Too Many Turkeys

 

Turkey Day Table

 

Last year at about this time, I was at the grocery store, near the dairy case, when I overheard a grown woman yelling at the grown man by her side: ”Because Bob! You don’t get to tell people where to buy their food!” Bob looked fairly unfazed. He also looked unconvinced. I’m not sure what had preceded the bit of conversation I heard, but it didn’t look like their Thanksgiving week was off to a good start. And it sure didn’t look like Bob was gonna be happy with whatever it was someone would be bringing to his table.

 

That little run-in said it all really. The holidays are here. Some folks are overjoyed. Some folks are overwhelmed. This time of year can be tough. Maybe there’s no getting around that, but I like to think Bob’s route isn’t the only way to get over the river and through the woods. I mean – wouldn’t it be nice if we could just set aside the drama? Wouldn’t it be lovely if we just broke bread together instead of breaking spirits? And if we really just don’t like someone (whether they’re family or not), do we honestly have to spend time with them?

 

As Turkey Day approaches, I wish you peace. I wish the same for Bob. And I wish the same for myself, too. Trust me – we deserve it. Gobble, gobble.

Happy Turkey Day & Thursday Memories

 

 

This photo from the way back was taken in Boston. Mister and I were doing Thanksgiving on the quiet side, with a chicken instead of a turkey. And because of my wacky work schedule, we were probably celebrating on an alternate day. I don’t remember the details, but I’m guessing it was a dandy time.

 

Today will be whatever the heck it’s gonna be. For me, I’m focusing on gratitude. In spite of the world’s problems and heartbreak, I have much to be grateful for. (Including that bad grammar.) It’s okay that I don’t know how the hours will unfold. It’s okay that I don’t know how this dish or that will turn out. It’s okay – period.

 

I hope the gal in the photo above knew it was okay. Because it was. And it is. And that’s enough. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday Memories

 

 

As we gear up for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, I’m choosing to share the photo shown above. Taken in 2002, it represents a gathering at the house of friends, near the sea. Big Mama was there, and I made a pretty punkin pie. I remember a lot about that holiday. Like the gorgeous weather. And the food. And how Big Mama’s daughter explained a rather explicit Robin Williams joke at the end of the evening. And how Big Mama didn’t blush.

 

Big Mama is gone now. Those friends have divorced and are living completely different lives. The house by the sea was sold a long time ago.

 

But I can still make pretty pies and enjoy life. I think that counts. I think Big Mama would agree.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 47

 

 

I hate to say it, but as the end of the year approaches, our creative endeavors are slowing. I mean – they’re not, but they are. Wha?

 

Take this last week, for example. The most creative focus I experienced had to do with food. As it was Thanksgiving, that isn’t too surprising. And believe me when I say it was creative.

 

But I feel like that’s incidental creativity. And though I certainly enjoy the spark and the finished products, it seems a little cheat-y as far as D2T2 aims are concerned. Dems da breaks, though, and that’s all I’ve got for this past week. A select few were actually around to sample my creative food-ing. As for the rest of you – you’re just gonna have to trust me.

 

There’s always next week, right?

Plenty

 

 

Today I am pleasantly plump. Some might think I’m downright fat, but that would be overstating things.

 

Like many in America, I am blessed with too much food. Even if I’ve not gone to the grocery store in a while, I can forage in my cupboard or freezer and lack for nothing. And the goods I find there are foods I want. Generally, my choices are not limited.

 

But there are also many in this country (in this world) who are not so fortunate. They may have gone without yesterday. They may be hungry today. I happen to know people who depend on basics, like beans and rice, for the majority of their sustenance. And though I’m sure they tire of it now and again, they know they at least have food. Something. And so it goes.

 

I don’t mean to sound like abundance is bad. I mean, I’ve got leftovers in my fridge right now. And I appreciate the hell out of that food. I understand the benefits of gainful employment, of shelter. And I thank my lucky stars more often than you can imagine. But I also know how to turn a carrot and a potato into a moan-inducing soup. I learned that out of necessity, for I’ve experienced bare cupboards. I’ve cried over losing a $5 bill, knowing I needed that money to eat. And not knowing when I’d have another fiver in my pocket.

