Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Use a slow cooker to make Squash Stuffing Casserole to free oven space on Thanksgiving.

It’s the annual dance-around-the-oven-space ritual.

Kitchens are roomier than ever these days, and builders have learned a thing or two from the input of cooks about holiday cooking needs. That doesn’t necessarily hold true if you, like us, have what some workers at home improvement stores have referred to as one of those “old-fashioned” houses.

Lovingly put but true in terms of kitchen and oven space in homes such as ours. We have only so much room in our oven, which is typically taken up with a rather large turkey at holiday time. Casseroles have to jockey for position.

It is partially why either one or two slow cookers help ease the load. I find it helpful with certain dishes to just go ahead and put them in the cookers. They don’t require as much attention as some of the oven dishes do, and they will stay warm while others are finishing cooking.

This year, the squash casserole is the chosen slow cooker dish for our Thanksgiving meal. The point is not to stress over the dishes, the oven space or even how many are coming to dinner; it’s to enjoy and recount the year’s blessings.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at