Monthly Archives: November 2015

 
 

Turkey

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by Dahni

© 2015, all rights reserved

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For me, turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas is just something that I do. It was our family tradition. Then, after I was grown and on my own, I realized one day, it was not about the turkey, it was everything else that went with it that made it special. Besides smoked turkey or fine deli sliced turkey like you get from the store or that is pre-packaged in the meat section, I cannot say that I was ever particularly fond of turkey! It is doubtful that I would ever roast a turkey at any other times than for these two holidays – until NOW!

I once wrapped a turkey with pastry dough and it was pretty good. I have stuffed one once and will not do that again. For one thing, I like dressing or stuffing and I have never seen a turkey cavity big enough, to make enough for my liking. For another, once you stuff a turkey, it is likely to spoil much more quickly than if not stuffed. So, after the meal, you really need to cut and remove all the meat from the bones as is possible and/or boil the carcass for soup stock etc. Leftovers are good too!

I have tried all manner of turkey – fresh, adult, wild turkey, smoked, deep fried and frozen. For consistency, I have mostly, always relied on frozen ‘young’ turkey from the Butterball® brand.

If you try the recipe to follow, I will venture to say that there will be those that do not usually like roast turkey that will like this!!! For me, it is mouth watering and flavorful throughout, even the dark meat and I generally do not eat dark meat. It is juicy and tender and so tender in fact, the meat nearly fell off the bone. Pulling the remaining meat from the bone after dinner was the easiest I have ever experienced. The secrets are the salt (which tenderizes the meat), lemon (adds moisture and flavor), rosemary (adds flavor) and the last secret to tender turkey is, slow-cooking.

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Dahni’s Roasted Turkey Dinner (cont.)

Rosemary Citrus Salt:

• 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves chopped (fresh is more expensive, but worth the extra expense)
• 2 tablespoons of lemon zest (remove zest from 1 lemon see: lemon under Turkey below)
• ½ cup of coarse salt (use coarse salt substitute if desired and if you can find it)
• ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Combine rosemary, lemon zest and salt in small bowl
2. pour olive oil into separate small bowl

Turkey
• 13-18 lb. whole young turkey (mine was around 13 pounds)
• 2 large carrots cut lengthwise
• 2 celery stalks cut lengthwise
• 1-4 springs of fresh rosemary (I used 1 sprig about 6” long)
• 1 lemon (zest has been removed = about 2 tablespoons for your salt rub above) cut lemon in half

Note: So your guests don’t have to fight over the drumsticks, you could vary this recipe with (2) smaller turkeys or even (2) 8-10 pound chickens, but add another ¼ cup of olive oil and more springs of Rosemary and another lemon cut in half (one for each turkey/chicken).

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325° F.
2. Remove giblets and neck from both sides of turkey cavities and set aside in a large size pan on the stove
3. Thoroughly rinse and pat dry turkey inside and out.
4. Coat outside of turkey and inside with the olive oil (there will be some left in the bowl when you are done) Look for and use culinary disposable gloves to keep your hands from getting oily and prevent any transfer of plastic taste which can happen with ordinary disposable gloves.
5. Place the 2 halves of one lemon into the breast cavity of the turkey.
6. Place fresh rosemary sprigs into the breast cavity of the turkey
7. Season the outside of your turkey with the rosemary citrus salt, pressing it in to adhere.
8. Lightly spray cooking spray on the bottom of your roasting pan (I used Pam® brand olive oil spray
9. Arrange halved carrots and celery on the bottom of your roasting pan to set the turkey so that the bottom of the turkey does not touch the bottom of your pan.
10. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the outside of your turkey.
11. Lightly spray cooking spray (Pam® brand olive oil spray) on the interior side of enough foil to completely cover the turkey.
12. Completely cover turkey with foil and wrap the edges. Note this is not a ‘tent’ it is a cover.

