Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brined Turkey - A First!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  I am so thankful for you, fellow bloggers, Mr. Squash, our health and of course -- The Squash House! 
I thought while the turkey is in the oven for many of you, that I would share my first turkey brining experience.  This year we decided to cook the turkey the day before Thanksgiving along with any side dishes that could be prepared ahead.  Today I'm doing the stuffing in a crockpot, rolls and a side dish of Brussels Sprouts.  I should have plenty of time to relax before dinner for a change.
SIL in New Jersey emailed just the other day that she brined a turkey and had great results! I've thought about doing it for some time now, so I decided to make a last minute change in plans!  You can find the recipe that I used in a video here:  http://www.kitchendaily/.com  It began as quite an odyssey!  Our 5 gallon plastic bucket was not food safe, so after finally getting to the 5th and final grocery store in town, we found a brining bag large enough to fit the turkey and the bucket!  Here is the bucket after Mr. Squash hefted it into the frig!
Don't be grossed out by this - it's only the shadows of all the veggies in the brine that fell to the bottom while Mr. Turkey was brining.  I only wanted you to see how close we came to having just enough room for him in the bucket!  It looks like more, but there is only about 4-5 inches left at the top of the bucket!
Once I took the turkey out of the brine it had to sit for about 30 minutes which gave me just enough time to prepare the basting sauce.  First I finely chopped 2 Tbsp of fresh rosemary from my garden.
Then I peeled the rind in large strips from one lemon.  Last time I used this peeler I managed to peel my thumb along with a butternut squash!  I was very careful this time! 

Next was to mince one clove of garlic.  This is a head from garlic we harvested this summer - I just love the bright, red color!  See that cute little machine?  We picked it up on our recent trip to Leavenworth - it's a garlic mincer!  You place your clove inside, then roll the wheels back and forth on the counter several times and voila...

...perfectly chopped garlic with no mess!  The little chopper comes right out to wash and ready for the next clove!  Have you ever seen the "get it or forget it" stories about new gadgets on the news? In my book, this is a definite "Get It"!

Place the above ingredients in a small saucepan along with 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, bring to a simmer and cook for a minute or so.  Set aside to cool.

Next cut one large yellow onion into 8 wedges.

Place the onion in the bottom of your roaster, then the rack, then your turkey.  Baste your turkey and place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

Here is Mr. Turkey in the oven waiting to bring out his wonderful flavor!  Bake at 425 for one hour, then reduce the oven to 375, pour one cup of water into the bottom of the pan.  Baste with the reserved olive oil mixture every half hour until a thermometer registers 165 degrees.  You can find the recipe here:  Martha called for the turkey to be stuffed, but I didn't and still had excellent results!

Wouldn't you know just when I took the turkey out to rest I got a call from an old friend in California.  I totally forgot to take a photo of the whole bird nicely roasted, but here he is all sliced and ready to be served later today!  I can honestly say it looked as good as the picture in the recipe!

I also made the accompanying recipe for White Wine Gravy:  I must say that this is one of the best gravies I've ever made!  We can't wait to dig into all this later today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Design Wall Monday & A Good Deed!

In between other projects I'm slowly working away on my Piece of Pie quilt.  Friday night after dinner I finally finished all 80 blocks!
Yesterday afternoon I began putting it up on the design wall.  This is the most difficult part of quiltmaking for me!  I can figure out and stitch almost any sort of complicated block, but when it comes time to put it all together in a pleasing manner my heart begins to palpitate and I start sweating - lol!
I told myself I would just quickly throw this one together and hope for the best.  Well, I did put it up rather quickly and began a few tweaks here and there and decided I could do it all day and night and still feel it wasn't quite right!  So, with approval from Mr. Squash's discerning eye, we decided it was good to go!  The quilting will change it all anyway, so why waste any more time!  Next will be sewing the rows together and adding two different borders.
Mr. Squash and I along with our next door neighbors have been feeding an abandoned cat for a while now.  I affectionately call her Sugar after a cat I had as a child.  It took her some time to make friends, but she's gradually warming to a pet and a scratch now and again.  We feed her outside under the eaves where it always stays dry.  The other morning Mr. Squash called me to the window where we found her facing the corner here on the ground rolled into a tiny ball against the cold.  Well, it tugged at our hearts and we decided to try and find something that would be a weather-proof bed for her.
We couldn't find anything at the farm store, so Saturday we drove to Wags and Whiskers where we buy Sophie's food.  We spied this domed litter box with a smooth bottom and thought it would actually make a decent, weather-proof bed.  Sophie generously donated her warm and soft bubble bed which fit perfectly inside.  In less than a day, Sugar curled up inside and made it her home!  She was so soundly asleep inside when I snapped the photos that she didn't even wake up.  It feels great to both of us that we brought a little joy and comfort into her life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

For iPad Readers - A Fix!

Over the past year I've had several emails and comments from those of you with iPads and other laptop devices.  You've mentioned that you cannot see the text on my blog.  I've tried to remedy the problem many times, but until now there hasn't been a solution.  Well, today there is!  If you're reading this on an iPad now, you should be able to see this text!  The wonderful gals at Cutest Blog on the Block helped me through this, and for that, I thank them very much!

If you're looking for a new template for your blog, or just want a change, do go over there and have a look!  They offer lots of free templates and for not much, they will even work with you on a design of your own!  And in case you're wondering, I did not get paid for this little bit of advertising :>)

Mr. Squash and I cleaned out all the pots on our patio yesterday.  It's nice to know that someone appreciates it and is finding them a good place for storage!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Contrary to Popular Belief....

...I'm still here!  Gosh - if any quilters out there are contemplating retirement - anticipating all the time in the world to quilt - think twice!!  I've never been as busy since I've retired!  And have I found more time to quilt??  A tad, yes, but not nearly as much as I thought I would have.  I'm not complaining, however, but would someone out there send me some more time!
Currently I'm working on a quilt called "Roll On" from the book Piece of Pie by Brenda and Bonnie Bailey.  It's a layer cake friendly book - and I just happened to have a layer cake of one of my favorite designs - Fruitcake by Basic Grey!  I've made 24 of these with 56 left to go.  It's a very easy block to make and goes together quickly.  Maybe by Christmas I'll at least have it on Vinnie and then on our bed for next Christmas!
Colors are changing really fast now in town.  Here is the view from my dining room the other morning.  Our Red Sunset maples are finally coming into their own.  Next year they will be even bigger and provide us with a lot more shade!
Today I baked some Starbuck's Oatmeal cookies!  Mr. Squash and I both love them and you can find the recipe here.  Easy to make and oh, so good!
Sophie absolutely loves her retirement.  If she only knew how to quilt so I'd have a helper - lol!  I love this photo of her basking in a sunbeam and sitting on top of her heated bed with her catnip sock nearby.  Doesn't get and better than this!