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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Cozy Thanksgiving Morning

This is pretty boring really, I'm posting it for the friends who live far away.  

Here's what we did while the turkey was roasting, after a trip to Starbucks for a bracing carmel macchiato.  Snowmen sleepers are the BEST, I wish they made them in adult sizes.


Sam had his six month appointment yesterday for shots and a check up.  Come to find out, he weighs 18. 6 lbs...that's only one pound less then our turkey.  

Why am I still thinking about turkey?

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I'm on hold with 1-800-APL-CARE right now.  I've been holding for two hours now.  Why does the nice man on the recording continue to say "thank you for holding, all product specialists are busy.  The wait time is 15 minutes or more." 

Ah HA.  Ha ha ha haha.  It's the "or more" loophole.  They must not have a recording that says "Thank you for holding, we'll be with you in 29 hours and 18 minutes."  

Too bad my stupid questions will probably take all of 90 seconds to fix.  

Sigh.  Still love the new iMac, I just wish I knew how to use it.

A Three Page Turkey Recipe-The Details

For those interested in all the grimy details of what went into this turkey and gravy, I typed it all up so I could remember for next year...this is a collection of tips and ideas from six different sources.

The Best Turkey I’ve Ever Had

The Day before:

Prepare the Brine of 2 1/2 gallons of apple cider

                                 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

                                 1/2 cup table salt

                                 2/3 cup honey

                                 1/2 cup brown sugar

                                 1/2 cup sugar

Heat apple cider/juice on the stove until all salt and sugar dissolves.  Cool outside or in the fridge.  Add the washed and dried turkey (don’t forget to remove and discard the giblets and neck inside the cavity) to the brine so that it can soak 12 hours.

Prepare a Compound Butter of 8 TB. softened butter

                                                freshly ground pepper

                                                4 TB. chopped fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage,


Make the Apple Syrup Reduction

-Bring 4 cups of fresh apple cider and 1/3 cup brown sugar to a boil.  Simmer gently until reduced by half, about 40 minutes.

Make Apple Cider Gravy

-Melt 8 TB. butter in a medium saucepan.  Add 8 TB. of flour and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 3 minutes.

-Add 2 cups of the apple syrup reduction and 3 cups of chicken or turkey stock (homemade is best) to butter and flour mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

-Add salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2 tsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary to finish it

The Day of:

Preheat a clean oven to 500 degrees.  It will take a while, so leave plenty of time for this.

Pull a long piece of heavy duty tin foil off and fold it into a triangle.  Oil the inside of the foil well. 

Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse it off in cold water.  Pat dry.  Press the tin foil triangle onto the breast of the turkey, shaping it into a “shield” of sorts.  Remove foil shield and set aside.

Rub the turkey all over with half of an orange or two.  Sprinkle the cavity with kosher salt and pepper.  Rub the softened herb butter underneath the skin and on the outside, all over the bird.  Sprinkle outside of the bird with plenty of pepper, kosher salt and Old Bay seasoning, if you wish.

Stuff the turkey with: onion halves, orange halves, chunks of carrots, celery, fresh sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary and anything else that sounds good.  Allow turkey to sit out at room temp for about an hour, no longer then that.

Place turkey in bottom third of the oven, and roast for 30 min at 500 degrees.  

After 30 min, take the bird out, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and place the tin foil shield over the breast.  Put a remote thermometer into the breast, being careful not to touch the bone with the tip, and set the thermometer at 161 degrees.

A 19 & 1/2 lb., thoroughly thawed bird will take about 3 or 3 1/2 hours of total roasting time to reach 161 degrees.

Remove cooked turkey from oven, leave the thermometer in the breast and cover tightly with tin foil.  Allow the bird to rest at least 20 minutes, or as long as you want.  We left it about 45 minutes and it was still plenty hot and wonderfully juicy.  Make sure the final temperature of the breast is at least 165 degrees, it will continue to cook as it sits.

Carve the bird according to the video on the NY Times website, a butcher from one of NYC’s markets gives a great demonstration.

Put the pan drippings into a gravy separator and pour the dark drippings into your previously prepared apple cider gravy.  Adjust seasonings in gravy if needed.

Let's Talk Turkey

Ok, it's been a busy few days with the holiday come and gone, but I thought I'd pass along an update:
Is it conceited if I say it was the BEST turkey I've ever had?  No offense to the decades of delicious turkeys I've been eating under my grand
mother's, aunt's, and mother's helm...  SO worth the research, hassle, time and effort.  It helped to have two other wonderful cooks providing all of the sides and homemade pies so that I was able to concentrate on the turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries.  

Here are some action shots for your enjoyment:
The bird before cooking, wiped down in orange halves and slathered with herb butter.
The table, set with our china and sterling for the first time.
SOooo juicy and delicious, I've got to say that the brine really does make a difference.  

It felt somewhat momentous, following in the footsteps of generations of women on my mother's side.  All in all, a wonderful day from start to finish.  

I want to move to Vancouver

Take a look at the size of these berries!  Thanks to Grace for the taste of summer in the middle of November.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So I've decided our menu for Thanksgiving, at least my portion of it.  We're hosting for the first time EVER at our humble abode, which means that I'm responsible for the bird, stuffing, gravy, bread, and cranberries.

Here's what I've decided after much research and shopping around:

-A frozen Jennie-O turkey, from Jewel, purchased with the $10 coupon in today's junk mail, defrosted slowly in mom's extra fridge. 

-We will be brining this lucky, lucky bird for 12 hours in a luxurious bath of apple cider, kosher salt, honey, brown sugar and white sugar.

