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taking a bath..

here we are friends… Thanksgiving week.  For some it is exciting, for some it is a difficult time of the year.

 

I have been on both sides if that coin throughout the years…I wish that I had advice for friends of mine having a tough time this year.. just know that I am thinking of you 🙂

 

If you have been following me for a while, or happen to know me personally, then you know that cooking  Thanksgiving dinner is my FAVORITE thing to do in the world!  To me it’s not a chore, it’s a privilege. The days leading up to Turkey day are just as much of a holiday for me as the actual day, You can read more about that  HERE..

 

Today is the Tuesday before, which I have dubbed ‘ big shopping day’…. NO not he day where everyone comes out at 1 am in their pajamas and runs over fellow human beings also in the holiday ‘spirit’ in order to save a buck on GI joe…. I;m talking about the day that I get up very early, go shopping for all of the food that I will need to prepare my meal.

 

Being organized is key. If you know me then you know that organization … yeah… not so much for me, *I* am a multi-tasker. A multi tasker of epic proportions…

 

in fact, while I am typing this, I am doing laundry, wrapping Christmas presents ( the 2 that I have) talking to Ali, listening to some pretty music and bandaging up my finger.

 

All at once.   So to calm my self to a place where I focus on *JUST* shopping for this one meal… it’s a challenge.  But I work myself up for it… and each year I succeed.

 

early in the morning, the grocery store employees are really nice… not that they aren’t nice later in the day, but they are tired..  really tired.  And who could blame them?

You also met other nice ‘early morning’ people… I met a lady this morning who went out of her way to tell me what a great buy the sweet potatoes were.  And where to find them.  I told her about the nutritional benefits of them, next thing you know, we were having coffee and we booked a trip to the Bahamas for a weekend retreat together.

 

just kidding.   everything beyond the coffee part was silly….  but people can be so nice sometimes that it makes you remember why you are thankful.

 

*****  she’s a- rambling again*****…….  ok.. down to business.

on big shopping day, I don’t really do a lot of cooking.. a lot of it is prep….

 

I do make my CRANBERRY SAUCE….. ( which by the way the recipe was from my old friend Mr.s M  who NEVER steered me wrong with a recipe.

A few years back, Scott and I decided  to try to brine our bird.  Brining does a lot of things…. the salt brings out the impurities, the flavor of what you brine with gets taken into the bird, and the salt helps hole the moisture , making for a very moist, delicious bird… But there is one extra benefit that we discovered after a few years of trial and error.

 

stick with me here….here is what is in my basic brine

Kosher salt ( very important to not use baking salt) I use Morton’s in the big blue box

Sugar…  I used brown sugar

peppercorns

citrus…  assorted.. have fun with it!

I onion, peeled & chopped

 

fresh thyme, parsley,  sage, and Rosemary

 

In the past we have tried to mix the brine in a large bowl and keep in in the fridge….   one year we brined in the sink, taking turns to get up and add ice al night long ( to keep the temp cold enough.

 

then somewhere along the way, we learned about this….

 

to you it may look like a cooler, but for our turkey of the year, it is a deluxe bathtub…..

I start by boiling about a cup of water…  add the salt and the sugar to the *clean* cooler then add the boiling water and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.

 

cut the citrus in wedges and squeeze the juice in with the mix & drop the rinds right in there.  Rough chop the herbs, dump the peppercorns and fill the cooler halfway with ice.

Next, rinse the bird ( by now you should have named him…..  our bird this year is Theodore ) and careful submerge him in his custom made bath.

 

The only thing that is REALLY important here  you need to keep the temp 38 degrees or lower…  this is easy to do by adding ice cubes along the way…  just use a thermometer .. because you are using a cooler, the temp stays more regulated than if you used a bowl or bucket… Just make sure that you put the cover on tightly…

 

 

Now here Teddy is, all soaking…and you may be wondering.. what are the cranberries doing in there????  Truth is…  I ran out of ice and the temp wasn’t low enough…. but I did have an extra bag of frozen cranberries in the freezer……. so I added them, and presto, temp right where I wanted it to be 🙂

 

I usally brine for close to 48 hours.  anything for 24 on is fine.

 

the other cool thing about using a cooler, is that it frees up space in your fridge!  Teddy cam right from the store to his bath.. leaving my fridge open for all of the veggies that I look forward to preparing tomorrow!

 

sadly, after I got Teddy Bathing, I cut my finger pretty bad on broken glass in the basement.. timing couldn’t  be worse..  So I’m slacking on a little bit of the prep work this afternoon and taking it easy…..  but I have  all of the necessary things to wrap and protect it, so I’ll be ok.. and  full steam ahead in the morning!!

 

If you are cooking, have fun with it…. it you are a guest, have fun with that…. and if you are looking for a crazy after dinner tradition, come over to my house….  things get a little wierd Thanksgiving afternoon.

 

I can’t wait to share it all with you 🙂

 

be thankful <31

 

 

PST*****   Happy Birthday to my litte sister, Jodie!!!!!! whoo hoot!!!

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving thoughts

Hi friends.. remember me?

it’s been awhile, I know.

Here we are, Thanksgiving week and I’m getting ready for what is usually my favorite time of the year. Although this year has been difficult, I am still enamored with everything Autumn.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Of course, as a child, Christmas was right up there ( who are we kidding, I was a kid) but Thanksgiving always meant one thing.

Spending time with my grandparents.

I remember on year being so excited worth the anticipation of The holiday, asking my mom why we had a Christmas Eve, but not a Thanksgiving Eve.  The excitement of the day before with my grandparents coming to visit just felt like a holiday for me.

