As Richmond moves into the final month of 2010, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday. I love this time of year: the weather gets cooler, the wool sweaters come out from the attic, and our hard work begins to wind down so that we can enjoy the holiday season.

And if your holiday is anything like mine, well then holy turkey tetrazzini, you will spend the next three to four weeks finishing off leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Quite honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to eat everything. But I know I will. I always do. Take the squash, for example. I have three Rubbermaids filled with various squash variations: One is your basic creamed butternut recipe. There’s a country-fried butternut (made with cornmeal) from my friend Jeannie, and then there’s another tub of squash steamed with white onions and sprinkled with fresh garlic.

I cuddled up on the sofa last night, watched It’s A Wonderful Life and polished off the last of it. What a way to kick off the Christmas season (or whatever your holiday of choice may be).

But look at me getting ahead of myself, I’m already on the topic of squash. It’s time to talk turkey: Specifically, what am I going to do with 11 leftover pounds of it?

During the past three days I’ve consulted with some of the nation’s foremost experts on eating and developed a solid outline for putting away the rest of the meat. I can say with confidence to the citizens of Richmond that this bird will not go to waste. I have three main keys to success:

1. White meat is set aside for sandwiches. Approximately eight of the 11 pounds of turkey is white, and these slices will be directed toward lunches for the next few weeks up until Christmas. Admittedly, there may be days where I decide to go out for a burrito or to Arby’s in lieu of a turkey sandwich, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

2. Dark meat for snacks. Mostly eating out of the bag and dipping into chilled giblet gravy after I get home from work and need an app before I hit the gym.

3. A mix of white and dark turkey will be set aside for casseroles, particularly the tetrazzini I spoke of earlier. I like to make my tetrazzini with spinach mashed potatoes, which, thankfully, I still have an entire pot leftover in the fridge. I’ll probably mix in some of that green bean casserole, too. I’ve never been a huge fan of green bean casserole (not to mention lima beans or creamed onions), but it’s pretty good when you mix in some meat.

All of those recipes, of course, will be mashed together with cranberry sauce, like some sort of Lady Gaga/Akon remix that includes turkey. You get what I’m saying. And when I talk about cranberry sauce, I’m talking about the canned stuff. Never been a fan of the homemade version, though Jeannie’s isn’t bad. Tastes like candy.

Some of the turkey will probably be put on all the extra dinner rolls (at least, the ones I don’t turn into my famous bread pudding) for sandwiches or a quick breakfast. When it comes to rolls, most people don’t mind just plopping a dollop of butter on the inside and eating them that way. However, I think the secret to a great roll is to coat it in hot melted butter, particulary after the butter has been used as a dip for raw oysters.

Now, on to dessert.

This year will be the last time I bake 17 pies for a group of only five people. I should have known that not everyone would eat the mincemeat pie (my third favorite), but I’m glad five of the 17 were pecan. Thankfully, I still have two leftover to make a pecan pie sandwich (Cool Whip acting as the “sandwich meat”).

Yes, it’s going to be a great four weeks of eating at the Jones home. With a little luck, I’ll be able to extend out these leftovers right up until Christmas. Then it’s time to dig in until the next big holiday, when we gather round the table with family and friends and feast on groundhog.

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