Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In Honor of Fall....

I've redone my blog! This color scheme seems very "fallish" and cozy - sometimes a change is good!

It's been a busy couple of weeks. We've had sickness in the family and since I was blessed with good health I sort of ended up as caregiver. So, there's not been much productivity in the art department lately - or much blogging. But that's the way it is sometimes. Thankfully, everyone is either back in good health or looks to be well on the mend. You know there's nothing like a bout of severe illness to drastically rearrange schedules. Good health... what a blessing it is, and how guilty I am of often taking it for granted. I remember reading a prayer sometime back that went something like this: "Lord, thank you for all the blessings you've bestowed upon me. I ask you for one more thing: a grateful heart." A grateful heart... appropriate since Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving ... both of my boys are coming home for the holidays - yay!! - (they're 26 and 29, and both live about two hours away from me) and the youngest son is bringing his steady girlfriend. What a joy she is . . . beautiful, smart, funny and has a loving, generous heart. There's been talk of her "joining the family" and we'd be very happy to claim her!

'Course, lots of company means lots of cooking! Oh boy! An excuse to pull out my favorite recipes, don my antique apron I bought in an antique store (don't laugh..... you'd be surprised how fun and practical it is) and cook up a storm. Youngest son has requested sweet potato pie, his girlfriend has requested pecan pie and oldest son usually goes for sweet potato bread. I'll eat about anything sweet and the hubby loves fresh greens. A few years ago we started brining our turkey and it is so juicy and delicous that we haven't cooked a turkey since without having brined it. It's a little more trouble than just popping it into the oven . . . but well worth the effort. If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe. You'll need to plan ahead. The turkey must be thawed out before brining, it needs to brine for about 6-8 hours (I usually let it sit overnight) then it needs to sit in a refrigerator for at least 8 hours to "equalize".

How to brine a turkey:

• For a 12-14 lb turkey, make a brine by dissolving 2 cups table salt in 2 gallons of water.
• Rinse thawed turkey thoroughly - remove giblets, neck, etc and reserve for gravy. If the legs are tied or wired, remove the tie.
• Place turkey in brine and refrigerate; or if using a cooler, set cooler in cool place for 6-8 hours.
• Remove turkey from brine; discard brine; rinse turkey well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
• Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting pan that has the slotted, removable top (using the slotted top allows the excess water to drip down and away from the turkey).
• Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours (this allows residual moisture left in the skin to evaporate). Read the "Helpful Hints" below before you begin!

Helpful Hints:

• We use a cooler to brine the turkey - it stays cold this way and saves room in the
refrigerator. Wash cooler and rinse turkey. Place turkey in cooler.
• It’s easier to dissolve the salt if you boil it first. How I do it: place turkey in the cooler. Measure one cup salt into a small boiler with enough water to cover it well. Bring the salt to a boil. When the salt boils it won’t dissolve but will become very coarse and gritty. Once the salt feels gritty when stirred, pour the salt water mix into a gallon pitcher and fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cool water and some ice cubes. Stir well until the salt has dissolved. Makes 1 gallon of brine. Pour this over the turkey and then make another gallon of brine (or as many as needed to cover the turkey - how much brine you need depends on how big your turkey is and the size of the cooler you use - try to use a cooler that’s not too much bigger than the turkey).
• Cook the turkey using a turkey roasting bag - (rub butter all over the turkey skin before
placing in the bag) - keeps the meat moist and since all the juice is captured in the bag you can use the juice for gravy, soup, etc.

Makes the most delicious turkey you've ever tasted!
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