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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

This week of Thanksgiving in the U.S., I decided to begin a few new traditions.

Research shows that you can improve both mood and health throughout the day by identifying one or more (different) things you’re grateful for, first thing in the morning. No more than 1-2, however, since studies also show that listing 5 or more dilutes the gratitude and its benefits.

So in that predawn hazy zone of waking up and just before I open my eyes, I then count a blessing or two.

(I wonder if saying a gratitude just before drifting off at night would yield better slumber and/or dreams?)

Our longstanding Thanksgiving family tradition is to walk off our feast down at the town pier at sunset. We are always thankful for the friends and beautiful scenes we see:

Cast netting…he might bring up crabs, mullet, shrimp, shark, eel or redfish

Colorful kayaks await tomorrow’s paddlers

A pelican under a wavy ribbon of clouds

Crimson Tide

Quiet fishing

Mother/daughter bonding through texting?

Roll, Tide, Roll!

Contemplation? Praying? No, hunched over texting…

Nautical Christmas spirit!

Serenity indeed…

Life is good at this latitude!

Thank You, God, for a holiday with a sole purpose of gathering to give thanks and gratitude for blessings past, present and for blessings to come. Thanks for the privilege of life, the bounty of love and the gift of mercy.

Thanks for beauty everywhere…for precious time…for forgiveness…for laughter…and for those people and things You that touch our lives in ways that make the world a better place along our journey.

May we never take these gifts for granted and always be grateful.

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Here in the Deep South, there are a lot of things that are slow-cooked: pulled pork bbq, roux, Chilton County peach cobbler – and even national championship football teams (Roll Tide!), tourist season and sure-faaar, our ay-ccents.

Good things all take time to be done right.

Her heels could afford to be a little higher for the occasion, but these shall do…

And that’s why I’ve been sold for years on cooking our turkey overnight.

At the risk of hosing off germophobes, FDA officials and food/beverage professionals around the world (you know who you are!), I stand by my reasons:

1.) Cooked properly, an overnight-roasted turkey will taste like nothing you’ve ever had on Thanksgiving Day.

Cooked properly = not stuffed, placed upside-down (so all the juices drain into the parts that typically wind up drier) and cooked at a high temperature for the first stage to kill all bacteria. Then turn it waaaaaaay down (250-275 F) – let ‘er rest in a slow heat. Just like we rest hee-yuh in the South (Say-outh – 2 syllables, y’all).

2.) You will get your beauty sleep before the big day (especially important for those of you Black Friday addicts). Bless your thrifty hearts…

3.) The bird cooks itself – once it’s in the oven, you do NOTHING until you wake up – and then, it’s only to take its temperature (165 degrees F ideally). Better to take the bird’s temp than those of the budding flu cases in the nearby environs.

4.) The aroma in the house that builds overnight is simply heavenly – and smacks of all things down home, welcome and love – should you happen to awake before dawn.

5.) You are free to move about the cabin once it’s in – no muss, no fuss.

6.) Upon awakening, and only when you good & well decide to getting around to taking it out, it’s as if your imaginary maid has been hard at work all night – a perfect bird just waiting for carving. Except you needn’t carve – it just falls off the bone. Honest.

7.) The oven is FREE for the rest of the parade of traditional dishes – the sweet potato casserole, pies, green beans, pies, rolls, pies. You get the idea.

For more tips, click here,

here

and

here.

There are a few tricks to this, as you can see from the links – one is not to HURRY the process – namely, making sure to roast at a high temp long enough initially so that you can lower the temp for the remainder of the night with a clear conscience so you sleep well and dream sweet, sweet dreams. OH, those sweet dreams!!!

To bag or not to bag? Up to you – we never do, but I slice up a ton of celery, onions, garlic (crushed and minced by my hand on my cutting board, some pieces naturally less minced than others), slather it with olive oil, drench it with cooking wine and the pats of butter where the sun don’t shine, as one link recommended – are key.

Smoke rises from the eastern Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, after what activists say was an airstrike by a MIG fighter jet, November 8, 2012. Picture taken November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Omar al-khani

reuters.com

Whoops, wrong Turkey – you do NOT want yours to spend so much time in the oven so as to smoke like this. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise! No bombing necessary.

Also, after the wine bath, I season it with oregano, garlic (powder or salt, depending on your blood pressure), a dash of basil, cayenne pepper, white pepper, fresh coarse ground pepper (this is Cajun country here), and Beau Monde seasoning (from Publix – French for ‘beautiful world,’ mostly celery salt). And whatever else looks good from my spice rack. I rub my turkeys a lot – with lotsa schtuff.

Take your time.

That may mean anything from Rooster Sauce (Srirachi) to the bottle I grabbed thinking it was one thing and it turned out to be another. (It’s all good, really!).  The important thing is how it turns out internally. Lovers of spice can nosh from the edges and the blander pallets can opt for the more internal parts that have not been so seasoned.

