Monday, December 01, 2008

Report: Thanksgiving

It seems that Lis, in the cold, cold north, and I, in the cold at nights, warm in the day southwest, practically worked in the same way on Thanksgiving. I too made my own broth. Nor would I let anyone help in the kitchen except for Em to mash the potatoes and Rick, who, the day before, was allowed to make his own cheesecake. I too am a kitchen tyrant and need the order and the manner of things to go just so (although I relented much on Saturday and Em helped me a ton to make roll the pasta and to peel the butternut squash for the lasagna.)

However, Lis and I departed on a few key points. Sadly, in the ways that make me come off a bit more boring. Cranberry sauce? Just orange zest and the juice of an orange. Stuffing? Mushrooms, onions, celery and sage. The yams and sweet potatoes had a bit of brown sugar, pecans, sage and butter. They were supposed to be tossed, thanks to Martha, in cayenne pepper but I forgot and then used Z as an excuse for not doing it (thanks Z!). The worst deparature? My lame thinly sliced, raw turnips, beets, radishes, cheese and crackers for lunch/appetizers. I always forget the early feeding. And we had no fancy cocktails. Just wine. And not even too much. Weird.

I did brine the turkey however. In the cooler went about 2 cups of salt, 1.5 cups of sugar, some juniper berries (Alton Brown called for allspice berries which I could find nowhere). I let it brine overnight and until noon the next day. Then, ala Alton, instead of stuffing the bird I infused the cavity with an apple, sage, rosemary and onion. Covered the whole thing in Canola oil and cooked the 16 pound bird for 2.5 hours (first 30 minutes at 500, then the rest at 350) using the new Jenn Air oven and its integrated probe. When the meat of the breast reached 165, the oven turned off! The turkey came out entirely brown, entirely cooked and moist. Even the useless white meat was pretty tasty. Next time, I think I'll use a bit more salt or salt the top like I would usually.

Again, the whole thing seemed like two days of work for 20 minutes of eating but it was good great fun. The gravy was the best ever. The appreciation large.

I just ate too much leftover turkey. We had a lot of leftover turkey. Not so many leftover mashed potatoes, most likely because 2 of the 7 of us are vegetarians. And the 7th, being Z, ate almost nothing.

I believe our guests for the long weekend had a good time. We went down to Sedona for lunch on Friday at Oak Creek Brewery, walked along the creek of the same name at Slide Rock park and hiked up to the vortex. This time, we had to hustle because lightning was striking in the near distance and if lightning's attracted to anything, it's a vortex. It was a quick trip down the canyon. Next time, I would like to linger in Sedona. Maybe even eat dinner and stay the night. When there are no tourists. Which might be never. That night, we played Cranium as we had the night before but Friday night, we stupidly brought out the Trivial Pursuit which brought out the uber competitiveness of some and stupidly made us stay up until midnight. Z slept with us because the other beds were packed with guests, coughed all night, and kicked Erik in the head. I was surprised to find myself able to function the next day.

But function we all did. On Saturday, the guys played disc golf, the women-folk walked Cleo the dog and Zoe the cold-ridden toddler who every nine minutes or so all weekend made a lovely noise when she wanted something, much like the noise made from a cow mooing because she's stuck in the mud. Perhaps her lungs felt muddy. Surprisingly, the noise was entirely unpleasant.

Saturday night, the lasagna. No games. Just chatting and a tiny bit of wine. Lovely.

Yesterday, after the folks left, cold-ridden myself and nearly comatose from turkey or a lack of sleep, I still managed to grade. And watch 3 movies, ET, Forrest Gump (ugh. And yet not that bad.) and Ratatouille plus the t.v. shows, Property Ladder and Top Chef. All in all, a complete weekend.

Now I have to finish a grant proposal that's due today and make some big decisions about books and travel plans. Thankfully, I'm fully sated with the egregious amount of leftover turkey I just ate. However, I still need to think of what to make for dinner. I have basil. And leftover turkey.


Lisa B. said...

Love how your weekend included so much stuff--the feast itself, but also the trip to Sedona, game-playing, walks to the vortex, lightning, etc. I am constructing a picture of where you live that feels extra-gorgeous and wonderful. Please don't correct me if I am wrong.

lis said...

wow, an oven that turns off. awesome. the juniper berries in the brine sound perfect. some day I will try the brining.