27 November, 2008

Thanksgiving menu preview

So, I went from having no plan at all for Thanksgiving, to having an entire meal effort underway on the Eve. Not sure why I became inspired, but I guess this is a holiday that you can't really help but enjoy. It was one of my favorites growing up, and I'll tell you about that in a separate blog entry.

So, here's what's on tap for the big day.
  • A 16 pound all-natural free range turkey, from "Top Foods". We did not do the Jennie-O or Butterball bullshit, because that's for peasants :) The preparation of said turkey began tonight. Doing a brining. In between 2.5 to 3 gallons of water, added the following: 2.5 cups of kosher coarse salt, 1 cup of honey, 1 tbsp fine powdered thyme, 1 tbsp fine powdered poultry seasoning, 1 tbsp black pepper. In the past, have added rosemary, but I don't think this brining will be of a long enough duration for the rosemary to have done a hell of a lot, and plus I didn't have direct access to a rosemary bush, and refuse to pay asinine supermarket prices for something that is essentially a weed in the Pacific Northwest. The brining will go about 16 hours. In previous years, I have brined over 48 hours. We'll see how it goes. My feeling is that something is better than nothing.

  • Stuffing, prepared by Denise. To the best of my awareness, what she did was the following: prepared small cubes of white and wheat bread which were then "speed-staled" at 170 degrees for about 2.5 hours in the oven. While that was going, she sauteed in a large pot, a pound of bacon, mushrooms, onions, fresh rosemary, an apple, and who knows what else, though I suspect that was the majority of it, minus whatever seasonings she added. The dry and wet ingredients were combined, sampled (delicious) and stored at 4 degrees C (i.e. the refrigerator).

  • Apple and Raspberry Pie! Yes indeedy. I decided, against my better judgment, to make a pie from scratch. Edna will surely smirk at this, since I am sure she recalls all too well the repeated tantrums that I would have when attempting to make the crust, or roll the crust, or apply the crust to the pie. I'm a perfectionist, but I am lazy and undisciplined. Edna was a perfectionist, and was actually willing to go to the effort to get it right. So the way our pie crust would always go is like this: I start making it. She offers "helpful suggestions". I lose my patience and become irate that it is not perfect, or it is tearing, or rubbery. She offers more "helpful suggestions" (translation: criticisms). I have tantrum. She storms out of the room, since my tantrum probably involved hurling insults at her, because she happened to be there. Then eventually, I apologize, and beg her to please make the crust come out right. In the interest of having a presentable pie, she would usually comply, and always make it look easy, and perfect. Usually with some decorative leaves of pie crust laid around the outer edges of the top of the pie, just to really rub it in what a crappy job I was doing :) But I jest. Sort of. So, the pie this time was based on 2 recipes that were available on my newest iPhone application, which is a recipe application called "Big Oven" or some such nonsense. I do not remember exactly what the recipes involved. But I did a half recipe of the crust, since I was only making one pie. The crust used 2 cups flour. 7/8 cup of shortening. 1/2 tbsp salt, and 1 tsp sugar, or maybe the salt and sugar were the other way around. Who knows? Then the wet stuff was 1/4 cup water (badly measured), 1/2 egg (um, whatever that means), and 1/2 tsp vinegar. Did the cutting with knives. Mixed the ingredients. Threw in fridge for an hour. Cut 5 large granny smith apples, which was a royal pain in the ass, because I cut slowly so that I won't remove a finger (I am a guitarist, you know?!), and I am all thumbs with the peeler. Then rolled the crust. First attempt, bad because I did not flour the surface or the rolling pin. And who the hell even knew that I had a rolling pin? When did I get it? I am thinking Ikea... but it's just bizarre that I have these things. 2nd attempt at rolling, with proper flouring, went better, but the dough wasn't as primo, since it had already been worked once. Nonetheless, no tantrum. Okay, truth be told, I had a silent tantrum, but nobody knew. Then threw in apples. Threw in 1/4 cup sugar. Threw on some frozen raspberries. Threw on more apples. Threw on another 1/4 cup sugar. Threw a few more raspberries. Added pats of total about 1.5 tbsp butter, then the top crust which rolled better than the bottom since it was not previously worked. Oven at 400 degrees, on convection. I am not sure about convection setting in my oven. It seems a bit suspect. Went for about 30 minutes like that. Then dropped temperature to 375 degrees. At 60 minutes, checked to see if apples cooking and they were still COLD! What the hell? So I dropped the temperature to 325 degrees and switched it to conventional oven, instead of convection. And went to a total of about 80 minutes, at which time the edges were a tiny bit toasty, and the filling was boiling some. Fruit cooked. All is well. Pie out. Was that too much detail for you?

  • Still to be done: Mashed Yams (Denise)

  • Still to be done: Cook Turkey (Denise; rumor has it she will cook it directly on the rack). In addition to the Denise cooking methodology and the Mick brining scheme, we bought a bunch more bacon that will be draped all over the entire turkey as a "self-basting" technique, which is way less work, and way more yummy than any other basting procedure you could imagine.

  • Still to be done: sauteed brussel sprouts (suspicious)

  • Still to be done: carrots (less suspicious)

  • Still to be done: eat
We bought a lot of white wine. Funny, the last five times I have typed white wine, I initially type "white whine" and then need to correct it. Is this a Freudian slip of some sort? We picked some Riesling because Denise likes that a lot. And I got a Gewurstraminer, which I have spelled incorrectly, but you know what I mean, so why bother looking it up on the internet?

It will definitely be me, Denise, Jeff, and Ozone (who might possibly be allowed the tiniest amount of skinless, unseasoned turkey). There is a possibility of one additional diner.

I would like to watch the movie "Amelie", and maybe see the Seahawks lose (they are playing tomorrow, aren't they?)

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