I also cover it with foil (if it’s too big, or if it’s smaller, with the roaster lid)  to seal the juices and prevent the edges from getting gnarly.

Kinda like the pulled pork recipes which demand unchecked, unfettered cooking at low temps for suspiciously inordinate amounts of time. It’s not secret – it’s an art.

Like, when people ask for my recipes, I stutter and stammer and can’t replicate it – I have to be there to live it to cook it to create it. Otherwise, it’s just not, um, “me.” Ask any ladies’ church group that has EVER asked me for one of my recipes.

Rots-o-ruck.

This method always allows me to have enough energy to maintain our family tradition of walking the bay’s longest pier after we’ve had our pie on the porch (another family tradition, which may be eclipsed if this cold front doesn’t take a back seat this year) – after the big day.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all, from our front porch to yours!

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Hey, God, thanks for everything You bless us with, both now while we’re thinking of giving thanks and every day of the year, and even when we’re not looking. Thank You for all You give us, seen and unseen, now and in the future that we don’t know about yet, and past seeds planted that haven’t yet come to fruition. Thanks for things made known to us today that we cannot yet fully comprehend. And Roll Tide! Amen.

And thanks, readers, for this 200th blog post! I wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for YOU. Love ya’all…

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…pulled into the driveway of the nice neighbor up the road to get some Satsuma oranges (cross between mandarins and tangerines). Funneled $5 in jug and grabbed bag top-middle and used shredder at home to make orange zest to throw into cranberry sauce the second it came off the stove…

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Captured this sunset on the commute home, because there was a 2-car accident on the sure-fire alternate route to avoid holiday traffic, and another couple of smash-ups on every other viable route home. God bless the slow-n-steady…I got home safely and savored the colors in the sky in the process:

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Came home to this sight…. (friends, study the spud)

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Yes, I have a jar of shells (or fifteen) around the house, including on the kitchen counter. I have never, however, had an army guy sticking out of a potato greeting me upon walking in the door. This was a first. I noticed the children parked the army-guy-in-potato near some of my cookbooks (which I rarely use). I believe they were trying to tell me something which I shall analyze tomorrow, probably and unfortunately after the fact. In the meantime, I will take the hint that there may be heavy combat in my kitchen between now and Black Friday.

In other accomplishments today, I:

~Reassured a young child why his mother’s cancelling his home pass for the Thanksgiving weekend due to his not-that-negative-behavior days before (even though he did his level best for a whole day prior) and her perception of inconvenience was justified…have a heart, ma!

~Reassured a set a parents why their child’s insistence that they did not want to go home for Thanksgiving because they can’t stand the fighting between Mom & Dad, was justified…knock it off already, y’all.

~Tried to help a 9 year old understand why he could not go home just for one day for Thanksgiving because his mother preferred to have men with meth over for Thanksgiving instead of complying with Child Services’ request that she attend family therapy so that the child might come home for a home pass…and we wonder why the world is going the way it is?!

~Explained to an 8 year old why Mommy was more interested in preventing domestic violence by going by boyfriend’s wishes to have her all to himself instead of 8 year old coming home even for a few hours on Thanksgiving…put ‘cher big-boy-boxers on, dude. Really.

~Comforted a seven-year-old about why Mommy can’t be with him because she has to work the ‘hood selling her body instead of being with him tomorrow. No comment.

God bless the owner of the bowling alley who offered these children a discount diversion for the day of Thanksgiving, and the owner of the skating rink who opened his business and heart to them the day after Thanksgiving, just cuz.

And the only reason I can’t take them all in myself is because it would be a gosh-darned ethical “conflict of interest,” and besides, my mother with Alzheimer’s is spending the day – and she’s mad as a freshly-uprooted fire ant right now right now because as POA I stand between her and her every dime she wants to give to every unscrupulous charity which hits her up at every opportunity by mail and phone. If only I could bring home the kids and feed them all and let them play on our Wii and pick out their favorite shells and stuff, Grandma would be amply diverted and fulfilled in the giving of her time and energy, and we’d have a big ol’ time.

Somehow I fantasize were HIPAA and privacy laws not such a barrier, everyone would get their physical and emotional needs met and be provided for, just fine thank you very much, the down-home way.

Kind of like the Honor Jug above.

Thanks, God, for the ways You help even when we feel helpless, for the ways You move in the lives of others that we can’t see in our finite glimpses. Thank You for making everything right when things can seem so wrong. Thank You, Lord, for the ways You meet the needs of those who are the neediest in Your eyes, not ours. Thanks, God, for teaching us to give thanks for all things, even those we can’t fathom.
God, thank You for meeting the needs of the dear friends here, too, needs which may be overshadowed by man’s perception and definition of “needs.” Thank You for loving us all as we are in our various stages of need, and for cutting through all the red tape we put between You and us. Thanks for knowing our hearts, even so…

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