Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Solutions

Given the fact that the turkey neck is incompatibly shaped with the hole it's coming out of, that pulling it out usually involves pain, bloodshed, and possibly uncouth noises, extracting the neck from your Thanksgiving turkey is somewhat akin to childbirth.

This year,  I ordered a local turkey, and other Thanksgiving perishables from Relay Foods.  I didn't have to set foot inside of a store or wait in line and simply picked up my order from the back of a truck on my way home from work.  When it came time to do the pre-roasting chores, I found the giblets and neck tucked neatly in a crevice between the leg and the breast.  High class!  Why didn't someone think of that forty years ago instead of making us risk salmonella-infected cuts and frostbite by plunging our bare hands into the hostile environment of a half-frozen turkey? Just because the turkey carcass is hollow doesn't mean you can use it as a container.  Words to live by.

My kids' reaction when I told them I was trying a new stuffing recipe this year


My response


This year, the cooking was something like a series of failed science experiments.  For the pie crust, I departed from my trusted recipe and improvised a butter + lard combo, because that's what I had on hand.  The dough was TRAGIC, but the finished crust was acceptable, although not my best.  When I made the rolls, the buttermilk curdled, but it was too late to start over so, I forged ahead and the rolls were fine, if a tad underbaked.  The sweet potato gratin didn't cook properly, even though we cooked for a half an hour longer than recommended.  The one unqualified success was the alien stuffing--Pretzel and Sausage Stuffing from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  It's not made from pretzels, but from pretzel buns and it's super yummy.  Highly recommended if you want to get out of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing rut.

So the food wasn't tiptop, but it was a great day.  I was on call but didn't get paged.  I didn't feel stressed about getting the food done. I thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend, even if I was on call. I only got paged once on Friday, not at all on Saturday and once on Sunday.  I spent the time happily tidying, taking long walks, and reading In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin.  On Sunday, as a reward for nearing the end of the on-call week, I went to the public library and got two new books and then bought yarn for two Christmas knitting projects.  All of my children were home, all happy and in good health. What more could anyone want?


8 comments:

  1. Yay.
    Aunt Jenny, who's never been known for her cooking, cooked dinner this year (her first!). It all turned out nicely except for the carrots that never made it to the table. I told her that was the price for not having a burnt offering. I made the pies and while I thought I overbaked the pecan pie, it was declared 'perfection' by my cousin's fiance who is a serious (as in professional) pie baker. There was no cinnamon for the pumpkin pie so it ended up being flavored with lots of ginger and allspice, which turned out to be quite lovely.

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    1. Cinnamon is overrated anyway. I've stopped putting it in apple pie and we don't even miss it. Yay for your Aunt Jenny!

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  2. We also had such a wonderful, relaxed, Thanksgiving weekend. We've been joining a friend (single mom with one daughter near in age to ours) for years now, and she loves to cook the meal. We bring wine, dessert, and some onion-free stuffing (Rob is allergic to onions). A couple of other single colleagues joined us, and there was a lot of laughter and proposed solutions for all the worlds' problems. A new side-dish this year was roasted Brussels sprouts, which we all loved. Pretzel buns sounds like it would make a great stuffing bread, but I'm not sure I could ever wean myself away from my mom's traditional apple-raisin stuffing, which I make with a mixture of French and Italian bread.

    I started a new book (the latest Kate Morton; I first heard of her from Jen, of JOTE), although I probably won't have much time for it until classes finish up in two more weeks.

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    1. I love Thanksgiving with friends. We live hundreds of miles from family, so we have "friendsgivings" sometimes and they're awesome.

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  3. I slaved over a whipped sweet potato casserole a week before Thanksgiving and put it in the freezer. The pecan/brown sugar/corn flake crust was going to be put on and all of it baked Thanksgiving Day. For an entire week, I heard complaints from my family that my recipe did not include marshmallows. I put the potatoes on ice and drug it for our six hour drive to Grandma's house. It stayed on ice for two days, seeing as how neither my dad nor my mother in law had room in their fridge for a 9x13 pan. Finally, the day I was to bake it for the meal, I took the lid off and found ants. The whole thing had to be dumped. Did I mention I have always hated sweet potatoes and wasn't going to eat any of it, but made it for my family who loves sweet potatoes?
    Just had to get that off my chest.
    I'm glad your new stuffing recipe was a hit. Sounds like you did the whole long weekend the right way.

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    1. How awful! I bet it would have been delicious had the ants not gotten to it.

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  4. I think this sounds like the perfect weekend. You tried a few new things, didn't get stressed out, got to relax and posted a photo of Loki. Five stars from me.

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  5. I made a lot of uncouth noises while getting the neck out of my just-barely-defrosted turkey's cavity. I have never had the nerve to get a fresh turkey - I get nervous about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and need to have that turkey in my house, and that means a frozen turkey. Maybe next year I will do good for the world and my poor fingers, and get a fresh one.

    Two years ago I tried making quinoa stuffing. It was roundly rejected by everyone, including me.

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