Note: If using a foil roasting pan, you might want to place a pan underneath just in case it leaks to catch the drippings. Or, just put one disposable aluminum pan into another. Why? Because 9 out of 10 times, one of the pans will have a small hole in it. Use one pan and the juice could leak out into your oven and cause smoke. Use two pans and this won’t generally happen. I suppose both pans could have holes, but it’s not likely. It like the adage, if you don’t use two, you’ll need them. If you use two, you probably won’t!  🙂

13. Place covered turkey into pre-heated oven.
14. Set timer for 90 minutes. When timer goes off, uncover and remove as much of the drippings as possible and place in a bowl to add to dressing and/or gravy. (this is very salty so use sparingly)
15. Re-cover turkey and set timer for another 90 minutes.
16. Re-check turkey and remove as much of the juice as possible for your dressing/gravy. Test interior temperature of turkey with a meat thermometer. When it reads 165° F. it is done. Mine needed another ½ hour.
17. The last 15 minutes of your cooking time, raise your oven temperature to 425° F. and remove the foil covering so the top browns.
18. After 15 minutes, re-check the interior temp. with a meat thermometer. When it reads 165° F. it is done.
19. Remove turkey from oven and allow to ‘rest’ for about 15 minutes before carving. While turkey is resting you can finish making your gravy.
Cooking time is 3 – 3 ½ hours at 325° F. I used 3 ½ hours for a 13 pound turkey. (For the correct amount of cooking time based on the pounds of turkey, just follow the instructions included with every Butterball® brand turkey.) The last 15 minutes uncover the turkey and raise the temp. to 425° F. to brown top. Remove from oven and allow to ‘rest’ about 15 minutes before carving. You can vary this recipe by doubling the ingredients for say a 20-30 lb. turkey and so on. After you first place the oven into the oven to cook, you can work on the first part of your gravy and on the dressing or stuffing.

Gravy

• 2 small onions peeled and quartered
• 2 carrots cut in half
• 2 celery stalks cut in half (use the leaves as this makes the broth more flavorful)
• 2 quarts of chicken stock, broth or even bullion cubes/granules with a quart of water is fine (non salted stock is preferred)
• ¾ cup of unsalted butter
• ¾ cut of all purpose flour

Directions:

1. Into a large size pan on the stove, place turkey giblets and neck.
2. Add carrots, celery and onion.
3. Pour 1 quart of chicken stock or broth over this.
4. Bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Once it boils, reduce temp. and simmer until it cooks down to about 2 cups.
6. Turn off heat, strain and set aside. You will use this liquid later when your turkey has finished cooking and is ‘resting.’
7. While turkey is resting, place a small skillet on the stove.
8. Melt ¾ cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), in a pan on medium heat.
9. Slowly add ¾ cup of all-purpose flour.
10. Whisk over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until a smooth blond colored mixture (rue) is formed.
11. Add mixture to your reserved strained turkey mixture that you set aside on stove.
12. Add 1 quart of chicken stock or broth and pan juices.
13. Bring to a boil over high heat and let simmer until thickened and ready to serve. Season to taste. ENJOY NO LUMP DELICIOUS GRAVY!

Dressing or Stuffing:

• Chicken stock or broth as needed to moisten bread
• Turkey pan drippings as desired and needed for flavor and moisture
• ½ to 1 stick of unsalted butter melted.
• 1 large white onion diced.
• 3-4 celery stalks diced (use celery leaves if you like, but I prefer not to)
• 2 loaves of white bread – open the bag and leave the bread in the bag stacked over so that air can pass over the tops – 1-2 days before, to dry the bread.
• 1 loaf of wheat bread – open the bag and leave the bread in the bag stacked over so that air can pass over the tops – 1-2 days before to dry the bread.
• 1 box of Jiffy® brand corn bread mix.
• Seasonings to taste – I just remember the line from the Simon & Garfunkel song and use: “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.”  🙂
• Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Remember, your turkey pan drippings will have salt from the Citrus Rosemary Salt mixture so take care when adding more salt. Some people add dried cranberries and/or chopped walnuts to their dressing and I have heard it is really good. Adding apple and mild sausage to your dressing is also, excellent. Some people like oyster dressing, but I do not. I have tried adding roasted chestnuts once, but did not like the texture of the chestnuts, so I do not recommend this. To each their own, but the mix of white bread, wheat and cornbread really makes this special!

Directions:

1. Prepare and cook corn bread as directed on the Jiffy® brand corn bread mix. Prepare this the day before you need it and leave it out to dry.
2. Gently tear bread into pieces. I remove most, but not all the crusts as I believe too much crust makes the dressing or stuffing too tough.
3. Crumble corn bread and add to bread crumbs
4. Mix bread crumbs and corn bread together in large bowl.
5. Sauté diced onions and celery with butter on stove, on medium heat until the most of the water cooks down from the vegetables.
6. Pour sautéed vegetables over your bread crumbs and cornbread.
7. Add some chicken broth and pan juices as needed.
8. Add your dry seasonings (“Parsley – Sage – Rosemary and Thyme”) and salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Remember, your turkey pan drippings will have salt from the Citrus Rosemary Salt mixture so take care when adding more salt.

