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Countdown to Thanksgiving, Day 7: Let Someone Else Do the Work

Local markets, hotels and caterers serve up a cornucopia of pick-up options for the big feast.

Follow along with Megan Swoyer as she prepares for Thanksgiving, with .  Day 7 offers tips for takeout, from sides to the whole meal.

One of my friends is a bit freaked about hosting Thanksgiving at her boyfriend’s home. 

“I’m a little crazed,” she told me. “His kids will be there and all of that (he’s divorced and has children who live out East).

While she was sharing this with me, I was simultaneously reading email and had serendipitously received a note from the owners of Canapé Cart in Ferndale.

“Hey,” I told my friend. “You can order all of your sides from this great place. It won’t be like you’re not cooking; you’re just making it easier and you can get to know his family better, etc. by not being a slave in the kitchen. Make the turkey, do the potatoes, stuffing and gravy, and pick up everything else.”

“I might check that out,” she said, sounding relieved.

No one should ever feel bad about ordering a takeout for Thanksgiving. If you think about it, most of us delegate many of the side dishes anyway. At my house, I’m in charge of the turkey, potatoes, rolls, stuffing, gravy and dessert, and many of the guests bring the sides. I could very well pick those up, but don't need to. Everyone's situation is different, and the main thing is to gather around a table and share food, right?

I plan to make a gluten-free coconut cream pie, and will pick up a few pies at the . This year, I’ve got my heart set on a cherry concoction.

If you prefer cherry pie, you’ll be happy to know that the nation's forecasted tart cherry production for 2011 totals 266.1 million pounds, up 40 percent from the 2010 production. Of this 2011 total, the overwhelming majority (210.0 million pounds) will be produced in Michigan, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. (Another way to enjoy a Pure Michigan —  or partly pure — feast on Thanksgiving: Refer back to ).

Back to the sides. I can't see how anyone can go wrong with Canapé Cart’s sides.  Owners Kathleen O’Neill and Mary Rembelski, whose company was established in 1987, focus on innovative cuisine, distinctive presentations for celebrations and events, cooking classes and a terrific to-go business that is especially appealing this time of year. They’re also big on using healthy ingredients.

“We started our business because of our love of food, good wines and world travel,” Rembelski said.  

Pick it up 

Here's the lowdown on takeouts for everything from stuffing and sweet potatoes to the entire feast.

• ’s Thanksgiving sides menu includes classic sage scented bread stuffing with sautéed onions, celery and apples; classic mashed potatoes; braised brussels sprouts with almonds and dried cherries; green beans with sun-dried tomatoes; brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with pecans; and cranberry orange relish. You must order by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. 

• The (in Plymouth) folks are excited about their Northport pumpkin pie. Other favorites include pecan varieties, including the Blissful Chocolate Pecan. Autumn Harvest Pies also are tempting.

• The in Rochester has a “Thanksgiving with Wings” that features a herb-roasted organic free-range turkey (16- to 20-pound average); honey and pecan-crusted ham (5 to 6 pounds); grilled asparagus; sugar-glazed carrots and buttered French beans; savory sage and onion stuffing; creamy Yukon mashed potatoes; roasted sweet potato casserole with maple syrup and pecans; housemade cranberry and orange chutney; gravy; artisan breads; and two pies that will feed 12 to 14 (we’re having 14 … should I?). Orders taken until Monday, Nov. 21.

• (11 metro-area locations) offers easy on-line ordering for cooked turkeys and all the trimmings.

• offers entire meals or sides (20 Michigan locations) that can be ordered with  an easy pick-and-click process, online.

• markets (St. Clair Shores, Troy and Clinton Township locations) plan to whip up a great bread stuffing with sage, turkey gravy and orange cranberry relish and selling it from Nov. 21-23. The store offers samples as well. You can also purchase a variety of sides and more.

• , 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Preservation Park, 500 N. Ridge Rd., is a great place to find great sides as well as beautiful cheeses for trays.     

• The deli is featuring  convenient holiday meals, with all the favorites, from turkey to pie – plus all the trimmings. Order forms are available at local stores. Just select your dinner options and pick-up time and fill in contact information on the form and give to a deli  associate. When you bring your feast home, all you’ll have to do is heat it.

• (Dearborn, Livonia and Berkley) feature a veritable cornucopia of prepared foods, from macaroni and cheese to party trays and fruit platters. Customize your trays with everything from Westborn corn chips and salsa to artisan cheeses.

Day 8: Spud sages whip up some tips for perfect mashed potatoes.

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