RA & Holiday Cooking: Tips To Make Your Entertaining Easier

Vanessa Collins Health Guide

    It is that time of year again.  Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Foot ball season are upon us. 


    This is the time of year we spend a lot of time indoors.  We celebrate holidays with our friends and family.  We cook.


    I love cooking and baking, but my days of hours in the kitchen are gone.  RA has made me modify my lifestyle. 


    When I was first diagnosed with RA, I wondered how I would ever be able to cook or bake again.   I have found a way.


    I admit that I do not have the big crowds of people that I used to have on New Year’s Eve.  The size of our gatherings has grown smaller, but we still have fun with family and friends.

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    We continue to cook a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.  We experiment with new “football” food every year.  After all, the Super Bowl is a big deal in the U.S., and experimenting is fun.


    I used to do all the cooking myself, but now I enlist the help of my husband for some things.  He is willing to help, and the few things I have him do enable me to continue our traditions.


    I usually cook a Honeysuckle White turkey breast for Thanksgiving.  Occasionally, I cook a small turkey.  The use of an electric knife makes carving so easy.


    Having my husband here to lift the turkey into and out of the oven helps a lot.  If I know he is not going to be available for some reason, I cook a turkey breast.  I can handle that myself, and it is so good!


    I also enlist my husband’s help in baking cookies.  Stirring cookie dough is a bit difficult on RA wrists.  If he is not available, I use a hand-held, small mixer.


    I also use an ice cream scoop to pick up the cookie dough and put it on cookie sheets.  It works, and that is all that matters.


    The most helpful tool I have in my kitchen is a bar stool that is the perfect height for working at my kitchen counters.  My stool also swivels, and that makes it even easier to use.


    Whether I am cooking or baking for a holiday feast, or just cooking dinner, I prepare as much as I can ahead of time.  If I need chopped vegetables, I use my Pampered Chef chopper to handle that job earlier in the day.


    I store the chopped veggies in plastic food storage bags in the refrigerator.  It really does help to break the tasks down into parts.


    I also have a jar “opener” installed on the bottom of one of my kitchen cabinets.  It is out of sight, but easily accessible, and I can open jars on my own using this device.


    All of my kitchen utensils have big, soft handles on them.  Those big handles make them much more RA friendly.


    If you find yourself behind the eight ball, with company coming for a holiday dinner, you might consider using the catering services of some of the big-name grocery stores.  One of my friends had one such store cook her entire turkey dinner one year.   She was recovering from surgery.


    The grocery store delivered the meal.  It was hot and good, and looked as though my friend had just pulled it out of the oven. None of the guests would have known it was catered, had my friend not told us.


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    The easiest meal I prepare this time of year revolves around ham.  My husband and my father both love ham, and it is so easy to prepare.


    I buy a bone-in half ham, and rub in the sauce I prepare just before putting it into the oven. I place my ham in a covered roaster and cook it in the oven at 200 degrees for eight hours.


    The ham falls off the bone once cooked, but it still moist. If you have a smaller ham, you may only need to cook it for six hours.


    While the ham is cooking, I prepare all the side dishes. I usually oven roast sweet potatoes when I serve ham.


    The sauce I use for my ham is easy to prepare.  I don’t measure my ingredients, but I will try to give you some approximate amounts.


    Ham Rub:  1 ½  cups of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of bbq sauce, ¼ cup of horseradish mustard, and ground cloves to taste.


    If you want to be “fancy”, you can score the ham, and insert whole cloves into the cuts in the ham skin. Whether or not you use whole cloves or ground cloves it up to you.  Both work well.


    This mixture is very thick, but as it cooks it thins out and mingles with the ham juices.  Don’t throw the sauce and ham juice away.  Use it to heat up your ham.  It adds flavor, and keeps the ham from drying out during the reheating process.


    Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes:  Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into ½ inch thick pieces.   Drizzle olive oil over the potato pieces, season with sea salt, and toss to coat.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes.  The longer you roast them, the crispier the outside of the potato pieces will be.  Don’t forget to spray your pan with a cooking spray so that the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom.


    I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.  I hope you are sharing it with friends and family, and lots of good food.


    Do you have any tips that could help our community members with cooking or baking?  How do you handle the holidays and entertaining?

Published On: December 26, 2013