9. Mix dressing/stuffing until well combined and taste. To your liking, add whatever you think it needs.
10. Transfer stuffing to a lightly pre-sprayed (cooking spray), long rectangular shaped Pyrex, glass or metal deep pan.
11. Cover with foil.
12. Place the dressing into a pre-heated oven.

Note cooking time will vary depending on how and when you cook your dressing. If space and ovens are minimal, you can always make this ahead of time without pan drippings and then just heat it up later to be served when everything else is ready. If you are fortunate to have two ovens or a double oven, cook at 350° F. for around 45 minutes to one hour. The last 15 minutes of your cooking time, raise the oven temp to 425° F. to just lightly brown the top. For mine, I placed the covered dressing/stuffing into the same oven next to the turkey in the oven at 325° F., 1 hour before the turkey was uncovered and the temp was raised to 425° F. for the last 15 minutes. It was perfect!

End Notes:

The recipes used have been tested with many people and even those that do NOT like turkey. All have wholeheartedly agreed that this is the best turkey they have ever eaten! This is not to be braggadocious, but so you may be confident, your guests will say the same thing about your turkey dinner!

These recipes have often been requested, for me to make them and for others to make them, themselves. It will warm your heart when people ask you, “Would you please make your turkey,” or “Could I PLEASE have your turkey dinner recipes!”

I do not mind sharing them with those that ask, but please remember, these are just some of the featured recipes of my not yet published book, ‘The Gathering Place’ (Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining). Please do NOT share them with others without my permission. They are copyrighted and unless I have given you specific permission to use them and share them, would make anyone in violation of Copyright infringement.
Once ‘The Gathering Place’ is published, it is my heart’s desire that anyone will be able to prepare, cook, present and serve 5 star restaurant quality food and ambience, for all holidays and special occasions entertaining at home, for their family and guests!

Again, please honor my request and not share these recipes with anyone, without my permission. You do have my permission to use these for yourself! For additional permission, email me: dahni1@gmail.com

Here is a PDF file of these recipes you may freely download.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Dahni

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By Dahni & I-Magine

©️ 2018, all rights reserved

From my Work in Progress: ‘The Gathering Place Cook Book’, under the category of:
Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining, by Dahni © 2013-2015, all rights reserved

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Categories: Cooking, Food, Holidays, Homeward Bound, Ideas, Inspiration, Pursuit of Happiness, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Real Facetime – Making Memories

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by Dahni
© 2015, all rights reserved

As you recognize that you are becoming older, one of the first things often noticed is that the memory just might not be what it used to be? I’m not one that likes to take that lying down and along with my curious and inquisitive nature, I want to know why. Somewhere in my hoping heart, if the answer to WHY is known, then maybe, just maybe I can fix it or at least, do something, anything about it!

I do not have a photographic memory. I used to have a lousy memory, but still, there are some phone numbers and other vividly detailed things I recall. To my surprise, the more I became interested in something; the more time I put into it and then, all of a sudden, my memory got trained and I was able to recall a lot of things. It was just like building up a muscle. Instead of exercising muscle, I was exercising my gray matter (my brain). With the advent of and as it seems now, the pervasive technological wonders of the modern age, we mostly all use today, working our brains, apparently, has not become something we do or do much anymore. Why should we? If we want to know something, well, Yahoo, Bing, we can just Google it! 🙂

We don’t need to go see anything, we can YouTube it and stream it. Yep, we can travel the world without leaving home. And we certainly don’t need to dress or undress for the occasion. 🙂

We don’t need to read, speak or write. We can can do all that by just clicking on or speaking into our devices to ‘Siri’ or our digital assistant and AutoCorrect aside, these will do it all for us. Why develop a relationship when we can have tons of followers and friends on social media?