-Stuffing will be an old family recipe with apples, onions and fresh herbs, tweaked a bit...don't tell Grandpa but I'm going to leave out the prunes...Baked outside the bird with homemade turkey broth added for flavor.

-Gravy will be made with the aforementioned homemade turkey broth, pan drippings and an apple cider syrup reduction.

-Two types of cranberries, one with traditional cooked fresh berries, apples, sugar, orange and lemon zest and the other, a cranberry "dipping" sauce from Alton Brown.  It sounds totally delectable, with ginger ale and maple syrup.  Unfortunately it calls for an immersion blender...Mom can I borrow yours?  Perhaps a blender will do fine.  Here's the recipe if this sounds good to you:

Cranberry Dipping Sauce from Alton Brown
1 lb. frozen cranberries
2 cups orange juice
3 cups ginger ale
2 TB maple syrup
2 TB light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 orange, zested

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 min or until liquid is reduced by half.  Carefully puree with an immersion blender or upright blender until smooth.  Check for seasoning and serve in individual small ramekins so people can dip their own turkey.

-Parkerhouse Rolls, recipe courtesy of Anna, will be prepared and shaped the day before and baked off Thanksgiving Day 

Sound good?  I'm having so much fun.  You should see all the lists going in the back of my yellow steno book, slightly out of control.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Happy Hump Day.

Mark my words...

Has anyone else received the most recent Williams-Sonoma catalogue?  The Thanksgiving 2007 edition?  

I drooled and slathered my way through it today at lunch (while inhaling a bowl of Trader Joe's Gorgonzola Gnocchi.  A whole bag.  By myself.  Granted, it was a small bag.) and decided that someday, mark my words, I will work there, and then throw the most fabulous parties involving things like truffled mushroom risotto phyllo purses and garlic parmesan white bean croustades, with bacon chestnut bundles on the side.  Ohhh the artisan cheese plates I would create, and would perhaps leave a plate of petit fours placed by the door, the steps leading out lit with their white lantern candles, for guests to grab on their way out. 

Can you imagine me and a 20% discount in this store and catalogue?  I highly doubt our household would break even.  Oh well, a girl can dream.

On a side note, if you are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, as I am, the little "A Well Planned Thanksgiving" book they are giving away for free in the stores was very helpful.  I think I'll try my hand at their parmesan rosemary cracker recipe.  The lists in the back hit a sweet spot in my heart. 


Is he humiliated?  Or just adorable?  I can't tell.  I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

Back Again

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, you probably thought we had all been eaten and digested by ladybugs.  I don't blame you.

Anyways, we haven't succumb to the onslaught, at least not yet, but instead, after tearing our hair out dealing with our five year old Dell, have bought a new computer.  After two traumatic days of not being connected to email or the internet I have now fallen totally, utterly in love with our new iMac.  If it was person, I'd run away with it. 

I named her Eve, get it?  Like Eve...and the apple?  Is that weird?  Nevermind, forget I asked.  

Macs are awesome.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


As it turns out, according to Wikipedia, it is bad luck to kill a ladybug.

Whoops, I'm in trouble.

The 11th Plague

The past 6 days I have been fighting a silent battle, a war really, against the ladybug.

Does anyone else have this problem? Ever since the weather started getting cooler, a host of them continue to swarm around the south side of our house. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out HOW they continue to get inside the house.

At first, I was sentimental:
"Ohhh, a cute little ladybug. My Grandma En loves these, I'll just cup it in my hand, open the screen door and release it back into the wild so it can play with it's ladybug friends."

Yes, I was that stupid. Too chicken to kill them.

Not anymore. Just this afternoon I crunched 19 of them in my bare hand, making their way across our windows, floors and ceilings. They continue to plague our house and home, with their incessant crawling and buzzing and flying and making of that stinky green ladybug puddle on my hand when I go to move it or squish it.

What have we done to deserve this? Shall I expect a plague of frogs and flies next? As far as I know we're not employing any slaves in our household, like the Egyptians from Exodus.

Sigh. I don't know what to do except turn to poetry to help deal with the stress. I believe this short but eloquent poem expresses it well: I shall call it Lady Bug.

Lady Bug, Lady Bug,
Why have you come out to play?
Lady Bug, Lady Bug,
Please go away.

The End.

Apple Cake-A Very Good Thing

Happy November! This month makes me joyful...Thanksgiving, our anniversary (5 years already!), Starbucks egg nog lattes, time for neighbors to put away the six foot hairy black spider that clings to the front of their house...ahh, good memories.

Ahem, anyways. Do you find yourself overwhelmed by a wave of apples that you don't know what to do with? Perhaps you inadvertently bought a bushel at the Farmers Market, not knowing that your fruit drawer was ALREADY full of Honey Crisps and Galas? Not that I can relate, but if this is YOU, you need to try this apple cake. It is the quintessential fall dessert, deliciously moist and warm with cinnamon spice, and with only a 1/2 cup of oil, it's not that bad for you.

Apple Cake

1 & 2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
5 cups chopped, peeled apples (Golden Delicious, Galas, Fuji, MacIntosh all work well)

In a large bowl beat sugar and eggs. Add oil and vanilla. Mix well. In medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add to sugar mixture. Blend well gently, being careful not to overbeat the batter. Stir in apples. Pour into greased 9X13 baking dish. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. Check for doneness at around 45 minutes.

If the 1 & 2/3 cups of sugar in the cake aren't enough for you, then feel free to FROST the cake with the following:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat until well blended. Gradually add confectioners sugar until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

This cake is a great company dessert served unfrosted with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.