Emergency Thanksgiving Toolbox Slideshow
November 16, 2011
If You Don't Have... Turkey Lifters
Solution: Cutting Board and Fork
If you don't happen to have turkey lifters and have no clue how to transfer that turkey from pan to platter, then using a cutting board and fork is an effective alternative. Carefully lift the turkey on one side with a fork and leverage onto the cutting board.
If You Don't Have... A Roasting Rack
Solution: Cake Pan
In place of a roasting rack, fashion a cake pan upside down (the shallower it is, the better) in the bottom of your roasting pan and place the turkey on top. This will keep the turkey elevated so that the bottom stays golden and crispy. (Just be extra cautious when placing the turkey in the oven.)
If You Don't Have... A Potato Masher
Solution: Metal Water Bottle, Wine Bottle, or Ice Cream Scoop
Mashed potatoes are an essential Thanksgiving dish, therefore realizing you're without a masher can induce panic. Try using the bottom of a metal water bottle or the blunt end of an ice cream scoop. (Be careful with a wine bottle — you don't want it to break!)
If you're worried about texture, mash the potatoes with the bottom of a colander to mimic the aerating effect of a masher with holes.
If You Don't Have... Pie Weights
Wikimedia Commons/Sanuay Acharya
All varieties of dried beans will work for this quick fix. The weight of the beans keeps the pie crust from puffing up while it's baking, just like traditional pie weights do.
If You Don't Have... A Spatula
Solution: Spoon or Knife
With regard to spreading and getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl, a spatula is essential. However, in a pinch, a spoon or knife will do the trick.
If You Don't Have... A Baster
Solution: Large Metal Spoon
While a baster is ideal for collecting the pan juices while roasting a turkey, a large metal spoon works, too. Just make sure to use one with as long of a handle as possible so that you reduce the risk of burning yourself while basting.
If You Don't Have... A Gravy Separator
Solution: Watering Can
The mechanics behind a gravy separator allow for the turkey juices to be separated from the fat (which accumulates at the top of the container) so that you can pour the juice through the spout at the base of the container. A small watering can will do the same thing, because of the positioning of the spout. If your watering can's spout starts near the middle of the container, simply cover the top with plastic wrap and duct tape and then invert the can.
If You Don't Have... A Peeler
Solution: Single-Blade Razor, Paring Knife, or Pumice Stone
If you find yourself without a peeler on Thanksgiving Day, head to your bathroom cabinet. A single-blade razor (unused, disposable ones preferred) will work wonders as a makeshift peeler (Trust us, we tried it). A paring knife or (new) pumice stone will also do the trick for vegetables with thinner skins, like potatoes or carrots.
If You Don't Have... A Flour Sifter
Solution: Strainer or Fork
When a recipe calls for sifting, it's best to follow directions. Choosing to forgo sifting altogether can lend a dense texture to your baked goods, so when you find yourself without one, opt for a strainer or carefully fluff your ingredients with a fork to add air.
If You Don't Have... A Bench Scraper
Solution: Cake Server, Oaktag Folder, or Chef's Knife
Sticky doughs for pies and dinner rolls can be tough to manage, especially without a bench scraper. Use the edge of a cake server, oaktag folder, or back end of a chef's knife instead.
If You Don't Have... A Pastry Brush
Wikimedia Commons/Jonas Bergsten
Solution: Unused Toothbrush or Paper Towel
A pastry brush can be used to coat uncooked crusts and pastries with butter before baking; using an unused toothbrush or paper towel instead will generally achieve the same results.
If You Don't Have... A Microplane
Solution: Four-Blade Razor
A Microplane (or similar tool) is essential for zesting citrus and grating small amounts of ingredients, like ginger. In a pinch, a four-blade razor can be used in its place. (Make sure to use a new razor head that doesn't have a moisturizing strip.)