 

So – though Thanksgiving is over, I am still grateful. For abundance. For creative cooking. For knowing enough to appreciate what I have. And what I have is plenty.

A Song of Thanksgiving

 

 

This blog post’s title seems almost proper. Not!

 

Mister and I learned this song years ago, from a friend’s young niece. I think that niece is about grown now, so, well, I don’t know what to say about that.

 

Anyhoo, sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques” (or “Are You Sleeping Brother John?”), these brief lines always make me smile. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

 

Turkey dinner, turkey dinner,

Gather round, gather round.

Who will get the drumstick?

Yummy, yummy drumstick!

All sit down. All sit down.

Cornbread muffins, chestnut stuffing,

Pumpkin pie – 3 feet high.

We were all much thinner

‘fore we came to dinner.

Me oh my! Me oh my!

Turkey Day Details

 

 

Are you flipping out right now? Too much to do and too little time?

 

Take a deep breath. Take another. Repeat after me: It will all be okay – one way or another. Take another deep breath. Exhale slowly.

 

Here’s the deal – it will all be okay – one way or another. It always is. Or isn’t. Frankly, for some folks – not being okay is the norm.

 

I can tell you this – I’ve experienced every type of danged Thanksgiving mishap and in the end, they’ve never mattered. It’s a day of gratitude. And if, at the end of the day, you’re grateful simply for the holiday’s end, it counts.

 

Here’s to being grateful. For something.

Fried Turkey – The Basics

 

 

A few years ago Mister got a Turkey Fryer. He’s never looked back. And while I am perfectly content with a good, ol’ roasted bird, I, too, enjoy the deep-fried version.

 

As much as I encourage others to deep-fry their own Thanksgiving turkeys, I definitely wish Safety upon you all. For reals. So in the interest of not burning down anyone’s home (and avoiding emergency room visits), here are some Safety Tips we use each and every time we pull out the Turkey Fryer.

 

The bird must be completely thawed and dried. Please, people – don’t try shortcutting here. Thaw your damn turkey! And once you’ve done that (and anything else you might want – such as brining), please take some paper towels and blot the bird dry. I cannot stress this enough. When water (or ice) hit hot oil, it is extremely dangerous. And no, I don’t care how awesome you think you are – you’re not awesome enough to negate this reaction. Please, please, please heed this advice and don’t burn down your neighborhood.

 

When setting up your fryer, make sure it’s on a flat surface. Cement is great. So is a patio. But we’ve also set up on grass. The only thing we did to flatten the area was to use a giant piece of cardboard. “But Mikki,” I hear you saying, “cardboard is flammable.” Yes, it is. And I’ll get to that. But in the meantime, I’d rather cook on a flat surface than lose the use of my feet due to a scalding oil spill.

 

 

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby! I hope to never need it, but I always keep it handy when using the Turkey Fryer. So far, the worst we’ve suffered are a few oil drips. The cardboard has taken care of that, but we were ready with the fire extinguisher, had we needed it.

 

Leather (or other protective) gloves are mighty helpful. Mister uses the BBQ gloves I got him several years ago, and his hands are grateful.

 

Don’t overfill your fryer with oil! Again, you don’t want a scalding oil spill, and too much oil may lead to that when lowering your thawed, dry bird into the cooker. Pay attention to your fryer’s oil limits and recommendations.

 

When it’s time to fry, bring your oil temperature up to less than what is required for cooking. Then carefully lower your bird into the fryer, and raise the cooking oil temp to the manufacturer’s recommended level.

 

 

Stay with the danged thang while cooking! This is no time to head back into the house to watch the foosball, y’all. Pause or record the game. An active fryer is too dangerous to leave unattended. And besides – it only takes 45 minutes or so to fully cook your bird.

 

 

Take care when removing your cooked turkey! You don’t want to accidentally drop it back into the hot oil. That’s the kind of thing that can lead to an ugly “splash” story, told for years to come. No one wants that kind of scar. No one.