And we don’t need to actually go somewhere and talk to anyone, I mean, physically see them. We can Facetime, Skype or video chat. Besides, who wants to get dressed and if you are a man (or bearded woman) why shave? 🙂

Maybe this seems all a bit too much for you, but face it, we all have become more and more dependent on or at least we frequent, trust or rely on our technology. For myself, I came to the startling discovery that it seems like I, CRS (can’t remember s__t) anymore. 🙂

OK, I’m getting older, but I can’t handle C.R.S. and I don’t just accept that, that’s just the way it is. Then I had an epiphany or remembered something I heard all the time growing up and in context of Gym. Coach after coach said, “Use it or lose!” I’m sure they are referring to exercise and strength training for good muscle and tone. But, hmm, I wondered if this could apply to my decaying memory? Oh, I googled and did some research and the consensus is, YES, if we don’t exercise our brains, we will become more and more dependent on technology. It’s kind of like an old cartoon I watched as a kid, The Quick Draw McGraw Show – Hana Barbera (1959 – 1962).  Quick Draw McGraw was a talking horse and he had sidekick, Baba Looey, a little talking donkey. Quick Draw was actually kind of stupid and Baba Looey didn’t speak English too well. He would often question Quick Draw with something like, “Don’t you thin…”, (his pronunciation of the word “think”) about something to which Quick Draw would quite often say…

Quick Draw McGraw & Baba Looey – Hana Barbera

C.R.S. of late makes me feel pretty stupid. I have a smart phone and I’m starting to think that every time I use it, I actually am getting dumber. Use it or lose it right? RIGHT! Instead of asking myself why should I exercise my mind, the most important question is, can I or can I still? What if, as a society and maybe after many years of non-use of our brains, what if we were born with parts of our brains missing or underdeveloped, since they were not used and therefore, not needed anymore? That is a scary and a possible thought to me!

So, I have been thinking of late for ways to shutoff ‘techie world’ and try to ‘de-volve’ back into the former world of really. I was considering something like a day with technology followed by a day without ANY technology. OMG, would this be like weaning a pup from its mother, or an addict denied their daily ‘fix!’ Would I be able to handle it? How would I be able to live without my smart phone, email, the internet, our WiFi, TV, and how will I be able to remember anyone’s special day or appointments, or phone numbers!!!!! How will I know what’s going on in the world, my state or locality without technology! How can I do simple math without the calculator on my smart phone! How can I connect to anyone without Facetime, Skype or video chat! Oh, the conundrum, but I was willing to give it a try, for the sake of my brain, USE it or Lose it!

Well, to my surprise and delight, I really didn’t have to think about it, it just all kind of fell into place. Our weather recently, was more like summer than late fall, perfect temperature and humidity. My wife had a couple of boneless pork chops so WE, yes WE, decided that I would grill them. I had a recipe for pecan crusted pork chops that I had been almost salivating to try. The only problem was that it was for 12. I had to actually divide it into 12 in my head and on paper, to get the correct amount of ingredients per chop. While I grilled outside, Susan was doing her work in the kitchen.

When the chops were done, I came back into our home and there were candles lit everywhere and Baroque music was playing on the radio. Susan had set the table (decorated is more like it) and had prepared roasted Brussels sprouts and brown rice with cilantro, onion and lime juice and had made a nice salad with home-made ranch dressing. I poured us each a glass of some local Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, what’s the difference?

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are in fact the exact same grape variety. It is a white grape, with a grayish / brownish pink skin (hence the name gris, or gray, in French).

The grape originated in France (it’s from the Burgundian Pinot family), and is known as Pinot Gris in France, where it is most cultivated in Alsace. Across the border in Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio. While French in origin, it is really the Italians that we have to thank for bringing such huge global recognition and fame to the variety. The grape is the same, but the wines are different.

While they are the same grape, the two names have come to infer two different styles of wine.

  • Immensely popular, the Italian style Pinot Grigio wines are typically lighter-bodied, crisp, fresh, with vibrant stone fruit and floral aromas and a touch of spice.
  • In contrast, Alsace Pinot Gris wines are more full-bodied, richer, spicier, and more viscous in texture. They also tend to have greater cellaring and ageing potential.
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Pecan crusted boneless pork chops, roasted Brussels sprouts, cilantro/onion/lime brown rice, salad with homemade ranch dressing and wine of course 🙂

FaceTime2Oh, my, a FEAST as if dining in a five-star restaurant and only for us, just us two!

I only mention the wine, as we talked about it, comparing it to other wines we had shared together in the past. The food and the ambiance and the music were just a token or a taste of, what was to come!

No TV trays parked in front of the TV. No smart phones in our hands and our eyes focused upon them with fervent desire to not miss anything that might be going on in the world. At that very moment in time, neither time or the world seemed to exist. We were the moment in time and we were the whole world. Nothing or no one else mattered for the time.

Our only plan was to have some grilled pecan crusted pork chops. Everything else just came together, but we worked together, unbeknownst to what the other was doing, until it became time to share our individual contributions with one another, TOGETHER. We toasted and we ate and listened to music. And then, then we began a conversion about the music.

