Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Author's Note: I'm posting the self-created recipes in separate posts, because they were cluttering up this entry WAY too much, and will also allow for easier linkage and searching in the future. Once they're all posted, I will come back and update this entry with the proper links. Please have patience as this will take me about an hour to accomplish. For all of you who will read this after that hour, well, you now know how I work.

Author's Note 2: While I was working on this, Kim went into the hospital again for early contractions. Please take a moment to pray for her if  you're reading this. Remember, God's outside of time and space, so it'll help even if she's safe and home by the time you read this!

Kim is a very wise and intelligent lady. Ergo, if she gives you advice, you should at the very least give it serious consideration, and would be smart yourself to actually follow it. So, when she pointed out in the previous post that Thanksgiving meals and Christmas meals often overlap, I said to myself, "Self, Kim has just given you excellent and sensible advice. Go ahead and post your Thanksgiving."

So I'm going to go ahead and tell y'all (all six of you ;-) what Sam and I made/did for Thanksgiving, complete with appropriate linkage. Sadly, I didn't think to take any pictures of what we made, mostly because iPhone's are horrible for taking pictures of food with. Or anything that requires fiddling with one's aperture or shutter speed for, since that's not something one can do. At least, not on the 3GS. 

(When Sam and I were living in the Horrible, Dark, Crappy Apartment, we tried to take pictures of some of the food we were making for me to post on the blog. It did not turn out well, at all. Blurry, dark, grainy... ick.)

Ah well. That being said, here's what we did:

We got up at what normally would be the reasonable hour of 9:00, except that it was completely UN-reasonable thanks to staying far, far too late at Walking Hyperbole and Adorable Nurse's house the night before. Sam and I got home at approximately 3:30 am. 

But we finally captured that thrice-damned vampire! 

Ahem. Anyway.

We got up, and after having a light breakfast of coffee and cereal, we started out by making cornbread, which would eventually get turned into The Best Stuffing Ever (which was based on this recipe at Originally, my Praise-God-That-She-Is-Mine Mother-in-law was going to bring over the stuffing that Granny used to make, along with a sweet potato casserole, but due to Poppy's passing she and my Oh So Punny Father-in-law were unable to attend. Because of this, I had to punt and figure out how to do dressing on my own.

My first inclination was to go with Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Stuffing, but I didn't have nearly enough time to do it properly, i.e. let the bread chunks sit out for 24 hours to become sufficiently dried out, nor was I going to be feeding ten people. Instead, at about 5 o'clock on Wednesday I settled on playing with the recipe above.

Now, the original recipe called for just using a box of Jiffy's cornbread mix, but I like making cornbread from scratch, so that's what we did. 

Once the cornbread is done, Sam normally likes to take a stick of butter, peel back a bit of the wrapper, and spread butter over the top of the hot cornbread and let it soak on down (normally works out to about 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter). For the purposes of the dressing, though, we abstained. We then cleared off the top of one of the bookshelves and placed the cornbread (uncovered) on a cooling rack on said bookshelf, and then promptly forgot about until it was time to make the dressing.

After the cornbread was out of the way, we kicked the oven down to 275 degrees, and began prep on the Turkey. One of these days, I really, really want to try brining a turkey. However, from what I've read, brining is not something you want to do with a frozen turkey, which is what Sam and I had. Instead, Sam and I did a spice rub on the turkey.

This took us about 30 minutes to do in total. Sadly, probably 10 of that was Sam and I trying to find where the bloody bag of organs had disappeared to inside of the turkey. In our defense, neither one of us had ever cooked a turkey before.

The oven had gone down to temperature by that point, so we proceeded to follow Pioneer Woman's "How to Roast a Thanksgiving Turkey" and put the turkey onto the rack in it's roasting pan before covering it tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil. Ree's rule of thumb is that for each pound of turkey, you roast it for 10 minutes. We had a 14 pound turkey, so we set a timer for 2.5 hours, popped it in the oven, and heaved a sigh of relief. Don't worry though, we eventually got back to that turkey and cooked it at a higher temp later.