 

Once cooking has finished, be sure the gas to the fryer is OFF. And keep people away from the fryer as it cools. It’ll be hot for a long time. Kids (and pets) shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it.

 

 

I share these critical suggestions with you because I care. Not only do I want your turkey-frying experience to be top-notch, I also want you to make it to next Thanksgiving. And believe me – once you’ve had a fabulous deep-fried turkey, you’re gonna want to stick around for another go-round next year, too. It’s that good.

Gratitude Box

 

 

This is a Gratitude Box. I make one every year before Thanksgiving and force everyone I see during that week to participate in my Gratitude Box ritual. Basically, I provide small pieces of paper and a pen, then ask folks to write something they’re currently grateful for in their lives. I then ask them to take a different piece of paper and write something they hope to be grateful for in a year – something that hasn’t yet come to pass. Capisce?

 

Anyhoo, I encourage you to start this Thanksgiving tradition in your own home. All you need is an empty tissue box, some sort of wrapping paper, tape and a bit of colored tissue paper for the hole in the top. You’ll also need some sort of pen, to write on the finished box.

 

If there’s plastic in the top of the tissue box, reach in and remove it. Next, wrap the empty box. I suppose one could wrap in such a way as to place the closing flaps on the top and the bottom of the box, therefore keeping all 4 sides smooth for writing, but I’ve never done that. And honestly, now that I think of it, I have no idea why I’ve resisted this idea. I think it must be because I know I’ll be poking a hole in the wrapping paper where the empty box’s opening already exists. Maybe I’ve thought it would be too hard to push the flaps through the hole. Just put the folded flaps wherever the heck you want them, okay?

 

Once the box is wrapped, find that pre-existing hole in the empty box. Using scissors or a knife, cut through the wrapping paper so that the box’s opening is exposed, Press the cut wrapping paper down and into the opening.

 

Take your colored tissue paper and push it into the box’s opening.  You want the colored paper’s edges to stick out of the box, like a gift. You also want the tissue inserted deeply enough into the box to allow folded slips of paper to be inserted into the opening. That is, after all, the whole point.

 

About those slips of paper… I usually try to find some sort of pretty paper, then I cut (or tear) it into pieces, about 1″ x 3″. I try to end up with more strips than I could possibly need. I mean, you never know how grateful people are going to be!

 

I almost forgot – you now need to decorate your Gratitude Box. I like to use quotes about gratitude. I find them inspiring, not only for myself but also for the people I force into participating in my little ritual. I find these quotes any place I can: books, the interwebs, magazines. And I usually try to choose shorter quotes, as I need them to fit on the danged box. Once I’ve chosen my quotes, I write them on the wrapped box. If I feel like it, I’ll add some swirls or stars. You know – jazz it up.

 

That’s it! Place your Gratitude Box in a place of prominence, along with the paper strips and a pen or two, and you’re ready to harangue your friends and family into your practice of gratitude. Let them know their secrets are safe. Anything they write and place in the box will stay there, unread. Their gratitude is private.

 

There is one final step. At the end of Thanksgiving night, tuck the colored tissue into the box’s opening and burn the whole danged thang. That’s right. Burn it. The idea is to release all that gratitude – through a ritual of fire – into the Universe. It’s beautiful, really. And I always feel my gratitude increase after the release. Here’s another thing, too: the people I think will dislike this tradition the most are usually the ones who get into it wholeheartedly.

 

If you end up trying this (or already practice a similar tradition), let me know how it goes. As for me, I’ll be pushing the Gratitude Box on everyone this week, just like every year. And when I burn the box at the end of Thanksgiving night, I’ll watch the smoke swirl into the sky and think of all that gratitude, flying out to every corner of the Universe. And I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m able to feel so very grateful.

Pleasantly Plump

 

 

I’m stuffed. Thanksgiving feasts and leftovers have made me pleasantly plump. I say pleasantly because I’ve also been blessed with wine and beer. Life is good.

 

But now my belly is in need of stretchy pants. I can accommodate that, but the plump won’t be too pleasant if it lasts much longer. So back to the Mediterranean diet we go. That’s a blessing, too, you know.