made from scratch on the day of delivery (you can pick up Thanksgiving Eve as well as on the day), the meals are hot and ready to serve.

I’ll be adding some homemade rolls and a pumpkin crunch pie to our Thanksgiving dinner. Cheating? This year I’m thinking of it as help to enjoy the holidays.

Happy eating!

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