Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner catastrophe (almost)!

All I wanted was a small fresh turkey, to be picked up on Friday so I could brine it overnight, then cook it on Saturday for our belated Thanksgiving celebration. Not too much to ask...right?

Well, on Friday the butcher said the turkey would arrive Saturday at 10 a.m. OK, forget the brining. Then the truck that was bringing my butcher his meat delivery was stopped by the police at a random truck inspection, failed and was impounded. "Not a problem," said the butcher, who drove off to meet it about 30 minutes away. "No way!" said the police who wouldn't let said butcher remove anything from the truck. "OK, get a large chicken" I told my husband on his cellphone at the butcher shop. "What about a couple of turkey drumsticks and half a turkey breast?" my husband relayed from the butcher. OK, we'll make it work (goodbye to stuffing cooked inside the bird).

So, my husband gets home with two 5 lb drumsticks (10 pounds of dark meat from two turkey legs!) and a 3 lb. half-breast. OK, not bad. I brined it for a few hours, then threw it in the oven.

I sweated making a piecrust earlier in the morning for my pumpkin cheese pie (recipe thanks to Betty Crocker, 1968 cookbook) but it was a piece of cake (figuratively speaking). The gravy was another story.

OK, so I hate to make gravy. My mother and grandmother could take a couple of tablespoons of turkey drippings and make a gallon of gravy. And so they always made the gravy. And I've always had a mental block. nephew brought me too envelopes of cheat-gravy, you know, just add water. So I dutifully followed the directions and it wasn't half bad (stirred it and all and cooked it for three minutes!). Then I decided to flavor it up with the turkey drippings...then I decided to thicken it up (now that I had watered it down) and added some "cornstarch" in a bit of cold water. INSTANT VOLCANO! What!?!? Didn't expect that reaction. I took at better look at the "cornstarch" container and saw that it was BAKING SODA! Oh no. Ruined, way too salty tasting gravy. Well, that's the best part of the meal for me so I was majorly disappointed.

OK, I decided how hard could making gravy be? I got out my "Gravy 1,2,3" recipe and thought I'd give it a try. I didn't let the fear of lumps cause too much anxiety (I have a strainer after all and that's what they're for, right?) and collected the rest of the pan drippings. OK, Nanny always started with some onions. I sautéed onions in the drippings. Added some chicken fat I had in the refrigerator. Added a tablespoon of flour, stirred, added water, more flour, more water, etc. Strained it was GREAT! OK, gravy isn't really that hard, it just is last minute.

OK, so the mashed potatoes were a great hit with the Italian guests, as was the gravy and the pumpkin pie. The turkey and dressing too. The only thing that didn't get rave reviews was the apple crumble desert, which was way too sweet for them (well, that crumble topping was made out of mostly sugar ...and if they knew how much butter they would have fainted!). All in all, a nice evening. Today we eat leftovers (hurray!!).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Funghi Fantasy...

I came home from work today to find this mound of mushrooms sitting on a large platter on the kitchen counter. Obviously someone...a neighbor perhaps....was out picking early this morning. The porcini mushrooms ended a few weeks ago (still have about a kilo frozen however) but now other mushrooms (these have very long stems) have come into season. Surprised to see them as it hasn't rained in weeks, but perhaps it has rained recently up the mountains where most people go mushrooming. You need a license to pick mushrooms (and to have passed a test regarding poisononous and non) so I'm quite certain these beauties are safe. YUM!

OOPS! I stand corrected by hubby. You only need a license to pick porcini mushrooms. In any case, we fried up a pan full of these last night and ate them...and I'm still here to write about it in the morning. They were delicious!!
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Yes, that's Tuscan Kale...

surrounded by some pansies. Usually I enjoy Tuscan Kale on my dinner plate and pansies in the spring, but I was inspired by two, yes TWO different gardening magazine articles I saw this month where Tuscan Kale was featured as an ornamental. OK, I wasn't about to dig out a 4' x 6' bed (especially after being sick all week with the flu!), so I settled for this. I dug the kale out of the garden (hope it takes!) and bought about six white pansies (small flower type) to plant around the edge. I like it. It was nice to finally get out into some of this sunny, 70F weather we've been having.

I've got to start thinking about Turkey Day. We'll celebrate it with some neighbors and relatives coming over a couple of days later (no one could make it Thursday, including me, as I have to work). Still need to order the turkey (and NO, I don't want a 40 pounder like last time!!!) and see if I can find sweet potatoes without going into Rome...but I've got the apple and pumpkin pie recipes dusted off and ready to go this time next week. We'll probably have some Tuscan Kale too, mashed potatoes, corn...umm, I'm getting hungry!

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