Their arrival meant a big bowl of fresh fruits & nuts , which for whatever reason was so exciting to me.

perhaps became I am both fruity AND nutty?

Anyway… Years moved on,  my grandparents passed away far too soon , and somehow the magic of the holiday disappeared.

I mean. Thanksgiving was always there, but the ‘magical quality’ that I grew up remembering was not.

I was thinking back this morning, to when Scott & I had been married  for 7 or 8 years.

We were headed to do the whole ‘drive an hour to eat one Thanksgiving meal with one side of our family to then go to the other family’s house to have yet another meal’ Not that we didn’t enjoy going to visit our families, but 2 Thanksgiving meals in one day was just too much.

I remember thinking how sad I was that somehow Thanksgiving had become a chore. I actually cried. I remember having Scott drive & me stupidly crying along the way, not being able to explain what was bothering me so.

When I finally realized it, I decided to make a change. OUR thanksgiving would be born. It would incorporate traditions from both Scott’s family as well as mine.

I would re-create the magic of the days leading up to turkey day.

“big cooking day” was born.  That is the Wednesday before, the day that I remember looking out the window anxiously awaiting My memere & pepere’s car to pull up the driveway.

 

It now is a day of complete cooking from 5am on. with carols playing in the background and everyone having something to do with the up coming meal.

My very favorite day of the whole entire year.

Big cooking day smells like nothing else. I wish I could explain. It is truly unique.

 

In order for big cooking day to come to fruition, ‘big shopping day’  must happen.

No, I’m not talking about Black Friday. I’m talking about the Tuesday before the turkey.

Today.

I am armed with my lists, it is probably the one time of the year that I treat myself to a holiday beverage ( pumpkin chai latte or something of the sort) despite the ungodly amount of calories, and once I drop the kids off, I’m off to stock up the fridge & pantry.

This afternoon, Ali & I will head to Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm to pick up our turkey that we have been watching Farmer Dave & Sasha raise for the last few months , as well as our Thanksgiving share of veggies. And say goodbye to the farm until the spring. (but not them, we’ll be visiting the winter Farmer’s market throughout the winter 😉

 

And then the cooking will begin.

I have many recipes to share. I know that I seem to be more going on with more  stories than about actual food, but really, every dish has a story… and I’d like to share the recipes & the stories.

If you like cranberry sauce ( not the canned stuff, the real deal) stay tuned for an easy, amazing recipe. So pick yourselves up a bag of cranberries, a Naval orange and make sure you have a bit of sugar.

I”ll post the recipe this afternoon & you’ll be good to go.

 

With that, my friends, I must wake those kids of mine & get moving…. It’s going to be a crazy, exciting, busy day!

 

xoxox

 

girls’ night out & garlic party

Busy weekend ’round here. My talk at the breast cancer walker

information session was quite easy. No one showed 😦

I was able to meet my ‘walker buddy’,  Jennifer & got some of the behind -the-scences information. She mentioned that during the winter she has info sessions with upwards of 30 people, and wanted to know if I felt comfortable coming to one of those.
She asked me if I could bring some of  my quilts that I’ve raffled

‘raffle quilt 2009’

pink breast cancer raffle quilt

which means that I need to start to think of what kind of quilt I will make for 2011…

Then Scott & I went to Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm for our CSA

the turkeys are getting BIG!!!

shel picking herbs at the farm

Sat night there was a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend that included a Limo trip into  Boston & an award-winning broadway show Rock of Ages ..

SO. MUCH. FUN.

erika and I

my best buddy, Erika & I prior to the limo arriving.

ok.. you’d think that I’d have more pictures of this night.. and trust me, there are pictures, but none that should be shared on the internet 😉

I’ll try to see if I can scrounge some respectable pics up from someones else’s camera to add….

While the girls were in the city.. the boys were making ‘man food’

bacon cheeseburger on glazed donut

Bacon cheese burgers on…. wait for it…

grilled glazed donuts.

This would never happen if I were actually home.

Poor Ali, stuck here with the two of them….

She had Ice cream for dinner 😉

I know, I know… mom of the year, right?

Then Saturday morning we were up early *yawn* to head back to the farm to participate in the annual garlic planting party!!

and it was held in conjunction with the 350 mission

garlic

 

photo courtesy of Shasha Purpura

 

we began with separating the garlic heads  into cloves

this took us almost 2 hours…. we’re talking LOTS of garlic!!

then Farmer Dave prepped the one of the fields for planting

with a couple of cuties along for the ride…

we planted.. and planted. and planted.then we had lunch!!

quite possibly the best lunch that I’ve EVER had.  Everyone’s addition to this pot luck was over-the-top!!

Then we dug for some taters…

My contribution for the day- (food wise) was my

Cranberry-Cashew Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

cranberry-cashew quinoa salad

1 cup quinoa , rinsed

1 cup chicken stock

3 cups h2O

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup cashews, toasted

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 bunch mint, chopped

1 small carrot, grated

1 whole lemon, zested & juiced

1/4 cup  canola oil

a few splashes of Raspberry wine vinegar

Kosher salt & pepper

what to do:

In a large saucepan, bring rinsed quinoa, stock, a dash of salt & water to a boil; Reduce to a simmer & let cook for 20 minutes.

if there is any excess liquid, drain it, but don’t rinse.

Add remaining ingredients & toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper.

This is one of those fhb dishes that is delicious hot or cold or even room temperature ( which is wonderful for a pot-luck)

I let the quinoa come to room temp before I wrapped it for the party…..

yum!

what a great weekend!!

 

photo courtesy of Sasha Purpura

 

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