Successful entertainer pleased to share her secrets

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Nov 07, 2018 - 01:18 PM

Photo: Kay Rice can prepare a special dinner or party any time of the season, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, using recipes from her collection of family favorites, “Your Holiday Feast.” Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Kay Rice can prepare a special dinner or party any time of the season, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, using recipes from her collection of family favorites, “Your Holiday Feast.” Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Kay Rice has saved and written recipes, moving from a very small to a much larger notebook. She tells how the meal was done and what didn’t work when it came to cooking for a large group, especially at Thanksgiving. As time passed Kay’s notebooks became “Your Holiday Feast,” a published cookbook that reveals all her secrets to successful entertaining.

“Thanksgiving was always our biggest family gathering, morning to night, and one we always looked forward to, probably more than Christmas,” Kay said. “My mother-in-law told me when I married her son that there were two things she wanted me to do: learn to make real pie crust and give her son a son. She always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. When she passed, I became the hostess. Never having been responsible for such an event I was nervous about it, but following my first time I started making notes. As our event kept growing, with my written notes, planning and preparing became much easier. I decided to print and then handed out to family members my first Holiday Reunion Planner. It was fifteen years later with encouragement that I published my cookbook.”

Kay was living in Colorado during this period and became interested in publishing and worked with other writers on their publications. One of them was Stuart H. Welch III’s “Self-Made Millionaire.” Her name appears on the cover. As time passed Kay was no longer hosting the family reunions. “A nephew is now taking his turn.”

This lady who holds a master’s degree in business, who majored in exercise physiology, pursued a career in social media serving as a wellness coach, teaching yoga and meditation. Her mother’s illness brought her back to Mathews, the home of her grandparents and many other relatives. Following her mother’s death, never letting an opportunity pass her by, Kay obtained her real estate license and is now enjoying “promoting myself, a healthy style with good nutrition.” Kay believes in working for results, not by the hour. She wants to continue her real estate business and hopes to obtain enough resources to having a home locally and one in Colorado. “I do want to go back to Colorado where my two children and grandchildren are living.” 

Not cooking as much as she once did, Kay just takes one day to do it all. But she still practices what she writes: “Make gravy and pie crust ahead and freeze. Do anything that can be done ahead of time, it makes your day of serving much easier.”

 In “Your Holiday Feast,” Kay gives a Holiday Preparation & Time List. If you are a first-time hostess, here’s how it’s done. Three to six weeks ahead: Make guest list, confirm what people are bringing, check supplies, prepare menu, order honey-baked ham, make chicken broth (x2;) freeze with half-made turkey gravy; freeze; make pie crust, freeze; cook pumpkin, freeze; cook, freeze squash for casserole; freeze cakes and cookies; shop for non-perishable items and what’s needed for pre-cooking.

Buy another freezer.

One to two weeks ahead: Get out dishes, silverware, glasses, wash and polish, iron table linen, make candy if needed, shop for non-perishable items. One week ahead: Make cranberry sauce, make breads, make cookies and candies, clean house, purchase turkey. Three days before: Finish up cookie baking, move pie crust from freezer to refrigerator.

Two days before: Shop for perishables, tidy house, move chicken broth, gravy, pumpkin and squash from freezer. One day before: Bake any remaining pies, make mashed potatoes, put a pot of soup on for late-evening eating, get tables in place. On the day: Pick up honey-baked ham, start cooking pies, vacuum, set goodies out on dessert table, wait for guests.

“This guide was written for everyone who will host a holiday dinner or family reunion. If you have never baked a turkey, made gravy, or cooked for such a large crowd, this I hope will help.”

These are Kay’s tried-and-true recipes from both sides of her family.