(At this point, I'd like to take a moment and make what should be a fairly obvious aside: I'm absolutely in love with The Pioneer Woman's website. It's all about food, photography, homeschooling, kids, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, prairie fires, burping, and Ethel Merman. If you like any of the above, check it out. If you have no qualms about cooking with lots of butter and cream, be sure to check out her cooking section. Or better yet, get a copy of her cookbook. Pick one up for me too while you're at it. ;-)

(Another aside: I am in no way, shape, or form being compensated to shill for her website. I just think it's pretty darn awesome.)

The time was now about a quarter to noon, give or take a few minutes. Having just popped that turkey into the oven, I then turned to my highly beloved Sunbeam bread machine to make Rosemary Tri-rolls. If you don't have a bread machine, then you can always use this no-knead bread recipe to get started with. I, however, am blessed with a bread machine, and took advantage of it.

Once the bread machine was set to work, Sam and I tried to figure out what to do with ourselves for an hour or so, since our cooking schedule had a nice break in it. After some waffling, I mentioned that I really wanted to watch the original Star Wars for some reason. Sam pounced on the idea, and declared we'd start a family tradition of watching the original Star Wars Trilogy on Thanksgiving, because they're movies we both love and can quote from memory, which means when we're busy doing stuff in the kitchen, it's okay 'cause we still know what's going on even if we can't see the screen. Plus, it's just comforting.

So we had A New Hope going, and around 1:30 or so the bread machine was done making dough for us. We then proceeded to make the actual tri-rolls, then set them on top of the stove with a dish towel over them to let them rise.

The timing worked out well, because as we finished setting aside the rolls the timer went off on the turkey. we pulled the turkey out and kicked the temperature on the oven up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. We melted a stick of butter, and then removed the aluminum foil from the turkey. Setting aside the foil to be used later on, we brushed that wonderful, melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. Once buttered, we put the uncovered turkey back into the oven. Every 30 minutes afterwards, we'd remove the turkey and baste it with butter again, until the meat thermometer read between 165 and 170 and the juices from the turkey ran clear. Any hint of pink and back into the oven it went.

When we checked it at about 4:00, (we'd progressed to Empire Strikes Back, and Luke was finding out that the strange Muppet tormenting him was actually Yoda) the turkey was almost done, so we popped it back into the oven for a final 30 minutes. During this time is when we started prep for our side dishes: whiskey-glazed carrots, green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, and, oh yeah, The Best Stuffing Ever. By prep, I mean we washed, peeled, and chopped up the carrots and potatoes, combined all the ingredients for the green bean casserole, and combined all the ingredients for the stuffing. When that turkey was done, we wanted to be ready to throw all the rest of that stuff in and get going. 

At about 4:30, Sam pulled the turkey out, checked it to make sure it was cooked, and then ran out to pick up Aunt Karen, our fantastic dinner guest for the evening. :-D As soon as the turkey was out, I turned the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the dressing and green bean casserole, which would bake simultaneously for about 30 minutes. 

This, my friends, was a mistake. 

Not because I was baking them at the same time, but because what I SHOULD have done was pop the rolls in to cook, since they also bake at 375 degrees, but I just wasn't thinking. Instead, I did the green beans and dressing first, and I had to move the rolls off of the stove top so that I could cook the yams and the carrots, which resulted in the rolls collapsing back in on the tops before I could get them into the oven.

Live and learn.

The casserole and stuffing cooked up just wonderfully, however, and I'd just set the taters to boiling and the carrots to simmering when Sam came home with Karen. While Karen played with the kitties and watched Luke discover that *SPOILER* Darth Vader's his father, Sam started making the turkey giblet gravy. 

By 5:15, we were sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast, where the only thing sad was the the rolls whose tops had collapsed. The turkey was very juicy and tasty, Aunt Karen raved over the carrots, and I think had Sam not already married me, he would have proposed over the stuffing, and I'd have accepted because of his Turkey Gravy.

And if not the stuffing, then definitely would have proposed over the pie.

The pie!

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday, I'd gone ahead and made a Pumpkin Cream Pie with a home-made graham cracker crust and a splash of Southern Comfort for good measure. It truly was sinfully delicious, and I would make it for every holiday, except I think Sam really, really wants me to make a Mocha Silk Pie next.

So that was our adventures in cooking on Thanksgiving. :-D Mostly successful, and next year I'll know how to time things better!

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