We both like many different kinds of music. Susan was professionally and classically trained in voice, piano and flute. She can read music. She taught music K-6 +,  for over 25 years. She has a gorgeous voice! All these things I knew, but in all the years we have been married, I never knew until this night that her favorite music is, Baroque!

A conversation ensued. Yes, we had a real conversation, in real-time and with real, face to face time. It was discovered that we did not share the same opinion or fondness or love for Baroque. Susan was able to articulate why she loves it so with its structure. She finds it relaxing, peaceful, ordered, safe and sure in the midst of a world full, of the oceans of uncertainty and the seas of speculation.

I conveyed my feelings about the music as what I tend towards is, more fluid, spontaneous, spur of the moment, inspirational and etc. This is the type of music I play and it affords me the same emotional release and reception as, Susan gets from her’s.

We discussed, we conversed and neither of us tried to defend our position, but rather just said how we feel about the music which was playing during dinner. Neither of us were right or wrong. We listened to one another. Now, I must confess that for the same reasons Susan loves Baroque are, (were) the self-same reasons it is (was) not my favorite. I was in for a big surprise! 🙂

Baroque was popular in the 1700’s and I had some mental reservations or images in my mind, whenever this type of music was played. Things like silk stockings, powered wigs, the minuet and etc. By age sixteen, George Washington, our first president, had copied out by hand and committed to memory, ‘110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.’ They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

I had studied much about the American Revolution and thought all this so-called structure, civility, rules and orders were, unnecessarily fastidious, pompous and kind of arrogant. The music itself, made me think that none of these things had anything or little to do with us ever becoming the United States of America. George Washington and most everyone that fought in the American Revolution referred to England or Great Britain as their, “mother country.” It must have really been difficult to stand against your own country that you loved so much! But, WE the People of then KNEW, we had little to NO chance of even holding out and surviving against the then, most powerful; most trained and equipped military force on the face of the earth! WE had to hope France might help with ships and a navy and some money and some training. WE had to fire from behind trees, and threw rocks because, most of the guns we had were cobbled together from parts of others and often blew up in our faces. WE went to sniping officers at a distance. WE developed long-range rifles, mail and communication networks, relied on cunning and stealth, covert operations, invisible ink and a host of other innovative things to give us even a fighting chance of, little to nothing at all! In fact, ‘guerrilla warfare’ was started during these times and many of these procedures and methods are still used today by the military, all over the world! Structure? This was anything, but structure, order, civility and such. They had to be ‘fluid’! And the British? They despised those rebel colonists, for not knowing their place, not honoring ‘tea time’ or being cowards, for not facing them in the field of battle, and being so uncivil and so dishonorable! But, Oh NO, WE the People of then, were not about to participate in their rules of engagement where whomever is left standing wins and get our colonist butts beat, facing them man-to-man!

Then, after all those things and more and WE won our independence, what do you suppose WE did then? We went back to structure, order, rules of civility and politeness, powdered wigs, silk stockings, dancing the minuet and Baroque music!

So, all of this came out while my wife and I conversed. My wife, whom I say if there were such a thing as luck, I am a lucky man to have found my soul mate and the love of my life! And just when I thought it was not possible, for me to love her any more than I do, I found myself this night, loving her more! Not only did I discover, for the very first time that her favorite music is, Baroque, there was, I believe, some give and take between us. For my part, in listening to both my words aloud and hers, I was able to evolve my opinion about her favorite music. Isn’t this what a conversation is to do; to be for? It is more than agreeing to disagree, but a learning; an evolving where both come away from such a conversation better individually and together, than when it began!

So, more than just a fabulous meal and a couple of glasses of some nice wine, some great ambiance, some nice music, learning something new about my wife, learning from her, seeing myself change and evolve from my own opinions, shutting down technology for a time, making a new memory, popping neurons and actually exercising my brain, real face time with a real person (my wife), I actually grew as a person, along with another person, together! You just can’t get these kinds of benefits from technology! They only happen when we decide to make and let them happen!

Sure, there are many advantages and benefits of technology, but just remember that they all came about from real people, real conversations, real thoughts, real discussions and all in real-time, really — face to face!

In the digital world, it is good to get some real-time, every now and again! After all, that’s what The Gathering Place is for!

“The Art and Science of Building Strong Minds is, participating in Making Memories!”

Donnie

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Categories: Building Strong Minds, Fall, Family & Friends, Home, Inspiration, Making Memories, Things that really matter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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